Naturally, the 4th of July is not celebrated down in Guatemala as it is not their independence day, but I made the best of the day anyway. I went for a fifty minute run that took me through the Guatemalan city streets and all the way through the University of San Carlos. (It has 80,000 commuter students, so the campus is huge to be modest). Later that Saturday night, I went with my host family to visit my host aunt at her house a few miles away. We had a great time trading stories in Spanish and we all laughed a lot. While we were all inside, a little buzz killer came along and broke into our car parked along the city street. Then, he or she broke a window and took my host father’s work phone and my host brother’s PlayStation Portable. Luckily, the thieves were dumb enough not to take the digital camera my host sister Maria Isabel left in the car. What really amazed me was how well my host family dealt with the incident. Despite the loss, my host family simply moved on. I would tend to hold on to anger much longer if the same were to happen to my car. Heck, I was furious when I was almost robbed four weeks prior to the car break-in, and in that case I didn’t lose anything:I was walking to my host family’s home on June 6th, at 8:30 in the evening when three unusually large Guatemalan men approached me and one attempted to blatantly pull my backpack off of me. He got the one strap off of me, but I then proceeded to fight back which wasn’t a smart thing to do. Fortunately I was able to rip the man’s grip from my back pack and proceeded on my way without taking one of their glass beer bottles to my head or worse, stabbed or shot. I contemplated running to the brightly lit gas station a block ahead of me when I turned to see the three men following me, but luckily I didn’t have to run as they stopped following me after a few seconds. The whole incident lasted no more than ten seconds, and I was at home five minutes later, but regardless this incident was a reality check.
I shouldn’t have been walking home alone in the dark like I was, and like I had done a few times before, but in this one specific situation I had just gotten back from hiking a Volcano and didn’t have a whole lot of options besides the bus. Regardless, I promptly began to make getting home before dark an imperative objective. As soon as my watch read 6:30 p.m. each night, I knew that it was time to commence my 25 minute walk home. Just like any big city in the U.S., precautions must be taken against being robbed in Guatemala City. Live and learn.