We headed first to the highlands of Guatemala where we spent a few nights in Antigua before moving on to Lake Atitlán to enjoy the scenery, renew friendships at the Cooperativa Spanish School, and celebrate with our Beca Project students and their families. Then we flew to the island of Roatán, Honduras for beaches, snorkeling, diving, and flyfishing. HAPPY TRAILS!

Monday, July 11, 2011

1st full day in San Pedro La Laguna

Mike and I awakened to a glorious sunny morning and a breakfast of toast with honey, pear juice, and lots of fresh mango.
At 8 o'clock we left the Cooperativa school with Mynor to visit 4 of the Beca Project families. If you're not familiar with the Beca Project, here's a link: www.becaproject.org

Mynor has gone to a lot of work organizing the visits, especially since none of the families have phones. The town is a labyrinth of little lanes and footpaths, many of them inaccessible by car or even bike; contacting them to set up times for us to visit has meant heading there on foot.

The first family we visited was María Elena Criado Quiacaín's. She is an intelligent, lovely girl who will complete her 3 years of "Basica" school (like our middle school) in October. She plans to attend a bilingual secretarial school in the neighboring village of San Juan beginning in January. Note that bilingual = Spanish and English which means trilingual since Tz'utujil is her native tongue.
Next we visited the family of Pedro Nehemías Vasquez García. Before his Beca scholarship, Pedro had to work through the day in the fields and (try to) attend school in the evening; now he can focus on his studies and dream of a bright future. Mynor says his mother is very active in his education including visiting the school for updates. Pedro loves art and would like to be a painter although he named math as his favorite subject.
Mariano Donahi Ajú Baram's family is helping to provide a cultural show for our Beca celebration on Saturday - can't wait to see it! I'll try to video the performance and post a link. Mariano's grades are among the highest and he hopes to be a lawyer.
Rosa Yanira Salquil González' mother talked at length (in Tz'utujil) about what Rosa's scholarship means to their family. She hopes that the sponsors are patient and understand that the students' lives can be very difficult and sometimes their grades may be lower than other times. She said it is hard for the students to succeed when they don't have money to pay for supplies for projects and books and is very grateful that the scholarship covers the costs of books, supplies, and uniforms in addition to tuition.
After the 4 family visits, we walked with Mynor to the newly renovated park near the Catholic church above the market. In this photo Mike (in blue) and Mynor (in green) are talking near the new fountain which contains turtles and carp.
We said 'hasta luego' to Mynor and spent some time in the market shopping for produce. One of the very coolest parts about this apartment is the nice little kitchen so we can prepare most of our own meals.
The fruits (and vegies) of our labor; total cost about $8.
We also shopped at a small grocery store a few blocks up the hill from our apartment; we discovered our desires were greater than the cash we had on us and explained to the owner that we'd buy some of the things in our basket (which included boxed milk, oats, granola, yogurt, pasta, rice, butter, and little packets of mayo and hot sauce) and return for the rest in a few minutes. He said he would count it up and we could take all of it and return later with the remainder owed - strong faith in human kind!

Also today we connected with a family studying here who are coworkers of ours in The Dalles. I'd say, "small world" but they're here on my recommendation. :-)

I'll close today's post with some photos from the garden at the school. Happy trails!

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