Still in Xela
Trip Start Jul 19, 2005
45Trip End Ongoing
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We are still calling ourselves Xelians as of now. We originally planned on visiting the town of Xela for three days and today officially makes 13 days we've been here. We had planned on heading up to a volunteer project in Peten after the rains subsided, but we couldn't go plant trees and build trails in the jungle in good consciousness when so many people in this area need help after Hurricane Stan.
Last week we went to the local Municipality building and told them we were there to get down and dirty and help where ever help was needed (I feel like we should've maybe had another super-power outfit made up - maybe with a picture of a Hurricane on the front and a cape or something).
We started out delivering food to Zone 2 of the city, which was hardest hit, and ended up meeting a family who needed help cleaning their house
There are 8 people in the family living in a two bedroom house. The waters and mud filled the house about 3-4 feet, ruining practically everything. The first day we started working on the house, the mom asked where we were from. Upon hearing we were from the States, she asked if we could move back with us, because she was sick of living as they were in Guatemala and having bad things happen to them. Ten months earlier, her 8 month old daughter had died, and now her house was destroyed by the floods. She commented, "La vida es tristeza" which means "Life is sadness." That was probably the hardest part of all the work - having to see such bad things happen to such good people.
Over the four days we were there, we got to become friends with all the kids and the mom. The mom would buy a 2 liter of Pepsi each day and offer us drinks and lunch. I kept thinking how crazy it was that she, who just lost everything, was still preoccupied with making sure we were comfortable and giving us what little food she had
They really are a great family and I think we got more out of the experience of helping them, than any amount of cleaning work we did for them. The mom and daughter Paula even let me dress up in some traditional Guatemalan dress and take pictures. We got their address and said we'd be pen pals and such, and the mom was already asking what sort of gifts we liked of Guatemala because she wanted to send them to us. So we were able to help a little and make new friends down here.