Now that I’m moved into my apartment and have my own kitchen (yay!) I finally meandered over to the market this weekend to buy some basic provisions for the week. It was just as I remembered it – huge, bustling, and full of amazing, fresh, colorful produce. Even the “tomato lady” that I was used to buying from the last time I was here was still there, in the exact same stand that she was at two years ago. Of course she didn’t remember me, but nothing really beats selecting your own, oh-so-fresh produce directly from the person who grew it. It makes the simple act of grocery shopping an act of community and interpersonal connection, and for me, gives meaning to the foods that I eat.
Guatemala thrives on informality. As a Type A, hyper-organized, multi-tasking young American – less than a month out of college – this is something that’s been hard for me to come to terms with. But what I’m starting to see is that even if I can’t fully comprehend the system…it’s not really for me to comprehend. True, there may be ways to run things more efficiently, or perhaps in a more top-down manner, but if it works for Guatemalans themselves – which in many ways, it does – then looks like it’s up to me to learn how to manage my own life and my own work. And maybe also force myself to relax, be more patient, and have more faith in things working out (or at least in the beauty of a Plan B, and C, and D…)
Take the transportation system, for example. You won’t find a set schedule, route listings, or fees anywhere – yet somehow everyone seems to know how the system works. The busses (camionetas) for different locations line up on different street corners, and come consistently (unless they don’t…which also happens). And linking up with the camioneta system is an even more intricate system of microbusses and pick-ups that will pretty much take you door-to-door to any location you need to get to. Try to make that work anywhere in the states!