31 July 2007

i'm staying in the village of Santa Cruz for several days. it is one of many that flank Lake Aitlan, one of the largest tourist attractions in Guatemala City. the small cities, like this one in Panajachel or "Pana" to the locals, must be reached by boat taxis and the cobbled streets are lined with markets where the native mayan populations come to sell their hand woven goods. they speak about 28 different indian dialects, a reality that can be extremely frustrating for someone trying to adapt to spanish. i get by with bits and pieces, but i'm really looking forward to starting school in antigua next week. the poverty here is overwhelming, the children who beg for coins and sell peanuts in the street. they lie, and cheat, and steal because they are forced to. i get ripped off several times a day, and i really don't mind. their currency is measured in quetzales and it takes about seven of them to equal one american dollar. i went to the local bank to get some money exchanged and the woman almost fell off her seat when she saw i had 100 american dollars.

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