Thursday, May 7, 2009

The Kids @ Los Palmares

There is a daycare about a 5 minutes drive/25 minute walk from my house that Hearts In Motion (HIM) has been supporting from the beginning. The teacher, Maria, had polio when she was young. HIM flew her to the states where she lived for an extended time with Karen, the founder of HIM. She wanted to give something back, so HIM set up a daycare in her home that happens to be located in one of the poorest villages in the area. She has 13 children daily, with the help of each mother on different days to prepare food for the children. Maria speaks fluent English and teaches the children words, songs and phrases in English. When groups come to visit, we always take them by to see Maria and her class. The children put on a wonderful presentation for us. I have come to love the kids out there. With time they have all learned my name and call me "Laura." Whether I drive through their village of walk through, there are children running up to me, after me, high fiving me, hugging me, or shouting "Laura" or "Gringa" (white girl). I know I have helped them by setting up this program, however, I'm not sure they will ever know how much their love has affected my life. How much I cherish the hugs I received from them, or even being called a "Gringa." These children, though they have very little, know the meaning of life. They know what it means to love, learn, respect and cherish. Wearing the same 3 outfits days after day, I still don't hear them complaining. Running on the hot asphalt with barefeet, they are still smiling, and they are still teaching me! I will miss these smiles!

Though Shy, Fernanda is the sweetest little thing.

Edison, Victor, Fernanda, Roxana & Yeiner

Maria's daugher, Gabby and I

Beautiful Sonia.
No matter how far away I am, if she sees me, she comes running to give me a hug!

My precious & one of my favorites, Tatiana.
She saw me at someone elses house and came running, with the smile and affection she possesses, there's no way one could resist her.

Tati & I

David and Myra
David is the child my parents sponsor

Dulce Maria, Tatiana, Joana and their mother
My 3 favorite sisters in all of Guatemala.

Tati, Dulce and Joana

Victor, Edison & Sonia playing in the 4-Runner

Berlyn, Edison, Sonia, Victor, Tati & Dulce

Delivering baskets to some of the families

Fernanda's mother and all the girls helping me

A Piece of My Heart

It’s amazing how much one family can touch one’s heart in such a way... this family and these boys are keeping a piece of my heart when I return home. When I first came and started the sponsorship program, we made rounds to each of the children’s house’s that attended Maria’s daycare. She gave us the name of brothers, Abel and Ubaldo, said they used to attend her school, but their mother pulled them out because at 4 & 5 years old, she needed their help at home. They needed to take their father lunch in the fields, take corn to be ground, and run other errands while she took care of house chores and cared for their younger brother. Though they weren’t in the school at the time, we created profiles for the two older boys. With time, we found sponsors for each of them and they returned to school. The sponsors were able to pay for uniforms, school supplies, shoes, etc to help the family. Now after 10 months, all three of the boys are attending full time school and all three have sponsors. From the first time we visited the family, I took a family picture and all five of them had the most beautiful smiles. Most Guatemalans are shy in front of the camera, but they seemed so very happy. Since that day, all I see are their smiles. Every time I saw Abel he was so affectionate. Constantly hugging me and sitting on my lap. I always called him "mi amor" (my love), he eventually started saying it back to me, "Laura, me amor". Then Ubaldo started and every time I’d see them I’d be fortunate enough to receive hugs, kisses and to be called their loves. They soon became some of my favorite visits to make. Their family has been in a tight position the last few months and have racked up a tab for groceries. The person they borrowed money from took the papers for their house and gave them 4 months to pay them back. The 4 months were up this Saturday. Ubaldo’s sponsor, who happens to be in here at the moment, has a beautiful heart and some extra money to share. So for $200, they were able to keep their house. We took the two oldest boys this afternoon for lunch to Pollo Compero. They not only had soda, french fries and chicken, but also played in the jungle gym, and rode with their heads out the window. I adore these boys like they are my own. None of us choose where we are born, or how our cards are dealt, but we figure it out and we work together to make it through life. This will be far be the toughest family to say goodbye too!

Abel & Ubaldo

Ubaldo, mi amor

Abel, Sergio & Ubaldo in front of their house

Besos de mi amor
(kisses from my love)
Lunch at Pollo Compero

Beautiful Ubaldo

Happy Abel

Coming down the slide

Ubaldo in the balls

Feeling the wind. It's a rare occasion to ride in a car.

My precious Ubaldo lovin' life

Is he not precious?!

Ubaldo playing with my camera

...And my glasses

I love these 2 and wish they were mine!

Amazing how life brings people together, no matter how little we can communicate.
I will always love this family and they will hold a piece of my heart forever!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Weekend Travels

After being able to sell some pictures, make a little money and have a traveling companion, I was finally able to get out and see some of the beautiful countryside Guatemala has to offer. Kara and I left 4 weekends in a row, sometimes just the two of us and other times accompanied by others. We traveled to Roatan, Honduras, Semuc Champey, Livingston, Panajachel, Lake Atitlan, Chichicastenango, San Marcos, & Antigua. Along our travels we met some really quality people that shared their travel and life stories with us. After being here as long as I had, I was getting really antsy to see more. Life can be pretty slow in Teculutan. It is not safe to go out at night, even if it was, there is still nowhere to venture to. So the chance to get out and away from the everyday life, was jumped upon. I have been so fortunate to have Kara here. She is a few years older then me, a realtor from Wisconsin, and a great time. We get along so well and it has been an absolute pleasure to be spending so much time with her. We’ve decided that being at the house all the time can become quite boring, as there is only so much we can know about each other. Nonetheless, we have made many lasting memories and finally experienced more of Guatemala.
On our way to ROATAN, HONDURAS
eating a Lychee fruit I bought at a stop light

Kara and I on the ferry from La Ceiba to Roatan

A the top of the hill we walked up to

At the restaurant where we met Wazza (photos to come) in West Bay

Walking back to the West End at sunset

Kara, Wazza and I

The last show after being in Roatan for 7 years by this band! You better believe we sweated and danced the night away.

Kara and I sweatier than ever before, wearing the kickin glasses Dave (picture to come) was packing around the world with him.

Kara, Dave-the Australian Pirate and I
I met him on the ferry over and we hung out the whole weekend! A top quality guy!

Our last day together

Dave, Pepe (My personal Salvadorian jewelry maker), Kara and myself

Pepe and I

Kazza, Dave and Loza

The Hearts In Motion crew we bummed a ride from
Robin, Dan, Kara, Barb and I

Edy, whom I met in September and her son Jayden.

The boys fixing a pinchazo (flat tire)

Julio, Julio, kara, Eric, and I
We met the 2 boys in the blue and hung out with them the whole weekend!

The rest of our crew at the pools

There are 7 natural pools that flow into each other. The picture doesn't do it justice, but it was beautiful. Lots of people since it was Semana Santa (Easter holidays)

Kara, Me, Julio

Julio, Eric, Myself & Kara
I kept noticing that Eric was always looking right into my eyes. On the last day we were together he told us that his younger brother had eyes like mine. In September, robbers broke into their house and his brother tried to stop them. They shot and killed his brother and his uncle. It was a compliament to say the least.

Our humble abode

The river

Me, Beth, Kathleen, Kara, Julio & Bert
Getting ready for the boat ride from Puerto Barrios to Livingston.

Another of the dangerous duo, only this time a little wind blown.

Our tour guide, Diario. Everything was "Rastafari" to this guy.

We left the taxi and had 15 minutes by foot along the beach to reach our hotel

Walking down the beach

Myself and Bert

Our private hammock bungalow over the water

Payback to the little crab that tried to attack us.

Our first visit to Pana

The main street

2nd visit to Pana, little lady trying to make a living

3 volcanoes surround the lake. This morning, for the first time in 3 days we had been here, the skies were clear and we were able to see them. Not to mention the cloud resting right on top.

The largest artisan market in all of Central America

Wood carved masks


on the front steps of the church

Inside the church

Calla Lillies

2 generations

I paid this little girl and the next little girl 1Q to take their pictures

Little carrot eater inside the produce market

Indoor produce market

Traditional dress - shirts
Kara & I right after she chopped her hair

Antigua by night