|Vanesa at her quinceanera party|
|Yasmin, Paulina, Eddy, and Yoselin|
We arrived in Guatemala City on time, and were picked up by Humberto's colleague Benjamin. Benjamin drove us to Panajachel, and we arrived at around 1:30 p.m. We like to visit as often as we can, but a year had elapsed since our last visit. It was amazing how much everyone had grown and changed in the past year!
|Steph, Craig, and Aracely|
|Loren and Craig|
Humberto had hired 3 workers to finish the construction on the guest rooms. The four downstairs rooms, each with an en-suite bathroom, were completed. They were now working on the four upstairs rooms.We thought back to our first visit four years ago, when we slept in their dining room and the guest rooms were just in the planning stages. It has been a very productive few years! Humberto has been very successful growing his home and his business, and we are very proud of him.
Paulina and Humberto recently decided to start hosting students from the Jardin de America Spanish School. Students taking a week of Spanish lessons can opt to spend their week doing a homestay with local families. The students eat their meals with the families and learn about local customs and lifestyles. Their first student, Mario, had arrived two days before. He is a French Canadian doctor from Montreal, currently traveling around Latin America while on a 6 month sabbatical. It was a pleasure to meet Mario, and it was obvious that he had already made a connection with the kids. He was great with them, and they enjoyed playing with him and helping him with his Spanish.
|Josue and Mario|
|Steph and Craig with godchildren Eddy and Aracely|
|Craig, Yoselin, Yasmin, and Eddy watch videos on the netbook|
|Birthday girl Vanesa with Eddy|
|Humberto and birthday girl Yoselin|
|Paulina and Vanesa|
|Yoselin swings for the piñata|
|The spoils of the piñatas|
|Family members enjoy the party|
|Steph participates in folkloric dancing|
|Eddy and Loren|
After lunch Humberto and Paulina wanted to take us to see his mother's farmland in the nearby village of San Gabriel. It was difficult to get there because there had been a mudslide on the back road out of Panajachel. Humberto, Paulina, Yasmin, Aracely, Humberto's mother (called Abeula), Craig, and myself piled into the back of a pickup truck, which took us to the landslide. All of a sudden the road in front of us ceased to exist, it had been swallowed by the mountainside. We crossed a temporary steel cable bridge which had been erected. It had wooden floorboards that had holes in some places, so you had to watch your step. And the whole thing swayed back and forth as people crossed. On the other side of the bridge, cars were waiting. We got into a van that brought us part of the way there, and then we took a chicken bus the remainder of the way. We walked through the cornfield, and Humberto explained that they harvest the corn on a single day in November, and it yields about 500 pounds of corn which his mother will use to feed herself and her chickens over the course of a year. They also have coffee plants there. They sell the coffee beans rather than processing them themselves. There was a small shed on the property and Humberto said that is where they seek shelter when it rains and they are working in the fields. When he was young, he and his father and brother would spend the night there sometimes. It was interesting to get an insight into this part of their lives. Though they live in a small city and most of their activities are urban, there is still a rural component to their lives which is integral to their being. Humberto finds solace in the fields and feels close to the spirit of his deceased father. We felt honored that he wanted to take us there and share it with us.
|Bridge across the landslide on the road out of Pana|
|Paulina, Yasmin, and Aracely in the cornfield|
|Humberto in front of his father's shed in the cornfield|
After walking among the cornstalks and coffee plants for a while, we took a tuk-tuk followed by a pickup truck followed by a van to get to the landslide bridge. We had to wait a few moments before crossing cue to a lot of foot traffic in the other direction. We took a pickup truck back to the market, where Paulina bought a pumpkin to make soup for dinner. We piled into a tuk-tuk, and after a brief stop to buy a cake for dessert (rumor had it that there was not enough cake for everyone at last night's party) we arrived home. We ate dinner with the whole family, including Mario, Olga, Yesmy, Loren, and Josue.
The next morning we woke up early. The older girls stopped into our room to say goodbye before heading to school. We ate breakfast with Mario, Aracely, Eddy, and Vanesa. Our van arrived just before 8:30, and the kids, Humberto, and Paulina walked us down the alley to the street. We said our goodbyes, and said that we look forward to the next quinceañera (Paola in January of 2014) but that we would visit long before that. After hugs and kisses, we started our long journey to Guatemala City, Miami, and finally Boston, touching down at 12:15 a.m.
As usual, it was a wonderful visit, and we can't wait to return.
|Eddy, Vanesa, Paulina, Humberto, Aracely, and Josue|