| Oct 13, 2023
The Situation in Guatemala
Road block in the city
Good morning from Guatemala.
We are going through an unprecedented time here, now on Day 12.
I will start with a little background to provide context for today’s update. When Deb and I first visited Guatemala back in 2009 we were so amazed at the beauty of Antigua. Fine dining, bistros, high-end coffee houses, and delightful boutique hotels. Antigua is actually where our school is now located.
On our second week of that trip, we rented a car and as soon as you leave the bubble of Antigua it’s a completely different story.
Life as normal in Antigua is not life for most outside Antigua.
And this was highlighted with great clarity today. One person up in Antigua tells me most things are open, shelves are full and gas in available. Tourists and ex-pats can get to and from the airport, which involves a little walking through or negotiation with the protesters to be let through. However, another friend told me that they are hopeful that thing will start opening up because it's killing businesses in Antigua quickly.
Now, where we live, Amatitlan, 45 minutes (on a usual day) south of the capital nothing is as normal. I went out this morning with a friend on his motorcycle to see for myself. There are no local blockades, just one 10km north of us, and another 12km to the south. The main Pacific highway that runs through here is basically empty except for local traffic.
Three of the largest supermarkets, La Torre, La Bodegona, and Maxi Dispensa are closed as are about ½ of the small businesses. The streets are very quiet. The only supermarket that was open, Suma, had an ocean of motorcycle parked in front and a line of about 50-60 people waiting to get gain access.
According to the authorities, there are still 6 blockades on major arteries in the city and nationwide there are 97 blockades. The national association of truckers spoke out yesterday regarding the effect of this situation on the transport and export of perishable goods. Their refrigerated rigs much run or idle 24/7 when loaded and many of the drivers are saying they are unable to save their loads because they are simply running out of fuel while waiting to get through the protests.
A bit of good news! Our staff went shopping today in Antigua and at the market there. There were no signs of shortage although in the market they had to buy the chicken for each of our families from different vendors because they have a limit on how many chickens one person can purchase.
We are going to open the school again this coming Monday. One half of our students lives in an area called Jocotenango, that is not affected by blockades. The other half live about 30 minutes outside of Antigua and there are two blockades between them and our school. But, despite this, the moms from this area more distant town will be shuttling between blocks and then walking to our school tomorrow to pick up their family food baskets.
Some photos below. The first shows our local La Torre here in Amatitlan closed today. They opened yesterday, but just for a half day. Trucks held up at a blockade in the city. Our staff shopping for a preparing the food baskets for delivery.
With love and best wishes from Guatemala.
Our local supermarket closed
Our staff shopping in Antigua for food baskets
Ready for packing
Ready to go!