Guatemala – Day one

I have found wireless!  Thank Goodness!!  Still can’t call home so purchasing an international phone today for 15$ American dollars or 150Q.

After landing in Guatemala City, Guatemala, Sarah and I walked out into a large crowd of Guatemalans waiting on loved ones, and found that our shuttle driver was late.  We completely took on the role of tourists as we waiting in the middle of a mass of people looking for our driver.  As I began to approach another shuttle guy, silently praying he was legit, our guy walked up in the back with our names, so we were happy to see him.

He didn’t speak English, and his van seemed like a personal van, but luckily we had the address written down, and off we went.  Through what seemed like alley after alley in the dark, I nervously laughed over and over again thinking how monumentally idiotic this was.  But as we pulled up, we got out and went with another guy through a below parking area, and as we entered the beautiful courtyard, I knew we were in the right place.  Our house/condo is really beautiful with part of it opening up to the outside and large windows that open up.

Day One of shooting began at 6 am. When we left to shoot the Arch and Merced.  The arch framed the church at the end of the street, and when we got  there, I believe it may be the most beautiful church I’ve ever seen, with a giant rosary hanging in the front of it.  Inside there were pews and glass cases with the saints and statues of Jesus in them, and the people of Guatemala were in the pews praying, standing at the statues of Jesus carrying the cross and praying.  It felt very serene and special to be in there. The arches and the stained glass were amazingly pretty, and if you let your light go dark with faster than normal shutter, the window light cast a perfect light on Jesus on the cross in the front of the church, which was really powerful.

After shooting, we went to Hotel Antigua for a photo lecture and brunch and lots of coffee.  And while others took some down time, we went with a Local here, Christine, to the market to get acclimated to what we are in for on Thursday when we head down there on Market Day.  It’s everything you imagine, probably and then some.  Pickpockets are really strong, organized and work in teams at the market, so we dropped all our belongings off, put some cash in our front jean pockets and had one camera around our neck.  That was it.  Little babies sitting on the dirty floors, hanging meat, cut raw meats of all sorts just sitting on the counters, fresh iced down fish, grains, fruits and vegetables everywhere.  The color was overwhelming as was the smell at times.  The spirit of the people here are wonderfully warm and sweet.  The children are beautiful.  In approaching people asking for permission to take a shot, most respond with a hand extended for money or want me to buy something from them.  I pay for a photo, take their picture, and treat them as if I hadn’t paid for it with warm gratitude.  One woman sitting in a doorway outside of the Cafe where we buy a Cafe con leche,  had long gray braids, and the sweetest face.  I paid her 10Q which is about a dollar in American money, then sat down with her and thanked her and held her hand.  There’s a picture of her below.

We headed out at 1 for lunch at Sabe Rico for sandwiches and went over our itinerary for the day, then headed to Cathedral Ruins, Plaza Mayor and Nim-Pot and back to the park to shoot people, and stop in again at the Cafe for coffee.  Without even heading home to rest, we all headed to a rooftop to shoot the volcano at dusk, which is breathtaking.  I’m not sure my pictures will do it justice.  Then off to Nokiate for a portrait session with a musician, who used to play with Buena Vista Social Club.  For about 20 American dollars, paid as 200Q, we had the best sushi, pad thai and sesame chicken I’ve had in a while.  Then we all walked home to stumble upon a party where we took a few more shots of the building as they lit it up with green, blue and yellow lights.

After reaching home, there was enough time for me to take a quick shower, then head down to the larger house downstairs to join the rest of the workshop photographers, and we looked at some work and discussed the pictures.  My head hit the pillow and I was asleep.  I was exhausted but it was a great day.

I miss my family terribly, but am enjoying the rich culture and people here, as well as pushing myself to very uncomfortable situations to capture a moment that I can bring home with me.  Here’s a few shots. I’ll upload more later. We’re off very soon again today to Pastores and later we’ll head up the mountain to Mercado del Carmen to shoot later today at sunset. We’ve just enjoyed some critique from Todd this morning and a wonderful breakfast and coffee while sitting in our partially inside/outside den.  At this exact moment, we’re about to grab a ride to Pastores.   Adios!

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