Friday, February 11, 2011

Friday February 11th, 2011 Pannemaquem

On our way to Pannemaquin! I have a massage booked for 5 pm tonight! $200 Quetzals!
Just hit the highest peak on the Pan American highway at 10 000ft.
Sitting outside of the garage I had a massage at earlier this evening, waiting for Karen to finish her massage. I was just at my first internet place. It was very frustrating trying to type out my blog on their keyboards. For multiple reasons: the keys kept sticking, commas and apostrophes and basically all the symbols are in a different spot. To use the @ symbol you have to push a secondary key. And that wasn’t even working for some reason so I had to copy and paste it from a Google search to sign in to anything! So I spent the whole time roughly looking for commas and deleting spaces that the space key would make every time it got stuck. I got about a paragraph done in 30 minutes and gave up and came to write my journal and wait for Karen. Karen still hasn’t been able to get money out, so she sent me an interact email money order, and I’ll just take money out for her. So I walked back up to the square use the ATM.
Me, Karen, and Margarita discussed traveling the coast from lake Atitlan next week. But now it’s look like we might stay in Atitlan instead of going to Antigua early since our 2nd project will be almost in side Antigua where we’re staying.
Tomorrow a small group of us are going to the Takalik Abaj Archeological Site, then to the Coffee plantation with zip lining!! Muy excited about that!
So.. Today… wow. Where to start... We arrived at the village. I took half a gravol in the car because think all the altitude changes every day were messing with me a bit.  When we got there, they lit fire crackers off, and we just walked around and met with the people. They Spoke Quiche (kee-chay) and not Spanish. But there was a woman there named Clara and a man named Miguel who were translating from Quiche to English or Quiche to Spanish to English. 

Clara spent the day translating with her baby on her back and another young daughter running around. After roaming about the village a bit, we all sat down to listen to some special thanks and some performances. There was a DJ and a sound system (2 speakers, 1 mic).
The whole village was atop a mountain basically the view was magnificent!
They built the school in memory of their son Sam Clark who died in an acceded. On the Stage was a picture of Sam on a chair with flower bouquets around it. They spoke so kindly of same and Celina as well. One of the people who spoke said that “Sam was always very kind and respectful, always ate what he was given, and that they know he’s an angel looking over the village from Heaven”. The Adornment the people have for Tom and Rita’s family is so touching.  Part of me wanted to cry for them and what they’ve done for the people. They came to this village and built stoves, and then a school, and gave them food. The people wanted a picture of Tom and Rita so that when they talked about them to local communities they could show other people who they are. I took a picture on the first day of building on the 7th for them and got it printed so they could give it to them.
The children put on a little parade. The boys wore these masks and the girls wore matching skirts/wraps. They did this dance where a few danced in a circle on the stage while one of them danced around them. Then the boys did a little something with the masks on.
There was some thanks to Tom and Rita after the dances. I never really realized just how much Tom and Rita have really helped this village. Because they’re so isolated from any real towns and with no vehicle to get to them, when the mudslides hit in May, all their crops were destroyed and washed out, and they were simply helpless. If they had any Money they couldn’t even get to a store to buy some food with it. Tom and Rita used money out of the stove fund to buy food for them.
After finishing our butchering of “Oh Canada”, and “Alouette”, we handed out mini Canadian flags and snowflakes cut out of paper, and then we were presented with handmade cloths, each unique and done by someone who received a stove. Tom and Rita emphasized to us the fact that they requested the villagers not do anything for us. But we’ve found that people, tho they have nothing really, still will try to offer us food or a drink to show their gratitude. Which can be a good thing too because it shows that they aren’t just expecting handouts, and that if they could pay they would. Which does happen with some of the people at times, especially children who don’t know the value of money and its impact on life yet.
After all the thanks and dance performances we had lunch. During the performances that I was at war with the gravol. My eye lids were shaking quite heavily and I felt really bad about any yawns I had. It just completely drained and dehydrated me. For lunch they made us Beans, with a square of “Fresca Queso”, (unpasteurized) in them and Tomalies wrapped in a big leaf! Also they made this drink which tasted like hot sugar water, most likely what it was, made with “Agua Purifico”(purified water). They poured ours into cups but the villagers had theirs in plastic bags with a small hole in them to drink from. We also had utensils with our food and the villagers used their hands. Which with the beans can be a little tricky. But that’s why the right is for eating and the left is for wiping.
Liz brought bread and maple syrup for desert for everyone.  At this time I went around and took pictures. I wandered all over the hill top village. I also had mini seniorita stocker for a while during this. I came across a mango tree on my walk about, very cool to see.
 The moment that changed this trip for me was an hour later or so when members of the group were looking at handmade fabrics to buy from the villagers, and Tom and Rita were conversing with a few of them.
A woman came up to Tom and Rita and thanked them in advance for the wheelchair that was coming soon. She said, (thru a translator) “I had my baby, and I carried him for 12 years (on her back in a sling), and now I can rest”. That was it. I was done. 
When you think about malnutrition and impoverished areas, you think, Skinny children, with growth and vitamin deficiencies. I never personally thought about those children who are born with disabilities. Like this woman’s child who was born with Down syndrome. His disability made it impossible for him to walk or even communicate. I’ve seen some women carry their children till their 2 or so. But 12. Wow. I think when I thought about people with disabilities, I associated it with our society because of all the garbage we put into our bodies, and all the vaccinations and stuff. The only stats I could find say that in the USA alone there are 6 million adults with learning disabilities. I feel like there is still not as large a disabled public here as there is in North America. But the population is smaller as well. I’ve seen some people on the street who have obvious disabilities, and others that are just decaying from Cusha (homemade liquour).
 On our way they stopped us and ask to meet with us. They requested that we help them get some land for a field for recreation activity during school. This brought up a lot of issues. Apparently the Church owns a lot of the land in Guatemala. So they asked for about 1200 dollars (US) to buy some land from the church. Which brought up a whole string of debates about why does the church own the land, how is that possible. John got quite agitated with this information, because. It’s Land! And it’s their land at that! He said they should get mad! Fight for their land! Which was like the movie Avatar all over again (ie. The historical repetition of what happened to the Native Americans).  This people are very much being abused and fooled because of their ignorance in real time though by corporations like Coke, Pepsi, Fast food chains like McDonalds, Dominos, and Burger King. The Candy Companies! It’s so sickening to see. Every day when go to build stoves we pass by a school down the road. And outside the school there is just stall after stall of candy and pop. When we came here we were asked to not give out candy because of all the dental problems. I mean people are putting pop in baby bottles for their kids! It’s amazing! But I digress…

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