Usually at my home in Portland you wouldn’t find me up before I have to be. I am a huge fan of sleeping in, if there’s an opportunity to sleep in until 10 or 11 am I’ll probably take it. Here in Guatemala though, there’s a lot to do and no time to sleep away half the day, not with Spanish classes or guest speakers or any of the other incredible and new things there are to see. I’ve found that I actually like getting up early, the whole day ahead of me and getting to experience the quietness of the early morning. There have been a couple times on the trip that have pulled us out of bed, at an hour that feels like the middle of the night, to see the almanecer.. In the past week these opportunities to begin the day alongside the sun have presented themselves to me three days in a row.
Alarm set to… 4:45 am
My first sunrise of the last few days was in San Juan La Laguna. It was Saturday morning, the last morning we would be spending in a place we all got to know very well. I crept quietly out of the house, closing the door softly as not to wake my host family, and walked through the dark to the program house, the path dimly lit by street lamps and a huge and bright full moon. Kat and I met on the way, and at the program house Megan joined us, and the three of us, along with a very friendly street dog who we named Vaca, walked to the base of the Cerro de la Cruz. We ascended in the dark using headlamps, our new dog friend patiently waiting at each new switch back for us as, determined and super out of breath, we tried to keep up. At the top the breathtaking view awaited us, you could see the lake in front, and mountains surrounding us. Behind the lake the mountains stood dark against a sky that was a more intense red than any sunrise I have ever seen, and we sat and watched as the sky smoothly transitioned a million times into different shades of orange and blue and yellow and red… When we turned around we saw more enormous mountains and a pale blue sky, the moon still huge and whole, you could see the face in it smiling down on us and the other people, a mix of tourists and locals, all sharing the vista.
Alarm set to… 2:50am
The next day I really did get up in the middle of the night, only three hours after going to sleep. I rolled out of bed, brushed my teeth, grabbed my packed bags and walked downstairs to find my family awake and waiting for me with a packed breakfast para llevar. Altogether, we walked down to the program house, and said our goodbyes as our group of dragons boarded the bus, which would take us away from San Juan for the last time, and on our way to x phase in the Caribbean. I dozed on and off, we were all exhausted of course, but found myself wide awake when after a couple hours I looked out to see the sun rising over a cloud forest. The winding road we were on was above the cloud cover, which was thick and looked like a cotton blanket caught on the tops of trees and mountains. This sunrise was soft, subtle, and yellow. In the distance were even taller volcanos, one of which was erupting a plume of steam into the sky. It was crazy cool. The bus driver slowed to take a picture.
Alarm set to… 5:10 am
Yesterday was National Garifuna Day in Livingston. We dragged ourselves out of bed, yet again in the dark, and walked along the beach in front of our hostel to find tuk tuks to take us to the festival to Livingston, a 15 minute ride away. As we walked the sun rose over the bay, and you could see pelicans and big white cranes dipping down to the water, and big white fluffy cloud became illuminated. In the tuk tuks we made our way into town on bumpy roads, and soon on all sides of the road were the people of Livingston, all walking towards a shore at which the festivities of Garifuna Day were beginning. When we arrived we stood on a cliff above the shore, and we were snapped out of our slow and sleepy start by music, singing and tradition as the Garifuna people celebrated their arrival to Livingston, 216 years ago.
Getting up that early means a necessary nap later in the afternoon, but I think the morning always seems better when you’re there to greet the sun. Afterwards I always find myself with a smile on my face, bouncing with lightness and positivity.
In Spanish, como amaneciste? Is said in place of our how did you sleep? Literally meaning, how did your sun rise?