Todos Santos Cuchumatan - Guatemala
Sep 12, 2010
|September 7, 2010
I arrived in Totos Santos around 1:00pm this afternoon. Actually, it’s called Totos Santos Cuchumatan. I was going to try to make it to Jacaltenago but its two hours away and its 1pm and that means rain. It’s really cool out and there is a stiff breeze. Everything here is shrouded is a fast moving cloud cover but I do get glimpses of the mountains. I didn’t bring my fucking hiking pants. NEVER am I going to leave that dry bag behind again. What the hell was I thinking? Ah…just what the bible says, “If you come here in the wet season (mid-April to November), bring warm clothes, as its cold up here, especially at night”. Stupid book. Ha ha ha. Stupid me!
Totos Santos (2450m/pop 3500) lies at the bottom of a deep valley and is raw as Guatemalan life gets – dramatic mountain scenery, mud streets, beans and tortillas and everything is shut by 9pm. It took me about 2 ½ hours to get here from Huehue.
Totos Santos suffered greatly during the civil war and village life is very subsistence.
Traditional clothing is very much in use here. AND the males’ costumes are more eye appealing, for once! They wear red and white stripped pants, small flat hats with a blue ribbon around them, jackets with multicolored stripes combined with thick woven collars. I love the collars. Every man wears this! It’s cool to see. It’s like being teleported into a totally different world. Maybe I can buy a costume. Just imagine that when walking into Mobile’s yearend! Ha ha ha
I am staying at Hotel Casa Familiar. The bible says jack about the place but it’s great! Q150/noche. I have two terraces – albeit chilly, full use of a kitchen /wood pizza style oven/ cooker/pots/pans…everything, gas hot water and a TV. The TV is older that Grandma and Baba combined but it is in color. There are also a lot of plants. The owner’s husband is Swiss, great guy, and has been here 20 years. What make a person leave everything to settle in such a remote place? It may not be remote now but 20 years ago… He has a child. The room defiantly has European influences. There is also have a traditional Guatemalan sauna called a, ‘Sauna o Temascal’ that they will fire up if there are enough people. They serve food and have a traditional gift shop down stairs. I am sure the prices are in line cause for Q150 for this room is a good deal.
Oh yeah, one more thing, this is a dry city but the hotel serves wine and beer to guests only.
In this region this region there are two ‘official’ establishments, one religious and the other governmental. On one hand the Catholic church and the Republic of Guatemala whom appoints priests and town officials; on the other the local indigenous peoples elect their own religious and civil officers to manage local matters, with separate council and mayor, and they have a court that decides cases involving only indigenous people. Kinda like the Nigska (sp?) peoples in NW BC.
I am the only one staying at the hotel at the moment. At 4:00 they are going to show a documentary Totos Santos and Totos Santos by Olivia Carrescia, made in the 1980’s and is about traditional life of Totos Santos and the devastation and terror brought to the region by the civil war. Some 2000 people were killed in this are. FUCK WAR. I want to buy this video but they don’t have any for sale. I will find one though.
I only saw two foreigners; a French guy tourist and a girl who has lived here for three years volunteering for the Peace Corps.
September 8, 2010
I am going to stay in Totos Santos for another day. It looks like a really cool town and I have had to blow through a few towns already but the count down is coming. I have to be back in Antigua by 11:00 on the 16th and there is a lot of riding to do between now and then. I just have to get up earlier. Oh yeah one more thing, no ATM’s in this region and I don’t carry traveler cheques anymore. I do have USD$200 the in the event that an in a pinch anywhere. I also have £20 that someone gave me in exchange for some Q when they were in a pinch. The dollars I can change anywhere but the pounds might be a little tougher. I have about Q620 or so to last me until I get a bank machine but this may be a few days away. The room tonight will cost Q150.
Some of the people in this area use their own dialect and are hard to understand at times.
I cashed in my extra $100 this morning leaving me with just over Q1200. Just in case I need it as I get deeper into the thick of things.
My feet are killing me cause of the new flip flops. Toe rash. Getting a cut of any sort on the foot in a third world country may mean certain infection if one continues to wear sandals.
There is no ATM here and I want to buy a complete Totos Santos male outfit (hat and all). The hotel sells new AND used pants, shirts, chaps, hats…the whole nine yards. I asked the Swiss guy what’s up with the used gear. He explained that on November 1 there is s huge festival and some people sell/trade in their old grubby gear for new stuff. Everything I bought was used; even the hat and it looked old. For this I had to use the extra $100 I had hidden on Electra. The total cost was Q1200. I am going to have the gear mounted under glass in a huge picture frame when I return. These unique outfits are only found in this region in Guatemala and in the world for that matter! All the males wear one; even the young boys still hold on to the tradition! The Shirt is called a comisa and the bright colored collar is called a cuello, the pants are called pantalon de estilos and the murse is called a moral. The pants come with a pair of chaps and I think that this is where the ‘de estilos’ comes from.
Someone asked Cara once why do I buy all this shit when I am going to die sometime and not get to appreciate it. Firstly, I already have so much stuff that it doesn’t fit in my house. I have to store it. Occasionally I will change things up in my house for something ‘new’. I used to do this in my office all the time. Secondly, because it’s from another culture, time, space, society, traditions and every piece reminds me of the people I have met along the way and their story. And thirdly, maybe it can go to a museum someday. I don’t have children. And fourthly, we all die! It’s all about how we choose to die.
I will continue to buy unique things from all over the world and books. I will always buy books. There is something about books that the internet can’t give you.
You can hold a book.
I was re-reading the pathologist’s report, the oncologists’ report and the several reports by the doctors I saw in Phoenix. THAT was a shitty read. It all comes back. You know, I guy is fine living day to day – no worries, no thoughts at all about that little fucker but when I enter, even though I am feeling great mentally, the cancer centre in Kelowna it is sprit crushing. I am remembered why I am there, why must to do what I am doing, why I have no business any more, no wife, no cats….The future can change so quickly. Look the wrong way on a curve in the road and BANG! Your life and those around can change permanently forever without any cause or reason.
Back to the used outfits - On the morning of November 1 is El Dia de Totos los Santos. It is a horse race that ends a week long party. It must be something to see. I assume that the village elders turn a blind eye to drinking during this time. I saw a few drunks today and it was not a pretty sight. One guy wanted to be my buddy until another local told him to fuck off, which he did.
It is now 6:00 and the clouds are really rolling in. It is so cold I can see my breath.
I don’t have my dry bag so I am going to have to strap the non-essential items to the back of the bike because I do not want the heirlooms to get wet at all. I also bought a small loom that demonstrates how textiles are made in this region. There is half woven textile still in it. Very cool. It cost me Q600 but is worth every penny.
It’s now raining 6:30. I know a new Spanish word. Lluvia (rain).
When I bring out my laptop in front of tourists they all know the trype/brand. I have not hade a problem since I got in back from Spitfire Computers.
My boots are holding up. I just need to get new Tevas. I love the Tevas I had because they are the ‘snap in’ variety. None of this Velcro shit. Yeah there is Velcro but they are to adjust the size. The snaps hold the sandal into place.
The rain is light but I would still us my umbrella. It too is falling apart.
Why didn’t I bring the dry bag? This is a critical error. One that I will never forget.
I bought some buns from the market today and they were as dry as a popcorn fart. I really wanted to make a pollo sandwich
It’s getting colder by the minute. I would to stay here one more day. But for that I would have to drive to Huehue to use the bank machine. Its only 47km’s but takes three hours to get there, one way.
The big draw in Totos is the hiking. It kinda looks like BC but with more fog.
My boots are dry as is the rest of the gear. I threw on my rain gear this morning thinking that if I leave early enough, it may still be raining. I am going to hit rain some where a long the road but if it was rain I didn’t like, I would not be traveling by bike.
There doesn’t seen to be anything going at the Centro but maybe I will take a walk down there to see for myself.
I wonder what Cara is up to.
Today I bought two pieces of chicken and some papas fritas for about USD$2.20. Suck it KFC! Except the oil looked like used motor oil it was so dark. That shit has seen a lot of potatoes and chicken. MMmmmm goodness!! It really brings the flavor out. The French fries came out white though!! Not that I am prejudice or anything.