We haven’t talked much about the people here. They are relatively poor and very hard working. They have mostly had a very difficult life. There was civil war here for 30 years that just ended in 1996. The government has been very repressive(with the help of the US government). People here remain optimistic despite the many obstacles they face daily. Life is not easy, although people smile easily. The Guatemalans are a gregarious people and very friendly. The Mayan people are probably the poorest and have the least access to health care and education. We are only able to talk to people a little bit, but they are very tolerant of our broken Spanish.
The people seen at the clinic in Camanja are very poor and some have very serious health problems, some children have some significant birth defects that are preventable. One of the exciting things about this mission is that in addition to the medical teams coming down to help, there is a Guatemalan doctor at the clinic two days a week, so there is follow up care.
We don’t have many pictures of Guatemalans because it is rude to just take someone’s picture.
Yesterday we hit a bit of the higher end on the culture here in Pana. We went to an art gallery that had a showing of a new artists and quilts that went with the paintings. The people were interesting and the gallery full of odd collections of old wooden pieces collected by the owner’s father some of which were 300-400 years old. The owners have German and Guatemalan roots and have a very interesting and beautiful place to live.
We also enjoyed the evening with our neighbors and friends, Carey and Jay. The power went out so we sat outside and talked about living and working here. We asked many “how to” questions and talked a bit about a schedule for moving down.
Today we are off to the market to stock up on fresh fruits and vegetables. We will also be working on our Spanish homework.