No, this will have nothing to do with the ash-on-forehead Wednesday recently past.
These days have been very hectic. Today, had to drive to Universidad San Carlos to register for a first aid course I want to take at the medical school--and turns out the whole periférico highway loop, which takes me directly there, was closed due to thousands of protesting teachers demanding ... I don't know, whatever.
It's complex but they want more money and the government wants them to take some training before they get more money ... Guatemala is the only country in Latin America where teachers have only a secondary school degree, so that's part of the problem ... furthermore, in one of its Byzantine complications, the World Bank, as usual, has given money tied to conditions which don't necessarily help the issue ... but be it as it may, they were blocking my way!
So, forget registering for the class. Traffic hellish and me not interested in sitting in a chaotic car jam. On to the supermarket, for supplies for the inn--we have a large group of NGO people coming in for several days, and they want 3 meals a day!--and also do the shopping for home.
The supermarket--HiperPaiz, owned by Walmart--had to fit into an already tight schedule. Have I ever told you how much I hate going to the supermarket? Just for the record, I hate it. There are also Pricesmart and Clubco, both of which are like Costco in the US. But that's another story.
There are two cooks here. Manuel, who cooks for the inn, and my personal cook, Catalina. And, in true concordance with local nepotist tradition, they are relatives.
Anyhow. Catalina dictated to me (she cannot write) a list of things required for her fabulous "encurtidos," which are pickled vegetables with peppers. She makes several jars every few weeks and we keep them in the fridge, eat them with everything. They look like the picture above. They can also be "red encurtidos" when you make them with beets and red cabbage, which is also very good.
Anyhow, I made the mistake of buying "the wrong" jalapeño chiles. Catalina was unhappy. Quite unhappy. There was "no way" she could make them with the chiles I bought, she insisted. I said "So, make them without the jalapeños!" I mean, really. You know?
Long story short, the tyrant prevailed, and I had to walk 4 long blocks, under the broiling sun, through the plaza, where there were thousands (thousands!) of protesters with megaphones and the ubiquitous sombreros--walk! in the heat!--to the market (mercado central) to buy the "right" jalapeños.
My brow darketh. Darkeneth? (see first picture of this post)
Don't know why there were so many protesters in the main plaza, something to do with demanding the creation of a commission to investigate the thousands of people "disappeared" during the years of the dirty war. And the teachers, too. Or something.
Protest for Peace, 2009
Just so you see it is not me being a whiner, you may appreciate, in the photo above, what a mass protest here looks like. That is of another protest at the plaza and one has to walk through thick crowds ... which, okay, I admit can be interesting and sort of gay--in the old sense of the word--what with all the street vendors (ice cream vendors, pizza vendors, cold soda vendors...) selling their wares, local and foreign journalists et al.
I mean, it's just not fun when I have a zillion other things to do and the sun is broiling hot. Deadlines for papers looming, research to do, calls to make, etc. And here I am, on an unasked for quest for the right jalapeño peppers.
Did buy some delicious pan dulce at the gourmet bakery which just opened downstairs of us and they do this evil thing, whence they bake bread twice a day and the aroma makes it impossible to walk by and not buy. So in the afternoons I buy pan dulce, sweet bread, to have with coffee.
Still, back to darkened brows, I have always liked that Biblical phrase, that somebody's brow "darkened" because it is so simple yet so expressive. It's in the Pentateuch, somewhere. I think. It is like the word "upset," which can encompass so many meanings/feelings, all related to frustration.
Talking of religion.
Holy Week is getting close and tourists have started to make their reservations for that week. The celebrations of Holy Week in Guatemala are pretty unique worldwide and the historic center is crowded by way over a million people during those days.
So, we be busy, here, we be busy ... so much so, that I missed the ballet tonight. Some members of the Russian Kirov ballet are in town for a special performance and I was hoping to make it. The Kirov Ballet in Guatemala? I just had to go!
Didn't happen. But that is okay. I got the "right" jalapeños, so alls well that ends well. Right?
I leave you with an image of the periferico (below) and for now, bid you adieu. And thanks for visiting!
Hotel - Lofts - Parking
In the Historic Center of Guatemala