Sunday, February 20, 2011
One week after watching the Aguacateros in the outskirts of Antigua, we (roommates of the host family house) convinced Samuel and Sergio of the school to take us to the Capital to watch a Major League soccer match.
After such a great time in Antigua, Rollo and I raised a crowd to come along, filling a 15-passenger van with a really great group :) Yeah buddy!
On leaving the van, we were hounded by scalpers looking to dump tickets at 'the best price' ("mejor precio!" as they would say), which, according to our school trip leaders, are always higher than the going rate. This seems to be the norm in Guatemala (note: I don't make a value judgement here so much as an observation of cultural mores), that of offering a valuable service of 'ostensible pure altruism', laced with a hefty kickback right to the back pocket... This norm transcends soccer tickets, pervading the tourism industry, and, lamentably, the political sphere.
After we minnows outwitted the sharks, we proceeded to the gate, where police + guards were present in numbers as if at airport security (no joke). A quick frisk and on to pay the 20Q entry fee for some fun!
As we entered the gates we couldn't help but notice the Tigo girls trying to get participants to win mobile minutes (Tigo is 1 of the 3 major mobile companies in Guatemala). Neither Rollo nor I succeeded, though he was admittedly closer to some free air-time. All was not lost as we at least managed to get a picture with the crew before finding our seats.
Everything about the experience was a bit more 'official', if not professional, from the stadium to the vendors to the billboards, to the balloon tunnel the players ran out from to start the game (the Antigua tunnel had just 1 primary vault, while this stadium's was made of 3 different directions, fancy!).
The 'porra', as the fan section is known at the futbol games, was equally rowdy, though equipped with a few less firecrackers, making for a slightly 'safer' atmosphere (no brawls this time).
All in all it was a great match + evening, on return rounded out with the almighty 'Shuko', Guatemala's infamous sub sandwich at one of Antigua's finest, 'La Perrada', which sits on the main strip near the market. MMM.
While writing an essay for Spanish class in a sunny place (on the sidewalk) nearby home, I entered conversation with my neighbor's wife (as she essentially opened the door into me, haha), who shortly thereafter introduced me to her husband, Oscar, who works as a silver smith.
Oscar has had a strenuous (to say the least) work life, working as an apprentice at a metal smith shop (for doors and windows), wood shop (making various types of furniture), and farm (among others), finally beginning as a silver smith around the age of 16. He carries jewelry some 43 years of experience, during which he has developed a network with Guatemalan jewelry designers, providing many local shops with first class designs and unique pieces sold at high prices. More importantly, his passion for silver-smithing is remarkable, and infectious...
After a short conversation, we discussed a 'mini-workshop' which he offers to Guatemalans and tourists, and in which he works 1 on 1 with participants to craft a custom ring of silver and purple jade.
Today we further discussed how he has come to know the trade (along with its opportunities and obstacles), and watched as he gave a demonstration of melting (fundiendo) silver to create a slim sheet from which he can make any piece.
Next Monday (2/21) we'll begin the workshop, and Michael (former roommate from San Diego) and Rollo ('' from London) will be crafting while I translate... Very excited! Will keep updated with pics.
Perhaps most incredible of all, Oscar's studio is set up to overlook the streets (he's perched on a loft of sorts), and has a perfectly framed view due south to the volcano Agua. Pictures of this inspiring setup to come soon...
Time and again I am baffled by the striking beauty of seemingly ad hoc compositions. For example, a worn door with all its shades of brown beauty, paired with a tourqeois-gray competition of paint over concrete.
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