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Getting to know Guatemala

By William on Fri, Sep 19th 08 at 12:29PM | Permalink | Comments (3)

It's been a few days now, since we've arrived in Guatemala, and I'm starting to get a better understanding of this place.  The city at first glance appears improbably unorganized.  There seems to be no rhyme or reason to the layout of anything, save the nicer neighborhoods.

I have learned that ever since the last big earthquake they had here, in the 70's, people have been moving into the cities.  Since the vast majority have very little or no money they find random pieces of land that look like nobody would want, and build little settlements on them.  Eventually when enough people have populated an area the city will build roads and plumbing to them.  The result is that the city is now surrounded by tiny houses built all over steep mountain sides, next to cliffs, and on top of narrow ridges.

It is strange to see the mix of culture in this place.  It's not uncommon to see shacks made of corrugated metal sheeting where people live without running water less than a block from a McDonald's or Pizza Hut.  In the more developed areas, ads and billboards are everywhere, much more so than in the US.  I suspect there are few regulations limiting the placement of them, so they end up all over the place.

Not speaking Spanish is definitely frustrating.  I remember a tiny bit from high school and I've been trying to pick things up here and there but it's not like I can have a conversation with anyone.  After 2 months in Spanish speaking countries, it will be very exciting to travel someplace that speaks English.  For now, I will just have to learn as much as I can.

Comments

David wrote on September 19th 08 at 01:03PM
Sounds like Brave New World...minus the technology :/ It also makes me wonder whether these American corporations advertising and providing trans-fat to the Guatemalan people feel any moral responsibility to enrich the neighborhoods they do business in.
Adam Spradling wrote on September 19th 08 at 04:13PM
Don't worry man, most communication is non verbal, so people can read your intentions pretty well.

You will be amazed how much faster you will pick up the language through immersion versus schooling...night and day.
Melissa Hyder wrote on September 19th 08 at 09:48PM
william, it was great to see you head off on Monday! I'v been thinking and praying for you and Sam! I'm looking forward to keeping track of you guys.
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