03 January 2011

feliz año nuevo!

Hello friends, and welcome to 2011!

And I know what you´re thinking... the missionary life reallllly looks hard here, doesn´t it?? Well, this was my extended Sabbath break...

So I went to the beautiful Lago Atitlán for new years! I went with a college group from Illinois State Univ that was volunteering for a week at the nonprofit school that YAV Katharine works at-- I went to ¨help translate¨ aka take a break and get a free shuttle bus ride to do it. It was beautiful.

So Atitlán has long-since been known for its strong hippie influences, and let me tell you world, we stayed in the most hippie dippie of hostels- as in, some patrons chose to not wear shoes, there was no electricity in my room... but who cares- it was in Santa Cruz and RIGHT on the lake- talk about idyllic (and $4 a night)! We arrived on the 31st, and since it was a University-sponsored trip, they had a no-alcohol policy, so we had a dance party until 11:50, counted down, and then (of course) set off some fireworks... The owners´ kids were probably about 7 and 9, and don´t worry friends, they got right in there with the roman candles and bottle rockets. Good stuff. Then, Katharine and I went out on a dock and watched the hundreds of fireworks going off all around the lake under the stars--- Is this seriously my life??

On January 1st, we rented a kayak and went out on the lake, boated, swam, and (small) cliff jumped-- what a wonderful way to kick off this new year! In the afternoon, the group went touristing around the lake, and Malea (my friend/trip organizer from Katharine´s school) hung back as ¨emergency contacts¨ to relax... it was glorious. It was so sunny and warm- we spent virtually all day lounging in the hammocks... Much needed R&R. We did go on an epic quest to get Juli a coca light- mainly because we were bored... we went to about 8 tiendas (little family-run stores) before we found 1 store that had 1 dusty can that was probably from the year 2000. Oh well, it gave us an excuse to go to the top(ish) of the mountain -- suchhhh a beautiful view!

Sunday, the group headed back to Xela and Katharine and I poked around the lake some more (using ferry boats to get from one town to the next), and then went to visit the foundation through which her US family sponsors students for school. We stayed over night with Benedicto and his wife Maria, and learned all about the amazing things they´re doing in San Juan La Laguna. Very nice to meet them and some of the students. .. Inspiring things are happening there, world.

Thennnnnnnn I remembered I was in Guatemala. Mom, you might want to stop reading. We took the 6am public bus back to Xela (about a 3hr ride with all of the stops)... and after about an hour, the bus stopped and the driver said the road is ¨cerrado¨ (closed) and he can´t go any farther and is returning to Atitlàn. Oh good, thanks... So everyone gets off the bus, and we walk through a corn field to get to the highway nearby (I wish I was making this up). We get to the highway, the 60ish Guatemalans (and 3 white people) that were on the bus... and we just stand there, trying to flag down buses, microbuses, or pickups that are going to/towards Xela. Good idea. Meanwhile, vehicles keep trying to turn to go where we came from, but the road is ¨closed,¨ and traffic is building up in the opposite direction... and kind of tapering off coming in ours. Good. The reason for this? ¨Saaaaber.¨ (Translation: who knows. More accurate translation: There is no real answer.) We saw several big trucks FULL of Guatemalans standing up going in that direction- and later learn that it was a national ¨manifestation¨ to protest the nothingness the president is doing by blocking highways all over Guatemala… I´ll let you decide how affective that sounds.

In any event, after about 45 mins roadside, a mostly-full public bus stops, picks us up off the side of the highway, and eventually we make it to the bus terminal in Xela... Thank you, Jesus for this miracle.

Hope that everyone else´s new years stories have happy endings! Bendiciones to all, faithful readers!

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