Monday, June 24, 2019

En Camino, day 2 - Guatemala

It was a very full day!
Following breakfast, we went to see various parts of the Misión’s missions, beginning with the school right behind the church.  It is modeled after Montessori.  Entering the courtyard, young children were chasing each other around, playing, etc.  The director of the school - through our translator- told us the history as well as the philosophy of teaching. The school was one of the first parts of the Misión, noting the importance of education - not just learning information, but also life skills like cooking, traditional artisan work and the like
From there, we piled into the back of a truck to head up the hill to the Women's center where they learn various skills as well as giving of their time to the center in various projects.  They create beautiful textile crafts, weaving patterns based on their backgrounds and cultural connections
Back in the truck, we went to the medical center where we learned about its history and all the different care that they provide.  In addition to some medical physicians that visit, they have their own staff as well as health promoters that visit other villages in the area.  They train locals to provide care in their own communities. Last year, they provided care to 26,000 people
The last visit of the morning was to the coffee warehouse.  They work with local growers to give them a fair price for their crops.  They prepare and roast the beans for their own a Misión brand called Juan Ana cafe (named after Father Gregorio’s parents)
After lunch, we went to visit Andreas, a local man who shared his experiences with the injustices that he faced as a Mayan that was treated as less than human by the owners of the fincas (farms) that they worked on.   Through Father Gregorios efforts in conjunction with local people and funds raised in the states, they were able to buy the land of the fincas and build community based farms that provided sustainable livings for all - even as they endured 30 years of Civil war.   Andreas is an amazing man with a great love of God, appreciation for a Father Gregorios vision and work, and commitment to the well being of the San Lucas community.

A bit of local color was visiting the veneration of San Simón which is a local deity/“saint” that mixes various religious aspects of Mayan & Guatemalalan culture (google it for the full flavor of it)

We had a bit of down time before dinner as well as this evening.  It feels as if I’ve already been here a week after one day as we had such a full day

Note: these are initial recollections that I will fill in more later

Sunday, June 23, 2019

En Camino - day 1 (Guatemala)

After arriving on Saturday night in Guatemala City, I was told that a driver would pick me up at my hotel at 7am to take me and another group to San Lucas. Needless to say that I was not ready when he arrived at 6:15am - but then that was the only low of the day
It was a beautiful day with little traffic as we made our way through the valleys and mountains to San Lucas. It is a beautiful country, very lush and green and the mountains are unlike ones that I have experienced elsewhere.
Once I got my stuff dropped off at the hotel and connected with the rest of the group, we took a boat ride across lake Atitlan first to San Juan, then took a Tuk-tuk ( sp.?) to San Pedro for a bite to eat(need to get pix to show what they are).  Back in San Juan, did a bit of shopping before getting back on the boat for San Antonio (no, not Texas) where we visited a ceramics shop as well as a textile coop to learn how they made both.
They showed us how they not want not spun the cotton, but dyed it using plants, wood and even dried bugs that all creat such vibrant colors. Then they wove them into cloth for close thing, table runners and so much more
Back in San Lucas, we gathered at the mission for supper then i got a brief orientation with helpful info such as the following:
1) don’t drink the tap water
2) don’t flush the toilet paper as the system can’t handle it
3) don’t pet any of the dogs that wander the streets as they can either be very protective of their owners or if they are more feral, need to be careful of rabies
4) be back at the hotel by 9pm

I definitely got in plenty of steps today (over 15k!) and that included time in the van and on the boat

The people are so gracious and patient with this gringo with so very little Spanish speaking ability. I am looking forward to meeting many more over the next week and learning more about the various aspects that the Misión participates in
This just barely scratches the surface of today’s experiences, but wanted to give you a brief glimpse (pix to follow on Facebook and Instagram)