In early December, I had the great opportunity to travel to Guatemala. We spent less than two full days in country, intentional because of the nature of our trip: we were taking gifts and supplies to Casa Shalom an orphanage our church supports just outside of Guatemala City (you can read an up-to-date blog about Casa Shalom here) and were headed to Nicaragua the following week with a similar objective.
More or less, we served as pack animals (in a good way) but were rewarded with a plethora of memories. Here are but a few:
- We were told a story of a certain woman on a mission trip who was attempting to understand Spanish. Having evidently no training in Spanish, she asked one of the staff members at Shalom for some “porko”. “Don’t you just add an “O” to the end of words?” she asked?
- Another team who helped them had a fantastic idea to have the children in their church write cards to the orphans living at Casa Shalom. Unfortunately, no one proof-read the cards before handing them over to the staff. Two stick out in my mind: on the front of one card simply said, “To Orphan“. Classy. Another had a picture (no lie) of a UFO on the front. Inside was written (evidently by someone in the same considerate family as the child above): “Someone wants you somewhere“! Brilliant.
- When going into a Guatemalan Wal-mart (they’re really owned by Wal-mart, though they don’t go by that name) and looking for a refreshing drink, read the labels as carefully as possible. Don’t simply go by the pictures. Small pictures of unshucked coconuts look suspiciously like limes, and when you’re expecting a refreshing swallow of lime-infused water, coconut water tastes awful.
- Showerhead water heaters. The good news: as long as the electricity is on, you’ll never run out of hot water. The bad news: if you accidently touch the professionally-wired showerhead during a shower, you may need resuscitation.
Antigua. Antigua (not the island) is the oldest city in Latin America. It’s also surrounded by several volcanos. Yes, several volcanos. The architechture is beautiful; walking around it is a must if you visit.
- Antigua markets. My two favorite experiences: J running into and knocking an old woman down (ok, to be fair, he didn’t knock her down, he only knocked the huge back of sticks off her head and spent an awkward minute trying to help while I stifled hysterical laughing. And in his defense, this woman was only about 4 feet tall.); and finding a vender who specialized in two things: selling Christian CD’s, and fabricating fake Guatemalan ID’s and driver’s licenses.
The Jesus chair. Really, I have no explanation.
- Airport toilets. Guatemala City’s airport is very, very modern. It has a clean industrial architecture feel without being cold. Even the bathrooms were clean and very modern. Well, almost modern. In both bathrooms that I attempted to utilize, only one of the toilets had a toilet seat. Guess which stalls were occupied when I was in no small emergency…