I was on the first leg of a 12 hour trip up to Coban. Sitting in the middle of a chicken bus when I spotted an adorable little Guatemalan girl peering over a brown pleather seat back. Her face, picture perfect. I pulled out my camera to snap a shot. Pressed the ON/OFF button. The camera turned on and the lens expanded and then I heard a “chit chit chit chit chit” sound. “Not good” I thought. I looked down at my camera’s view screen and the warning, “Lens error, please restart camera.” flashed and the screen went black. I turned the camera off as recommended by the device and then turned it back on. “Chit chit chit chit chit” + error message. “Oh no, don’t do this to me camera” I said to myself. But after ten consecutive chit chants followed by error messages I gave up and placed the camera- zoom lens still extended- back into its carrying case and dropped it into my travel costal. I sulked a bit in self pity. Of course my camera breaks on my way up to Alta Verapaz where not only was I going to run my first International 1/2 Marathon but also was going to visit Semuc Champey- ranked no. 27 on the Rough Guide’s list of “30 things not to miss” in Guatemala (Casas Viejas didn’t make the list... sad, i know). After a good three minutes of silent pouting I reminded myself that Kamille and Cara would surely take plenty of pictures. I resolved to rely on their documentation expertise to supply me with evidence that I indeed was present at the previously mentioned momentous events. And luckily they succeeded beautifully.
The day before the marathon I got to partake in the Coban “Welcome Party”- a get together for all the Verapaz volunteers to welcome the new volunteers to the region. We had a marvelous BBQ at Kamille’s house at the Chirrepec Cooperative (don’t know if you remember but I wrote about this Cooperative during training- it is where the Ag Marketing group had our Field Based Training). The morning after the BBQ we all woke up early, had our breakfast of champions and headed to the race. I was so excited to run- partly because I was looking forward to the culmination of all my months of training (read: I was sick of sticking to a strict running schedule) but mostly because I knew the experience would be very memorable. I was not disappointed. The entire route was beautiful- rolling green hills and small villages- but my favorite part of the race was at mile 9. They had about a hundred Qeqchi school girls lined on both sides of the road in their traditional traje clapping and singing for the runners. I definitely turned off the ipod for that blissful minute of cheers- i may have even teared up a bit- the whole moment was just surreal.
After the race we relaxed another night at Casa Camila- another BBQ, bonfire and round of roasted angelitos (marshmallows). Monday morning Kamille, Cara, Chad, Nick and I headed up to Lanquin to explore Semuc Champey. We had a fun filled day of caving with only candle light to guide the way and wading in the the shallow waters of the Semuc Champey ponds.
I’ll let the photos do the talking.
Upon my return to site I began preparing for a meeting that I had been invited to by Rosa Solaris, the Santa Rosa director of Secretaria de Obras Sociales de la Esposa del Presidente (SOSEP) (translation- director of the Santa Rosa branch of the office of the First Lady of Guatemala). I met Rosa while she stopped off in Casas Viejas during her current tour of the region. She has been charged with encouraging and supporting women’s group projects and she chose our group for further participation. I of course was adamant about participating. Hoping this opportunity would open up doors for new sales of our products (something we desperately need right now). The meeting was in Taxisco and I brought Loyda with me. Loyda is the president of my women’s group and is also a socio in the Coop so she was the perfect candidate.
We arrived in Taxisco with disinfectant samples and jars of jam in tow. The meeting turned out to be extremely beneficial- we met the president of the Association of Hoteliers in Monterrico (main tourist destination). He was extremely interested in purchasing our disinfectant for his hotel and selling our jam in his gift shop and thought the other hotel owners would have a similar sentiment. He requested that we create a one page price list of our products with pictures so he can share it with the remaining hotel heads. Perfect opportunity. Only problem is I have a busted camera and only one week to get this product page put together. Today I started asking around if anyone in town owns a digital camera. Haven’t secured one yet but alas, good things come to those who wait, for just moments ago, when I was checking my camera for the error message verbiage to accurately recount it for this blog post, I hit the ON/OFF button, and there were no “chits” and miraculously the lens retracted and the camera turned on as if nothing had ever gone wrong. It only took time and patience to fix what was broken.