November 12, 2012
We chickened out of taking a chicken bus from Xela to Nebaj and instead arranged to be driven by car. With our luggage, the buses sounded just a little too daunting since they would have involved at least one change, possibly more. Since Nebaj is a little off the beaten track, taking a shuttle van didn't seem to be an option, but after trailing around a series of travel agencies in Xela we managed to knock the price of a private car down from US$200 to US$130. So, on Friday a friendly chap called Jorge drove us to Nebaj in his Toyota Corolla (about 90% of the vehicles in Guatemala appear to be Toyotas). I'm not sure he didn't bite off a bit than he'd bargained for since he evidently hadn't driven to Nebaj before (he asked for directions from bystanders on five or six occasions). He also had to drive over about 23 million speed bumps on the way and with each one scraping the bottom of his car his grin got more and more strained. The already throaty sounding engine of his car sounded noticeably rougher when we finally rolled into Nebaj about four and a half hours after setting off.
The main reason we're in Nebaj is to do some volunteer work with Grupos de Mujeres y Hombres por la Paz, an independent community organization of Ixhil Mayans. Some of the members, Abraham, David, and Miguel, met us when we arrived and showed us into our home for the next three weeks, their recently acquired and renovated hostel. It's very basic and it looks to have been a struggle to make the building that houses the hostel habitable, but the members of the group are all very friendly and eager to make things work for us while we're here. It appears that we'll be helping them with English and computer classes and also with learning to do some baking for the new restaurant project that they have. This is all still a little up in the air as we've only been here a few days , so we'll post more details on this later. In the meantime, here's a quick view of Nebaj and some of the group members who accompanied us on a walk yesterday: