DÍA 6: JUEVES
JUEVES: I was truly reveling in the abundance of papaya at my fingertips. I was so excited to see papaya trees and Lupe commented that not very many Americans are into this fruit. When I told her it was my fav, she said I wasn't American and I loved that. (Papaya is rich in proteolytic enzymes, which aids in the digestive process) I was also enjoying the strawberry yogurt very much.
Today we set off for La Cumbre, which means on top of the mountain, but the town is called Quiacquix, Totanicapan. We were helping Juana, a woman in the community and supporter of the midwives prepare her garden. The area that we needed to prepare was about a the size of a parking spot for a compact car.
We were planting seeds and seedlings, so the garden needed to be prepped for both. We had to pick weeds, turn the dirt, spread the compost, create valley rows? Honestly, I had no idea what I was doing. My thumbs aren't very green and my yard is a quarter of this size. I was pretty much hoe'ing unless otherwise advised. Right before we were going to start planting, we had to gather more dirt. Juana took us to an obscure spot, which we later learned was her land. We had to make sure to walk together or else, the dogs might bother us. We came across a family of chickens and turkeys, along with a trailer from Arlington, VA. Once we filled about 3 bags full of dirt, we had to walk back up the mountain. I was concerned about snakes and we asked "¿Hay serpientes?" She thought we said servilletas, until Lupe used the term "culebras". This is a great example of how different regions use different terms and I only know what Rosetta Stone teaches me. :) I was so pleased when she said NO to snakes! There are definitely perks to being at 8,000 feet.
After we made it back up, I decided to see if I could balance the bag of dirt of my head. I am literally so amazed by the women in Guatemala who can carry things on their head as well as baby on their back, no problem. We planted lettuce, arugula, cabbage seedlings and seeds for carrots and radishes. We finished right on schedule to leave for lunch and for the rain to begin. Juana had 3 kittens that were no older than 4 weeks. We were all losing our shit over them, she probably thought we were super cray.
Quick lunch at home, then we were off to Fuentes Georginas Hot Springs. Located in the town of Zunil, outside of Xela, we traveled 8 kilometers (4.9 miles) up a the Tierra Calienta, a narrow, winding road in complete fog. I should have learned by Thursday to not sit by the window, but I couldn't resist a solo bus seat. The only comforting thing was that there was tons of farming going on and if we rolled off the side, it would just be onto a bunch of carrots.
This was my second experience in a hot spring, the first being in the Philippines. The water source for these springs are on the slopes of the Zunil volcano. The landscape of Guatemala is dominated by volcanoes that create the 'Ring of Fire'. Did I mention there was an earthquake our second night in town? I totally felt it!
There are different temperature springs, Cool, Medium, Hot. We were told to gradually ease into the springs, however, the abundance of rain cooled the springs down. If you got up close to the mountain and found the water source, it was boiling. Just like a hot tub, hot springs can be very dehydrating. I don't like to stay in hot water too long because I know it can increase blood pressure. However, it was fun to relax with the team in the water after our laborious day!
The views were breathtaking. It felt like Fern Gully. I couldn't resist a Cuba Libre for 15Q. I may or may not have stolen packets of Salsa Picante to bring home.
We got home just in time for dinner, which was pizza!! I was slightly sad that it was from Domino's but it was Queso Fest! The cheese pizza had queso fresco and that was authentic enough for me. 4 slices later and we were gearing up for a salsa class. Carlos had mucho swag and was a great teacher. We learned salsa, mambo, and bachata moves. It was super fun and I realized I'm not THAT bad at salsa dancing. Eyes forward, don't look at your feet!
The team wanted to rally and go out since it was our last night in Xela, Carlos told us about a spot called Shots that had latin dancing. There was nobody there when we got there, so we bounced and hit a rooftop terrace on the other side of Parque Central. It's normal for people to turn up on a Thursday in RVA, but not so much in Xela. I got a Gallo and a shot of tequila, which was served with a tomato juice back! It really made the tequila super delicioso! We heard about how Lupe met her husband and talked about menstruation and birth control and all of my favorite subjects!! It was the perfect way to end such a great day.
Check out my complete Guatemala album on Flickr!