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Guatemala Day 1 and 2: Getting There

Our travels started at 3:00am yesterday. Well, they tried to start. Lona was kind enough to pick up Denise on the way to the airport to drop us off at 3:30 in preparation for a 5:15am flight to Houston. Deb and Sammy, the mother and daughter team, were already at the airport to complete our traveling band. Deb informed us that our flight was cancelled due to mechanical problems. We scrambled to book new flights and had to split up. Deb and Sammy flew out later in the morning while Denise and I didn’t leave until 1:45pm.

I called Lona and she turned around and came back to pick us up. We were able to sleep a little more and I got to have lunch with Lona and Leah before we tried it again. This time we were successful and flew to Houston. Deb and Sammy were there. We had dinner in the airport, then flew to Guatemala City at 7:40pm. We landed safely, went through customs, met Diego, Pastor Karen’s son, and Estuardo, our driver, rode the church’s bus to the Lutheran Center, and got into our rooms at midnight. Whew!

Friday morning we got to meet Pastor Karen, her sister, two daughters, and some of the women at the Lutheran Center. We loaded the bus at 9:00am and began our mountainous trek northward. We drove, and drove, and drove, for ten hours and stopped twice. Once we stopped for lunch at Sarita’s in San Agustin Acasaguastian, then we stopped for a coffee break at a mall in Coban. Both places were excellent dining experiences.

Now, I’m sitting in my room at the Bombil Pek hotel in Chisec. It is a lovely facility where we will have a women’s retreat for the next two days. It was dark when we arrived, so I look forward to seeing it in the light of day.

Whew. Two days of traveling are now behind us.

I have only experienced Guatemala, so far, as it has flown past my bus window. My initial impressions are three-fold:

First, it is a beautiful country. The mountains are lush and span, ridge after ridge, as far as the eye can see.

Second, there is a great divide between the wealthy and the poor. We have driven through vast tracks of extreme poverty, both in the city and in the countryside. The conditions remind me greatly of my experience in Haiti. However, there is also an impressive downtown full of posh, high-rise condomuniums, beautiful parks, and a sophisticated infrastructure.

Third, our hosts are very gracious and fun to have as traveling companions. Our party ranges in age from two 13-year old girls (one from Guatemala and one from Rosemount), three 18-21 year-olds, and the rest of us middle-aged folk. We have enjoyed each other’s company today.

I look forward to interacting with the women at the retreat tomorrow. Now it is time to say, “Buenas Noches.” Until tomorrow…

Pastor Karen and the crew at the Lutheran Center

A beautiful sculpture in the Lutheran Center

Lunch stop at Sarita’s

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