Grade 10 Guatemala Trip Update – Day 2

Day 2: March 5, 2018
It is days like this that I remember why I appreciate working with adolescents – not that I think any normal adult should travel with them en masse – as at times it is like traveling in a foreign country – which, as we are, is a 2 for 1 trip for me. So, why my pleasure? From my phoning each room at 6:30 a.m.  – to our meeting in the lobby at 7:15 a.m., to participating, and/or respectfully attending a 7:45 a.m. Shacharit service at Chabad, to holding bladders on our long drive, to talking nicely and interacting with everyone – including an old School Head – truly my pleasure.

It is 6:30 p.m. as I start to type and I am sitting in the dining / community hall and all of the ‘kids’ are outside and I can hear the gorgeous sound of laughter – both from teenagers and real little kids – it is a smile maker. There are five of the cutest Mayan children – ages 5 through 8 years – whose mother’s are staying at Somos – if you needed a reason to know why we are here that sound alone is it! But I have jumped ahead…let’s go back a dozen hours.

As mentioned we woke at 6:30 a.m. and met in the lobby for our 7:30 a.m. departure to join with Chabad in their morning service – and of course join for a wonderful breakfast. There was lots of fruit – the fresh papaya was outstanding – as were the tortillas – with scrambled eggs, bagels and cake too! After breakfast we spent 20 minutes using the playground at the Chabad compound (it really is a compound) and the kids played in the sun, swinging, climbing and smashing a tether ball round and round.  

Kids being kids!

By 9:30 a.m. we were back at our hotel and we gave everyone an hour to shower and pack  – before bringing our bags down to the bus where our driver, Ricardo, managed to get about 20 very large suitcases strapped to the roof.  Add to that the food and cooking equipment piled in the back of the bus that Chabad organized for us – we were one full bus. It became even more apparent as we left Guatemala City  – this is one very hilly country and our fully loaded bus definitely worked very hard!

The journey to Somos begins!

We left for Project Somos around 11 a.m. The drive was gorgeous – forests, volcanoes (yes you read that correctly) and of course my favourite, palm trees.  We passed through villages with incredibly narrow roads and even more incredibly, two-way traffic! They were full of colour and cute children who were just getting out of school for the day at 12:30 p.m. (this is everyday but do note school starts at 7 a.m. every day too!). The traffic was amazing – especially considering some of the village roads, so we moved slowly. A little after 1 p.m. we finally reached our bathroom break in Tecpan, 30 minutes painfully passed our goal. Here we stopped and ate lunch which we had brought with us from Guatemala City before taking the final journey to Somos.  

Finally at Somos … the group has arrived!
The road to Somos was a long, winding and up-climbing narrow dirt road alongside a spectacular view into the valley far below (did I mention the valley was like, far below the road?). Arriving at Somos was truly amazing – it is up about 7000 ft / 2100 m. The air was warm (one needs to wear sunscreen because up so high there is less atmosphere to block the sun’s UV rays) and it was a bit hazy – apparently it has not rained in almost three months (they have a six month dry season) – still wondering why I packed a raincoat (oh yes, it was on the packing list). We were greeted extremely warmly by Greg and Heather who run the project and their team – it was nice to meet them, and Claudia with whom we had talked and corresponded. We were also welcomed by five exceedingly friendly dogs – we were at first reluctant – we saw wild dogs everywhere we went, from the airport to the streets to the villages (much like the cat situation in Israel) but we were assured these dogs were well cared for and belonged to our hosts – and the dogs came as advertised – with fun, friendly attitudes (and seemingly bilingual).

Meeting some of our new Mayan Friends.

Greg gave us a wonderful tour of Somos. I am going to save some of this for tomorrow (it is getting later, lots is happening and well, I am tired…) but it is absolutely remarkable what they have done here to build a community for abused women and their young impoverished families. If you have some time have a look here to see where we are – click here
There is so much more to say… wait for it! We are all very excited to get to work tomorrow.
Buenas Noches.

King David High School, 5718 Willow Street, Vancouver, British Columbia V5Z 4S9 Canada

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