We were just getting used to
Esperanza's house. We were comfortable in the 8 x 7
room. We had learned that the potential for hot showers was
greatest when her husband had just come home from a long trip.
We had grown accustomed to the dogs peeing on our door. And
now... we have to go and change things!
What could have been a difficult
move has actually been relatively easy. We are now living in
the home of Martin Sop Baten with his wife and six children.
They are all incredibly warm and friendly. We want to take
this opportunity to give you a short tour of the place and all of
the cool people here.
First, check out our bedroom. It
was originally the ENTIRE HOUSE for this family when they had five
children. It was built by Habitat For Humanity.
Guatemala was the first foreign country where HFH set up shop, and
our family is eternally grateful.
Our Storage Space
(Clothes drying due to rain outside)
Scott Hanging Off
One Side Of The Bed
(Cool Micheal Jordan posters, too!)
The room is probably 15' x
15'. In the U.S., many folks have a hard time fitting
all of their shoes in 225 square feet. Here, it's room enough
for a family of SEVEN! For the two of us, it is more than
adequate. In our opinion, it is the best room in the
house. It has a door that we can barricade from the inside or
padlock from the outside. There's even two chairs, a TV and an
exercise do-hickey! They added some extra padding to our bed,
which is really awesome. It's the first soft bed we've seen in
Guatemala. Though it's only a hair larger than a twin bed, we
really appreciate it. Sure, some nights the close-quarters are
kinda like putting two wet cats in a paper bag, (someone comes out
with a black eye) but we're managing very well.
(Not that we use it)
The Closet With
One Of Our Buckets
They also left a nice closet here for
us to store our clothes, and shelves for us to store our
books. We were really excited about this until we realized
that we have more things to store than the WHOLE FAMILY! It's
a sobering reality.
The plastic buckets that they have
given us are used for doing laundry, washing hands and faces, or
taking care of nature's call when it's really cold and rainy at
night. The Michael Jordan posters are left over from Martin's
two oldest sons, who gave up this room for the new gringos in the
family. They are now sleeping in a "room" that has
been partitioned off in the sewing workshop using hanging sheets.
The scenery around the house is
amazing. There is a 10 minute walk uphill from the bus stop,
but it isn't so bad when you get to look around at the volcanoes,
corn fields, and mountains. A field of huge stones separates
the walking path from the house. We had a whale of a time
hauling huge bags of sand through this terrain in order to get
materials for the construction project. However, now we have
one heck of a story to tell our grandkids, as well as some really
Field" Next To Our House
The kitchen is small. Graciela
(the mom) and Yadira (the daughter) can often be found in here
preparing meals on the wood burning stove. They also make some
killer tortillas from fresh corn that they grind every day.
Typically, breakfast is beans, rice and tortillas. Some days,
it's vegetable soup. It just depends on what food they have on
hand. Lunches are the biggest meals of the day. Usually
they consist of a small piece of meat, vegetables and some
rice. Dinner is usually leftover from lunch, or else it is
soup, rice, or beans. Every meal comes with VERY light coffee,
bread (usually semi-sweet) and fresh tortillas or tamalitos.
All in all, Graciela and Yadira are great cooks.
This old kitchen will soon be
"replaced." The family took out a loan to add on to
their house. One of the projects is the new "plancha"
(or stove). It is also wood-burning. It is in the dining
room, which is a very large cinder block room with a table and
Yadira In The Cocina
Guys Working On
The New "Plancha"
The only running water is at the pila.
Washing clothes here is hard work. To cut down on the long
stints at the pila, we've learned to take care of laundry in small,
frequent batches. What's more, kids from the nearby school
come by for "Gringo-Fest 2003" to watch us labor through
washing our duds. We're kinda' like a side show, with the
added benefit of not charging admission. This is also the best
place to get clean. We've both learned the value of a good
Clothes In The Pila
Gabby Acting As
The "Washing Machine"
(Bathroom is at the upper left of her head)
The bathroom will soon be
replaced. Right now they just have two big holes in the
ground. The "stool" is simply a concrete cylinder
over the hole. Clear plastic drop cloths surround the area for
some privacy. There is no roof, so the climate in the bathroom
is whatever God provides. Because of the rain, you have to
plan ahead and bring any necessities in there with you when you go.
A View From
Outside The Bathroom
So... what will the new bathrooms look
like? We're not entirely sure yet. The family had
originally talked about building an outhouse, but later decided to
construct a true, running water system. They're being
constructed just behind where the new bedroom will be for the two
younger boys. We're really happy about this development.
So... eventually we'll have two bathrooms with toilets, and one cold
water shower. We're thinking this should be finished before
the year is over. Awesome stuff!
The New Bathrooms
Now for the people.
Our new host dad is Martin (again for
you gringos, that's Mar-teen). He
has an awesome sense of humor. He loves to tell jokes and
stories. He drives the bus for PresGov, the organization that
Gabby works for. So, she'll be getting to know him well when
she's on the road 40% of the year. On his off days, he sews
jackets, shirts, shoulder bags, and book covers. He's lived in
this town of Cantel his whole life, so it's fun walking around with
him. EVERYBODY here seems to know him.
Gabby With Martin
Our host mom is Graciela. She
takes care of EVERYTHING around the house. It's a pretty
traditional society here, so you often see her doing laundry,
chopping wood, going to the market, cooking EVERY meal, and taking
care of the kids. She works very hard to keep the house
running, and does an excellent job. Her kids are awesome, and
she loves them all very much.
Francisco is the oldest son.
He's 21. He attends a local university where he's studying to
be a teacher. He LOVES kids... especially his youngest
brother. In addition, he's a really good basketball
player. He's invited me to play on the team that he and his
brother organized. Pretty cool!
Edwin Working On
Edwin is 20 years old. He's a
trained mechanic, but can't find any work (which is common
here). He has a heart of gold. He's always asking how
we're doing, and is genuinely concerned that we're happy here.
He's also an incredibly hard worker. Just this past weekend,
he was hauling 100 pound bags of sand on his back up and down huge
hills for HOURS without complaining.
Yadira is the only girl. She's
15. She has a big voice and big laugh. She helps her mom
with EVERYTHING! Though she's beautiful, she's pretty camera
shy, so we don't really have any good pics of her. This is her
getting dishes out of the cupboard.
Marlon (right) is 11. He's
the kind of kid who just wants to be your pal. He is really
extraverted and always wanting to try something new. Just
yesterday, he coaxed Scott into hopping onto this farmer's old
horse. Riding bareback wasn't the most comfortable thing, and
the horse groaned under his weight. Though it probably wasn't
the best idea, it was kinda fun.
Juan Eduardo (left) is really quiet
and sweet. He's definitely a mama's boy, but isn't afraid of
hard work. For example, Scott thought he was one tough guy,
lugging sand in huge sacks up a steep hill. That is... until
little Eduardo ran past him carrying a sack almost as large.
He and Marlon are attached at the hip most of the time.
Marlon Singing After Dinner
Finally, there's little Jose.
He's two years old and full of personality. He is the family's
home entertainment system. He's constantly throwing rocks at
the dogs, picking up the cats by their heads, kicking balls around,
and barging into rooms uninvited. It's a good thing he's so
darn cute, or he might get in trouble alot.
Jose Taking A
Jose & Gabby
Walking The "Beam"
All in all, we love our family and
couldn't be happier with our situation. Throughout the year,
I'm sure we'll be typing up a bunch more long-winded stories about
all of these folks. We hope you enjoy getting to know them as
much as we will.