When I was in Guatemala in August there were election posters and billboards everywhere. I was fascinated by how they were painted on the sides of mountains and everything. Well today I kept seeing helicopters flying over Pana and extra military guys with machine guns all around town, so I asked at Spanish school what was going on. Apparently tonight is when the newly elected politicians take office, and people are worried about what the reaction is going to be. I spent all day walking around town by myself (I found a vegan restaurant that was amazing then walked through the market for awhile buying all the ingredients to make homemade hummus and falafels tonight) and kept seeing strange things going on. When I was in the middle of town on the main street I noticed that there were about 50 tuktuks (think of a motorcycle on 3 wheels taxi thing without doors that cost 5 q (64 cents) to go anywhere in/around town) stopped in the middle of the street with some guys yelling. I ran into an older missionary couple I have met a few times and they told me that their tuktuk driver explained to them that the drivers were going on strike as a protest. I also saw several pickup trucks with about 20 military guys standing in the back with machine guns (scary). On my walk home I passed a few bars and stores with groups of people standing outside watching the same thing on tv at every place (I am assuming by what it looked like it was the inauguration of the new politicians). I stopped to talk to a couple of other gringos (it's what Guatemalans call anyone not from Guatemala. At first I was offended when I heard them calling me a gringa, but then I realized it is not a derogatory word) and was told that they talked to a military dude who told them that the new mayor (who apparently a lot of people here don't like) is coming into town tomorrow and they are worried about riots.
Hopefully all the extra security around is not needed, but I think I may stick close to home tomorrow and not go into town. I know it is good that the military is here (if they are needed), but it is extremely unsettling and shocking to me to see so many people with HUGE machine guns just standing around.
If you feel like doing some Guatemala praying tonight please pray for peace tomorrow when the new mayor comes to town and maybe some calmness for me. My roommate is out of town this weekend and I have a feeling it is going to be a tough night for sleeping.