Destination: Guatemala City, Guatemala
Date: June 2013
Our trip to Guatemala is now over but we accomplished so much good that I think it will stay in our hearts forever. After leaving the mountains, we headed to the Atlantic Ocean side of the country for two days to bathe on the beach and enjoy the cooler weather. After our time in Livingston we ended in Guatemala City. As we visited some of the main sights of this great city, Bella declared “Mom I want to live here when I grow up! I love it here!” It was a sweet gesture and I wondered what it would be like to look at this city of so much poverty, and lack of public works, and want to live in a place like this, but then I realized it didn’t have to do with her surroundings. She had fit in with the people the best. She had tried the hardest out of all of my kids to talk to the locals and make friends. She had fallen in love with the people. With that perspective I could definitely see why she wanted to live there someday. The people are gentle, sweet and happy. Even through poverty they are always smiling, always laughing, and always enjoying the little things in life.
Guatemala City is a great city. While we were there we visited the main city center called Plaza Mayor. Here is where the National Palace, the Metropolitan Cathedral, Centenary Park, and the National Museum of History buildings are located. This is where the people sit around enjoying each others company or do a little people watching. It is what reminds me of the large city squares in Europe.
Another fun stop in the city is Mercado Central. This is a three floor underground mall that contains everything “typica” that anyone could desire. From backpacks, hats, bracelets, headbands, statues, nativities, crafting supplies, quincenera supplies, everything!!! I haven’t even mentioned the food! It is overwhelming and easy to get lost in… so stay together! The closest thing I’ve seen to Mercado Central is the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul Turkey. However this market will have much more Central American items. It was a fun stop for my kids.
Soon the twins had armfuls of bracelets, Clay found his whip and Indiana Jones hat, and Colton found his Guatemala “futbol” jersey. I purchased a few gifts for friends at home and we negotiated, negotiated, negotiated. It was a lot of fun for all involved. We gave all six kids 100 quetzals each before going in which was about $12 US dollars. Then we gave them a challenge of who could get the best value for all of their negotiating. At the end of our two hour shopping spree I think Clay did the best with a hat, whip, and Guatemala bag. He did a great job negotiating!
Another attraction for us while in the city was visiting the Guatemala City Temple. Located in Zone 15, it is in the nicer part of the city away from downtown. It is gated and manicured with a beautiful lawn, and flowers and bushes. The kids loved visiting the grounds and Trent and I went back later to go through a session at the temple. It was a beautiful temple decorated with typical Guatemala prints and fabrics.
Being back in the city was a great way to spoil all of us. The kids were overwhelmed with the food and restaurant choices and we even waited fifteen minutes for a table at a three story Pizza Hut across from our hotel. The kids felt like it was well worth the wait and inhaled the pizza after having gone three weeks without the typical American pizza.
Our hotel in the city, the Barcelo, was one we chose from Trip Advisor. Our usual place we stay is the Camino Real, but we were enticed by the good reviews of the Barcelo and the cheaper pricing. For about $80 a room we had a great Marriott type experience in this four star hotel. Such a step up from our recent accommodations and we were excited to be back in the land of hot showers, air conditioning, and fluffy pillows. It was worth every penny. Just having the chance to blow dry my hair gave my self esteem a great boost. The pool was large and perfect for Baileys daily workouts and Trent and I even splurged for a massage at the spa. It felt good to be back in civilization.
In the end Guatemala was a life changing experience for all of us. We signed on with CharityAnywhere.org which was a great way to get us connected and down there but I’m not sure we would go with this organization in the future. It was more of a “give a fish” kind of charity which is great, but being the entrepreneur, Trent would rather be apart of a “teach them how to fish” organization. By the time I arrived ten days after Trent and the kids arrival most of the work they had done with CharityAnywhere was over. Thats when Trent took matters into his own hands and found the local church leader President Barias and his chicken project.
The chicken project is what kept us busy for the duration of my time in Guatemala. As you’ve read in past posts it was all about helping the people build chicken coops and teach them how to make a profit. With their chicken business they were buying chicks and selling them six weeks later when they became chickens. In the end they could each turn a profit of about 100 queztals every six weeks which doesn’t sound like much to us but could be just the step up they need to survive. It is a project men and women can do and the profits can be invested in buying pigs and grow their livestock proceeds. This helps to provide for themselves and the many family members around then in their small villages. It was a great project to be involved with and President Barias is a smart Guatemalan man who has a good head on his shoulders. We plan on going back to this project in the future and help President Barias with even more working bodies and supplies to build even more coops. If anyone reading this post is interested in being apart of the chicken project in the future please let us know. It is a life changing experience! Until then….
Safe and Happy Travels!