I miss Guatemala. I look forward to being back there sometime in the future. I’m not sure when it will be… but at some point, it will happen. Marlowe would like to visit every year to hang out with her friends, but I don’t know if that’s thats something that will be happening. Only time will tell. For now, she is in school, Alex is back to full time working, and I’m well… okay being settled here and focused on my healing. It’s not that I won’t ever travel again, I’m sure I/we will. But for now, there are more benefits to being centered on land.
On this last trip to Guatemala, we stayed between two towns– Panajachel and Santa Catarina Palopo. Our apartment felt like a little secluded retreat — but we were still close enough to both towns that we could choose a direction and make our way into either town within about 20 minutes walking.
Panajachel is big– well, I guess “big” is relative– but there is a real supermarket in town and plenty of restaurants and hotels. Santa Catarina on the other hand? Well, it’s more like a village. The only reason why it’s even on the map for most tourists is because of it’s painted walls. But outside of the painted walls? Well, there are maybe two restaurants for tourists to visit and not much more.
For us, this isn’t a problem. We enjoy visiting small villages and avoiding tourists. And while on the day to day there isn’t much to do in Santa Catarina, there is still a reason to visit. It’s small. It’s beautiful. And if you’re lucky– like we were– you’ll stumble on a little street festival.
We decided to walk into town one day. We had been to Santa Catarina once before– with my friend Alyssa. She had picked us up and drove us in to visit one of her artisan partners. This time we decided to just take the morning to do the walk in. As we approached the town we say a group of costumed men walk by us…
And as we got even closer we saw them lighting bombas (fireworks) and well, if you remember for our last time here– Marlowe HATES the fireworks in Guatemala. And for good reason, they’re LOUD. And not beautiful. And not fun. They’re just like loud bombs in the air. Alex turned around to see Marlowe and I had both drastically slowed our pace due to the fireworks.
I don’t hate them as much as she does, but I have ZERO desire to be anywhere near people lighting them. Especially because these random street festivals tend to have a good amount fo drunk men with fireworks in hand.
Despite the firework-fear, we continued forward. There were people lining the streets and poking out of windows everywhere. The town is only so big– like, I could probably run on the main road from one end to the other in one shot. And if you know me at all, this says a lot— because I can’t run for the life of me. I’m gator-bait if one ever chases me.
Anyway… we followed the crowds and before we knew it we found a group of the locals surrounding a marimba and dancers. It wasn’t a huge event by any means– but big enough for the whole town to want to see it. And small enough for us to be the only tourist there. Well, there was one other tourist– some large man with a large camera. I’m curious to know his story, but I never asked and so I’ll never know.
We found an empty stoop and made ourselves comfortable– watching the group not too far off– but far enough to not have to worry too much about the lighting of the fireworks.
Marlowe went to buy some tortillas to soothe her nerves, haha. I absolutely love that she feels comfortable enough to go buy food by herself in another country.
And the procession starts. So basically– the event starts at one end of town and the music and fireworks go off. Then a group of men pick up the entire mariba (essentially a huge piano) and carry it (while playing it) to celebrate a bit further down the road until the make it to the main square. And the stop to light off massive, loud fireworks along the way. Which I think is rather scary under rows of powerlines– but what do I know, haha.
The funny thing about this is that there is only one road through town. So anyone commuting through the town must wait for the entire event to start and finish to pass. We ended up getting stuck in this. I mean– sort of stuck. We could have walked by to our apartment but decided to wait it out to and then jump on one of the back of a pick up truck to head in Panajachel.
Drunk parading men. And on the right is the one tourist guy I mentioned.
The giant marimba.
A blurry shot. Not a life-changing photo for a new viewer– but for me, it was the best way to remember the feeling of this day. The top of a women’s head with the most beautiful cinta wrapped in her hair– waiting patiently in the back of a truck for the parade to pass.
So much goodness and joy in a little town. Grateful to be able to experience any and all of it for sure <3