Archive for August, 2015

The ruins at Iximche 2015

Thursday, August 27th, 2015

On the way to Lake Atitlan, our group of 12 stopped to visit the ruins of Iximche, in a field on the outskirts of Tecpan. The ruins are not nearly as spectacular as the ones at Tikal–which I visited in 2003–yet the place is infused with a compelling grandeur. The air itself feels sacred, maybe because at the very end of the ruins is a ceremonial space still used by practicing Mayan shamans. The morning we were there, we saw three different groups gathered around fires in prayer, performing rituals that incorporated flowers, chocolate, honey, herbs, rice, corn, and alcohol.

While the 6 kids in our group explored the ruins by climbing and jumping, we adults hired an English-speaking guide. The guide informed us that Iximche was founded around 1470 by the Kakchikel Maya after they broke with the larger, dominant group, the K’iche. Soon after, Spanish conquistadors arrived and in a move known as “divide and conquer,” allied themselves with the Kakchikel, vanquishing the K’iche and other native, highland peoples. The introduction of smallpox from Europe contributed to the conquistadors’ success by decimating thousands. The Spanish declared Iximche the first capital of the Kingdom of Guatemala, but the town’s supremacy was short-lived. By 1524, the Kakchikel abandoned their one-time home after the Spanish demanded of their former allies excessive tariffs.

During the tour, our guide  pointed out the ball court and the temples to the Sun and the Moon. He also told us the reason why pyramid steps seem, to our modern feet, unnaturally narrow: The ancient Maya never turned their backs to the sun. One way they kept proper orientation was by climbing steps sideways.

The admission fee to Iximche is 50Q for adults, about $6. The restrooms are clean; bring your own snacks and drinking water.¬† At the ruins’ entrance, a quote from the Kakchikel Chronicles reads: “Do not forget the stories of our elders, of our forefathers.”

A trip to Iximche will help you remember.

Photo credit: Peg Beasley






Listen To Your Mother 2015

Thursday, August 20th, 2015

In 2014, I participated in the San Francisco performance of Listen to Your Mother, reading “My Mother the Rockette.”

This past May, I sat in the audience of the Brava Theater, spellbound, and listened this year’s cast tell their stories. Every vignette was terrific, but one–”She Was All I Ever Wanted” by Regina Louise–left me sobbing. The piece is about growing up in foster care, transracial relationships, the meaning of “mother.” Three months later, I’m still thinking about it. xoxo



Moguate 2015

Sunday, August 9th, 2015

When we decided to adopt from Guatemala in 2002, I never imagined how profoundly adoption and the country of Guatemala would impact every facet of my family’s lives. Case in point: Two weeks ago, we flew home from Guatemala and drove to Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri for the annual gathering of adoptive families with children born in Guatemala, known as MOGUATE. The name blends the abbreviation for Missouri, the home state of founder Cindy Swatek, and the shorthand version of the country we love.

This year was the ninth annual gathering, with more than 100 people attending. The format is casual, with lots of pool time and informal conversation about parenting, family, and travel to Guatemala. Special activities were planned for the teens, who traveled in a happy pack. This year, Dorothy Kilmer gave a fascinating final presentation on the traditions of Quinceanera (which included a crowning) and ALDEA board member Sonya Fultz spoke about the important work ALDEA does to deliver clean water to villages in Guatemala. All proceeds from the raffles and silent auction were donated to ALDEA–nearly $10,000.

My family attended MOGUATE the first time in 2011, when Susan Carter invited me to discuss our adoption story, Mamalita. We returned this year because our kids love being with other adoptive families. As I heard an older teen say, “It’s one place you don’t have to explain anything.” Maybe you can relate.

If you live anywhere near Missouri, check out MOGUATE’s FB page and website for next summer’s confab. And thank you to Cindy and Matt Swatek for creating a place of support for our adoption community. xo

Photo credit: Mark Acker