On the 25th a small group were going to visit a sponsored student and then the orphanage. I wanted to see the orphanage and take some toys and books I had brought down. Susie from mayanfamilies suggested that the orphanage would be a grat place to take them.
When we got to the home of David's student I realized it was the brother of Hilary's sponsored student. David is the brother of Beth whom I have only know from our MF yahoo group and finally got to meet. It was the first day I did not have my camera w/ me so I downloaded the pics from Beth's camera.
We then went to the orphanage and what a pleasure that was. These are all children who come from very painful backgrounds. They were very excited about the toys and books which I purchased at places like Big Lots for very little. The items included a game for the older children that my friend Kim donated and they loved the toy guitar that Lisa from our teem brought down.
Included in the toys were chalk, jump ropes,playdough and childrens books in Spanish. I loved it when the first thing they went after were the books. The older students were reading to the smaller ones.
We then dicided to demonstrate the chalk and jump ropes. Susis drew a hop scotch game and everyone had a great time w/ that. There was jump roping and several budding artists drawing w/ the chalk. The whole experience was a blast.
On the teams last full day in Guat. we headed to Antigua at 8:00 AM so we could have some time there. It is a lovely colonial city w/ lots of ruins from an earth quake in 177?. We arrived at Hotel Aurora...my favorite.... and since it was to early to check in we went walking. Jolene was not feeling well enough to go so she was going to stay in the lovely garden at the hotel. The staff at the hotel are so nice that when they found out they made a room available for her right away.
We went to lunch a Frieda's Cafe as in the artist Frieds Kahlo. They have great natchos and marguritas. On the way to Frieda's we got to see some of the preperations for Samana Santa..Easter week... where they make carpets out of colored sawdust that the processions will walk through. They are beautiful. Then back to the hotel for rest. Everyone was too pooped to explore. We had wine in the courtyard of the hotel and relaxed until supper.
For supper we ate at La Fonda where they have a traditional Guatemalan chicken soup. It is awesome and everyone enjoyed it. That is those who were able to keep the rumbly in thier tumbly at bay. And back to the hotel for an early night.
On the morning of departure there was a little drama. The chicken bus drivers were striking because of gas prices. The shuttle companies kept saying they couldn't get through. I talked to Sharon at mayanfamilies and she had a driver already at the airport so we knew it was possible to get through. I talked to our shuttle service and we agreed they would try. They breezed through w/o any problems. I then headed back to Panajachel for a few days of rest. I also was told they wouldn't be going but found a service that got me there.
This trip was a most rewarding experience and I hope to do many future ones. You might consider joining us next time.
We started out the day very leasurly with coffee at El Dorado the I took them on a shopping tour of the places I buy from. All of the store treated them to the same wholesale price as I pay.
Some of us then went and had lunch. A street vendo named Teresa came and wraped our heads w/colorful head wraps. Then she proceeded to teach us how to do it ourselves. It was lots of fun.
A restfull day was called for since some of us were feeling a bit puny. We all hung out at my place in the evening. To bed early for our departure in the morning to Antigua, Guatemala ( not to be confused with the island).
This day was very full and had much excitement. I went to the hotel and picked up Jolene and Maureen to take them to the mayanfamilies Pana. pre-school to help w/ the medical clinic. If you follow mayanfamilies blog you will see the details.
The rest of the group met at my house and once again we jumped (some of us crawled) into the back of a pick up and headed to the home of a single mom of 5 children to install a stove. While the stove was being installed several of the team went to the market and bought provisions for this family. They had nothing in the house except corn to grind. We left a very happy family.
We then proceeded to mayanfamilies head quarters ( Sharon's house) and met a family we bought food for. The mother is very ill after having part of her lung removed. The word the grandmother used to discribe her translated to ornament. She can't do anything. We also gave them clothing and shoes. It was mentioned that the children were not sponsored in school. Hillary spoke up and said she wanted to sponsor the oldest girl. This young girl proceeded to throw her arms around Hilary and thank her. Needless to say Hilary was reduced to tears.
The little girl from San Jorge preschool who had heart surgery was also there to pick up her new traditional clothing the team had pooled together to buy her. She was so beautiful in it.
Then off back up to El Barranco to visit the homes of the students the team sponsored up there. We made a quick stop at the Pollo Comprero for take out on the way. Almost all of the chhildren we visited had gifts for their sponsors. Jill's family's home was fairly new construction of cement block but they had nothing else. We are taking a chunk of the money her cousin generously dontated to buy them a stove. Where they cook was inclosed and none of us could take all the smoke in there from the open fire. Also they sleep on a woven mat on a concrete floor. A bed is next on the agenda.
While we were at the home of a student another came to us in tears because she was afraid her brother had cut his finger off cutting wood w/ a machete. We took off over there and Corey, our token man, who is a trained first responder took over. It was Lisa's student so ofcouse she was in tears. The boy did brighten up a good bit when she pulled the soccer ball she brought for him out of the bag. Susie our mayanfamilies guide called for a truck to take him to the clinic in Pana. He ended up with several stiches and is going to be okay.
We returned to Pana much later than expected so Mathilda,the caterer, was already at my house. Thank heavens my house keeper, Maria, has a key and met her there to help. We had a lovely party and a great end to a great day.
Today was one of those fun days. We went to Chichicastanego for the world famous market. It is color overload. I unfortunately didn't take many pictures because I have been there enough times to not think about it now. All I did for the day was show the team a few sites and let them loose. They apparently did well because there were quite a few bags stuffed in the van when we left.
A friend from Portland, Oregon, Judy Jones, met up with us in Chichi and will be with the team until Sun. She is then going to be taking Spanish lessons in Antigua, Guat. for two weeks.
Before we left Chichi Susie from mayanfamilies called me to let me know there was a Tuk Tuk ( 3 wheeled taxis ) strike. The Tuk Tuk drivers were protesting some road changes so we were not sure we were going to be able to get back into Pana since they had the roads blocked. The team felt they may need to stop along the way to grab some libations so Oswaldo our driver found a tienda for them. As it turns out the strike was over by the time we got there but the ride became more exciting. Everyone cleaned up and we had dinner at the Sunset Cafe.
Today was packed full. My friend Louise had two of her friends here visiting from Canada, Wayne and Carol. They decided to spend the day w/ us. First we went to San Jorge pre-school and took clothes, shoes, toys and some hand made books that Julie's Aunt donated. They were made by the 6th grade students of the school her aunt is the principle in. They were in Spanish and the kids loved them.
There was only one little girl that wasn't in traditional clothing at the pre-school so the team collected enough money among themselves to be able to buy her a new traje. She recently had heart surgery and was very listless. We look forward to seeing her in her new clothes.
We had lunch at Pollo Comprero in Solola and then headed to El Barranco where we had a stove to install. But first we got to shop w/ the women of this community who are weavers of beautiful textiles. And a couple of the girls got to try their hand at making tortillas. That pretty funny!!!! Then the children performed. They have formed a folkloric dance group to hold onto their traditions. It is a delight to watch.
After the performance it was mentioned that not all the children were sponsored. So we asked which ones were not and thirteen lined up. Between the 10 people in my team and three other visitors all thirteen of the kids present were sponsored. It was a very emotional moment
We then proceeded on to install a stove for an elderly couple and their 18 yr. old grandaughter. We drove as far as we could then proceeded on foot for quite a long way. The girls carried the concrete blocks on their heads like the locals. Before we finished it came a downpour, but stopped before we had to leave. By the way I use "WE" quite loosely. Julio of mayanfamilies really is the one that does most of the work.
It was an emotional filled day w/ lots of tears and all of them tears of joy.
On the second full day in Guatemala the group had breakfast at the hotel and then we went down to the docks and boarded our launcha for the trip across the lake. Mayanfamilies general manager Julio and my friend Louise accompanied us. When we arrived at Santiago Atitlan we hired a pick-up to travel Guat style to the villages of Chuk Muk and Panabaj.
In the village of Chuk Muk my friend Louise and her husband have worked tirelessly to make improvements in the school and homes of the people there. They are mostly the displaced people who lost their homes in the mud slide in 2005 as a result of hurricane Stan.
She took us to two classrooms of the school to meet the children and participate in her efforts to teach the children good dental care. She demonstrated how to brush their teeth to the amusement of us all. Then we handed out toothbrushes and toothpaste that she got donated.
We also visited the home of a widow with 5 small children whose husband had been murdered. She had 3 small rooms and a kitchen out back. None of the beds had mattresses. They are sleeping on the support boards. Cory and Brandy generously gave them money to buy food. A side note...Cory tends to over tip from a generous heart but I think he is going to end up with a fan club that will be following him everywhere. We then visited the village of Panabaj where the mud slide happened. They still have about 1000 people living in a refugee camp here since 2005. The plan is that they will all be in the govt. housing of Chuk Muk by June. Many of the children and women there make items to sell so there were purchases made.
Back in the pick up to go see Maximon, the Mayan god. Each Easter someone earns the privilege of housing him for a yr. That privilege comes by who can come up with the most money.
We then went back into Santiago, visited the church and new town square where they have built a small park, and then had lunch atop a restaurant with very good food. Then the shopping started. I took them first to meet a family that have beautiful textiles. The woman there wears the traditional tocoytal head piece of that village which consists of 12 yrs of 2 inch woven fabric. She uncoiled it and demonstrated how she wraps it around her head. Several of the girls had to try one on for size.
Back across the lake, photo op on the dock then to Crossroads Cafe for coffee before we went to mayanfamilies headquarters. We sorted through the tubs of donations that everyone brought with them. We will be handing some of the things out tomorrow in the village of El Barranco where we will be installing a stove.
I am writing this at 3am so if it doesn't make sense sorry. I will attempt to journel each day to keep you all posted as to our adventure. Thank you all for your support and prayers.
The group arrived today all intact, piled into the hired van and away we went to the highlands....3 hrs. to Panajachel. Checked into the hotel then brief walking tour to get oriented. Sent them off to eat at El Patio restaurant. They then walked out to my place for snacks and drinks.
Tomorrow we will take a boat ride across the lake to the villages of Chuck Muk, Panabaj and Santiago Atitlan. Then this evening will be free time.