On a trip to San Ildefonso Ixtahuacan, Huehuetenango, my Peace Corps town, I was sitting in the small park on the town square, watching people pass by. There were two young children playing on the wrought iron fence that enclosed this park. There were spikes on the fence and it didn’t seem like a good place to be playing. It was not the primary school playground that I remembered growing up. A few months later I learned that about eight acres was available for purchase near the town, so I decided to purchase this land for a park and playground. Educators know the importance of playagrounds for developing social skills, cooperation, and building self confidence.

CHOOSING A NAME FOR THE PARK
We chose the name “Nueva Vista” (New View) because it was our hope that not only would families come to play, but also to reflect on a new perspective on how their lives, or the lives of their children, might be better, with better education, better health care, less corruption, less alcohol.

The setting of our park offers an inspiring view of a mountain valley. Adjacent to our park is a Mayan archeaological site, which is still being used. At this site are numerous large stones carved in the shape of reclining seats. Did Mayan priests come here centuries ago to rest and contemplate? Their Nueva Vista?
 
 
700 KIDS AND THEIR PARENTS VISITED OUR PARK APRIL 2012
Clubhouse Guatemala and founder Mike Parker, his family and team came to our park, a long six hour drive from the capital with their inflatables, carnival games, face painting, cotton candy, and pinatas, to give over 700 kidas and parents a fun day, which ended with a Christian messages given by Mike and a Guatemalan pastor, translated into Mam.
see photos and videos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/nuevavista/sets/72157629422166284/
 
 

house
The caretaker’s house is finished, and the family will move in around October 15, 2011. The family has 13 kids, two of which are married, so the other 11 are delighted to have a house with a playground. The house will be a model house: sewage from the letrine can be composted; the cooking stove is smokeless and uses 1/3 less wood; and there is a water filter.

 
 
100_3387
Leveling and enlarging the soccer field. December 2008.

 
 

100_3175
 
 
100_3182
The water tank is finally finished, full of water, and overflowing, at top left. We have run a hose to the site of the caretaker’s house, and another hose to irrigate.
 
 

100_3213
Rafael Ordonez, in bed and now 96, was somebody I knew 40 years ago when I was in the Peace Corps. His son Abelino, who we bought the park land from, said I could use his share of water from a spring, if I built a water tank for him and the park, which we did. It turns out he didn’t own the water rights, his father did. The father, knowing he might not have long to live, decided to dispose of his properties, and somebody offered him $1000 for the water rights. The father said he would sell his water rights to us for only $600. A contract drawn up, money transfered to Ixtahuacan, and here Rafael signs with his thumb print. I saw Rafael in September, when he was not well, but still the real gentleman I remember.
 
 
100_3286
 
 

IMG_0525
Installing entrance gate, September 2008.
 
 
100_3251
Avocado tree.
 
 

IMG_1090
 
 
_mg_0521
 
 
.
We shipped this slide from a New York public school that was throwing it away, then built a jungle gym around it in Ixtahuacan. December 2007.
 
 
IMG_1129
 
 
IMG_1111
 
 

.
Sand box and plastic play fort brought from Darien.

 
 
100_3280

 
 
IMG_1133
One smile makes it all worthwhile.
 
 

.
Barbeque pit.

 
 

.
Coffee tree, with organic fertilizer and fair trade.
 
 
.
Banana trees provide shade for the coffee.

 
 
100_3260
Orange tree.
 
 

.
Path down to the coffee and fruit trees.
 
 
IMG_0158
Abelino Ordonez (in red shirt) sold us the land and here with town administrators who are measuring the land. October 2007.
 
 
IMG_0384
September 17, 2007
 
IMG_0366
September 17, 2007
 
 
DSC01243
Planting 280 trees: pine, papaya, avocado, coffee, and names I´ve never heard of.
 
 
DSC01217
Children of a neighbor who agreed to watch the property. This recently leveled area, by a tractor, is where we were planning to put a basketball court, but a soccer field is more economical, so we will put up goal posts. (they call it “papi” soccer because it is only large enough for 5 players per side)
 
 
DSC01166
 
 

ENTRANCE ROAD TO PARK
26-02-07_1040
Cutting an entrance from nearest road to the park, in background behind house.
 
 
-2
Stream running along the southern border of the park.
 
 
MAYAN CEREMONIAL SITE ADJACENT TO PARK
Chico Ramirez & Eulalia Paiz
Chico Ramirez explaining to Eulalia Paiz, Quaker medical student, that Mayan priests used to strap on a rocket at this religious site and fly to a similar site on the coast. Because Chico is an educated kindergarten teacher I assumed it was a fable, so it was a surprise to learn he believed it.

Comments Off