PEELING, PAINTING, AND PACKING
Hello again! Day 46 of the trip. We’ve been in Guatemala City for the last week hanging out with Jeanette and Juan Carlos and enjoying the much cooler temperatures. Some good news: the sunburn on my back has finally gone away! There was some major peeling going on, but thanks to Elise it’s pretty much cleared out. She was grossed out by it all, but I love the sensation of dead skin peeling off the back. Sorry if you’re eating right now.
On Wednesday we visited Pastor Alevino and helped out with a lunch-feeding program he does every day. He lives in a very dangerous part of the city, so we were extra aware of our surroundings. Elise reported seeing a random man with a shotgun enter a house very near to the church we were at. To do what, who knows.
The lunch program, though, was thoroughly enjoyable. Elise and I played a few worship songs in Spanish, and on the second day we led the silly game we did a lot in Chiquimulilla. It was a hit again. I especially love when the moms in the back are entertained at us funny looking Gringos shaking around in compromising positions.
After the game and a short lesson from Jeanette, we helped serve the food to the kids. It would be the only meal they would receive that day. Each child and parent had a Tupperware container and cup with them which we filled with rice, beans, tortillas, and a local corn drink. It was pretty humbling to serve these kids the only thing they would be eating that whole day.
There was a tense moment during the serving, though. A woman, upset at a kid who was strangling her child despite repeatedly being told to stop, hit the kid with a plastic foot stool/chair and broke it over his head. Elise and I were concentrating on the food serving at the moment, and because our Spanish isn’t good enough we didn’t get the gist of the situation until Jeanette told us later. Apparently the kid who was doing the strangling ignored the mom and kept choking the boy, which is why the mom lashed out.
The strangler was probably regularly abused at home, which is why he was so cavalier about abusing other children. Unfortunately, abuse of all kinds–child, spousal, sexual–is pretty rampant and unchecked in Guatemala. It is also woefully underreported and even if it is reported, there is no accountability. There is no Social Services or anything like that to intervene in the event of child abuse, so it just perpetuates. The social worker part of Elise, then, upon seeing this incident, felt helpless because she couldn’t do the things she would do in the United States, like call the police and make a report.
It wasn’t all bad though. We did some painting while we were there and had a bunch of kids hand-paint the wall. They were really excited to do this. There was even a newborn baby that did it, though it was a challenge to get her to stretch her hand out enough to make a clear hand print. It was aborable nonetheless.
This will probably be my final post from Guatemala. I’m leaving on Monday at 12:30pm from Guatemala City for a connection in Ft. Lauderdale, then arrival at O’Hare at 10:30pm. Then it’s a bus home to end a very long day. It’s been a great time here, my second trip to Guatemala. I can’t say my Spanish is any better, but I’ve enjoyed being immersed as much as possible. I’m also proud that, for the most part, Elise and I didn’t play the stereotypical Gringo tourists, though we do look the part with our pasty white skin and red hair. No fanny packs, though, or cameras dangling from our necks. If you ever plan on traveling abroad, especially to more imporverished areas, please don’t be the Ugly American. It does no one any good.
While Elise won’t be updating from this blog, she’s still on Facebook and Skype and all that. I know she’d love to hear from you. She will be here indefinitely, which is a daunting thought for her. My parents will be visiting in October, so she’ll have to keep herself busy until then. But for my part, I thank you for staying with us this summer. I hope we were entertaining and interesting enough.
Adios, y Dios les bendiga!