Lake Atitlan, Panajachel, Guatemala

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Wednesday, June 11, 2014

The Rainy Season

After months of sunshine and perfect 70 degree days, the rain comes to the Lake Atitlan region. Every day, sometimes all day and throughout the night, it pounds against the roof of our house so we can barely hear each other speak.
Lake Atitlan during the rainy season


The nearby mountains are covered in gray clouds, the storm appearing much worse there than in the valleys, and I wonder about the Mayan people who live on the mountain, in their small villages far above town. How they must travel through the relentless pouring rain to work in their fields on the hillsides. They will navigate the steep, slippery, muddy paths down toward the local market to sell their vegetables. They can't afford to wait for the rain to stop, as the rainy season starts in May and goes through September. It is the Guatemalan winter.

The storm seems ominous and threatening as I think about these people in the hills around Lake Atitlan.  They manage, sun or rain, regardless. They tend their crops, come to town, carrying huge loads on their backs, to sell what they have grown, crafts they have made. Like all people everywhere, they need to survive, maybe get ahead, wanting a better life for their children. Maybe one day they can get enough money for the children to stop working in the fields and go to school.

I'm embarrassed at myself cowering from the rain in my large house with a garden, upset that I can't hear the sound on my Netflix movie.

33 comments:

  1. Puts things in perspective, doesn't it?

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  2. Hi Karen - that's why it's so important we do what we can isn't it .. I didn't like having someone in the house helping me, or in the garden - but at least they had some work. This post as Alex says puts it in perspective ...

    Is your roof tin? I had that in South Africa in one of my homes .. and it does clatter in the rains .. it'll be interesting reading your posts through the rainy season .. Cheers from a sunny England! Hilary

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    1. Hilary, No tin roof. It is fiberglass over wood rafters. The "normal" rain is okay but when it comes down in sheets, the noise is overwhelming. I can't even imagine if our roof were tin. It would be like we were under attack. I rather feel like I'm under attack the way it is! I wrote this post under such "duress" to give myself perspective.

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    2. Hi Karen - the noise is incredible isn't it .. we had hailstorms too with hail the size of golf-balls - now that was something rather interesting too - I'm just glad my roof came through without being damaged ... cars were hail smashed ...

      Well your roof sounds safer than mine in the 1980s!! Good for you writing the post under duress ... I see it wasn't long before you succumbed?! But do understand ..

      An interesting few months ahead .. cheers Hilary

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  3. What a beautiful posts that really really puts things in perspective...

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  4. It's amazing the resilience and attitude some people have when they don't have a lot. So awesome. And wonderful that you see your blessings.

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  5. Thank you for writing this. I went to a nail salon the other day and a young Vietnam man did my toes. I asked him about the local beaches thinking he would know being young. He said he works six days a week in there and only has time to fish...

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  6. Wonderful perspective. What's that saying? "Every day there are millions of people who are perfectly happy with less than you have."

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  7. They have been doing this forever and accept it as a part of life and probably don't complain, however, we Americans whine about a hangnail.

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    1. Thanks for your comments, everyone. It certainly does put things in perspective, and I'm finding my perspective is constantly being adjusted in my new environment. It makes for a great learning experience.

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  9. Overall we do have it easier than the people who must truly toil to eke out a living but at the same time, don't beat yourself up too bad. It would get rather sucky if there is mostly rain for a few months. My one friend leaves Vancouver in the winter to go to Thailand as it depresses him too much.

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  10. You're experiencing one of the many benefits of traveling and staying long enough to understand the culture and peculiarities of a particular place. Sometimes it's hard to change and grow.

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  11. For you it was comforting to write, for me it was transporting to read. One of those magical posts that took me out of myself for a moment.

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    1. Mirka, Thank you. (I added a photo of Lake Atitlan during the rainy season.)

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  12. I loved the way you wrote this Karen.
    In my mind's eye, I could see those people doing the things you described. I think Alex hit it right on the head.

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  14. Excellent post Karen! It has been raining here too but I'm keeping quiet as I know forest fires have already begun in Labrador and so I know it is deeply needed. I love how you peek gently into the life of your neighbors and share it with us. Aren't we the luckiest folk?

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  15. The Mayans have lived there for centuries and I wonder how many people living in big houses ever showed the same concern for them as you did in this post. You have a beautiful heart, Karen.

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  16. I know rain is necessary but it really gets me down especially when it pours for days in a row.

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  17. Beautiful country. Rain sounds great to me. We're in a three year drought. The lakes are drying up. Water is rationed. I guess too much is as bad as too little. Lovely post. Thank you for sharing.

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  18. I love the rain, but I usually have the opposite problem of not being able to hear enough of it when I am inside. I can't imagine hearing it come down as loudly as you describe.

    I do think it is wonderful to hear about how much people will do for their families carrying a lot of things to town to sell, even in the rain. Maybe some are doing it just to get by, but … the ones that are doing it for their loved ones to have a better life? Those are some special people. <3.

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  19. Wow, that's quite the experience indeed! Funny how things we view as inconvenient are simply facts of life for a lot of folks. Stay dry!

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  20. How do you handle a rainy season? What do you do to entertain yourselves? I'm wondering how we'll deal with this as well when we move to Palau.

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    1. Holli, It's worse in June, and even then it's not every day all day. The sun still shines for hours at a time, and people are out everywhere then. But when it rains it can come down really hard and last all day and all night. Fortunately it's not always like that. Usually the rain is maybe 4 or 5 hours at a time.

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  21. A season of rain? And I was depressed with a week of non-stop rain in New Jersey. I've hiked in the rain many times--even torrential downpours--but I cannot imagine surviving year after year farming the land in such weather. Try and remember the beauty of the sunshine that will come once again, Karen. ~Victoria Marie Lees

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  22. I visited Guatemala for the 2nd half of July through the 1st half of August in 2007. There were a couple of days of constant rain in Xela, but it wasn't too bad. But it was much cooler in Xela than down in Pana. At night, we definitely needed blankets at times.

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  23. Dear Karen, the grace here is that you do think of and are concerned about the Maya who live on the mountain. The "being aware" is truly a grace and it is often that which prompts us to reach out to others in ways large and small. Just as you do. Peace.

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  24. I live in the desert now, so we don't get much rain. We used to live in Portland, so I know about rain. We used to quack. Your view sure is fantastic.

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  25. Hope the rain lets up soon. It's been raining off and on here lately. 13 inches of rain in one weekend caused our dam to overflow and flood our home. We had to rebuild...that was 2010. I'm not a big fan of rain after that!

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  26. Great post. Loved the descriptions and the last paragraph.

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  27. When I read this post and about the locals they seem to do what needs to be done and get it done by any means necessary. In the U.S. folks would be treating it like a national emergency and our government would be on a liberal leave. :/

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