April 17, 2013

Camino Seguro

Antiqua, Guatemala

After six days of having to watch our backs in Guatemala, it was a relief to get off the plane Monday night and be back on safer ground. The first thing we heard about however was the horrific Boston Marathon bombings. Such terribly sad news. It's hard to imagine any of it. It led me to think about the sheer panic many of the runners must have felt, after running almost 26 exhausting miles, to not know if their loved ones waiting at the finish line for them were okay, or not.

The trip down to Guatemala with my older daughter to visit my younger daughter, who has been interning at Safe Passage, was an experience to say the least. I don't think tears have filled my eyes as much as they did there since losing my Dad almost twelve years ago.  They were tears of sadness. Of gratitude. Of admiration, and even of joy. What the teachers, interns, and support staff are doing at Safe Passage is incredibly inspiring.

My girls going to catch the early morning bus to Safe Passage.
Safe Passage was started in 1999 by a 29 year-old-woman from Maine, named Hanley Denning, who went down to Guatemala to study Spanish. While there she saw such a need for help that she sold her car and belongings back home and started the school.

Many of the parents, of the now 500+ impoverished students who attend Safe Passage, work in the huge dump near the school in Guatemala City. They do not have jobs there but rather try to scrape together an existence by recycling and selling ( and eating) what they can scavenge from the dump.

While sipping a decaf on the 2nd day at the school it occurred to me that the cost of what filled my cup was more than the average person makes in a day. I couldn't get rid of it fast enough.
Hotel Aurora where we stayed for $85/day including taxes and breakfast :-)

On the flip side, our time in Antigua, where we stayed, was a tapestry of incredible beauty. Antigua was founded in 1543 and the cobblestone roads, ancient architecture, brilliant colors, textures, and amazing handwork were a constant delight to me. I knew that they would be but it all far exceeded my expectations.

Simply put, it was glorious.

And so was spending time with my two daughters. We had never been away alone together, and as I told them, I know it will forever be a highlight of my life.