San Pedro La Laguna Travel Blog› entry 26 of 36 › view all entries
December 27th, 2008 – by: mrpibba
Christmas Eve, Noche Buena in Guatemala, I accompanied my Spanish teacher to her Evangelical Church, unaware earplugs are a requisite accessory. I staggered out two hours later, shellshocked, and deafened after an aural assault perpetrated by a handful of musicians flailing without regard to time or rhythm -- as if names were drawn and instruments assigned as the congregation arrived. I think I understand why so many people in the audience were crying.
But the churchgoers were exceedingly friendly, anxious to greet me, and the kid-carried tunes were cute and hilarious, the youngest performers standing at ankle's-height, picking their noses and yawning, contorting their bodies and faces, oblivious to their on-stage responsibilities.
Afterward I passed time juggling homecalls, stuffing three dinners into three hours, concluding with the traditional midnight tamale feast with my suddenly swollen host family, Melida having returned from la ciudad with extended family in tow. When the clock struck midnight I occupied high ground, overlooking San Pedro with an unobscured view of the other pueblos across and around Lago de Atitlàn. Armageddon was gorgeous, rockets launching from every alleyway and rooftop citywide, exploding rainbows of color casting shimmering sprinkles across the water, like the Mayan Gods were skipping rocks with giant, luminescent Skittles. Belts of firecrackers machine-gunned incessantly, which coupled with the heavier booms thundering down built a wall of war so uniform the cacaphony coalesced into it's own form of screaming silence.
By three AM the town was quiet again, the streets littered with exploded confetti and blackened sparklers, a breath of sulfer hanging in the air, the odd drunk veering through the alleyways, mumbling to himself as he lurched from wall-to-wall, confounding stoop-sitting couples with unintelligible gestures and monologues. One special drunk, who moved with the fluidity of an animation missing 90% of its frames, alternated between dancing with lampposts, arguing with an unoccupied car, and patrolling the strip of cobblestone in front of my teacher's home, admonishing us with a finger to his lips and whispers.
Christmas Day was low key, almost like any other day but gathered with family. A town-attended convite in the central cancha de basquetbol lasted the afternoon, throngs of Pedranos ringing the court, licking ice cream cones purchased from the many vendors pushing three-wheeled wooden iceboxes, wheelbarrows fashioned into coolers, the jingling belss signaling rushes of open palms stretched up and out every parent's pockets. Lines of dancers costumed as random stars of American cinema and world history (including two of the Nutty Professor, one Batman and one Catwoman) dipped and swiveled through choreographed routines, and every fifteen minutes another drunk would stumble into the middle, a mess of incoordination weaving about until the police could escort him away.
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