Not long after I arrived in Guatemala, my new friend Teresa invited me to her home in San Rafael for tea in the afternoon. She doesn’t live in El Barrio de Plata. She and her hubby live in a rented house about 5 blocks away on the other side of the town square. Walking to her house was the first time I’d been out in town on my own. I was a little nervous – I definitely stand out! I am a gringo through and through.
Well, I know enough Spanish to say “good day” or “good afternoon” and that’s all I really needed. People here are friendly. In fact, I’d have to say that I can walk down the street of a town in the States and not have anyone say a word to me, let alone look at me. Everyone who I walked past said “Buenas” or “Buenas tardes”. They did it with a warm look on their face and I knew that because they made eye contact with me! The only thing I really needed to worry about was making sure I looked both ways before entering an intersection! Remember what I told you about the way they drive?!
San Rafael has a lot of charm, as you can see in the pictures. It sits in a small valley surrounded by hills. I love the colors that they paint their houses and the ironwork on doors and windows. The town streets are cobble. Yes, there is poverty. Yes, there is litter. Yes, there are more dogs per capita than Seattle! BUT, the people are warm, friendly and helpful. They hang out with their families and are very social. They live life at a slower pace and are definitely not as stressed out as we Americans. Life is lived more simply here.
I met up with Teresa at the Tigo store (so she could pay her internet bill), we walked to a local store (tienda) that carries produce and picked up some strawberries, and then we were off to her casa!
Teresa has a wall in her living room where she hangs all her unframed paintings. Some are finished and some are still works-in-progress. She is very talented. [Teresa graciously allowed me to put one of her pictures in my article. This is one of my favorites of hers!]
I loved how the pictures were randomly hung on the wall. They brought color and life to the living room. That is when it struck me: I could buy paint canvases and stretch Guatemalan fabrics over them and decorate my walls!!!
She and I began discussing my plan over the next couple of weeks. I realized I needed to get some tools such as a staple gun, many staples, cement nails, a level, a measuring tape, a hammer, scissors, etc. A number of these things were packed away in the shipment that still hadn’t a whisper of a chance of leaving the U.S in the next 2 months! She told me about a store called “Cemaco”, in Guatemala City, where you could get everything from hardware and tools to dishes and towels. Write that one down, Connie!
Then she told me the most important piece! She told me about Antigua, Guatemala. That is where she’d seen and purchased Guatemalan textiles. Oh, now my heart was racing! I could hardly wait to get home and jump on Google and when I did, the focus of The Project blurred a bit and then began to reform and sharpen in a new way