Saturday, February 11, 2012

Yes we're home and the adventure continues...

Thanks to all of you who have followed our travels to this country filled with amazing people!  The last days photo's have been added to the album on the St. Elizabeth Service Peace and Justice facebook page.  Pat and I continue to process the experience, answer questions, and share the stories of many beautiful Guatemalan people.  Fr. Tom told us before we left and again last night, that's it's impossible to go on a trip like this and return unchanged.  We know in our hearts just how true that is and look forward to hearing your ideas on becoming more involved. Paz de Dios!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Adventure over...or just beginning

We arrived home early Friday morning.  It was a long day, starting at 4am on Thursday (Guatemala time), leaving for the airport at 5am (what a hair-raising trip! and it was 1 1/2 hours. Thank you, Oscar, for your careful driving), and three planes.  Luckily two of those connections allowed us to stretch out in our rows and catnap.  We arrived a half hour early in Anchorage, 12:30am on Friday (3:30am Guatemala time).  Caroline has more photos to load, most on our last two visits to pueblos.  One of them received computers funded by Bowman Elementary School here in Anchorage.  It was such an honor to participate in the delivery and see the absolute excitement these items created.  I'll be looking forward to hearing how they are used.  Now that we are back, we realize how much more there is to do.  Already we have been talking with friends about the different experiences but also answering questions as to how others may be involved.  It'll be up to us to share our enthusiasm and spread the word that travel to Guatemala is a wonderful, enriching, positive, rewarding opportunity.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Visiting Pueblos

The last two days we have been visiting different schools that are assisted by Avivara.  One more tomorrow.  Check out the pictures on the facebook page.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Making the most of our last days

Had a leisurely start to this morning before heading out to sightsee and SHOP.  Don´t worry, Spouses.  Also spent some time at La Merced.  Built in the mid-1500`s, damaged and rebuilt many times over the years, actually centuries.  Beautiful.  And it´s where our own Fr. Tom and the current seminarians come to learn Spanish and study.  Caroline had been taking photos and there should soon be some at Facebook.  We had our last day at the hospital yesterday.  More moving than I`d expected.  Rosabela, a little boy I believe may be new to the hospital, won my heart.  Of the children with whom I`d spent time, he was the only one who was responding to his environment.  We have also finished our Spanish class.  Sorry, but for now I only live in the present; I have no past and no least conversationally.  We`re looking forward to traveling to the pueblos next week, seeing some of the schools Avivara works with.  One in particular, El Rosario, is in need of a school-to-school partnership (and why not parish-school-to-school?).

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Everyday something new

This morning we went off to spanish class and ended up touring a coffee plantation!  Had a great time learning about the process.  Did you know that 1 coffee plant produces 40 cups of coffee a year?  And if you like espresso that´s 16 cups per year.  Gave us a new perspective on our consumption.  And then when we heard that the pickers receive Q60 per so many pounds (with our memories we wrote it down, but don´t have the notes with us!).  We also tried our hand at picking and it´s not as easy as it looks, hard work.  This particular plantation is fair trade, so at other plantations the pay is not as much.
After lunch we went off to learn to cook a traditional Guatemala meal.  It´s a surprise receipe to be revealed when we return.
Adidos for now!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Settled in

It appears that our times at the hospital will not be as numerous as we´d thought.  Today we went and discovered many, many young people with the children.  It´s actually quite wonderful to see.  And if you have any concerns about this next generation, be at ease.  We have seen and met numerous young adults spending weeks and months volunteering. 
While our hospital visits may be fewer, our opportunities at the escuelita San Pedro las Huertas are more than we´d expected.  The children are most forgiving of our Spanish faux pas and are happy to teach us "espaƱol".  We speak some English with them.  Ann shares their stories with us and we are delighted to see the enthusiasm they bring in spite of difficulties.  The children begin with a few questions from Ann, encouraging them to speak in complete sentences.  Then word games to again encourage sentences and good grammar (capitals, punctuation, etc.).  Then on to homework from the public school which they attend in the morning.  We can help a bit, especially Caroline with the math.  Free time includes reading, games, puzzles.  The two hours pass quickly, with lots of smiles from students and visitors.  They are such welcoming and happy children.
Our Spanish classes come to an end on Friday.  Triste!  But until then we have lots to do - study, of course, visit landmarks, and tomorrow a cooking class.  Be prepared at the next potluck!!!
Caroline`s all prepped and ready to load more photos on Facebook.  Take a few minutes and visit.  If you haven´t visited yet, access through the parish webpage and the select the dove for peace and justice.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Returning from another adventure

We had a wonderful, moving weekend at Santiago Atitlan.  We visited the Catholic Church (that´s how it´s known there) where in 1981 Fr. Steve Rother was assisinated in the rectory.  We would have liked to spend more time at the church, but the pan handling was a bit much for us.  This morning we walked down to the Peace Park a memorial to commerate more martyrs of the civil war.
We stayed at the Posada Santiago, where the food is muy delicisio!  Shortly after our arrival, Pat was chatting with John while standing in the stone cottage (our room) when an earthquake hit.  Caroline was outside shooting the beautiful flowers when Pat hurriedly exit - after all it was made of stone! We feel pretty good that we traveled on our own - 2 to 3 hours via shuttle (mini van with lot´s of windows), then on boat from Panachel to Santiago and back home.
Tomorrow is off to escuela espanol in the morning and escuelita in San Pedro los Huertas in the afternoon.
Hopefully tomorrow the pics of Santiago will get uploaded on facebook.  Adios!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Another day in paradise

That´s what we were told and that´s the truth!  But the locals think its cool.  Each day brings another beautiful moment.  Our afternoon at the hospital was wonderful, meeting those lovely little ones.  And our trip to the escuelita in San Pedro los Huertes introduced us to more lovely children.  Twenty of them, in fact.  Already several have stolen our hearts.  Next week we return to allow the rest to steal some more.  Caroline and I had a ball playing, oops, I mean working!  We spent some time learning Spanish while the students learned English.  Check our Facebook page for the method.
This afternoon held a touching surprise for us.  After our Spanish class we returned home for lunch and Ana told us the volunteer paramedics would be coming by for the medical supplies we brought.  Three paramedics came to our room and were delighted with the supplies.  Saida, who led the group, explained that these supplies would be used in the villages when those who could not pay needed them.  It was a very powerful moment, especially as we saw the items packed away in the ambulance.  We each hugged and even now it brings tears to my eyes.  (Caroline corrects me...our eyes)  I cannot believe that we in our country would waste materials that could save lives elsewhere.  My heart hurts!  We are so grateful to Ana for making that connection for us.
Now, before we go home to study, we must go for a cerveza (look that up or ask Marilyn).

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Our Many Firsts

Since our last entry we´ve ridden a chicken bus and a tuk-tuk.  Courage needed and received.  Our tuk-tuk driver kept talking and turning around to speak to Pat.  Watch the street please! We also enjoyed cerveza (beer) and margerita at the Mono Loco (Funky Monkey) on Sunday evening. Monday we started our Spanish classes, 4 hours each morning. We visited the hospital in preparation for our work.  Today was our first day at the hospital con los ninos. How do you like that (we´re showing off our spanish).  Pat met Lesley 1 and Lesley 2, Ariana, and another little boy.  Caroline met Paty.  It was a good afternoon interacting with the ninos!  We return on Friday for more play time.  Tomorrow we head to the esquelita (little school) at San Pedro los Huertas. We weren´t sure if we would be able to assist with the children, but Ann says we can play there too.  We also saw the tops of the volcanoes and even saw Fuego spewing ash, which we are told happens daily.  With luck we shall see red lava glowing in the dark.  Almost ready to add more photos to facebook, check in a day or so.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

We're Here

Here we are, wide awake (sort of) right outside Guatemala City airport, ready to go to Antigua.  Check out the St. Elizabeth's Peace and Justice Facebook page for more photos.  We have been so busy, strolling the streets of Antigua, getting acquainted with our new surroundings.  Tomorrow we begin our Spanish lessons and our orientation at San Hermano Pedro Hospital.  It looks like we'll have a chance to work Ann at the Esquelita in San Pedro las Huertas.  

Thursday, January 12, 2012

It's just about time!

We head to the airport in just a couple of hours.  Remember my desire to get away from snow?  Well, that desire has greatly increased with the blizzard currently under way.  I shoveled with John early this morning and then twice more.  And he had to shovel on his return home.
As the moment approaches, so do the butterflies.  There's really nothing to worry about, yet I keep going over my list.  I've loaded more Spanish lessons onto my Nook so that I can spend my flying time profitably.  I also have that plastic cheat sheet handy.
Our next blog entry should be made from warmer climes.  For those of you in Alaska, we send warm thoughts your way. 
Adios for now!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Ticking off my list

I ran around today, looking for the items on my list and trying to seem organized.  I managed to find a really comfortable pair of walking shoes in anticipation of those hikes we've heard about.  And I went to the bank for financing.  Did you realize that travelers' checks are almost history?  Try to find a source!! My travel guides say that they don't use them while in Antigua and that careful banking will suffice.  I hope so!  I also picked up a copy of 501 Spanish verbs in anticipation of my Spanish classes.  As well I picked up a carry-along card with useful phrases.  I won't let that out of my sight for the first few days. 
When picking up the medical supplies (Oh, I forgot.  We'll be taking two suitcases with medical supplies normally discarded here in the States.), I "met" our hostess Ana in a photograph and saw some of the clinics to which these medical supplies will be taken.  I hope Caroline has the opportunity to photograph these buildings.  So very simple, so much needed. 

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Longing to say goodbye snow!

It's been snowing almost daily.  Shoveling is quite tiresome, especially if you have to do it more than once a day.  I keep dreaming of those warmer temperatures; however, I did awaken in the middle of the night with the thought of insects and spiders - big ones.  Tarantulas!  Scorpians!  I don't know if there are any there, but I shall certainly ask as soon as we get there.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Our day draws nearer

Each passing day makes this journey more real.  Wednesday Gary from Avivara sent us our itinerary for the first several days of our stay.  We know where we'll be staying, that our first day will be spent strolling the streets of Antigua getting acclimated.  We even have cell phones - one thing I certainly missed in Honduras.  Then on Thursday Fr. Tom invited the community to offer a pilgrim's blessing over us.  A most moving moment and a reminder to allow the Spirit to do her work.  Next I heard from Cathy, the one who inspired this journey many years ago, offering to pick up suitcases of the medical supplies we'll carry with us.  Once we arrive, these items will be taken to clinics.  I'm hoping we can participate in the deliveries.
My heart warms each time I visit this page or receive an email offering us blessings and good luck.  Thank you,  And it will be fun sharing our adventure with you.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

-10 to +63 If we ever get packed

View out Pat's window while we created this blog

Ventured on to the deck and captured this shot of Pat's back yard
Had to post a couple of shots from home just to prove that we weren't kidding about the -10 degrees as we created this blog!  Plans are to document with photo's, plus Pat and I both received camera's small enough to fit in a pocket as Christmas gifts.  Been advised not to take the big camera, so been out taking practice shots with the new mini camera of our beautiful winter wonderland.  Still not packed - guess I've practiced enough - yea right never tire of taking shots of Alaska!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Still getting ready

We'll be going to Antigua, Guatemala, apparently quite high up.  As a result I am happy to report that I do not need the malaria medication I needed on my trip to Honduras.  Those pills upset my stomach and I was trying to decide whether or not I should take them.  Only if we go to the ocean would we be in danger of malaria.  We don't expect to get there, rather heading up - to the volcanoes surrounding Antigua and some of the villages.
To learn more about Guatemala Caroline and I attended a film at the Bear Tooth - Granito - a documentary on Guatemala of 1982 and the military's violence against the Mayan people. The impact is still evident today. At least one of the villages mentioned in the film is one we might be visiting. 
A workout at Curves today resulted in a number of suggestions on sites to see.  Apparently quite a few people have visited Guatemala, fishing and sightseeing.  We'll be studying Spanish and working in a hospital. 

Monday, January 2, 2012

Getting Ready!

The realization hits!  It's only11 more days until departure on this grand adventure.  Have we packed yet? Of course not!  We're thinking about it, but what do we need?  Gary at Avivara, our hosting organization, tells us it's going to be warm.  Imagine that!  We'll be leaving -10 degrees in Anchorage and it's currently 63 degrees in Guatemala.