Today I took a semi-planned trip to Solola. I call it "semi-planned" because I didn't really know what I was doing until yesterday and today.
First, I had to drop off all of the information about the doctors who will be there through COTA in January. "Just drop it off at the mayor's office," they said yesterday; so that's what I did.
Then came the fun(ner) part for me. We--Edgar went with me--had to locate and talk to Manuel who I apologize for not introducing you all to sooner. As far as I can figure out, Manuel works with the mayor's office as some sort of liaison for the indigenous people. He went with me as chauffeur, guide, and translator on my trip in June. I had sent him a letter in September detailing some information which I needed him to find out for me, and somehow it only made its way to him a couple of weeks ago. (*sigh*)
Anyway, Edgar had his phone number but was out of minutes. I had a few; so we dialed in Manuel's number. Edgar talked to him for a couple minutes, but my phone ran out of minutes. So, we contemplated what to do. Manuel called back, but after about two sentences ran out of minutes as well. So, we headed back into the mayor's office to borrow their phone. We met up in Los Encuentros where the three of us chatted in Manuel's pick-up until Edgar had to leave for a meeting (back down in Solola). Manuel called his wife and asked her what she wanted us to do, and she said to bring me back to the house. We could continue chatting there and she'd make sure I got a good lunch.
On the way, we stopped and visited David's family...or most of it. This time we didn't run into David, but we saw his mother, two sisters, and his older brother (the latter of which I had not met on our first visit). David was off helping his father apparently. The older girl, Wendy, will be going back to school in January. I consider this the first of many small victories; perhaps the only to be had today, but that's not important. Today both Floricelda and her mother gave me gifts. Floricelda gave me a little doll with a magnet on it to attach to my fridge. (I didn't mention that I don't have a fridge, and it is now stuck to my stove.) Her mother gave me a nice bag that says "Guatemala" on it. It's actually the perfect size for carrying stuff in; so I can stop feeling like a tourist with my backpack. (Yes, the irony is that the Guatemalans use the "Guatemala" bags even though they sell them to tourists.)
Then we continued on to Manuel's house where I met his wife, father, four sons (ages 8 to 13), and one daughter (age 6)...oh, and their parrot. We had a nice visit. I got the kids to practice their English a little; the government now requires it in the school, but as in most places in the country, the education is particularly poor in that subject. We had a nice lunch of what I think was pepian (probably my least favorite of Guatemalan dishes, but particularly yummy today). I'm still trying to figure out what can only be a cultural thing: making the guest sit alone. The three adults sat around the stove. The five kids sat around one table. And the white girl sat by herself at another table. I showed them pictures of my family. And, about an hour and a half after arriving, Manuel, his wife, and his daughter drove me back to Los Encuentros to catch the bus where, surprisingly, his daughter gave me her weaving. (Yes, the 6-year old is learning to weave, and she had told me it wasn't her first piece either.)
So, what's next?
-Edgar is going to find out the cost of school supplies for next year.
-Manuel is going to talk to Ismael to figure out what day we'll get the families together. Manuel will host one meeting in his town and translate for me in the morning, and hopefully we'll have the other meeting in the church of Edgar and Ismael's father in the afternoon and Ismael will translate for me.
-Annalisa (that's me!) will be counting up the number of students in each grade to figure out how many school supplies we need. She will also be working on a surprise Christmas bag for each family with food to help them celebrate in style this year. (Shh...it's a secret!) I (yes, I got tired of third-person) will also be working on either forming my own non-profit or joining what I do with an existing one.
-Two of the girls are special needs, and one of the boys is missing a hand (since birth, never grew). I'm working with another organization to help them, and Manuel said that early- to mid-January would be best; so that's on hold for the moment.
So, I'm off to compile data and make a shopping list. Yay!