Yesterday we woke up in Sibinal, (home of our new friend Aldo). There was a market (that only happens on Thursdays) on the street outside our hotel. Trying to make our way though to our restaurant was confusing and a little crazy. (Imagine getting lost traveling only to the other side of the block.) But it was interesting to see what an average market was like. After that, we climbed into the back of a pickup truck and drove to the base of a community called Tonina. The road leading up to the village itself was closed for construction, so unfortunately we had to walk the last half hour up a mountain carrying our bags. Which after the fact felt very good, but during, we all had wished for something different. It was well worth it though.
The top of the mountain was amazing. Unlike the crazy busy streets below, above the clouds felt like a whole other world. Quiet, calm, and cool, it was paradise after the Tapachula heat. We first went to the house of the director of the community, which is called the Flower House. His wife grows so many kinds of plants, all in little pots nailed to the side of the house. Then, when they’re ready they’re sold to people in Sibinal, San Miguel, San Marcos, and even in Tapachula. Also, people hiking up the mountain to the volcano will frequently stop to buy flowers. This was very common in the community. Most of the women grew different kinds of plants to sell. The tour was breath taking. Literally, we were so high up it felt like we had no air.
After touring around and meeting various people, we were lucky enough to hear some stories of people migrating back and forth across the border for work when they were younger. Now people cross the border and usually don’t come back, looking for jobs in different trades rather than at plantations or coffee farms. After hearing various stories and being fed, we took to team bonding via music! We sat at one house and learned a song to sing before meals (in Spanish). And then moved back to the Flower House to find a guitar and some chairs, where we continued to master Prince of Peace and teach it to Aldo.
After lots of singing and a little salsa dancing, or stick dancing if you’re Erin (she’s stiff as a board), we broke into groups of two and went to various homes in the community to stay overnight. It was great to spend time with some people and get to hear their story. They also asked lots of questions about Canada. Two separate worlds. After a good nights sleep (for some at least) we said goodbye to our families early and traveled back down the mountain, into the pick up truck, through Guatemala and into the Tapachula heat.
It will probably be my favourite memory from this trip. To see that beautiful mountain top that seemed so untouched with clouds that you could walk out onto, and to learn about how regular and normal crossing the border is for most people. It truly is a different life. If anyone wanted to learn about a different culture so close to home this would be it. There is so much more to discover!
More to share soon,