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Foreigner Loves Being Only Gringo

foreignergifBy Cynthia Ord

SANTIAGO, Sacatepequez – On day two of the annual All Saints Day kite festival, American traveler Jeremy Sawyer enjoyed a full afternoon as sole foreigner. For the first time during his two-week backpacking trip through Central America, Sawyer didn’t spot anyone else in outdoor performance apparel and fair skin. “It was awesome,” he observed.

For locals, the turnout was strong. Estimates of over a thousand Guatemalans participated in the flying of enormous colorful kites at the cemetery to commemorate All Saints Day. Sawyer attributes his luck to time and place. “I think all the tourists followed their Lonely Planet to the big Sumpango kite thing yesterday. Not me. It pays to put down the guidebook and get a little lost.”

Sawyer spent two full hours capturing the event with a digital SLR camera, taking a total of over 300 photos. Many of the photos are of the sky with some vague distant kites, and are bound to be deleted. A select batch of around 50 will be uploaded onto Sawyer’s Flickr photostream. “I felt like I was taking pictures that have never been taken before, kinda like that guy from Seven Years in Tibet,” remarked Sawyer. “It was so cool.” 

Sawyer lost his status as the only foreigner at about 4:30pm when a Peace Corps volunteer arrived from his nearby site. Sawyer considered giving him the fellow foreigner nod, but decided against it. The two managed to avoid each other.

At the end of the day, Sawyer made his way to Antigua, where he felt a little safer about staying overnight. On the chicken bus from Santiago to San Lucas, he was once again the only gringo present. “I must have been way off the beaten path,” recalls Sawyer. “I can’t wait to blog about it. That was awesome.”

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