Today we visited the San Antonio preschool where the children entertained us with a couple songs. Then to the well known San Antonio pottery workshop and store.
So many beautiful designs to pick from. A stroll through town brought us to a young man selling woven bracelets and a couple of people in the group noticed the horrible condition of his shoes. After a call to Sharon at MF we put him on the truck we were riding in and took him back to Pana and MF offices to find him a new pair of shoes. They had a pair of like new trainers that fit him perfectly. Then several contributed money and Lisa took him shopping for a new backpack and a food basket was also donated for him to take home. I am sure he felt he won the lottery that day. He was so sweet and very timid. Selling on the street is not easy and it must be near impossible for someone so timid. But you do what you have to do to survive. While we were walking around Cheryl took a step and felt something crack so when we returned to MF off the visiting doctor at the MF Medical Clinic happened to be a podiatrist. What were the odds on that one. So she was taken for ex-rays and they showed a small spiral fractures so of cousre MF had a boot that fit her and she continued on the remainder of the trip not letting a little break stop her. What a trooper. We then visited the MF wood shop trade school where they make beautiful gifts and practical furniture to order.
In the evening we had our MF farewell dinner where they provided an hour of Salsa lessons. Too much fun.
Home visits, stoves and deliveries today. Five students to visit and two stoves to install. As usual things did not go quite as planned. The stoves were delayed because of a parade or some such thing in Solola where we have to pass through to get to El Barranco. Once they arrived we were able to get after it. It turned out that one of the stoves we were installing was also one of the students we were visiting. We split into two teams and unfortunately because of the way things worked out one team installed both stoves. I guess the other will just have to return again so they can install a stove. We brought food baskets, corn and a closet plus lots of donations for the families of the sponsored students. The closets are locally made so this also helps other families along the way. This day is very emotional for most as they see the extreme poverty these humble Mayan people live in. In spite of having so little they still often give gifts to the sponsor. Today was a first for me….The family makes their own clothing so they presented Lynette with a full traje ( complete traditional outfit). Then on top of that they had prepared lunch for us of a traditional Mayan dish called polique…of which I am sure I spelled incorrect. So beautiful and so generous. All returned dirty and tired but with full hearts.
Today was a fun day of launchas….lake…..demonstrations and shopping. My favorite boat captain, Juan, met us at the dock where we boarded the launcha for a trip to San Juan la Laguna on beautiful Lake Atitlan. The launcha sometimes calls for reenactments of the Titanic. We were joined again by our friends, the Tillamook Rotary Club. Upon arrival, Francesca who manages one of the women's co-ops, had prepared a demonstration for us of the process of dying the cotton with natural dyes and all the sources those dyes come from since that is all this village uses to create their beautiful weavings. Then she explained all the steps it takes to create the one of a kind accessories. Then the shopping began. All were tired and worn out on the ride back. Shopping is exhausting.
We started our day out going to MF offices with all the wonderful donations that everyone brought with them. Those got sorted while the group was taken on a tour of Mf offices. We were joined today with some of the Tillamook Rotary Club who are good friends and doing lots of good things here in Guatemala.
We stopped off at the Solola Women's Co-Op to see the dying and weaving process of the beautiful bamboo products they make there. After some good shopping was completed we headed on up to El Barranco. After lunch there was a soccer game with some balls that were brought up to the preschool and lots of goodies handed out such as little flutes, balloons and stickers. Some kids were covered in stickers. Then the children performed their traditional dance and of course the monkey dance calls for audience participation. Four students got new sponsors today and anyone who knows me knows how happy that made me. We will visit them in their homes on Wed.
After the dances the kids lined up to receive donations. There are never enough jackets and sweaters for girls or enough shoes for boys. It is always heart breaking but in spite of that there was a lot of smiling faces that left with a lovely treasure of something new to wear.
After a bit of a rest it was off to Jose Penguino's for dinner and entertainment. Everyone got their chance to make a tortilla. Then it was off to bed to rest up for the busy day tomorrow.
Trip to the city to gather the Nov. Grace of Guatemala group at the Barcelo Hotel. First time ever they all arrived the day before. Sure makes the trip a quicker one so that we got back to Pana earlier than usual. Lots of donations to pack onto the MF pickup. With everyone ready at the hotel it gave everyone a chance to unwind a bit at the hotel in Pana before the welcome dinner at Mayan Families. Normally it would have been at Sharon and Dwight's home but we were too big of a group since the dinner was shared with our wonderful friends from the Tillamook Rotary Club. We did stop at the mirador ( vista view) that overlooks Lake Atitlan on our way into Panajachel where we will spend the next 5 nights.A long but fun day.
Getting ready to head into the city to pick up the Feb. 2015 Grace of Guatemala group. The Toriello/Shultz contingent arrived a couple days ago and have been enjoying some time in Antigua and will meet us back up here in Pana. However there are still four in the city to pick up plus two Mayan Families employees who need a ride back to Pana. It will be a long day…3 hrs. there and 3 hrs. back…..but it will be fun. We will get everyone settled into the hotel then head to Sharon and Dwight's home for a welcome dinner. Then tomorrow we hit the ground running.
Off to Antigua to enjoy this beautiful UNESCO Heritage site.
But first the vendors worked on getting just one last sale in while we packed the van.
Once we got to Antigua we unloaded our bags then headed to the heart of the village stopping along the way for lunch at Fridas's where the food is great and the margarita's are wonderful.
After lunch we continued down Arch street which if you Google Antigua, Guatemala you are bound to see a picture of the arch. Along the way we encounter conquistadors announcing events to come.
I don't believe I have ever been in Antigua near Christmas so it was lovely to see all the lights and decorations. It's a fun place to explore with all the beautiful churches and ruins that occurred during a massive earthquake in 1773 leaving this capital of the Spanish empire in ruins.
After which they moved the capital to Guatemala City where I have been told is actually on a larger fault line!!! Then finally, after a nap for some of us, we went to dinner at La Fonda where I always have to have the Caldo Real soup. Lorenzo and Kathy had a redeye flight so they left before dinner.
The rest enjoyed some Christmas carols at the main Cathedral on the square being sung by children. Then off to bed for those who had early morning flights. It was another wonderful trip with great and generous people.
Remember that all the pictures can be found on the Picasa link at the right of the page. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you all and come join us on a future Grace of Guatemala Trip in 2015. God Bless.