Loving Arms would like to Thank you for all your hard work. In a short amount of time you have accomplished a lot and made a huge difference. We look forward to your return. Please see the last blog below.
We arrived home on Sunday to snow and ice. What a difference from the beautiful temperate climate of the Guatemalan mountains. Our last two days in Guatemala now seem a blur. On Friday, we made our last stop at the ferreteria and were recognized as regulars. Our usual sales clerk greeted us as we walked in. He became so comfortable with us he began to bring out other suggested items that we should buy to go with what we had purchased over the last few days. They had become so comfortable with us they gave us our things even before we had paid for them. We tested the water lines one more time just to be sure as our final project was to put down a concrete pad in front of the sinks, so the children wouldn’t have to stand in the mud to wash their hands. But this meant that the final water lines would be covered in concrete so they better not be leaking. Wood is not plentiful in Guatemala so we had to scrounge a number of pieces in order to make the cement form, but a little creativity helped and it was done. Once we completed the pad, our final act, we were done with our work on the washrooms. We were asked to join the kids in the school. Each of the classes had prepared a presentation for us to thank us for coming and building the washrooms for them. They sang and danced; some in Spanish and some in English. At the end Alicia and the school prayed for us. It was very moving. We then had our picture taken with everyone from the school, while we all “coochicoochied” to the camera (their way of saying smile for the camera). On our way back to the hotel we stopped at the town of Pastores. Pastores is famous for it’s handmade leather goods, especially cowboy boots. There are dozens of stores. With thousands of choices it almost seemed overwhelming. If we had more time we could have had boots custom made. Jonathan got himself a set of cowboy boots and Tenny and I got new belts.On Saturday we got up at 5:00am to catch the bus to the volcano. We drove about an hour and a half through the country side to the volcano site. It was great to see more of Guatemala. The highway was a modern 4 lane highway as it was the main road to the sea port. But off the highway was a pretty rugged dirt road. The trail up the volcano is about 5 km, and it seemed like/felt like it was straight up. I have never been on a more difficult hike in my life. The guides brought horses to ride up for 100Q (Guatemalan dollars or about $20Cdn). A couple of were tempted to take a horse, but wanted to prove to ourselves we could do it. The volcano is an amazing site. The sides are covered with hardened lava rock that had spewed out in 2014 and destroying 500 homes. For fun they had opened up a small hot spot in the rocks where you could roast marshmallows if you wanted. The walk up took about 1.5 hours, but the walk down took about 45 minutes. It’s a lot easier when you’re not fighting gravity. In the afternoon we visited the dairy cooperative that Loving Arms is sponsoring. This too was way up in mountains; in a small village. They were pretty isolated with not a lot of modern conveniences, like running water. They did have electricity though. The owners arrived with their cows and got an opportunity to meet them and their cows. It is a real struggle for them to find enough feed for the cows when the struggle find enough food for themselves. Agricultural land is hard to find so they terrace the mountainsides. Growing crops, such as hay or corn for the cattle is just out of the question. Grazing is difficult as well. But they are successful. They use the milk to make cheese which they sell two days a week in the local market. It’s inspirational to see their dedication and spirit.Looking back, we accomplished everything we had set out to do. The Guatemalans were such gracious hosts. We only wish we could have done more.