Becoming Fools!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Day Six - Pigeons and Vultures

Day Six - Our plans slightly changed since our Driver/Translator/Friend's car broke down. We had the pleasure of meeting Summer and her family, she had done a lot of the logistics for our trip. I always enjoy finally meeting someone you have had contact with via email and phone. Summer and her husband took us to Central Park in Guatemala City. First thing I saw was all the pigeons. I have a phobia of birds, so I was really hoping they wouldn't land on me. But they avoided me so it was all good.

We had the chance to go into La Catedral De Santiago De Guatemala. It was quite amazing! Unlike any cathedral or church building I have been in before.

La Catedral De Santiago De Guatemala

Central Square

Sawdust carpets for lent in the cathedral.

Beggar outside of the cathedral.

One one of the other sides of Central Park was the National Palace of Culture.
We had a tour and learned a lot about Guatemala's history. Very, very interesting!
There were many awesome art works. I have always enjoyed my art history classes, so I was heaven! Matt was loving all the wood details and carving as well. Definitely worth the tour!

Door to the National Palace.

Fresco painting depicting the history of Guatemala (battle between the Mayans and Spanish).

Inner courtyard of the National Palace.

"Sin Titulo" Victor Vasquez Kestler 1959

Victor Vasquez Kestler

Victor Vasquez Kestler sculpture of Jesus

"Personajes Cotidianos" Roberto Cabrera 1976

Gold ceiling.

"Finger print" of the president who built the palace.

Brass railing.

After our excursion in Central Park we met up with Joel Van Dyke, a missionary in Guatemala, at good old Pollo Campero.

It was great meeting Joel, as well. He is so filled with passion for the work and ministry he does. Joel took us to the National Cemetery. When the word Cemetery comes to my mind many different images come to mind, but this cemetery was beyond anything my imagination would have expected. Something that I only thought existed in movies.
People lined the sidewalk outside selling flowers. Once inside the big stone gate their were families gathered around tables having picnics. Mariachi bands circled waiting for opportunities to play for funerals. Kids ran through the rows of mausoleums playing.
We drove toward the back corner and saw hundreds of vultures circling. Now these birds were more intimidating the pigeons, that's for sure!
We got out of the car and walked through the vultures as they flew off around us to the edge of the cemetery. At the edge you could look down the hill and see the city dump.
The dump is the largest in Central America. About 11,000 people work in the dump every day. They scavenge for anything of value, such as recyclables, metals, cardboard, old clothes etc. What they do find they turn around and try to sell.
It was quite a sad site. Joel explained to us what he does with Vision Team trips (teams who come to see and observe missions). We stood there for awhile just taking it all, the sights, smells, as the wind swept up dirt and trash around us.

View of the dump from the National Cemetery.

Vultures resting on the tombs, waiting to scavenge in the garbage below.

Part of a coffin thrown over the edge of the hill.
A person pays for seven years for their "plot". If family does not renew after that time the plot gets opened, the body goes into a mass grave, and the casket gets tossed.

More vultures.

Vulture peeking out of a broken in grave.

Trash being dumped and people sorting through to find recyclables.

Damaged grave.

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