Already day 9 of our 2 week journey with DWC has arrived! Although it´s only been a mere week, I feel I have a true understanding of the Guatemalan culture thanks to the locals who have welcomed us with open arms. The people and children we´ve met are absolutely incredible, and despite the language barriers, they are always here to help. I´ve never met such a warm and accepting culture.
We began this Monday with an early breakfast at Fernando´s (the local cafe just around the corner). We ate the cafe´s delicious selections such as the Americano with eggs, or the Panqueques, and even Nutella crepes. Our bus arrived at 8:30am, driven by Fracisco, unbeknowst to him, the next 20 minutes would be spent listening to the group's (may I add at times off key) singing!
We arrived at the Open Windows Foundation Centre bright and early. Just like any other morning, we were greeted by Herman (the local cobbler who lives adjacent to the centre) and his adorable 3 year-old son Hosuay. Despite my poor Spanish, Herman speaks to me in Spanish which at times can be challenging, but definitely a learning curve! He´s so patient with me, words cannot describe my gratitude!
The ladies headed straight to work by 9:45am. We continued painting the main entrance of the centre, a beautiful lemon marang yellow. The boys, prior to continuing their work at the local school, had the opportunity to roll large barrels down the streets of Saint Miguel Duenas which did attract some local stares (according to Sean) however it did not stop the boys from having a wicked time.
During lunch we were met with a delicious chick pea soup and a portion of home made bread. Then, by 2:00pm, most of the local children arrived. As everyday passes, the number of children seems to exponentially grow. I believe we had just about 100 kids visit the centre. Once again, we were assigned to our activity groups consisting of singing, reading, knitting, games and sports.
For dinner, we dined at the local restaurant 'Frida´s'. The restaurant was a true dediction to the renowned Mexican painter Frida Kahlo. Not only were the decorations authentic and flawless, but also the food was excellent. The group especially enjoyed the restaurant´s music; many of the songs that were played we recognized, and therefore, sang along to!
For the later portion of the night, a definite highlight for the group was hearing that Ryan (this is for you Barata) would be joining us during our last week of traveling in Guatemala. He brings such laughter and excitement to the group that his company would have been extremely missed. After some trials and tribulations, I´m ecstatic to officially announce that Ryan will be joining us in Coban, Semuc Champey, Lake Lanquin, Florice, Tikal, Rio Dulce and Livingston. (Ryan verbally listed the cities for me himself)
Thanks to my marvelous group, team leaders, and the beautiful people of Guatemala! I will sincerely miss you all! This experience has been nothing but positive, I´ve learnt more about myself and the kind of life I want to lead, one that will live up to these past 2 weeks.
Ashley (aka the SCRAPER SENSEI)
Developing World Connections Volunteer Participant