16 September 2006

Geography

Geography is a surprise here. I am nestled between Guatemala City (Guate) and Antigua. Though Antigua is small, it is a major tourist attraction and the road between is therefore heavily trafficked. Santa Lucia, where the training center is, is about 2/3 the way to Antigua from Guate. It's roughly 45 mins by car to Guate and 20 mins to Antigua. Santa Lucia is roughly 5,000 people and is mostly small farms and fincas (plantations) and all of those businesses that a town needs to be a town (barber shops & utilities, etc).Just a 10 minute walk to (I think) the south is Santo Tomas, where I live. It also is about 4-5,000 people. Many people walk from one town to the other every day for work, or take a bus for 1 quetzal. Each town has an internet cafe, panaderias (bakeries), and in the town center a tiny farmers market in the morning. On top of that, there's a tienda (convenience store) about every 100 feet that sells the few things you need every day like flour, sugar, and salt, as well as a ton of the things you never need like Pepsi, chips, and other junk. During the daytime (and weekend evenings), there are gobs of street vendors all over selling things that look both delicious and suspicious. Volunteers are told to never eat at these vendors unless you need to do some reading and have a comfortable toilet seat.There's at least two more towns on the other side of Santa Lucia that are about the same size. Its strange how close they are. When we drove from Guate, it seemed like there was no space between towns. When we arrived, I wasn't sure if we had even left Guatemala City yet. The mountains are all green without much for outcropping, but are much higher elevations. You can see the Volcano Agua from here: it's very close, and the sheerest incline of its size I've seen except for near the Grand Canyon.

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