Uxlamb’al

I went trail-running this morning. Yes, trail-running. Not dirt road- running, not soccerfield-running… trail- running. I’m going to keep saying that, because that will make it more true. In fact, what I did was more like trail- “jogging”… and at times trail-walking… which would actually be called “hiking,” but it was an accomplishment for me.

There is a lovely park smack in the middle of town (town being Nahualá), called the “Uxlamb’al” (place to rest).  The middle of town also happens to be a mountain.  Perhaps it’s not a mountain by Guatemalan standards, but I’m from Michigan, so it’s a mountain to me. It is certainly larger than anything we have in Michigan, including in the U.P.  The park is on the side of the mountain, and has three terraced paths with switchbacks connecting them.

There are big trees in the park.  Big, beautiful cypress trees breathing in the carbon smog of the town and exhaling sweet, fresh oxygen. Ahh, trees.

Along the paths are conveniently- placed trash bins and benches.  There are flowers.  And signs asking people not to pick the flowers.

There are even neat little campgrounds: slabs of cement under metal roof-shelters, complete with grills.

Unfortunately for me, there is also a pack of snarling dogs that roams the park in the wee hours of the morning.  They are impervious to the rocks I toss in their direction (not at them, per say), but at least they provide some motivation to keep moving.

I started off from my house at 6:15 this morning, after arguing with myself to get out of my comfy, warm (yet flea-ridden) bed.  I walked up two steep hills on the way to the park as my warm-up.  By the time I reached the entrance, I was quite warm.

The park is actually locked in the morning, but the dogs (or perhaps some mischevious youngsters?) have created alternate entrances via a dilapidated basketball court.  I climed the crumbling steps to the court, trying to put some pep in my step, and picked my way through the chain-link fence.

It should be noted that I didn’t go hunting for this hole in the fence.  I actually got lost the first morning I went to run, and just headed uphill until I found myself in the park. It was only when I tried to exit that I discovered that the official entrance was locked.

Anyway, my little warm-up takes about 15 minutes.  Sporting my bad-ass Jon Cena t-shirt (purchased in the Todos Santos market and envied by 15-year-old boys throughout Guatemala) and a pair of stylin’ paquete* sweatpants, I start to run. 

I hate running. HATE IT. A number of factors contribute to this sentiment: 1) there are many other, far less-painful sports that you can participate in that put your body in much better balance than running; 2) all runners end up injured at some point in time– your knees, your tendons, general imbalance that results from only working a minimal number of muscles day-in and day-out; 3) running gives me asthma attacks; 4) I look like a spazz when I run– some sort of cross between a waddling duck and someone deliberately running like a spazz, flailing their arms and about to trip over her own feet. Remember that Friends’ episode where Rachel and Phoebe go running? I’m somewhere between their two running styles.  I can go on, but I think this is sufficient. 

Why run, then?  Well, in spite of it’s shortcomings, running offers a few benefits: 1) it’s portable– you can run wherever you are, with a minimal amount of equipment; 2) it’s exercise, and I need exercise; 3) … uh, I can’t think of any more. Those two reasons, plus the lack of bikes or swimming pools in town, leads me to “run.”

I did laps on the middle tiered trail, because it undulated slightly. I lasted about 3 minutes, and had to rest. I made it to 4 laps in 15 minutes– not quite a success, but it gives me something to work on.

Nota bene (in my defense): Nahualá’s elevation is roughly 2500 meters above sea level. That’s more than 7500 feet. That’s pretty high, considering I live at sea level. 😛

I walked down the two massive hills to cool down on my way home.  It was a nice cool-down, and it was also the only way to get home. The goal: run three days a week, followed by my little situp and shoulder-strenghthening routine. We’ll see…

*Paquete clothes are used American clothes that are sold in the markets for anywhere between 1Q and 10Q.  I am curious as to where they come from, but I suspect that they passed through Goodwill or Salvation Army at some point…

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2 Responses to “Uxlamb’al”


  1. 1 Erin July 8, 2008 at 7:28 pm

    Sounds like you enjoy running about as much as I do. To play devil’s advocate though, couldn’t you argue that biking works an equally limited or more limited set of muscles than running? Just being a snot 😛

    Good luck with your goal, and don’t be afraid to chuck some rocks AT the dogs if they are threatening to actually approach you!

    PS how’s the kitten?

  2. 2 katherine July 9, 2008 at 6:12 pm

    Hee hee, you are right. Road cyclists are notoriously unbalanced, and they should definitely engange in other “balancing” activities 😉 BUT– mountain bikers develop pretty wicked core/ upper-body strength because they have to manouver so much more on an unpredictable trail than on a nice, smooth-paved road. Of course, in Ann Arbor we don’t *have* smooth-paved roads, so our roadies are as buff as our mountain bikers 😉 not really.

    the kitten is good-ish! I’ll write more about her tomorrow. poor thing… I hear her meowing all night 😦 I held her in my lap during dinner last night. She seemed happy then– I think she just wants cuddles.


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