Today was wonderful in so many ways. It was the perfect blend of things for my personality.
First, I was very fortunate to have a room to myself (thank you, Diego). I didn’t ask for it, but I’m not complaining. That allowed me to have my normal introverted time early in the morning before I reengaged with the group (and a great cup of coffee).
Second, our group met for breakfast then took a three hour guided tour of Antigua. Our tour guide, Sergio, was fabulous. He was funny and scary intelligent. He walked us through the ruins and historical homes and filled us in on the history of the country. Here are a couple of fun facts. Antigua was the first capital of the Spanish Colony, started in the 1500s. The city was destroyed by a massive earthquake in 1773 and the capital was relocated to Guatemala City in 1776. Does that year sound familiar?
The highlight of the tour was when Jeremy interrupted the guide and shouted, “Is that volcano erupting!?!” Sure enough, it was. Check this out.
I really appreciated that way that Sergio emphasized how much the indigenous culture and religion remained intact throughout and in spite of Spanish colonization. I learned a lot more about the Mayan culture. Did you know that there are 24 language groups in Guatemala? I think that is fascinating. We ended the tour at the house of Jade. The guide there taught us about Jade and how important it was for the Mayan culture. Imperial Jade (the rarest shade of green) is a sign of immortality. Here is a Jade portal to the afterlife.
Third, we ate really good food today. We had a nice breakfast buffet at the hotel (BTW, check out Porta in Antigua), lunch and dinner in two different restaurants in the city. It was so good I can’t even describe it. More than the food, though, the conversations and connections with the team were fun, deep, and invaluable.
Fourth, I got to go to my happy place. I spent 3.5 hours sketching in the city. I first went back to the Cathedral ruins that we visited on our tour. I spent two hours on this piece.
Then I had another hour before I had to return so I did a pencil sketch of the fountain in Central Park.
I love painting plen air (that is a fancy term for painting outside, on location, and really fast) for many reasons. One reason is because drawing and painting is a form of meditation for me. It forces me to slow down, focus, and become really present in a particular place. Another reason is that it allows me to connect to people in a unique way. Ever since I was a child I have always used art to connect to people. I was very shy and we moved around a lot. Whenever I would come to a new school I would start drawing and kids would gather around. Art has always been my “hand shake” for human connection. When I set up in a busy place people inevitably stop to watch and often talk to me. They ask questions and make comments. I got to meet some cool people today. I suppose these past two days of sketching have been my “handshake” to Antigua.
Finally, we had a really good devo time tonight. Robert led it. The text was 1 Corinthians 3 where Paul talks about building on the one foundation of Christ. Robert connected the text to the making of concrete and to what we have been doing this week. Concrete is made of four things: Rock, Sand, Cement, and Water. Rock, Sand, and Water can be found anywhere. Cement is special. It must be mined, ground, dried, and packaged. You can make adobe bricks with Rock, Sand, and Water, but they are not very strong. When you add cement it is super strong. He said that Jesus is like the cement. When we meet people and make sure that God is in the mix of the relationship, then the relationships will be strong. Well said.
I am very thankful for this day. Tomorrow we get to spend the morning in town again, then head back to the Lutheran Center for the final trip evaluation session.