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ruthless compassion
02 December 2003 @ 02:56 pm
I hate it when I accidentally close the window with my wonderful first-draft of a post. *hmph* Second try:

Things here in Xela have gotten much drier since the rainy season ended in early-/mid-November. The hills around the city are still green, as they're covered, mostly, with evergreens, and I think they stay green all year, but in the city, there's a noticeable difference. With no afternoon rains to wet things down, the streets are MUCH dustier, and the pollution from buses and cars is markedly worse. This would be a tough place to be with chemical sensitivities.

I've been enjoying figuring out the road rules here, and how they're different from what I'm used to. The main thing is that it's relaly a lot scarier here. People drive like they're trying to prove something. I'm glad I'm not doing any driving here. Another interesting thing is the culture of honking. Here, people honk as they approach intersections (when they have, or are going to take, the right-of-way) to give a heads-up to people driving up on the cross street. They also honk immediately upon a light change, or when they're going to turn, or if there's something on a bike or on foot in the street. When you're on foot, you get honked at also if you look like you're going to cross a street where a car is about to turn, or if you seem to be in their way, or if it's a bus wanting to know if you want to be picked up (if you do, you stick your arm out), or if you're a woman and the driver wants to get your attention so as to better deliver a piropo. But since there's so much honking going on, it doesn't have the same rude, pushiness that I usually feel that it has in the US.

One of the things I'm going to miss most about being here is the produce and the produce markets. There's the Despensa Familiar (Family Pantry), which is your basic grocery store and not that interesting, where I get milk, but then there are the produce markets, which are just a blast:

The market closest to where I live and school is below the Parque Central: It's in the basement of a building with a bunch of stores on the first floor -- you walk down the stairs into a maze of tables and stands and little shops where people have set up with their products: veggies, fruits (although, mostly the fruits are sold on the sidewalk outside), tortillas, spices, fish, meat, rice, beans, noodles.
There's another market up in Zona 3, which is bigger (but farther away from me), where the stands are set up along the sides of the street, with all sorts of fresh fruits and veggies. I love shopping at both of these places, and I wish we had similar places in the US.

But even more, I wish our produce were as good and cheap as here! Of course, it has to be that cheap since people here make very little money, but hey. Yesterday, I got two gorgeous, perfect, delicious avocados for 1 quetzal (approximately $0.12). *delighted sigh* And the oranges, and pineapples, and... well, there's that one fruit that had worms in it, but it doesn't seem to have harmed me.

The only sad thing is that I'm leaving just before mango season starts. Tragic.