Posts Tagged ‘Guatemala’

Childhood cancer in Guatemala, photo-essay

Saturday, November 12th, 2016

The Washington Post published this photo-essay by writer Chloe Coleman about an 8-year-old boy from San Cristobal, Totonicapán, with T Cell Lymphoblastic Leukemia. The piece is drawn from Scott Woodward’s documentary film project, “How I Live,” that looks into children’s cancer in resource-limited countries. “The treatment of childhood cancer in the developed world is largely viewed as a success story, with survival rates as high as 80%. By contrast, in Low and Middle Income Countries, the child cancer survival rate averages just 20%.”

To me, the essay is powerful on two levels–first, because of the boy’s brave journey in the face of cancer. And second, because the images convey rural daily life as it is lived by a majority of Guatemalans, in a way not often seen or recorded.

 

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Road trip to Tikal

Saturday, June 25th, 2016

Olivia, Mateo, and I just returned from visiting the great Mayan pyramids in Tikal, which is the reason I’ve been incommunicado. Not even phone reception in some places. I can’t remember when I’ve been so off the grid. We’ve been traveling with another family from our adoption group, Michele S. and her daughter Sofia, and the kids got along great. We drove through 9 departments in Guatemala–departments are like our states; there are 22 total–and saw a part of the country completely different from the highlands, where we usually go. The east and north are very dry and then very jungle.

We spent a night or two in Rio Dulce (details are a blur at this point!), which is beautiful and like I imagine the Amazon to be. We took a boat ride down the river and stopped at a hot springs, where a natural healer named Felix massaged the sulphur sands into my bad knee, and for good measure, the other knee, too. The kids loved soaking in the scalding hot water. An amazing day.

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Pastores

Sunday, June 12th, 2016

 

The town of Pastores near Antigua is known for its leatherwork. The main street is lined with shops where craftsmen custom-make boots and belts and handbags. My favorite wallet, of leather and cloth, was made in Pastores. We visited last summer with a friend whose daughter rides horses, and left with a handsome pair. I stumbled on these photos in an old file, and remember the happy day.

 

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Tortrix

Monday, March 21st, 2016

If you’ve been to Guatemala, chances are you’ve eaten Tortrix–the savory, heavily salted corn chips with a hint of lime that are sold in tiendas and markets everywhere. Ordinarily, I’m not a big snack eater, but Tortrix are my weakness. In Guatemala, a bag always is stashed in my backpack, ready to be dug into whenever hunger strikes.

Of course, Tortrix and I have a history. Back in 2002, when Tim and I visited Olivia in Guatemala City at the Camino Real, we often did a run to a nearby market for stuff we needed or forgot. And there, hanging by the cash register, calling to me, was the display of Tortrix. The iridescent green bag. The bold red logo. The promise of salt and flavor. I was hooked.

Last week, in the US, I visited my parents in San Diego. They’re in an assisted living facility now, 87 years old and as comfortable as one can be at 87 in assisted living. The visits are bittersweet, as my husband and kids understand. Anyway, while I was away, Tim took the kids to a restaurant he discovered, owned by a family from El Salvador. And hanging by the cash register was the familiar display of Tortrix.

It doesn’t take much to make this girl happy. xo

 

 

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Keep the faith.

Wednesday, March 9th, 2016

When I read the headline “Empowering Girls Through Education,” I thought, “OK! Education for girls in Nahuala, Guatemala! Count me in!” The project is sponsored by the international organization CARE, partnered by the personal-care products at Hain Celestial.

Today I must be feeling cynical, because after reading the article, instead of feeling optimistic, I felt my spirit deflate. Will this program really effect any permanent lasting change in the life of these young girls? Will anything?

Some days I wonder. Some days I believe nothing less than a 100% commitment by the leaders of Guatemala–not aid organizations, or corporate America, or any outsider–will change anything. And will that day ever come?

Be assured, my family supports multiple NGOs in Guatemala–which are all doing meaningful work! I subscribe to Mother Teresa’s philosophy: “Do small acts with great kindness.” I remind myself that no one can change the world, but maybe we can change one tiny thing.

Yet some days, like today, I read an article touting a revolutionary new program guaranteed to lift up and empower, and what do I do? I sigh.

Note to self: Shoulders back while marching forward. Keep the faith.

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Museo Casa del Tejido

Wednesday, December 2nd, 2015

Behind the municipal Mercado in Antigua is the small, family-run Museo Casa del Tejido, a sumptuous collection of hand-made textiles from every department of Guatemala. Technically, the address is First Calle Poniente no. 51, but you’re better off finding it by going to the top of Santa Lucia near the ruins of La Recoleccion and walking straight back. The admission is not too much, and for a small fee, they’ll let you take pictures. Our guide spoke English fluently and taught us a lot.

Don’t go in expecting sealed cases and precious pieces protected from light and dust. This isn’t that kind of museum. Here, the traje of embroidered blouses and woven skirts are hung on rods or simply nailed to the wall, often approximating the figure of a person who might wear it. A stroll through the galleries impresses anyway, especially for anyone who loves textiles. Each weaving and embroidery is a unique balance of composition and color and story, beautiful in its own way.

If you visit Antigua, particularly with your children, schedule time for the Casa del Tejido. Afterwards, meander through the market for a perfect half-day.

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Pacaya 2015

Thursday, October 8th, 2015

Mateo and I climbed Volcano Pacaya in February 2013 and I remember the trip as rigorous and hard. Something I was proud to have done, which I never needed to do again. Until this past July, when Mateo and I rented a house in Antigua with 10 other people–four adoptive families from the Bay Area, friends all–who really, really wanted to climb Pacaya this trip back. In fact, climbing Pacaya was the Number One item on their wish list of Things to Do in Guatemala. Pacaya was a must. We couldn’t leave without climbing it!

Good sport that he is, Mateo agreed, and talked me into accompanying him. I’m so glad he did. This time we hired a guide on-site–a family of guides, actually: a young mother and her son, and her mother, the boy’s Abuela (see photo above), and various helpers–who led us up a gentler path than the one we traversed in 2013. The family of guides came equipped with horses, two of which members of our party chose to ride. The rest of us soldiered forth, walking sticks in hand, until we reached the summit. Marshmallows were roasted, and piles of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches consumed. Before we headed down, fistfuls of sweet vanilla cookies were scarfed, rightfully earned.

The day was misty and overcast,  the gray sky threatening rain. We finished before the deluge, victorious.

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Father Stan Rother

Friday, June 26th, 2015

I’m writing this as a person who loves Guatemala, and as a practicing Catholic who has been praying for the canonization of Father Stan Rother, an Oklahoma missionary priest who was shot in the head and killed at his parish home in Santiago Atitlan in July 1981, during Guatemala’s armed conflict. Yesterday, the Associated Press announced that a commission in Rome has declared Rother a martyr, and efforts to canonize him a saint will go before a panel of 15 bishops and archbishops, in six months.

I read the news this morning on my Google alert, sitting in a chair in a village only a few miles away from Santiago Atitlan, where Father Rother was assassinated. I have visited his Santiago church, where his heart and blood are buried, and witnessed the deep and active faith of the parishioners there.

Father Stan Rother: American Martyr in Guatemala, written by John Rosengren, is a 2006 account of the events surrounding Rother’s death, the best I have found. Read it if you are interested in learning more about this good man.

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Judge suspended in Guatemala

Thursday, April 10th, 2014

Judge Jassmin Barrios, who presided for 18 years in Guatemala, in cases that include the murders of Bishop Juan Gerardi and Myrna Mack, the Dos Erres massacre, and the mystery of Rodrigo Rosenberg, is suspended for a year for her role in the Efrain Rios Montt trial. An interview with Judge Barrios, translated into English, can be read here on Upside Down World.

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“Bboy for Life” and a Maya Frieze

Monday, August 12th, 2013

A new documentary about Guatemala’s breakdancing subculture, BBoy for Life, will premiere in Louisville, Kentucky on September 11. You can watch the trailer here. Thank you to Sharon Smart of Mayan Families for forwarding me the link.

At this point, I’m not sure where else the film will be screened, but I’ll keep an eye out for more information and will let you know.

Also: I’m not sure if you saw this announcement about a newly discovered and beautifully preserved Maya wall sculpture, found under a pyramid in Holmul, Guatemala, in the Peten region (around Tikal). In case not, here’s an article from USA Today. And a link to information about the Holmul site, from Boston University.

 

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