Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Las Camionetas

All volunteers spent Labor Day exploring the capitol, Guatemala City. We made the venture because the Peace Corps deems three locations imperative to know: the US embassy, the hospital and Tikal Futura, a shopping mall slash hotel slash concert and convention venue where there is a Payless Shoe Source, a food court and an entire level dedicated to sporting goods shops, one of which specializes in tennis rackets (my spanish teacher thinks the biz is a little fishy cause, lets be honest, how many Guatemalans really play tennis?) The Peace Corps likes this mall because its one of the places in the city where its safe to call a taxi.

The trip into Guate wasn’t anything overwhelmingly exciting although I did treat myself to a double scoop ice cream cone that tasted like heaven in my mouth. Besides the magically refreshing helado, I found the bus ride the most exciting part of the trip. I have grown to love the camionetas here. The buses are retrofitted american school buses painted funky colors on the outside and decorated inside to the driver’s (or as the are called in spanish chauffeur's) liking. Unfortunately, one rarely can enjoy the interior decor because there seems to be no limit to the number of people that can be crammed in these buses. In fact, on this very day, Shaila and I opted to pass on a ride from a camioneta that had people hanging out the side. Literally, three men flailing and clawing for dear life while holding on to some indiscernible pegs or handles or railings outside of the front side door of the bus. Now imagine what the inside of that bus musta looked like. Brings a whole new meaning to the word packed. Every bus ride is an adventure in itself because everyone is crammed three to a seat, the chauffeur drives like a 16-year-old boy in his dads BMW, and the roads are bumpy, hilly and windy. The windiness is key here. It can get so swervey that my friends and I have begun playing a game called “grab-the-oh-shit-bar” on certain stretches of highway. You know those teacups at Disneyland that you spin and spin until you feel like your cheeks will permanently be windblown to one side of your face. Thats the extent of the g-force felt on the bus rides. So you get the picture. Now, it may be hard to believe but, the ride itself isn’t the best part- the people are. I’ve never experienced a better location for people watching. And since everyone is so close, like on each others laps and butts-in-your-face close, its almost impossible not to eaves drop on peoples conversations. My favorites are always the ones involving twenty something guys picking up on eighteen year old school girls in uniforms,

Boy: “Whats you’re name”
Girl: “Lucia”
Boy: “Thats my favorite name, no kidding, I’ve always said when I have a baby girl I’m going to name her Lucia etc. How old are you etc. Can I get your phone number etc. etc.”
I must admit although entertaining, I kinda got upset about overhearing this convo because Lucia is one of MY favorite names and now its tarnished.

I was too quick to judge camioneta crushes because before I knew it, I was experiencing one myself. Moments after internally rolling my eyes at the above conversation, at the Jocotenango stop, on walked the most beautiful Guatemalan God I’d seen since stepping foot in this country. Tall, dark and perfect. At this very instant I thought to myself, “so this is what my dad was worried about” (refer back to my first post re: taking a Guatemalan back to The States). I blushed while this beautiful specimen got on the bus and quickly turned to Shaila who was sitting two rows back and motioned to her to check him out. She gave me the smile and nod of full approval. Eight minutes later my Guatemalan David got off the bus at the Antigua stop. No words were exchanged, just a few looks and I doubt i'll ever see him again. However, now I am particularly attentive at the Jocotenango stop.

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