1.24.2016

Journal, March 13, 1976 PM

We are in the Belmont {hotel} in Guatemala City tonight ($1.80 / person). I saw something near the bus station when we arrived that brought on one of those: "There but for the grace of God go I." moments. I saw the hotel where I stayed last time I was here & half of it had fallen about a floor (in the earthquake, presumably). The center rooms (where I stayed) were worst mangled of all, of course! I had Jan take a picture of it.

We bought plane tickets to Flores (A town near Tikal which has some ruins of its own & a lake!) for Monday. Tomorrow we are going to the market day in Chichicastenango, famous for display of Indian handicrafts - especially woven stuff. The plane was cheaper than we figured, so maybe we’ll be able to buy some stuff tomorrow! We’re on a tight budget.

We saw some of the earthquake damage today. The physical damage isn’t as bad as I had expected, but it’s easy to see how 27,000 died. Poor sections of town, like the area near the bus station where most of the buildings are either old or of poor construction, were hit hard. Well constructed buildings generally held up, though some, like the National Palace have cracks all the way up the sides of them. Some brand new buildings, which weren’t built well enough, were considerably damaged as well. As seems generally to be the case, the hardest hit by the quake were those least able to stand the loss. Numbers of refugees are still camping in parks and public squares throughout the downtown area. The whole city seems grimy & kind of dreary. What a contrast from how I found it on {Central American} Independence Day (September 15th) last year!

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