Friday, February 26, 2010

Our Life in Santiago Atitlan Begins...

We arrived in Santiago Atitlan on February 9, 2010.  After a night flight and then a 3 hour drive to Santiago, we were warmly greeted by many of the staff at Hospitalito.  They graciously helped unload our many heavy bags and carried them down the path to  the house where we will be living for the next 2 months.  The staff had a welcome lunch for us the next day where we had a delicious local dish called caldo de pollo (chicken soup) and tamalitos, which are little tamales without the filling.

The children are doing great, exploring their new surroundings and making new friends. Christopher and Elizabeth have started 1st grade at the local Catholic school.  It’s amazing to see them go to school everyday without a complaint nor a worry that they don’t speak Spanish and that the teacher doesn’t speak any English.  Kids are so adaptable!  Julianne is attending preschool two days a week and is enjoying that.  To our surprise, she asked the other day when we were going to get to Guatemala.  When we told her that this is Guatemala, she just said “Oh.”  Nicholas says “Hola” to everybody with such a big infectious smile that all seem to walk away with a bigger smile.  Jennifer and Brent have started language school and are finding out how much they need to learn in the next few months.  

We will continue in language school until mid May and then we will start working at Hospitalito. The hospital is in the process of being rebuilt (see previous blog). It appears that the hospital is functioning well at the interim location, but you can sense the excitement surrounding the building of the new hospital with a projected opening date in late summer or early fall.

The people have been very friendly and helpful.  They really love children and are curious about our diverse family.  

The area is beautiful and the climate temperate.  The yard in the house we are staying at has evergreens and many exotic, tropical flowers, as well as birds.  The kids love running up and down the long grassy area in front of the house playing make-believe games of kings and queens and rescue.  No toys necessary, just one big stick that we try not to let Nicholas get a hold of.  There is also a great tree for climbing.

We go to the local market several times a week.  There is a good variety of fruits and vegetables, beans, rice, and, of course, tortillas.  The tortillas are made by hand out of masa right while one watches and then cooked on a stone griddle.  They are best eaten hot, right on the street!  The bananas, pineapple, cantaloupe, mangos, and papaya are all as sweet as can be and the avocados are the best and biggest we’ve ever seen.  We have splurged on peanut butter and cheese which are not at all a local staple, but can be found in town.

Walking or riding a tuc-tuc is the most common mode to get somewhere.  The kids love riding in tuc-tucs: no seatbelts, open air, holding on to the edge of your seat as you wiz dangerously close to other vehicles.  Click here for a video of a tuc-tuc ride in Santiago. 

The church is very alive here.  There are three masses on Sunday.  Two in the local language,Tz'utujil, and one in Spanish.  The Spanish Mass had over 800 people and was standing room only, the overflow extending out the back of the Church. 

The Tz'utujil dress is very colorful with intricate patterns of birds and flowers in purples, reds, greens, and yellows.  This along with the music and singing made for a very exciting mass that even Nicholas enjoyed until halfway throught the homily when he was tempted (as Christ was tempted in the Gospel this week) to get off Daddy’s lap and make a break for the back of the church.  The other children did surprisingly well at Mass eventhough it was a bit longer than at home.

We want to thank our families and friends for all their support, especially over the last few months, to help make this transition go as well as it has.  

We hope all is well with you and your loved ones.  

Peace and Love,

Brent, Jennifer, Christopher, Elizabeth, Julianne, and Nicholas :)  

Wednesday, February 10, 2010



We were so excited about the arrival of the Burket Family, that we sent Aklax to the airport ONE DAY EARLY!  Brent and Jennifer have arrived to volunteer at the Hospitalito for THREE YEARS. They are both family practice physicians with the ability to perform cesareans.

On the left in the group foto are Christopher, Brent, Jennifer and Julianna Burket. Aklax is holding Elizabeth and Juan Manuel has little Nicholas. (yes, four small children!) The staff was so eager to meet the new family that they arrived to welcome them, and to help carry luggage.
We are very happy that they have arrived! 

Mission Doctors is the organization that facilitated their volunteer time with HA. It was September 2007 when Dr. Brent arrived with Mission Doctor’s director Elise Frederick. We have been patiently awaiting his return.