Friday, November 18, 2011

Things Change but Amigos Stay the Same

One of the things that I've been looking forward to for a long time is a visit to Gualan, Zacapa. The town is probably of little interest to most tourists because it is not in any guide book nor on the beaten path. But for me it is significant because I spent two years as a Peace Corp Volunteer living, working and making some great friends in Gualan.
The town is along the Atlantic Highway. West of the town is a desert. East of the town is the tropical coast and banana plantations. The Montagua River runs along the northern border of the town and carves it's way to the Atlantic coast. South of the town is a mountain range where coffee is grown.
Around the central plaza is an iglesia, municipalidad, mercado y banco.
This furniture store is now where the iglesia was previously located.
It appears that they built a new church on the other side of the plaza.
This is the entrance to the mercado. In the past the mercado was only two small alleyways and a few stalls. Now there is a two story structure that encloses the mercado.
This is the first place that I lived. A very nice lady named Dona Estella rented me a room in the back of the house. I was told that Dona Estella no longer lives here.
This is the second place that I lived. The family of Carlos, Alicia and Christy rented the room behind the door on the right.
On the other end of the house was this great tienda (store).
Here's a picture of my Gualan mama Alicia.
Here's a picture of my Gualan papa Carlos.

Little Christy was only 3 or 4 years old when I lived here. We use to sit on the steps of the tienda and play. Now she is studying medicine in the capital city Guatemala.
This is a basketball court where I would play pickup games. During the months leading up to Christmas the town would hold a basketball tournament and much of the town would come out to watch.
This is my friend Juan and the first place trophy we won during the tournament. Juan was the captain and sponsor of Team Ferroplas. Juan played a guard, passed the ball around the perimeter and shot from outside.
Juan and I ran into one of my other friends that played basketball with us named Victor. Victor played as a forward, rebounded and had a great turn around jump shot. And the young man on the left is Victor's son.
We dropped in on another friend and fellow teammate named Manuel. Manuel was our center. He had great hands, blocked shots and wrangled many a rebound.

Juan said that our other teammates had moved on. There was Ruben that played point guard and ran the fast break. There was Gerardo that played forward and primarily gathered rebounds and boxed out. I played a point forward and was a utility player doing whatever we needed at the moment. We had all the pieces. It was a great team.

I have many great memories of Gualan. The town has changed quite a bit since I lived there. The town center has a new park, market and church. There are new colonias (suburbs). There are new businesses. There are so many cars, motorcycles and tuk tuks that they actually have traffic cops. And, there are many new people.

Many things have changed, but my old amigos have stayed the same. I bet that you could toss us a ball and we could still challenge some of the young guys.

Location:Gualan, Zacapa

1 comment:

  1. Troy, so happy for you that you were able to reconnect with friends from your Peace Corp days. Did they know you were coming or was it a complete surprise to them?

    Glad you are still trucking along and sending these updates. Happy belated Thanksgiving!

    ReplyDelete

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