Who Turned out the Lights?

Guatemalan Toilet

One of our groser photos of the toilet and the basket next to it for paper. Thank goodness the toilet paper is brown.

It’s Tuesday morning and we’ve outlasted the night for the third straight time as the sun is coming up around 6 am as usual here in San Pedro. We’ve been without power since Saturday afternoon and rumors abound around the small town as to why the power is out in the first place and more importantly, when it’ll be back.

This is life in Guatemala. Along with the unexplained power outages, there are many things here that, while commonplace here, are far from what we’re used to. For example, the picture above looks like a regular toilet, right? It is a normal porcelain toilet. There are a couple big differences to a gringo from the States though. Notice the small trashcan to the left of the toilet. Travel in most developing countries and you’re likely to find this. It’s not just for tampons or tissues, but instead for your used toilet paper. The pipes are apparently too small for taking down paper along with our dirty work so the dirty paper goes into the basket and into the garbage. It does tend to sit there awhile though so thankfully the toilet is basically outside with a large opening above and behind the toilet to keep it well ventilated. Normal stuff here in Guatemala.

Some good stuff too. We have gotten in the habit of strolling around town, eating from the local food ladies, the panaderias (bread shops), and the ice cream shops – prior to the power going out anyhow. Not only is the stuff tasty, but it’s super cheap! Today we stopped for a tostada with beans, guacamole, veggies, and salsa along with a local drink known as atoll. It is a warm beverage with different flavors which are changed up each day. They rotate between a corn drink, a broad bean mixture, a wheat drink, and rice with chocolate; and they’re all served warm. I know it sounds strange and we were skeptical but we’d actually heard about them on the plane from a guy next to us that was born in Guatemala City. He said we’d have to try them and they’re very popular here. We did, we love them, and along with the tostada, we have spent a whopping 60 cents. We pick up a couple sweet bread treats for 12 cents each and then pick up a liter of orange juice and a diet coke for another $1.75 and head home. Definite benefit to living in San Pedro.

And the power outage. We heard rumors that we’d been disconnected from communicating with our family and friends – the internet isn’t working here without electricity – because someone had been burning garbage high in the mountains and with it being a windy day, his fire had gotten out of control and taken down a pole, knocking out power for three surrounding towns. This was on Saturday afternoon. We figured it’d be Monday when it’d be back since there is little work done on Sundays. We kept hearing, it’ll be today, tomorrow at the latest.

Finally, by late Tuesday afternoon we have power yet again. It actually doesn’t impact us too much outside of communicating with the outside world and having us in bed by 9:00 pm each night, but it sure is nice knowing we can do homework and read past 6:30 pm and we can even go out for a brownie and ice cream at our favorite gringo hangout later tonight.

There is plenty going on here that is different than what we’re used to, some of it not so great and some of it awesome. But people go to school and work just like they do in the States, their jobs may quite a bit different, but life goes on and people smile, regardless whether the lights are on or not.

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