Sunday, December 19, 2010

Este etraño poder

Aqui estoy. Aqui. Aqui. Aqui en Xela. Like returning to a memory. A memory in full, not selected for its sweet moments, its good times, its warm hearts. A memory so close to reality, one that doesn´t edit its self to my liking. Such a strange power to return to a place like this one. So far away in distance, in style, in way, in life. Just money, just a plane, just ten hours and I return to the dream. The dream has lived this past year as I have lived, one more freckle, one more heartbreak, one more crack in the cement, one more pair of adidas over the power line. Physically we travel through this time space side by side. Almost undecernably the same is this place I have loved and set free. The red tin roofs, the unfinished cinderblock buildings, the clothes on the lines, the dogs in the street, the bus culture, the flowers in the cemetery. I am recollected by the characters of this dream, Doña Lucy, the orange juice lady, Leonora and her old mother, who hug me and pinch my arms, by the children and teenagers I spent so much time with, the chubby girl at the food carts in Parque Central. My best relations here expected my arrival, awaited my magical return from the mysterious lands of the north. The place where money is cultivated, where wealth explodes, where poor volunteers go and return rich with Christmas presents for all. They swallow this impossible reality with little questioning, grace me with the their acceptance of the unknown.
The strange power overwhelms me, earases the past year of my life. So many times I´ve questioned the knowledge, the experiences of the time I´ve spent here. What are they worth? In what context are they applicable? What good is this understanding I´ve gained? And suddenly it all makes sense. As I get in a cab and bargain for the price, as I take the right chicken bus to the right destination, as I go where I want to go flawlessly, comfortably, making friends along the way, opening my heart to a place that so many fear and misunderstand. My education here was priceless. Every hard earned lesson blesses me with the wisdom that follows.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Of gifts and goodwill

Many of you have recieved this already, but I thought I would post it just in case.

My dearest friends and families,
As many of you know I spent the greater part of 2009 volunteering for a non-profit organization in Xela (Quetzaltenango), Guatemala known as EDELAC (Escuela de la Calle). Fifteen years ago EDELAC was founded to build and sustain a primary school in one of the poorest areas of the city where no other existed. Today it provides over 200 children, grades 1 through 6, with free education. A dormitory, El Hogar Abierto, was later created as a safe, abuse free environment for children without families or whose families live in an area with no available educational services. Almost all funding comes from the hard work of a group of volunteers known as the Quetzal Trekkers. The Quetzal Trekkers work as hiking guides, leading tourists on multi-day treks throughout the highlands of Guatemala, with 100% of their proceeds going to the children of EDELAC and El Hogar Abierto.In my time as a guide for Quetzal Trekkers I witnessed a fully functioning organization run on the goodwill, dedication and love of its past and present volunteers and associates. I was blessed to spend time living, learning and playing with the children and teenagers of EDELAC and El Hogar Abierto. I left not only with new friends, but with a family to whom I am connected and care about.
So in the spirit of this holiday season I am planning a journey to Guatemala. I would love nothing more than to share gifts, money, supplies, gear, joy and love with children who deserve every resource they can get to succeed. I am presenting you with the chance to give to those who desperately need the help, to a place where a little goes an incredible distance. Please help me to provide the faces, hearts and stories I know and love, with the basic opportunities most of us take for granted. I am accepting any and all donations. Please see the following information for the website my friend Jon set up for internet donations. Feel free to pass this letter on to whomever you think would be interested in donating. Please call (503-708-3564) or email ( if you have any questions or if you want to come with me (I’m serious, lets go!).
Many thanks,

A Guate Christmas

Push some buttons, type some numbers, and I have spent more money in one second than I have in the past eight months. A plane ticket from Portland to Guatemala City. Such lanes of transit exist. I will walk out the door of this house of friends, cross the wet pavement, damp leaves, coffee roasting, beer brewing, yoga studios of Portland. I will board a long, winged, slightly uncomfortable box and, just a lapse of time later, find myself in the familiar chaos of Guate. A journey that once took the greater part of the year will be knocked out in eleven hours.

This journey is different in nature. I am returning to the place I lived, the people I know, to celebrate Christmas, to bring cheer. I was invited to help my friend Jon (see old blogs) who started a fundraiser to give gifts to the children and teenagers we volunteered with like we did last Christmas. The invitation came to me at exactly the right time. A time when my mind was open to the idea, when no plans cluttered the space of my future, when I had just made a little money. ¿Por que no? So now, we have reached our goal, we are ready to go. My deepest graditude to all who have given.

Expectations loom heavy, but this journey is a simple one. Give gifts, give love, give joy to those who welcome it with out beaurocratic nonsense. Share the blessings of my situation, as a citizen of a country that offers more opportunity than ever imaginable here.