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The Green Mama's Guatemalan Adventures: A day in the life

Third World, Developing World, (Mr. Rogers Neighbourhood is what my friend calls it); whatever you call it, a day in the life here is very different than a day in the life of most North Americans.

4 a.m. The roosters, which are EVERYWHERE, starting crowing. Loud and persistent.

6 a.m. Zella starts crowing pleas of hunger. (Mae-la may have already woken me with similar pleas earlier.)

6:45 a.m. The community announcements (or times for the church services?) come over the loudspeaker.  They last about 10 to 15 minutes and there are speakers all over San Marcos. When someone dies they speak over the loudspeaker for most of the day and night for two or three days straight—presumably some sort of elegy.

This is also the time for the day’s first bananas. Both of the girls are obsessed with bananas. Did you know bananas are seeds? There are numerous banana trees in our yard. You can see the huge purple flower that produces the banana seed: layer by layer the petals peel back and these half-formed, long yellow seeds are apparent. Slowly the seed becomes bigger and greener and it becomes clear what it will become. Eventually there is a huge branch of bananas with a big purple flower at the end and you chop the whole thing off and hang it by the door, where the bananas eventually ripen and are ready to eat. Yummy.

7:00 a.m. Warm showers are luxuries here–only the gringos even have them and we have them only sporadically. We finally have hot water–it comes out of the shower and the shower only: not the bathroom sink and not the kitchen sink. So, cleaning up a poopy baby is not so easy. Both Zella Rosa and Mae-la get baths in little plastic tubs.

8:00 a.m. An average breakfast is fried eggs and tortillas. Sometimes beans.

8:15. I throw Zada Mae on my back, and Zella Rose puts on her backpack and we run down a rocky, dry path, onto the road, and climb back up the mountain about 50 meters further down the road, along another dry, rocky, path—this time heading up.

On the path we always run into lots and lots of friends also heading up the path to Escuela Caracol–the Guatemalan Waldorf school that Zella attends. More on the school later…

9:00 a.m. One of the things about most developing countries is that while it is nearly impossible to get, for instance, a washer and dryer in your house or safe and sanitary water from your tap, it is usually very easy and very affordable to get help. Jobs are scarce in Guatemala and help is cheap.  We had an amazing helper that took great care of us and loved the children. Her name is Veronica.

Veronica is Mayan and speaks no English. Luckily she is pretty good at reading minds and I am pretty good at mime. This isn’t perfect, however. Today she put the baby down for her nap completely naked. No clothes. No diaper. I figured this out before the post-nap poop explosion.

10:00 a.m. I try and find internet connection somewhere.  Or buy groceries. (Today, I tried to order bread. Me to the restaurant: I would like to buy some bread from the bread guy. (The only source of bread for this restaurant). The restaurant guy: Yeah. You have to order it. Me: Great. Can I order it? Guy: Yeah. You need to order it from the guy. I forget his name. Me: Can I call him? Guy: We don’t have his number. Me: When will he next be here? Guy: Not sure. He doesn’t really have a schedule, he just shows up. Sometime. Me: Oh, okay.) I never got the bread.

The internet connection is similarly frustrating. To get a good one requires traveling to San Pedro. To do this, I walk down the mountain, along tiny little paths, to the lancha. Then I wait for a boat—very similar to a water taxi. The boat takes about 15 minutes. San Pedro has great internet connection. They are also the closest ATM—that requires walking 15 minutes straight up the side of another mountain though. 

Noon. Zella finishes school.

Lunch typically consists of beans and tostadas or left-overs (usually leftover beans).

2:00 p.m.  I go outside and scrub poopy diapers in the outside “laundry” aka sink area.

3:00 Mae-la wakes up from her nap.

4:00 We play at the local playground. No sissy, plastic playgrounds here. These are real monkey bars dangling over concrete. Teeter tots with NO seats. Tall, metals slides with pockmarks and only concrete at the bottom. Jungle gyms with bars missing and with real height. And hanging bars only attached on one side.

5:30 Dinner! More beans. Likely some kale from the locally biodynamic farm. Tortillas from our next-door neighbour who makes them. 50 cents for 20.

6:30 Zada “Mae-la” goes to bed, exhausted.

7:00 Zella “Rosa” goes to bed, exhausted.

8:00 I wash dishes. (Which either involves using filtered water or boiling water on the stove and air drying everything to remove pathogens. Boling the sponges almost everyday.) I soak vegetables for the next day. (In a natural lemon grass soak to remove pathogens, etc., from the contaminated water and to help get off as much as the pesticides as possible). I soak beans and rice (after washing off all the bugs in purified water). Oh, if there is time, I practice my Spanish.

9:00 I go to bed, exhausted.

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