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A Quick Look Back

Some final thoughts

Well, I have been back three weeks now. Feeling fine, lots to do at work. Foster dogs back in the house, and Miguelita scheduled to arrive the weekend of May 2. One very interesting development is that the local public health office contacted me to ask lots of questions before reporting my campylobacter to the CDC. I was very impressed with their speed in reaching me (notified by the lab that did the identification). C is a reportable infection, so now I and my trip are "on the record" forever I guess.

I have posted some of my photos. Unfortunately, my little disposable camera was just not able to handle the strong light very well, so many of the photos taken in the sun are a bit too bright, but there are also many nice shots in the group.

In thinking back about the trip, I am very happy I planned it as I did. Traveling alone, I was able to make instant contact with very nice people and find a home where I could settle in for a while and get a good sense of how the local people live. Of course it would have been wonderful to have been able to conclude my trip with a leisurely visit to some of the other towns and the Maya ruins. But the last thing I wanted was a "It's Monday, it must be Rome" kind of experience. I will save the touring for my next trip when I have the contacts AND the time to wander.

My Spanish has improved remarkably. I am able to converse much more, especially on specific topics. My real progress is in being able to comprehend more. I can now watch the Spanish channel on TV and understand a lot. Victoria was the perfect teacher for me. :)

Pueblo a Pueblo is a wonderful organization. The group is doing fantastic work supporting the hospitalito and the families that have suffered since the mudslide in 2005. They are always looking for volunteers, as is the hospitalito. So if you think you might be interested, go to the Pueblo a Pueblo Web site and contact the volunteer coordinator. Through my experience with Meguilita, I had the opportunity to discover Mayan Families/Healthy Pets, another wonderful nonprofit, but located on in Panajachel, on the northern side of the lake. They can probably also use the help. You can find them on the Internet as well; just google "Mayan Families" on Lake Atitlan.

Many of the gringos (outsiders) have come to this area and have jumped right in to develop programs to help the people. These gringos love living here and also want to give something back. We met a number of folks from all over the world (Great Britain, New Zealand, the States) who have initiated very interesting projects to help the people live better, healthier lives. For example, in one very poor town on the lake, all of the residents have received modern stoves for baking their tortillas. These stoves use much less firewood and produce much less smoke, which means improved health for all, especially the children. Many of these projects also involve or employ local people, so the Maya are helping themselves and the economies are growing. Many of these efforts will bear fruit long term. Of course, you can still find the typical pot head gringos, many of whom came here back in the 1960s and 1970s and never left. Certain towns on the lake are actually known for their ability to attract these types of folks.

One last thought on this unbelievably beautiful lake (look at the pictures I posted if you don't believe me). During my entire time there, I saw only one large sailboat, no waterskiing, no sport motor boats, no jet skis. I just wonder how long it will take before the monied tourists discover this amazing spot and spoil the lake with their modern entertainment. I hope that doesn't happen, but I also can't believe it hasn't happened already.

Would I do this again, everyone asks me. Absolutely! In fact, I am already beginning to think about my next adventure. I'll keep you posted :)

Posted by Derrne 04:24

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