WOW! Where do I even begin? Our experience in Guatemala was so intense it is difficult to know where to start my narrative. We arrived home last night. Jenn has gone back to the Cape and we have decided to both post our pictures and thoughts independently. It will take many posts. We have basically been off the grid for ten days in the village of Vera Cruz, in San Juan Bautista. We camped in an abandoned house that is being fixed up to become a guest house for people interested in having a real Guatemalan adventure, an Eco B&B. Our goal was to teach some basic woodworking hand skills that will be useful in both the renovation and in the development of products for the village to make for income. I will say that I think we were totally successful. We really had no idea what to expect when we arrived, both in our living situation and our student population. We stayed fluid and open with both. We lived without electricity cooking most of our meals on a fire that was set up on the porch. Our water came from a spring that was gravity fed up the hill to our location. We did have bathrooms, but nothing worked yet so we had to use buckets of water to flush the toilet and bath in our tub. We were unable to access the computer or even charge our phones (unless the generator was running and an outlet was free) that is why we will be telling our story after the fact. Our support was staff was wonderful, their names are Pilar and Tyson (both 23) and they have been working with the village for a year. Although they had a small living space down the hill they stayed in the house with us. They kept us safe, translated, helped teach, cook, and were wonderful comrades to live with. Jenn and I admire them both for their incredible work ethic, maturity, character and values. I also am glad I got to have this adventure with Jenn. We have worked on many projects together and this one topped them all. She was translator, documenter, teacher, mechanic and friend.
Our ride to Vera Cruz was with Matt Creelman. He is the force behind this project. He was only with us for two days due to family needs, but his time at the house was like being with the Tasmanian devil. He is a whirlwind of energy and knowledge. After spending time with him, his daughter Pilar and her boyfriend Tyson, I am sure the B&B project will be a total success. They are all doing this work for nothing but their belief in humanity and desire to help the down trodden. The road to the community is a couple of miles long and can only be accessed by walking or 4 wheel drive vehicle, as we drove into the jungle I wondered what I had gotten myself into. We arrived at the house in late afternoon, Matts wife Gladys had helped us shop for some essentials and sent mosquito netting with us. Our first job was to carry everything up the hill. This included beds, tools, food, and kitchenware. Matt recruited some kids to help, so Jenn and I set up the beds with netting quickly before the sun went down. We completed this project with Bamboo the kids cut for us, and some string. This set the tone of the week, how do you do something with the resources around you. The first thing we noticed upon arrival was the extreme loud buzzing all around us. We learned that the sound was coming from a cicada like insect called a ChuChara, (my spelling might be wrong). These bugs were about 2 ½ to 3 inches long. We had arrived in the middle of their season – at night it was like buzz saws running. I will admit at this time that I have a little bug phobia. After two days of constantly looking all around me and under everything I picked up, I just had to let go of it. By the third day if a giant cockroach walked across the counter I said hi and let him go his way in peace. I did have a hard time accepting the Chuchara, they were big and clumsy and too much like a sci-fi film I once watched. Children started showing up immediately. They love Matt and were curious about what was happening.