Saturday, May 6, 2017

LWB People and Places

We started out the trip in Guatemala City where we stayed at a dive near the airport.

We stopped at a publisher before leaving the capitol where we purchased some books for the school library.

And we saw a dedication/protest in the main square downtown for the girls who died in a fire recently.

We spent the most time in Quetzaltenango which is known locally as Xela (pronounced Chela).  It's a nice town with a main square that has the regulation church - with flying buttresses, even.

And angels, of course.

I noticed a lot of the old style confessionals in Guatemalan churches.  I had to explain how they work to a couple of folks from Protestant sects.

We visited a cemetery too, which is always interesting.

Learned some of the local folklore, like the story of this woman who died of a broken heart.

There was a vibrant market in town too.

Because of security issues we didn't get to wander around much, but we did get to see.

And do a little shopping.

The colors in Guatemala are spectacular.

The public libraries are not so spectacular.

No open stacks and to be perfectly honest, the whole collection could be thrown out.

The building has been used for a number of things over the centuries, including a jail at one point.

They do use the space for cultural activities though, and there are some good PSAs posted.

A second public library was just as bad, and the books don't circulate.  Mostly they are community spaces.

We went to Salcaja, which has the oldest church in Central America.

These are the LWB fearless leaders.

There is a small museum in the town with some pre-Columbian artifacts and a wheel that caught my eye.

We visited the home of a former student (he graduated).  The student's dad is a weaver.

In some parts of the country the women weave and in others the men do.

He had a good setup.

Looms are fascinating machines, I think.

These ladies helped us out with our tour of the town - the one on the right is the weaver's wife.

And we caught a beautiful sunset.

We also went to a hot spring: Fuentes Georginas

We hiked up into the rainforest a bit.

We called the plant in the lower-left giant kale :)

In Zunil we saw a church and a video arcade ...

... it's a charming little town ...

... and we got the low-down on the Santa Ana women's cooperative.

After our work was done in Xela we went to Panajachel to see Lake Atitlan.

This little girl earns her living selling textiles by the lake (I did not buy anything from her but asked permission to photograph her and paid her for the privilege).

And we spent the last night in Antigua, which is the only place a lot of visitors to Guatemala see.

They have an interesting fountain in the main square.

Panajachel and Antigua are both very touristy.  I liked Pana better, although the architecture in Antigua is more interesting.

I really liked the Choco Museo, which is really a huge chocolate shop.

The capitol was moved from Antigua to Guatemala City after an earthquake in the 18th century.

Some bits have been rebuilt and others not.  There is on dormant and one active volcano nearby.

And, randomly, here's a selfie with the librarian from the school.

The man who founded the school has the most remarkable pay it forward story I have ever heard.  I have not included his photo because of the aforementioned security issues.  I'll just say he has done great things for the people in his community and I feel really lucky to have had an opportunity to go and help out there.  They taught us so much.


Mary Lou said...

Sorry I can't make it to MErlin's - I would love to hear more about this trip. So much we take for granted, including our libraries. Hey, LWB should solicit and edit a collection of essays on how libraries saved me or something like that, sell it as a fundraiser. (Early morning enthusiams...)

Chelsea said...

Every time I look at my spice rack, I am gripped with the immense wealth those tiny jars would have represented in years past. Your story here has sparked the same feeling about my bookshelves; we are so immeasurably fortunate.

Kathryn Kienholz said...

1. Libraries stocked with books that do not circulate; the mind boggles.
b. Elder Son spent a week or two at language school in Chela after his year in Chiapas; he felt the need to clean up his Spanish.
III. The weaver's wife looks Mayan.

Great post.