There was color at the market place, where men and women arrived early, walking for miles on narrow mountain roads, wares on their heads and babies slung across their backs in handwoven fabric. Or they arrived crowded in the back of trucks
for a day of barter and gossip with friends and families. From a culture that accepts a price as final, this give and take in another language felt awkward and unneccessary to me until I realized exactly how engaged I became with the vendors. We smiled, we chatted in the few words we could share. They made jokes and I laughed with them. I began to regard them as new friends, something I rarely do at my local Harris Teeter.
Fruits and vegetables artfully arranged on supermarket shelves can’t compare with the displays at an open market, where the smells of ripened fruit are just under noses, and chicken frying in hot oil just inches from fingertips give a new meaning to freshly cooked.
Advice to travelers to Guatemala. When exiting the plane, turn on your video camera. When reboarding at the end of the trip, turn it off. You might then be able to capture the incredible panorama of the country, the beautiful people, the extraordinary handiwork, the graveyard villages, the mountain vistas, the foliage and flowers.
I always learn so much when I travel. This trip taught me about the world of a character I had created, and at times Elisa Martinez Kinkade was my tour guide. Much of what I learned was difficult to hear. Much of what I saw made me hopeful that this amazing country will find its way toward justice and reconcilliation.
On my last full day in Guatemala I sailed Lake Atitlan from village to village, marveling at the beauty created by a volcanic explosion 84,000 years ago. Three volcanoes border it on the south, and the views are stunning. A misty rain fell as we started out, and a rainbow greeted us halfway across the lake. I can’t imagine a more hopeful sign for the end of my journey.