Tag Archives: Guatemala city earthquake

Arrival

(headphones in. Listen for the tone of the post below…….)

I arrived late in the day yesterday to my home away from home here at Posada San Sebastian in Antigua Guatemala.  Perhaps they say ‘welcome home’ to all their beloved guests, but it feels so great to hear it any how.  I awaken to hazy sunlight in the courtyard after 11 solid hours of unbroken sleep.  I am the first to arrive of our group.

My bedside window view is peaceful and familiar.  I bundle up in a shawl and socks to wander down the hall to boil water for coffee.  Coffee before coffee.

Arrival to Antigua is generally none too difficult.  Though traffic can be an issue at times getting from Guatemala City where the airport is to be found.  Yesterday I opted to complicate matters just a bit to endeavor a side trip on route to Antigua .

When I was a kid (ages 5 – 7 or so) we lived here in Guatemala, in the city.  My dad was a machete weilding geophysicist who enjoyed field work more than academia and so we came here for his work. There are many firm and pleasant memories from our time here.  And there are many gaps in that memory bank as well, for trauma did leave its mark in the end.

An earthquake and the seismic dismantling of our family shortly thereafter meant this place carries some scars in my little-girl psyche. I’ve been unpacking that heavy suitcase bit by gentle bit upon coming back for the first time with my hub for our anniversary  few years back.

Memory and the reptilian bits of our brain are a fascinating soup of interpreted facts.  Mixed in alongside the sanity-saving memory gaps,  desire to take flight, flee and save oneself at all times, trauma can cement things into a body and make a life we run from for the rest of our lives . For me, I am interested in going back in, from a place of safety, the present moment, and revisiting.

My side trip on route from the airport was to my childhood home where we found ourselves in 1976.  My patient shuttle driver put the sat nav on and we wound our way through the diesel and the oppressive midday heat and traffic to find my old home.

I had an old letter from my mom to her parents which has the whole harrowing tale from her perspective and the address as well and so off we go. With the traffic being what it is and this being an unusual shuttle driver request, I only manage to stay litle while. Snapping photos for my mom, noticing differences and familiarities in succession. Had I noticed anyone around I might have scraped up the courage to ask if I might come in and take a peek. Alas maybe next time. My Spanish improves with every visit here and I managed to share with my driver a bit of why it was important for me to visit this place.

There are many changes of course. Our neighborhood is now a guarded, gated community.  There are big black garage doors on what used to be an open and breezy car port. My host here said that with the violence suffered awhile back, many places circled their wagons in a sense to keep themselves defended. Guatemala has a complicated history, one I hope is shifting into a new era of eco-tourism, prosperity and fair pay for artisans living and working here. That is a tale for another day.  But suffice it to say, change is inevitable and truly the only constant.

Above is a sketch I made of my old house. With it’s unfamiliar doors and additions up top. Overlooking the gorge across the street, the trees are taller but the view is strangely familiar.  I remember the days just after the quake as the earth settled back into place with aftershocks and constant tremoring.

I’m ever so grateful to get a glimpse of this old place and hope to go back again.  I love my new relationship with Guatemala which involves textiles and painting and new memories being made with friends and loved ones in this magical mystical place.

As time passes and I dig deeper into the past while continuing to focus on the present, I’ll share more of what I dig up. Perhaps there is a book in all of this . I do not know. I just know, that right now, on this first morning in Antigua, I’m deeply grateful.  For my past which has made me who I am and for my present which helps me forge that self in the best way possible .

A note and apologies for the photos in this post. My devices aren’t talking to one another. So I had to use the crappy camera on this tablet to add the visuals. Its time for a new laptop for my travels so I can blog more easily from the road. If you dip over into instagram, find me at @abeefrnd and I’ll share a few old photos there which will add to the story .

As @doodleyboo on IG posted this morning…

” You might not work well everyday.  But you can always edit a bad page. You can’t edit a blank page.”

—Jodi Picoult

and so, in the spirit of the quote above, I offer you this imperfect blog post, for now .

 

Back in the saddle, so to speak

There is nothing like a road trip to shake things up artistically, especially when things have been hard on the home front.  My trip south with Kim went off with out a hitch and we had a great time.  It was so good for me to hang out on the edge of things and just take it all in. It was restful, at least for me, although touring is hard work for the musicians.  The “lads” with whom Kim was touring were a great bunch of guys.  My favorite venue they played was Eddie’s Attic, the premier singer/songwriter listening room in the Atlanta area.

Not all of our time was spent working however.  We managed to find some wonderful second hand clothing shops in Atlanta and Greenville, SC and an amazing toy store in downtown Greenville.

The trip was only 2 overnights and was over in a flash.  I personally, could have used a few more days on the road and will have to plan accordingly next time and join the tour sooner!  A good chunk of our time driving home through the mountains was spent in the fog, which was a nerve wracking for driving, yet beautiful at the same time.

Upon arriving home I put the finishing touches on a quilt I have been working on for one of my dearest friends who is having her first baby.  The design is based on the notion of “friendly monsters” which the kids drew out on paper, and then I interpreted into a quilt.  The result is amazing and like nothing I have ever made.  Below are some photos….

Now that the quilt is done and has been presented to its new home, it’s back to the wax table for me.  Below is my latest painting in encaustic.  It’s 12 X12 inches and seems to be heading into different thematic territory for me.  I have only briefly touched on my own past experiences to make art, choosing more often to work from my present surroundings, or broader collective inspiration such as Nature or the idea of Place.  But recently, my interesting and at times wild life and upbringing have been bubbling up and begging to be interpreted into art.  Most specifically, an earthquake that my family and I experienced in 1976 in Guatemala City.  I have only made a couple of pieces of art work based specifically on that terrifying experience but I think I am ready to tackle this idea a little more head on.  I’ll see how it goes.  Processing old stuff is hard, but necessary sometimes, and powerful, especially artistically.  I’ll keep you posted…