Antigua, Guatemala, February 17, 2018

Yeah!  Today is a free day - no school and no volunteering.  It's like I was back working, always excited for the weekend and having nothing to do all day.

I love the bodegona - the main supermercado.  It's huge, packed and has everything you can imagine including booze and free samples.  But last night, Marte Julia mentionned there's an even better one in Jocotenango, just a couple kilometers north called La Torre and it's brand new.  So, that was my first mission this morning.  What a disappointment!  It's in a mall and just like Coop or Sobeys.  When I travel, the last thing I want is a cold and sterile supermarket like at home.  So, I won't be going there again.  The mall is only half full but it's just like a North American one.  I'm not sure how many Guatemalicos can afford to shop here-


To make matters worse, I got sucked in to buying coffee in the grocery store.  Everytime I do, I end up giving it away or leaving it behind somewhere.  The woman assured me it was export quality and very rich and strong.  Not.  When will I learn?

Because it's now Lent, many windows and doorways are adorned with white and purple sashes.  There are also black robes with similar sashes for rent/sale-


Coming back to Antigua, I walked through the market.... again.  I just can't get enough-


I had my toenails shellacked for $13.68!  Hard to believe.  Then I visited a few travel agencies to see how much the next part of my adventure will cost.  I'll travel by shuttle which is a mini van rather than by chicken bus because I want to get there before I have another birthday.  Chicken buses race down the highway but stop continuously and my backpack would be on the roof which is not necessarily the safest place for it.  A shuttle will take me directly to my hotel and pick me up the next morning.  I couldn't believe it but prices ranged from $90 US to $48 US for exactly the same trips!

Lots of women manage carrying loads like this.  They make a support ring out of a piece of cloth and that's what the basket sits on-


The view from my front gate-


After lunch and a rest, I went walking again to find the Lutheran Church.  I found it all right, but there didn't seem to be anyone around and the courtyard was locked and looked vacant.  On the way there, a very thin and tiny Guatemalan woman asked me for money.  I usually ignore them, it seems you have to because there are so many.  I went into San Francisco church yard where there are always a lot of stands set up and bought what the seller said was chocolate and coconut in a kind of bar.  Well, it was molasses and coconut!  Anyway, there she was again, right beside me.  Another woman was selling tamales so I asked her if she wanted one.  She said no, she wanted leche.  Leche?  She pointed across the street to the tienda, so away we went.  Some tiendas are wide open little shops where you can help yourself to anything and take it to the counter to pay.  In this one, the owner must be paranoid because almost everything is behind bars and the counter where he sits.  He put the leche on the counter and looked at her funny, sort of as if to say, as if!  Then she asked for aceite (cooking oil), then laundry soap in the powder form and in brick form.  Her smile kept getting bigger and bigger.  Her last wish was a bottle of vitamins.  All together it cost 65Q which is $11.  She put everything in her bag and away I went.  She followed me and asked for money to ride the collectivo which I know costs 2Q.  I looked at her and was ready to give her the money when she said 10Q.  That's when I left her.  As I walked around, I started feeling badly.  I've been trying to be more generous on this trip.  We have so much and sometimes I think we don't realize how lucky we are and how much we have.  It makes me sad seeing so many poor people and they don't have a government helping at all with social programs.  So, I should have given her the 10Q and then I'd have felt really good.  Another lesson learned.  

I'm looking forward to another 'free day' in paradise tomorrow!




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