Wednesday, December 4, 2013

This is Guatemala! (A comedy show)

Long overdue is a post about some of the crazy, unbelievable things we have seen on this trip... things that you can only see in a third world country!
(This is Guatemala)

1. Speedbumps One of the world's most annoying inventions, the sole purpose of a speed bump is to irritate the driver as much as possible by forcing them to greatly reduce their speed. Unless you don't see the sign that's posted about 10 feet in front of it "SPEED BUMP 15 MPH" and fly over the thing instead, majorly damaging the suspension of your car in the process. Sound familiar?
  Well, you've never seen a Guatemalan speed bump! Imagine the ordinary American traffic safety regulator on steroids and gone to seed. They are completely outside the regulation and enforcement of traffic safety laws, and have evolved into a true menace. The streets here are already bumpy enough- be it uneven cobblestones, potholes big enough to swallow your vehicle, poorly-made patches, or some combination of the three, but add in the "tumolos" and you have a whole new animal: Hibumpus guatemaltecius. You're already going "Uh-hhHuhh-UUhh-uHuhUH", you teeth about to fall out of your head, and then all of a sudden the truck slows down and you feel two enormous THUNKs. Repeat 76 times in 25 miles.
2. Laws here (or lack thereof) The favorite form of transportation is a picop: pickup truck. Toyotas and Datsuns are favored because they will run forever reliably and can take insane overloading. Of persons, that is. And occasionally fresh produce as well. Riding in the bed of a pickup truck is technically illegal, but such a common practice that even the police do it and turn a blind eye to 15 people crammed in the bed of an Isuzu, some of them hanging off the bumper. However, they could potentially pull you over if you have two people sitting in the front seat. Go figure...
3. Flea-bitten varmints It is said that for every block, there is one male dog and three female dogs. Indeed, it's not rare to see two mutts of indiscernible parentage... going at it in the street. Some of the poor creatures have identifiable traits- that one a German shepherd, this one a boxer- but for the most part, they are combinations of filth, fleas, and fur. Anita calls them "flea-bitten varmints". Whenever we drive past a particularly pathetic-looking one, we'll say, "Now, there's a flea-bitten varmint!" 
  Neither are they particularly friendly.  Many act rather lethargic (likely undernourished), laying in the middle of the street and will not move. You often have to drive around them.
4. The highway... is not really a highway. At least not like we know them in the US- you know, exits every three miles or so, the occasional billboard, rest stop, and gas station. Here, occasional breaks in the median allow for this:
  Picture an 18-wheeler in the right lane, performing a U-turn across two other lanes of oncoming traffic, through a break in the median, and onto the other side of the highway. 
  Picture a poor, old man- ancianito, without legs, in his wheelchair. He is wheeling himself down the highway, in the opposite direction from the flow of traffic- not even on the shoulder (as the highway lacks one.)
  Picture a man with a wheelbarrow, meaning to cross the highway but not noticing the car about to run him over. At the last minute we slam on the brakes, lay on the horn, and he swerves his wheelbarrow out of harm's way.
 Picture a lot of noise from horns and speeding buses, music blasting from the tiny stores lining the highway, dust and uneven lanes. It's a sensory nightmare.

  My dad says that he thinks this post is much too long, and that people will not read a whole thing like this, even if the writing is lovely. But I had fun writing it, and I figure if you made it this far, you can keep going a little longer. 
  Today's reflection is a song, inspired by our visit to the Amor del Nino orphanage today. More on that later! Please take a few minutes to listen and share your feelings in the comments. 

cleaning crew

rural local transportation

One of the many friendly security guards outside stores

Norine enjoying the ride

"I used to be an American school bus"

1 comment:

Karen Kramer said...

I enjoyed reading the long post! It was creatively written with humor :)