TRIP TO GUATEMALA, JUNE 2009

NOBEL PEACE PRIZE LAUREATE DR. RIGOBERTA MENCHU TUM
We invited the five schools in Huehue that had received computers, and Dr. Rigoberta Mencho Tum to give a speech to the students. She first stopped at the Instituto Maya Mam co-educational boarding school in Colotenango and gave a very inspiring talk on how important it is for Maya to be in government. She ran for president last year. She then gave the main speech in Ixtahuacan, along with Padre Guadelupe Velasquez from Santa Catarina, San Marcos, and Edgar Perez Lopez from Columbra Costa Cuc. The evening ended with cultural dances from the five towns. The next day was a whole day of soccer matches, and a visit to a nearby Mayan archeological site.

DR. MENCHU’S VISIT TO INSTITUTO MAYA MAM IN COLOTENANGO
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Istituto director Juan Domingo welcoming Dr. Rigoberta Mench Tum to Instituto Maya Mam, a co-ed boading school that strives to maintain Mayan traditions in the Mam language. Juan shows his pride, as did all his students, in having Rigoberta Menchu visit.

 
 

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Rigoberta Menchu’s speech was about the importance of getting Maya, especially Mayan women, into positions of leadership.
 
 
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Rigoberta Menchu and her husband Angel.
 
 
DR. MENCHU’S SPEECH IN SAN ILDEFONSO IXTAHUACAN
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Dinner in Ixtahuacan before her speech.
 
 
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Singing the national antham.
 
 
Rigoberta Menchu
 
 

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Edgar Perez Lopez, from Columbra Costa Chuc, describing his town where Maya, Protestants, and Catholic live and worhip in harmony, where there is no alcohol, tobacco or police, where disputes are resolved by consensus, where there is no water in the houses so residents have to come to the public spring and get to know each other.
 
 
TRADITIONAL DANCES FROM EACH OF THE FIVE TOWNS
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I was told afterwards I had it all wrong, but it was still fun.
 
 

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I was teased after dancing with Rigoberta Menchu that it was the longest marimba piece they could play.
 
 
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Computers for Guatemala presented a plaque to Rigoberta Menchu. Our Filed Director Rafael Juarez, right, made the presentation.
 
 

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Breakfast Monday morning. I wonder if we forgot to feed Rigoberta Menchu’s three body guards. They took turns staying up the night before.
 
 

SOCCER GAMES IN NUEVA VISTA PARK
 

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I was relieved that they tactfully kept the ball well away from me.
 
 
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It was really nice to finally see so many kids, 150 from 5 schools, using the park, and enjoying it.
 
 
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40 years ago we were convinced Mayan culture and its traditional dress would die out, but it nice to see the cultue surviving, even on a jungle gym.
 
 
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One smile makes it all worth while.
 
 

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Kicking to break a tie.
 
 
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The captain of the winning boy’s team accepted the trophy to applause and shouts of “beso, beso.” kiss kiss. It was fun!!

 
 
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Eulalia got all the cries for “beso beso,” not me!

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Padre Guadelupe gave beautuful and short words of encouragement with each presentation of a trophy. He agreed to attend at the very last minute, and touched everyone he spoke to.

 
 
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Padre Guadelupe challenged each of us to do better. It couldn’t have been a better day.
 
 

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Winning girls team from Ixtahuacan (home team advantage?)
 
 

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Receiving an application for computers from a school in San Gaspar Ixchil, near Ixtahuacan.
 
 
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Taking some of the kids on a tour of the coffee and fruit tree section of our park.
 
 
MAYAN ARCHEOLOGICAL SITE
 
 

Our park is called “Nueva Vista,” a place to come to relax and play, but also a place to come to reflect on a future better life. After the soccer games Padre Guadelupe and Edgar Lopez, a Mayan priest from Columba who had spoken the night before, Eulalia and I visited a nearby Mayan archeological site, which is still used as a ceremonial center. We noticed numerous chairs and what may have been beds carved into the rocks.

Resting seat for a Mayan priest?

Edgar said this was a chair for a Mayan priest, with a place for food and drink by Padre Guadelupe’s right hand. It was/is a chair for relaxation and reflection speculated Padre G, as he wafted the engergy into himself. His grandmother and uncle were Mayan chimanes (priests). No coincidence that old and new “parks” adjoin each other, as the spot has a special view of the whole valley, and is the center of the valley. The site is a place for “re-creation.”

 
 

Good luck talisman
Edgar, the Mayan priest, found a coin that he said had been left as a good luck omen for whoever found it, along with two pebbles. He explained how the position of each pebble was significant.
 
 
VISIT TO COLUBRA COSTA CUC
We were invited to visit this small community, founded about 18 years ago by familes displaced from the coast during the civil war as suspected union sympathizers. There is no alcohol, tobacco or police. Disputes are resolved by consensus. Maya, Protestants and Catholics live and worship in harmony. There is a Mayan archeological site in the community. When the government learned of the site it tried to take the site away from the community, so the community organized in protest and won the right to administer the site. The mayor is a woman. The community is receiving computers from the shipment arriving on June 22, 2009.
 
 
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Hearing a presentation by community leaders on how their community was founded and how it is run.
 
 

Communal clothes washing
Purposefully there is no running water in their houses so residents have to come to a communal spring for water and to wash clothes, fostering communication.
 
 

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Collecting water from the spring.
 
 
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The one “main” street in the community. They explained with great pride the effort in took to raise the money to build this street.
 
 

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Mayan ceremonial site that is still in use in the community.
 
 

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Part of Maya archeological site.
 
 
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This spring is said to emit mystical powers at night.
 
 

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Common house in need of a stove with chimney to help eliminate respiratory problems.
 
 
house built by Habitat for Humanity
A much better house built by Habitat for Humanity.
 
 
site where they want to build a school
Site where they would like to build a school.
 
 

OTHER EVENTS
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Visited the Presbyterian church in Xela to see if they needed computers.
 
 

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Caretaker’s house in Nueva Vista park.
 
 
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The handicrafts, this nativity scene an sale in Chichicastenago, are improving.
 
 

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Original style marimba in the Mayan Inn, Chichicastenago.

 
 
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This fellow has been a waiter at the Mayan Inn for 55 years, well before my first visit there over 40 years ago.
 
 
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Sunday market at Chichicastenango.

 
 
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I got a GE washing machine for Eulalia, so she would have more time to study, but she thought it best to wash the clothes first in a pila!! ;)
 
 

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Flowers for father’s Day.
 
 

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A tweve year old and two younger helpers fixing a flat, in 5 minutes flat. Amazing to watch.
 
 

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This school in Granadillo, Ixtahuacan will get computers from the June shipment. Teacher Juan Mendez was my scholarship student.
 
 
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This seminary in San Sebastain H, Huehue, will get computers from the June shipment. The computers and funding were collected by Rev. Dr. Tony Gibson of Calvary Baptist church in Darien. Pastor Tony was a seminary classmate of Rev. Steve Swulka, one of the missionaries at the seminary.
I knew Steve’s parents who were missionaries in San Sebastian H. when I was in the Peace Corps. Small world.
 
 
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This junior high school in Ixtahuacan will get computers from the June shipment. They are expanding the school. Director Luis Manolo was a young kid when I was there as a Peace Corps Volunteer. He is sending a group of his students to plant trees in our park.

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