San Pedro - Work and Houses

Trip Start Oct 10, 2007
Trip End May 15, 2008

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Flag of Guatemala  ,
Sunday, November 25, 2007

Work has a whole different meaning here.  Doors are always open.  Thin lacy material hangs in the doorways.  Most everyones home is also at their business, be it a laundry place, restaurant, cafe, tienda (small convenient store type place), etc.  For those who work outside there is constant movement.  Most often Westerners see these cultural photos of the awe inspiring talent of women to balance just about anything on there heads.  This is true here as well.  However, what we see less of is the heavy loads of just about anything that boys and men carry on there backs.  These loads appear to be quite heavy as most times the person is bent over. 

There is also constant construction in San Pedro.  All of which is aimed at the tourist economy.  Expansions on hotels, new hotels, new restaurants etc. are a daily thing.  One of the dirt paths through town is referred to as the "main trail" because it serves as the main trail for tourists.  There are a slew of restaurants and cheap to fairly cheap hotels.  This to is being upgraded from an uneven potholed path to a cobble stoned path.  Personally I like the dirt path however, it was pointed out to me that during the rainy season the dirt paths become tiny little dirt rivers.  What hit me one day as I was walking by these men and young men digging and chipping away at stone is how quiet it was.  I only saw one machine being used in the process of paving this path and it had a big roller on it and had to be pushed by a person.  They also manage to do all of this without closing down any stretch of the path.  Iīve tried to take photos of these hard working men but it is kind of like taking photos of the Grand Canyon.  No picture does justice to the reality of what you see.

Most businesses do not have open and close times.  Usually you have to ask and even then itīs pretty much up to the discretion of the owner.  No one there, close up, someone there stay open.  Itīs that simple.  So, if youīre told that your laundry will be done by 7:30 am the next day, do not be surprised if they havenīt opened yet.  Just come back later and all is well.  Also, it is not unusual to see the children 8,12,16...years old walking around with machetes coming back from the fincas (farms). 

In terms of opened doors this is also true for most houses.  The houses are almost, if not literally, attached to one another in a zig zag form with dirt paths winding between them.  Some have no doors or windows that close at all.  Some somewhere in between.  All have the thin lacy material in various colors that covers doorways and windows.  It amazingly does give some privacy.  It is behind these doorways that I believe the true San Pedro to be.  It is hard to remember in the face of internet cafes, motorcycles and traditionally dressed girls with cell phones that there is a serious level of poverty here.  Some families have no beds and ones that do are slabs of foam on the ground, the ground could be either cement or dirt.  With more money, perhaps tile.  San Pedro is more well off than some other places due to the tourists, which is an upside, but there is also a lot of cocaine.  When visiting or choosing to live in a place because it is so cheap for those who are not from here, it can be difficult to take the good with the bad.  One of many thoughts that go through my head each day.
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