Back in Guatemala
I woke this morning to the familiar sound of a long string of fireworks going off below my window. It was about 6:30, and it’s interesting that it no longer startled or surprised me. Guatemalans love fireworks and in Antigua they celebrate by setting them off first thing in the morning most mornings.
Four years ago, when Deanna and I first came to Guatemala on our honeymoon, I remember asking our friend and host, Tere, what that noise was each morning. She explained that it was celebratory fireworks, but we were still confused. “Every morning?” Deanna asked, and Tere replied “Well, it’s always somebody’s birthday.”
Today the fireworks are to celebrate Día del Padre, or Father’s Day. This is my first year to be featured in any way in Father’s Day, so it’s fun to get to celebrate it twice. My own father and mother took me to the airport Sunday morning and we got to have a bit of Father’s Day breakfast in the states before I flew here.
I’m traveling with my long-time friend Caroline Craig Proctor, who will be the new director of PEG when I move to Australia in January, and her husband Alan. It’s good to be personally introducing Caroline to some of the folks she’ll be working with, and renewing some relationships that she already has here. Caroline first came to Guate in 1988, and has been down several times since then. She’s been on the board of PEG since we first formed a board, and will be great in this new role.
Sunday afternoon we met up with Dennis Smith, who has been one of my strongest mentors in this work, at his home in Guatemala City. We had a good time sharing some stories, music and wonderful food, as well as gaining a better perspective on current events and history in Guatemala. Dennis is a knowledgeable and wise man, and it’s always a privilege to have some time with him.
We got to Antigua later that night and settled in at Tere’s house, then went out to La Peña del Sol Latino for some dinner. La Peña is one of my favorite places to spend time in Antigua. The house band recognizes me when I walk in, and I have to admit that it’s fun to be a regular at a music club in Antigua. After dinner they asked me to play a song, and I enjoyed that.
Yesterday was mostly a day to run some errands, meet up with a few people and catch our breath. We stopped by Probigua school, whom we’ve partnered with on a couple of projects (the library expansion at Pedro Molina school in El Tejar and the children’s section at the library in Tecpan). Caroline had a good conversation with Rigoberto, the founder and director of Probigua.
We also had lunch with some former students of Caroline and Alan’s, here as year-long Young Adult Volunteers with the PCUSA. One of them mentioned that the kids at her school were having a hard time just getting the money together to buy pencils, so PEG bought her 300 pencils to take back to the school.
Last night we attended a Mayan cleansing ceremony, and it was my first time to witness one. It was fascinating, and I’m glad we fit it in. Paco, who was being blessed in the ceremony, is also part of the band at La Peña, and assured me it was fine to take pictures, which I thoroughly enjoyed doing.
Today we’ll be visiting the music program we started last year at the CEDIN school in El Tejar. This project is funded in partnership with LEAF International, and organized by Child Aid. It’s great to partner with other organizations on some of these projects and network since we don’t have organizational staff on the ground. By tonight we’ll be in Santiago Atitlan, and the next couple of days will be full with meetings and checking in on projects at the Lake.
I’m looking forward to standing again in the places where our work is having a tangible impact, seeing the faces of the kids. And, of course, it’s good to be back in the land of the world’s best guacamole.