October 7, 2012

Atorado: Spanish for "Stuck"

We went to Guatemala City to apply for a 2-year visa with our dear friends Crhistian and Liz. The plan was to wake up early on Thursday, make the trip to the Immigration Office in Guatemala City, present our papers and take a visa picture, and return to Xela the same day.

Let us tell you what actually went down.


1. Woke up at 3:30am, left our house at 4am, and made the 4 hour drive to Guatemala City. Bad.

2. Ate breakfast at Pollo Campero. Good.

3. Arrive at Immigration Office. Present our papers to apply for a 2-year visa. Good.

4. Wait 20 minutes. Find out that our United States background check was rejected because it was more than 6 months old. (This means that we have to send our paperwork to the U.S. Embassy to get it reapproved and then return next week to Guatemala City to present our paperwork again. This also means that we wrote substitute teacher plans, woke up very early, and made a very long journey for no reason.) We did not even get to take our 2-year visa picture. Bad.

5. Got into the car to make the 4 hour drive back to Xela. We stop at an amazing restaurant along the highway called Rincon Suizo. Let's just say a big barbecue chicken sandwich and a Reese's crepe were involved. Good.

6. Three hours into our trip home, at about 3pm, traffic comes to a complete stop on the mountain highway. We are at highway marker km. 162. Bad.

7. We learn that ahead of us at highway km. 170, there is a road block and over 500 people protesting. No cars may pass in either direction. We learned the protests began at 6am. We also learned that people were protesting multiple things: energy prices, teacher schooling requirements, as well as new mining practices around the country. Bad.

8. We turned the car off and sat on the highway for 2 hours, waiting to see if the protests would end and the highway would open. (Thank goodness Grandma Potgeter taught me to always carry a book in my purse. Good.) Crhistian taught us the Spanish word for "stuck," which is atorado.

We were "atorado" for 2 hours on the highway. Bad

Every 15 minutes we saw either a police truck or ambulance going toward km 170 to break up the protests.

9. Suddenly, all of the same police trucks we saw passing as well as many other cars were headed in the opposite direction in retreat. They are yelling at all of the cars to turn around and go back the other way. Nobody would be passing through this highway tonight. The protests turned violent: a truck was burned on the highway, tear gas was used, bullets were fired, 7 people were dead, and 34 were wounded. Very bad.

10. We turned our car around, realizing we would not be returning to Xela that day. We decided to go about an hour back to a town called Panajachel. Good.

11. We called our friend who lives in Panajachel to see if we could stay with him for the night. He is out of town. Crhistian's friends who also live in Panajachel are also out of town. Seriously? Bad.

12. We arrive in Panajachel. We eat a yummy dinner. Good.


13. We go to a little store to buy toothbrushes, toothpaste, and sample size shampoos. Good.

Our provisions.

14. We walk the streets to find a hotel we can stay in. Bad.

Hotel Shalom. Ironic name. But good.

15. We wake up and put yesterday's clothes on. Bad.

16. The sun is shining and it's a beautiful morning. We eat an amazing breakfast. Very good.

Fried chicken or deep-fat fried french toast?
Looking good...smelling worse.
We will never get sick of this view.

17. We head back to Xela with no problems and get back to work by 11:15am. Good. 

A drive-by picture of the truck that was burned in the protests. We learned the protests lasted until about 8pm, which makes 14 hours of protesting.

An interesting few days. God always protects and provides. Good. There has not been any more protesting in the past few days, but please pray for both peace and justice in Guatemala!

Grace and peace,