Sunday, February 26, 2012

Andrew arrived last night, but was asleep by the time I got back from the concert at midnight.  This morning, I took him down to the grocery store to get a sim card for his droid.  He has a working phone here for the rest of the trip, though no data plan.

This morning, we met again at the Black Cat Inn for breakfast.  But this time, John had taken orders ahead of time, so the kitchen was better organized.  I had a traditional Guatemalan breakfast.

Next up was a 3 hour guided walking tour of Antigua.  Our guide was Elizabeth Bell, a historian who has lived there for 40 years, and has done a lot of research on the history.  She gave us great insight into the economic changes over the past 20 years.  Antigua did not have a public pay phone until 1999.  Today, there are more cell phones in Guatemala than citizens.  The internet has changed much with information accessibility.  Illiteracy rates are still very high, though they are declining.  Access to google is a plus for the younger generation, as they learn things that were not previously accessible.  I bought a copy of her book, and she signed it for us.
Our tour ended at a jade factory, where we learned about different kinds of jade, including that unique to Guatemala, and also the Mayan calendar.  

Really, for me, the best part of the day was meeting my friend Sara and her daughters.  They live in Guatemala City, and took a bus to Antigua to join our tour.  It turns out that their father knows Elizabeth, as he is also a tour guide, also.  I really enjoyed walking around with them and hearing how they're doing.  I will post pictures of them, as well, when I can get my photos to a computer.  I brought a few shirts for the girls (including one UM and one MSU).  I'd brought a book for Sara, but I left it on the plane - ah, well, perhaps it will educate someone else.  And I gave Sara my rolling ring that I'd gotten at the Portland Market (artists), when I used to travel there for business.

Below:  Me and my son, Sara and her daughters.

This photo is for our friends at RS.

Sara and her daughters gave me a beautiful hand painted picture on a curved clay roof tile.  It was done by a friend of hers.  As I understand it, the paintings are done on some kind of napkin, then decoupaged or pasted onto the clay, and then a finish is added.  It will look great in my living room, which needs some pictures.

At 1:00, we loaded our luggage onto a bus, and Ruben drove us across the mountains to Lake Atitlan.  It was about a 2 hour drive.  We stopped for a late lunch, where the last 4 members of our group met up with us - they'd flown in today.  I think our total number is 20 now.  From there, we took a boat ride in two small boats to Santa Cruz la Laguna, where we checked in.  Dinner is promptly at 7 daily.

This place has internet access, but no wifi.  In order to add pictures to this, I'll either have to transfer them to a USB stick (I didn't bring one, but my son will no doubt have a few), or borrow John's Tigo stick to log in from my own.  Either way, it's a multistep process.

Tomorrow is our first work day.  There are two main projects going on this week, and John says that everyone will have an opportunity to work on both.  The first one is the solar photovoltaic system at the school.  The second one is working on a foundation using traditional concrete and bamboo construction.  I'll have more to say about this later.  There is a third project for a few people - some students will be going up in the mountains to another school that currently has no electricity.  In 2013, ATC will have a trip there to set up a solar system for them; the students are going now to research the needs.

The next 5 days are all work days for the projects, though we'll likely have some free time.  And there is some discussion about scuba in the lake on one of the afternoon.

I am traveling with a diverse and interesting set of people.  John says that this is his pilot for more trips like this (open to nonstudents) in the future.  I know I'll be recommending it.  It's been an intense few days, all good, and I feel like I've been here for a long time, not just 2 days.  And I am starting to fade, so that's all for now.

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