Friday, August 31, 2012

San Bartolo

San Bartolo is at the end of a long drive through the highlands of Momostenango. In fact, the country is so high that in spite of being in the tropics, the weather is quite cool. The pine trees remind me of home. 

San Bartolo was my second area. Back then, it felt like the edge of the world; like anything could happen and no one would ever know. In those days, we walked everywhere; there was hardly anyone on the roads. How things have changed. Now there is a paved highway leading right into town, connecting San Bartolo to the rest of the world. 

We stopped to visit the LDS Church in San Bartolo. Back then, we lived in a small apartment in the back of the church. It turns out that the missionaries still live there, but now they have an older couple instead of young men. We got to meet Brother and Sister Flake, but more on that later. 

Rhonda in front of the chapel. 

Our visit just happened to coincide with the yearly festival to the patron saint of San Bartolo. These men were playing musical instruments outside the Catholic Church.  

Traditional dancers in the street. 

A man climbed into the Ferris wheel to fix a broken part. 

Many of the dancers dress as Spaniards. The dance has something to do with re-enacting the conquest, but no one has ever explained the exact details to me. 

I did a small amount of gambling when I placed my Q1 on one of these colored squares and rolled a pair of dice. If the dice had rolled my picture, I would have won double, but since it rolled something else, I lost. 

These two boys got into an argument over which of them would get to shine my shoes. It was something of a novelty to me, but then I got to thinking that they make a living doing this. I settled the argument by suggesting that they each shone one shoe. They could then split the money. They agreed that this was better than one getting everything and the other getting nothing. 

The streets were decorated for the festival. 

The Catholic Church was also adorned for the festival. 

This is the door to my old room in San Bartolo. During our visit, I told a story about the fleas that used to infest that little room. Every morning I woke up with blood spots on my clothes. Brother and Sister Flake use that room now. She was aghast by my story, especially since those fleas are still there. After twenty years, she has the same problem. 

We took a picture outside the chapel.

Twenty years ago, I took a picture of my companions from the same spot. 

As a young missionary, I rode the bus into San Bartolo late at night as four of us traveled together. Like I mentioned before, San Bartolo felt like the edge of the earth; it seemed like a cold and desolate place, buried deep in the mountains. When we arrived at our apartment in the church, one of the elders fumbled with the keys to the gate. Just then, an Indian man stood across the street under a street lamp and looked right at me as he started to whistle my father's song. If this had happened now, I would have been curious, but back then, those kinds of things scared me. The hair stood up on my arms and I yelled at the other missionary to hurry and open the gate. 

During our recent trip, I stood under the same street lamp for a picture.  

Dakota trying a grenadilla fruit. 


Kirk Davies said...

Thanks for the post. My daughter just got there...her first mission area. It was nice to see what it looks like.

Barry Moses (Sulustu) said...

Wow! Last time we were there, a senior couple was leading the branch. How old is your daughter? Are they sending younger missionaries back to that area?


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