Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Tropical depressions and local legends

Yesterday I felt this neat little connection to my town, where I could exclaim with people about the birds I saw and talk about the accompanying legend, wondering if the season really was about to change. Superstition or not, I really hope the season is about to change here because it’s been raining constantly and it’s downright bothersome – I’ve been stuck in site for a week.

Let me begin – yesterday I stepped outside of the office and looked up into the sky – there were hundreds of birds off in the distance, circling, something I’ve never seen in the past 11 months. (Note: that video’s not mine). Sure there are birds around here – buzzards that lurk around the roadside garbage dump that I pass on my morning run, or the blue-jay types that flit through the trees casting shade in the coffee plantation, but not hundreds circling in the sky. I’d never seen that before but….I shrugged and forgot.

Later on that night I went to visit this zany guy in my neighborhood who invited me over for (instant) coffee and sweet breads, of course we discussed the weather since it’d been pretty miserable lately. We are already in the rainy season, but now everything has gone further downhill because of Tropical Depression 12-E, which hit on October 12th and has affected approx. 500,000 people, causing 34 deaths throughout the country. Everything is upset - when the weather gets fierce in Guatemala, roads and bridges wash out, retaining walls fail, mudslides destroy houses and rivers surge over their banks and displace entire communities. I feel pretty thankful that I’m safe and all I have to worry about is staying dry.

Meanwhile, zany guy (Godolfino) is telling me that there’s this local legend that says when the azacuanes arrive in the spring, when they mass together and fly away from the sea, towards the north, it means that the season is about to end. Translation – the rain is going to stop.

(note: for Guatemalans we are currently approaching spring. It’s the opposite than the States –the rainy season, which runs roughly from April to October, is what Guatemalans think of as winter)

Immediately, I thought back to that afternoon, when I saw a big ol’ group of birds massing above the hill on which my town sits, and since I’d never seen them before I figured maybe I’d gotten lucky. “Did you see the birds earlier today?” I asked, and immediately his daughter exclaimed that she’d seen them too. They must have been the azacuanes, we decided. Cheerily, we hoped it meant that the season was coming to an end.


  1. So glad you were right about them birds! My the weather was fantastic. To boot, YOU were fantastic! Thanks for being such an impeccable tour guide. It was a lovely trip!
    Hugs N stuff,

  2. Hi! I have a random question. I live in Fairbanks and run an after school program. Every week we choose a different country to learn about. Next week we are learning about Guatemala. Do you know of any Guatemalans in Fairbanks that may want to come in and talk to the kids? I searched Guatemala and Fairbanks and found you... :)
    Let me know if you can help. Thanks! openarmssa@gmail.com