Life in Guatemala: Having a Blast

You know you’ve acclimated to life in Guatemala when you no longer wonder why there are so many firecrackers going off. Yes, almost always, someone is having a blast of the firecracker variety.

Many days you know they’re coming: Christmas Eve, New Year’s Eve, early on Mother’s Day morning, during the feria titular (the fair held annually around the feast day of the town’s patron saint). But in Guatemala, firecrackers are for any occasion. On birthdays it’s customary to set of firecrackers in front of the celebrant’s house early in the morning. If there’s anything special about the day, it will be celebrated loudly. I think about 363 days a year are special. Sometimes the booms go on all day. Often they continue long into the night.

As I was doing the dishes at our house in Panajachel tonight, it suddenly occurred to me that firecrackers had been going off all around me, and I was hardly even aware of them. They’re just part of the landscape of life here now.

One of the best things about our B&B on the other side of the lake is that we’re not in town. We occasionally hear some firecrackers in the distance, but there’s nothing like the constant din of living in town. Maybe that’s why it took me three years before the booms faded into the background here: I was spoiled by the B&B’s complete tranquility.

Yet, I’ve adapted to living in town…most of the time. You still won’t catch me staying in Panajachel on Mother’s Day! Really, whose idea was it to celebrate mothers by waking them up with firecrackers at 3am? Go ahead and blast one another out of bed for any and every reason, but can we leave the moms out of it?

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