Sunday, June 9

Santiago Atitlan is a town of about 40,000, almost all Tz’utujil Mayans.  There are a few expatriates, and almost no Guatemalans of European descent.  I’ve never seen a town this size without a supermarket or any kind of medium sized food markets.  There is the Mercado in the center of town, with vast amounts of fresh produce and meat, and there are little tiny tiendas on every block, little hole in the wall places that sell packaged products, junk food, and soft drinks.  I asked my landlords where I could find coffee filters, and they said in Guatemala City.

Sunday is market day in Santiago Atitlan, and the whole town had a power outage all day until about 4 PM.  Part of the mercado is indoors, a huge dark interior space crowded with Mayan women and a few men, and with hundreds of vendors selling produce or meat.  Each vendor had a candle.  The space was dimly lit by hundreds of candles.  It was eerie.

Santiago Atitlan has three volcanoes nearby. To the west is Toliman, and to the east is San Pedro.  The largest and youngest, Santiago, is further south-east.  Yesterday morning was clear and the tops of all three volcanoes were visible from my house.  


Well, the top of Santiago was just barely visible.   Here is San Pedro, not the biggest, but right across the bay from the house:

Uncle Yascha returned last night to the Posada de Santiago (Rustic Elegance).   The dining room is large, quite a few people were scattered at tables around it, and I roamed among them seeking the ideal spot from which to perform, which I never found.  I’ve been developing a set of tools for performance art.  I’m really happy with the latest tool, which is simple but it seems to work.  When I start to get nervous, anxious, or concerned about getting through to people, I remind myself that I have a job to do, and that job is to sing the song.  The character I’m portraying in the song has a job to do, and that job is to tell the story in the song.  This was remarkably effective: rather than worry about how you’re doing, or about about who is listening or not, focus on doing the job.  When I had the impulse to sing louder in order to get them to hear me, I endeavored to sing softer.  I didn’t worry if people were talking.  I played well, they expressed appreciation, and some of them actually listened to the lyrics some of the time.

At one point as I performed, David, the proprietor, offered to set up a sound system for me.  I said then people would just have to talk louder to hear each other.  He said yes, but he would sell more drinks that way.  So I said, “You’re the boss, I’ll do it however you want.”   He said never mind, and I continued without amplification.  So that’s another aspect of performance art.  Your job is to help sell drinks.