This is the place for photos and reflections of my visits to Latin America beginning in 2012. Previous blogs are linked on the main pages of my photo collections on flickr. HAPPY TRAILS!

Friday, July 4, 2014

SAN PEDRO LA LAGUNA, GUATEMALA

The final destination of our trip was San Pedro La Laguna on gorgeous Lake Atitlán in the Guatemala highlands. We did a little shopping and grabbed a quick lunch at Llama del Bosque in Panajachel before hitting the dock.


The lancha trip across the lake from Panajachel to San Pedro takes about half an hour and costs 25 quetzales (about $3 - don't let them convince you otherwise).



We shared a triple room at Hotel Sak'cari, right on the lake; below Susie and Jennifer take in the view. We loved the location and amenities of this hotel.



1st order of business after settling into our hotel was to head to the home of dear friend Mynor, his wife Josefa, and their boys Manuel and Antonio. We headed upstairs so we could get a 1st peek of Ti Wachooch ("little home" in Tz'utujil Maya, the local language), the home away from home Mike and I are having built for us on top of their house. I am thrilled to look forward to longer visits in San Pedro in this lovely spot! Highlights will be sharing the beautiful terrace with Mynor and his awesome family and having a base for Beca Project meetings, workshops, and activities.



The terrace



Entrance door will be just past the lavadero which is on the left.





Susie and Jennifer drink pretend coffee and gaze out at the view through the future kitchen window.



Bedroom



We arrived the weekend of San Pedro's annual fair honoring their patron saint, San Pedro (St. Peter). The festivities for us started Sunday morning with a parade; the smoke is from firecrackers and (ear splitting) bombas.





Traditional dancers spent long days dancing to live music in the streets.



Sometimes watching the watchers is as interesting as watching the dancers.



Lots of great bands, but some of them were almost too loud to listen to (including this terrific merengue band).



This one is based a few blocks down from Mynor's house so Mike and I will have a great listening spot for live music on our terrace.



For a few cents, this man's parakeets would pick a fortune out of the tin.



The packet at the top of this 40 foot pole coated with axle grease had 300 quetzales in it - under $40 - worth hours of effort by a few men including this one. They were more persistent than I was - I watched for an hour sitting in a group of friendly local women and left long before anyone reached the prize (red shirt boy in the 2nd photo is Beca student Erick).






The town was packed. Street stalls included food items, video games, foosball, and gorgeous textiles.




We met some interesting new people - I am so happy I speak Spanish! This friendly saxophone player, Francisco, turned out to be a cousin of Mynor's. Susie, Jennifer, and I all have saxophone roots.



Part of the fun for me was running into dozens of old friends, including Beca student Miguel's 90+ year old great grandmother.





See below a few of our highlight food items including this man's cashews and macademia nuts.



Pesto/vegie sandwich on home made bread - had to wait well over an hour for it so won't recommend the restaurant.



Jennifer's dream come true - 'Coca-light' with lots of ice (at Nick's Place).



Susie digs in to the ever popular 'Economico' at Café La Puerta.



We started Monday with a quick visit to the Cooperativa Spanish School. They have only been at their new location for about 14 months and the gardens have filled in beautifully.



We met Mynor in front of the Catholic church and then followed his lead as he wound his way around and through narrow passageways, visiting the 3 new homes built by the Cooperativa's Kamoon Project with support from Beca Project sponsors.

1st stop was the 1st Kamoon home where Beca student María lives with her large family.






Here's our very 1st Beca student, Andrea (right), with her father and sister in their new home, the 2nd Kamoon house.


































Here is a photo of the newest home; Petronila and her family received the keys in June.



For all 3 of us, the highlight of the trip was visiting Jennifer and Susie's Beca students.

1st Jennifer's Federico







and then Susie's Karina.





Both families were warm and welcoming. We loved hearing their stories and about their dreams for their kids. It was important to us that they understand the impact of this relationship on us, too. As retired teachers, we know the value of education.

Later in the afternoon we met the families in town and Susie and Jennifer helped Federico and Karina and their siblings shop for needed items.







Finally, it was the dawn of our last full day in San Pedro. Up at 5, we were on our way to Xela by 6am with Mynor, his father, and the builders to pick out floor, counter, and shower tiles and plumbing fixtures. I loved having Susie and Jennifer there for ideas and support and I am thrilled with the choices we made.







The roads there and back could use some work.



We made a nice stop in Santa Clara to circle through the 2sday market and use the bathroom - for 1 quetzal (about a dime) you get a ticket, a bit of toilet paper, and some newspaper to finish the job.





Back in San Pedro we made a final visit, this 1 to the home of Cecilia, master weaver and the mom of Beca student Rosa so Susie and Jennifer could witness her skill and artistry with a traditional back strap loom.



Then back we went to Hotel Sak'cari to pack and rest for the big travel day home. In the morning we traveled by tuktuk, lancha, shuttle, and plane (x2), enjoying a few more gorgeous views along the way and eventually landing at PDX, our beloved home airport.





Jajaja - the joy of our boat passing the 1st boat to Pana we were supposed to be on.


Please mentally put this photo and the next one together in a panaramic view.

Volcan Fuego letting off steam





It is always a little sad to close the book on a trip, but my main emotion is gratitude for these lovely shared experiences with Susie, Jennifer, and the Mikes.

Happy trails!
Stacey