Do not Weep

For the record, my mom died on December 6th a few minutes passed 4PM. I’ve announced it in many other places and I realized that I’d not talked about it in my own private (public) space.

Her breathing pattern changed and my sister and sister-in-law noticed. One left to find the hospice nurse and the other to find her husband. I just kept participating in the conversation about I don’t know what. I knew, we all knew, when we heard the nurse say into her phone ‘I have to go. I have a death’.

I am sometimes left wanting because we weren’t all sitting around her holding her hand, though I think my Dad was, waiting for that ‘special’ moment that put her into the next world. This grand moment – the moment she so deserved after all of her suffering – was not apparent to me. As I reflect on it though, I am confident that it was grand for her and that’s what I care about. There are enough accounts of that most beautiful ‘death’ experience.

She said she wasn’t ready to go. It makes me sad to think about that. But that she went into the loving arms of family members who went before her gives me great comfort.

The services were attended by so many of the people who loved her that there weren’t enough seats in the funeral home. A steady stream of people who knew her from Knoll International, where she worked for more than 30 years and Relay for Life, where she volunteered for more than 15 introduced themselves one after another. She was dearly loved.

Here are a few photos that are special because of their significance in her last moments and how we attempted to honor her.

Our Thanksgiving dinner that we often refer to as ‘her Christmas’. She had such a wonderful time and told us all that it was her best Thanksgiving ever.

Who knew my mom was a fisherman. This picture was in a bag of old pictures of me that my mom gave me when I first returned in June. I had wondered how it came to be in my bag and I had just days before her death put it aside to include on a DVD we were in the process of making. When we were creating the picture board for her services, I'd intended to include it but had forgotten it. Independently, my brother who had taken her fishing, had pulled his home apart looking for this very picture. When he described it to me, I said ‘I know the picture’ and I went home and brought it the funeral home– this is the kind of coincidence that keeps me going.

My sisters and I went through my mom's closet and amongst other things, chose a scarf that we liked (OK, I took 2). The remaining scarves were set aside to give to the other women in our family. My sister Rhoda, came up with the idea to wrap up each scarf with a note and give them as gifts at our traditional holiday gathering. It was the most beautiful and touching moment of the evening. This is the type of thing that she does consistently for her family and it is something that I admire and treasure about her.

'Love is being able to be in the same space with something'

What I've been wondering about lately is how I can feel so good at the very same time that I feel so bad. I don't ever remember this being so true for me as it is in this very moment (and I mean this very moment. I stopped what I was doing in order to begin writing this).

I don't have to tell you why my heart hurts, right? You know why I'm here. At the same time, I feel really good about what my time here is doing for me. I am reconnecting with my mom and my family; I'm building a work life that gives me joy, pays my bills and allows me the type of flexibility that makes me happy; and always on the top of my list, making new friends.

And so when I heard the statement today 'Love is being able to be in the same space with something' it all came together. It's exactly what I'd been questioning in this week of good fortune. I don't have to deny my hurt and sadness or push it aside. It gets to live right alongside of my happiness and gratitude for all that this recent change in my life is giving me. Happy Birthday to me!

Congratulations to Sandy and Ron

I want to tell you about my dear and close friend, Sandy. She and her now husband, together 18 years, were married last Saturday in their home community in Oxford, MD. Why do I mention it? Because I so admire them as a couple that I wanted to share it.

According to the Hendricks Institute there are three types of relationships: toxic, where people are more sick with their partner than they are normally (very few in this category); learning, where partners learn from each other (most fall into this category); and celebratory, where the partners love each other in a most whole and beautiful way that is characterized mostly by their co-creation.  I not only strive to be in this category (one day), but I LOVE it when I see it. And I see it, whenever I see Sandy and Ron.

What makes Sandy an extraordinary individual is what I imagine makes her an extraordinary partner. She is a true creator: focused on expansion always. She is an unstoppable force; is the most intelligent woman I know (except for my mom of course);  knows how to get her point across in the most fluent, kind and caring way; and expresses dissatisfaction as an opportunity for change, without blame and criticism and honoring where you are.  She laughs contagiously and loves to play (maybe why we get along so well).  I really don't think I've ever met anyone quite like her.

I've learned a lot about life and keeping love in my heart from Sandy. Congratulations Sandy and Ron. I love you both.  This is your e-card by the way.....
Hi Everyone,

On November 12th I'm participating in a local 5K run/walk, organized by my sister-in-law Doris, to benefit Relay for Life of the American Cancer Society.  I am walking as part of a group sponsorship, organized by my sister Rhoda, for Gloria Bobyak, aka 'my mom'.

We'll have a banner and T-shirts along with our very own, very cool logo (above), designed by my other sister-in-law Greta (are you seeing a pattern with the sisters?).   If you participate in the sponsorship, you too get your name on the T-shirt along with the very cool logo and my gratitude.

What you probably don't know is that my mom has raised money for the Relay for Life for more than 15 years and has chaired the local event as recently as last year.  That's why this year's Macoby Run Run proceeds are going there.

If you would like to be a part of 'Walking for Gloria', you may do so by sending a donation check to me by next Friday, October 29th.  We need it by then to get the order to the printer.  Remember to include your mailing address so that I can mail you the t-shirt.

Well, no time to put it off so if you're going to do it, do it now!  Here's the information:

Check made payable to:  Macoby Run Run

Mail to:
Kris Hettrick
513 Pottstown Avenue
Pennsburg, PA  18073

 "That was easy!"  Where's that easy button?  Good night, my friends (it's my bedtime here).

Transforming the Inner Critic

As you know, I've been struggling with my blog's purpose since I'm no longer in Guatemala.  And, as I write this, my inner critic chimes in with "nobody wants to hear what you have to say" (actually I believe that I am blessed/plagued? with two inner critics who sing to me in tandem chorus like children singing  "row, row, row your boat").

Hmh...I think not!

Well, I've been doing some research on how to tame this little bugger and I've learned a new tip.  Besides talking back to the inner critic, which I do quite successfully at times, (( i.e. tell him/her/them to STOP; ignore them; correct them with evidence of the opposite of what they say (last month, there were more than 300 views on my blog. Yes, I realize that a real blogger has several thousand but the point is, Somebody cares)); there's an additional tactic that will replace that inner troublemaker with an inner creator.

Turn the criticism into a more positive and thoughtful question because using your mind to answer the question that inner voice is asking is the road to your negative downfall.

These are the questions that I am asking myself:

  • I wonder how I can re-purpose my blog and what I could write about that people would care to read
  • I wonder what type of freelance work I will do and how quickly I will begin doing it
  • I wonder what I will learn next
  • I wonder how I can give more to the world
  • I wonder who will walk with me 

And as my mind engages these questions, I tend to the details of goal setting and action taking.  I am excited about the new ideas my mind, in full consultation with her boss, my heart, will come up with.  In the meantime, any tips, ideas and suggestions about the above questions are encouraged and welcome!

P.S.  I wonder how long it will take for at least one person to sign up for email updates so that I can see that number go up (hint: it's on the right hand side of the blog).  My critic chorus has been having a field day with that one.

Sorry - no photos today!  I have no pictures of my insides and I don't think you'd want to see them anyway.

How and what I've been doing this summer

Most of you who read this are my close friends and so you're already aware of my recent struggles.  I'm kind of tired of talking and thinking about those.  Alot of you though say things like, "OK, I see what's happening with your mom but 'how are you doing'?"

Hmhhh......How am I doing?  I think I can say that I'm finally at peace after some very strong initial resistance (it's been pointed out to me that I often resist at first - a whole other topic).

Right now I feel like I usually feel when I initiate a change as opposed to how I feel when one is thrust upon me.   Generally, when fear or discomfort would surface, I would say to myself , "just think of all the great people that you'll meet and the wonderful things that you'll encounter".  It's been my approach to most of the major changes in my life.  I wasn´t thinking that way when I first arrived but I think I am now.

So what has sustained me and gotten me to this point?  The single biggest thing that has helped has been my family and of course my friends (that´s you!)  My brother Randy offered me his truck and made my life so much easier as I searched for transportation.  He and his wife Doris have also invited me to dinner regularly.   My sister Joanna has offered me her apartment to use when I just need a change of surroundings or want to spend time working with no distractions.

When I needed to be in the presence of people whom I love and who accept me for me, tears and all, and who stand ready to listen and infuse me with their loving energy, I´ve traveled to Baltimore, Chicago, Charlotte, Ashville and Richmond.  It seems like a long way to go but I don't think so.  There is nothing like the company of friends.

And then there's been good ole alone time on the Perkiomen Trail, located a short drive from my home, a trail that goes on forever, or at least to Philadelphia, and along which the Umani creek flows.    If you were here right now, you'd hear the water from the creek in the background (OK, maybe not as I'm typing this but you would if you were here while I was speaking about it into my iphone).  Sitting on a rock, I've contemplated, meditated, cried, became energized and reflected on how to move from what was going on in my life before to what's going on in my life now, resolving as much in my heart as possible in order to be open to what's here in front of me today.

So now I have a car, health insurance, family and recent interactions with most of you.  The last piece of business, besides finding a place of my own, is finding a source of income.  I'm working on that!

Well, that's what I've been doing.  Here are a few random pics - just a few.  Do not stop here.  Make sure you make it to the bottom of the page.

One of my meditation spots off the Perkioment Trail

On the trail:

I say 'hi' to the horses each time I pass them.. Yesterday, one outside of the barn galloped to the fence to greet me. I felt a little intimidated.

This was just this past weekend.  I woke up at 5:30am to this little guy grabbing my nose and cheeks and staring me in the face.  No wonder, he fell asleep at the table during lunch.

Here we are later that day (after naps) at a garlic and cheese festival held at a local Ski Resort, Bear Creek. I woke up that day with both of these little precious' but it was RJ who slept next to me.  I imagine if it had been Simone, she would have been tickling me instead of grabbing my face and checking me out.

This just in - the cancer markers which were at over 300 when she began treatment are down to 79!  This isn't good news - this is out of this world fantastic news.  I'm sure she'll tell you all about it in her blogpost.


It is said that we are shaped by our earliest experiences. This came to light for me years ago as I was writing a bio for a masters degree program that I chose not to pursue. I was meditating on my young years and I realized that my childhood memory of falling 17 feet from my bedroom window shaped how I deal with my failures and other difficult times.

For those of you who don't know the story, I opened my bedroom window, in a fit of the anger of a five year old in the middle of a temper tantrum, and leaned against the screen in the process. Out I fell to the ground below. I got up (no, this was not my idea nor my mother's) and walked to the car in order to go to the hospital. The message, I realized decades later, is that 'no matter how far you fall, you get up and walk'.

And so just this past week, I was talking with my mom about strong ankles. Don't ask me how we got there. Wait, I think we got there as part of a conversation about the Rheumatic Fever that she had as a young girl. That debilitating illness caused weakness in her ankles and, as you might imagine, she spent some time tripping over her feet. My grandmother, in her motherly way, drew my mom's attention to her frequent tripping.

And so how did she deal with that? She taught herself how to walk. She walked the halls of her small house over and over, carefully and deliberately, picking up her feet so that she could walk without tripping. She pointed out how some of us become motivated and encouraged to correct themselves in the midst of criticism and how others of us become discouraged. I think we know where she falls.

As I am here in my home town dealing with the intrusive presence of her cancer, I am reminded of more and more of my early experiences. And while I can confidently say that no matter what happens, I will get up and walk, I can't say that I won't trip. Not to worry - I've already begun practicing. Thanks, Mom!

This is my mom's 1st grade picture - can you just see the determination?

Here she is again at 8.

Strong and steady at 15. I think she must have been practicing for a while by now.

Prom night. Look at those muscles. Her nickname? Mighty Mouse!

p.s. If you would like to track my mom's progress through her illness, you can register on In the meantime, I'm thrilled to tell you that she responded to her first round of chemo and the cancer indicators went down.

To borrow my sister Joanna's phrase: Cancer:0 Mom:1

What to do with KrisforKids

Some of you know. I have just moved back to Pennsylvania after learning that my mom has been diagnosed with cancer. I came to Guatemala to do work that was important and I leave Guatemala to do what's most important -- be with my mom and my family.

May I go on a selfish tangent here? I am still in shock and never once did it cross my mind that she would live anything other than an illness free life (OK, maybe a cold) until she was at least 90 which is when my grandmother passed. I know this is not logical thinking but it was my thinking.

And so, now I wonder what to do with KrisforKids. I started KrisforKids as you know when I came to work here in Guatemala. Very quickly, it become more than about my work with Ninos del Lago and later From Houses to Homes. I shared with you stories about my home, my roommates, people I met, the kids in the park and the devastating destruction of Agatha. It was the journal of my life in this small country that grabbed my heart, exasperated me, tested me, left me lonely, made me laugh, cry and scream and inspired me. And without warning or preparation, I say good bye.

But this is life and we don't get to choose what's presented to us. We create what we can and respond to the rest. I think I'd like to continue writing and may need a new name for the blog. Can you help me? I'm not feeling terribly creative at the moment.

Before I leave you, I'd like to share a few photos of my last months in Guatemala, characterized by my work with the health clinic; weekend visits to Santa Cruz, a Lake Atitlan village; hikes to El Ato; and of course my little kid friends from the park.

Children in a small village El Hato. My friend Dave and I used to hike here on our way to 'Earth Lodge', an eco-lodge, hostel type of place just an hour's walk from Antigua:

A typical view of local women with their wares on their heads

The kids came to the my home one day this year to swim in the condominium's pool:

I spent many weekends in Santa Cruz, a small village on Lake Atitlan this year. Here's a picture of the beautiful place that was often my home while there; friends Dave and Liz at a restaurant on the Lake and a view from our hike to that restaurant:

And it was at this Lake, where I learned the news about my mom.

The best team in Guatemala. These are the people who are continuing their work in the health clinic that I managed up until just a few days ago. I miss them already.

This year many of my pictures came from my friend Dave of the interest of giving credit where credit is due, it is no different with the above photos. The only picture I've taken is the one of the health clinic team.

Accepting Patients

The day has finally arrived and Clinicas Medicas San Jose accepted its first patients on Monday april 11th, 2011. As way of background, I had begun working with From Houses to Homes last September with the intention of managing the health clinic that was being built. 7 months later we've opened our doors.

The mission of Clinicas Medicas San Jose is to provide health care services to the clients of De Casas a Hogares (From Houses to Homes), the community of Pastores, Guatemala, and the children and families in the Cambiando Vidas School Project, by helping individuals achieve their highest levels of health through outpatient care, preventative care and health education, while respecting their cultural traditions.

The week before opening, a "from houses to homes" family member came down with pneumonia. He had seen a couple of doctors who referred him to the local hospital which refused him based on the idea that he only needed medicine and not a hospital. I was nervous after hearing that 'he could die', especially because we weren't ready to recieve him. He arrived Monday afternoon on our first day, saw our general medical practitioner who examined him; gave him a nebulizing treatment, where medications are inhaled; and prescribed some additional medications which he was able to pick up in our pharmacy. How's that for a first day? I haven't seen him since but I understand that he was OK and that it was true - he didn't need a hospital, just a doctor who had what it took to give him the care that he needed.

Our patient count continues to go up from 8 on our first day to 30 on our 7th. I believe the word is getting out and we are now struggling with 'who' and 'how much' to charge. Our 'from houses to homes' families are very poor. There are also some families in the Pastores community who are poor and some who have a small ability to pay. For now, we're not charging our families in our two projects - From Houses to Homes and the Cambiando Vidas schools and we're charging a very small amount to those in the community of pastores.

I'm of the opinion that all should pay a small amount so that there is a commitment on their part to taking care of their health and there is value associated with it. But my reasoning breaks down when I think that it could keep them from coming. Certainly I don't want to charge for well care because it's historically the case here where people go to the doctors only when they are sick. This is one of the things that we're trying to change.

These are some of the questions that we ask ourselves and will be answering over the coming days. Any opinions?

I'd also like to share with you a few pictures from our dedication ceremony on the 11th. Unfortunately they're on shutterfly so you have to click under an ugly black box to get to them. The one on the terrace is me with the clinic team - just in case you were wondering.

Click here to view these pictures larger

Everyday Things

It's been awhile; there's not been much in the way of exciting adventures but lots in the way of daily living. As my time here continues, I do everyday things like attend weddings, spend time in the park with the kids and work with De Casas a Hogares preparing the clinic for our opening and supporting the efforts to strengthen the communities we serve.

At a wedding with friends Emily and Ann.
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Alicia - the biggest smile I've seen on her face since I've known her
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A day in the park with the kids- discussing our next trip to the Pool.
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Could not take her eyes off the camera
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Rebecca - you must recognize her by now!
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De Casas a Hogares (From Houses to Homes) gives away 500 bags of food to their families.
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De Casas a Hogares (From Houses to Homes) gives away 500 bags of food to their families.
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De Casas a Hogares (From Houses to Homes) gives away 500 bags of food to their families.
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De Casas a Hogares (From Houses to Homes) gives away 500 bags of food to their families.
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Thanks to the man behind the camera DaveAdair

Vamos a la piscina - Can we go to the pool?

This year I spent my first Christmas in Guatemala.  The tradition here is to eat tamales and drink punch at midnight Christmas eve and send up lots of fireworks.  Actually here there are fireworks for just about every occasion.  A loud bang outside your door at 5am?  Oh, it's just somebody's birthday. That's a separate story though and this is about the holidays that have already passed and are quickly being replaced by the new days that life keeps putting in front of us.  Can you tell I'm realizing that I'm a little behind in keeping in touch?

Anyway, since I was here I asked the kids what they wanted to do to celebrate Christmas.  I knew that eating tamales and drinking punch was not what they would have in mind and after vetoing a second trip to the zoo, we settled on a trip to the pool.  Yes, we can swim here in December but it's not the type of warm that's good for drenching your full body in water and standing around.  But you know how it is with kids -- they don't mind a little cold when there's a chance for fun. 

None of them can swim and we did try to teach them a trick or two but it's a bit tough when someone is holding you around your neck and can't get the idea of how to be horizontal in the water.   The boys were convinced they could swim as they walked on the bottom of the pool with their faces in the water and their arms moving about.  I wish I had a picture of that.  They had the first part right though in that they could hold their breath with their noses submerged.  We had a nice splash fest, which is a requirement when you swim with children, followed by a meal of fried chicken at Pollo Campero and a quick romp in their playground.

And so now as I walk through the park, children who I have never seen before come up to me and call me by name as if we are old friends and say 'Vamos a la piscina'?  Try to say 'no' to that.  Unfortunately, for now I have to but maybe there's a way to expand the group to include more kids.  Vamos a ver (we'll see).

Special thanks again to Joe Collins who paid for the food and Catherine who swam with us and made sure there were eyes on all seven kids at all times.

Vienes con bolsitas (You come with bags)

I just recently moved out of my apartment where I lived for two months (a great view but still not quite right) to house sit for a friend  for the month of December.  I call it the Hacienda.  I live in a little casita with a livingroom, bedroom and bathroom and use the kitchen and dining room in the main house.  I also take care of 2 cats and 2 dogs.  Her house is about a 15 minute ride outside of Antigua.  And by the way, I have use of her car and am driving for the first time in Guatemala.

Today, I walked into Antigua, which is a 50 minute walk.  I wanted to see what the walk was like and get my exercise.  I went to the grocery store and returned by bus to the entrance into the houseing complex.  As I was walking to the house (about a 7 minute walk from the main road) a woman stopped her car and said to me "vienes con bolsitas".  I said, "si de la bodegona".  And she said, "no de el pueblo.  Vives lejos"?  I said, "no estoy muy cerca".  She told me 'yo puedo llevarla' but I told her," no estoy cerca". 

This woman, stopped because she saw me carrying groceries and wanted to know if I lived far away, in the housing community, and offered to take me to the house.  She thought that I'd walked from the local town, rather than having come in from Antigua via the bus and been dropped off at the main road.  The town is about a 15 minute walk.  This complete stranger, stopped to see if I needed a ride to my house because she thought that I'd walked a distance with really two small plastic bags.  It seems that no matter where you go in Guatemala, you are in one small community and there is no end to the neighborliness.

La Uva - Ninos del Lago's unveils its first cabin

November 13th, was a huge day for Ninos del Lago when the first cabin was unveiled and dedicated to the children of Guatemala from the Capgemini employees and Coca-Cola Enterprises.  Present was Capgemini management, responsible for selecting and tirelessly supporting Ninos del Lago as their charity for the Americas; Coca Cola Enterprises a Capgemini client and NDL Donor; Capgemini top performing employees; and of course, future Ninos del Lago children from Esperanza Juvenil, one of the organizations whose children will attend the camp.  Click Pictures to see all those smiling faces and the fun that we had.

The best part:  Kids running through the cabins all excited, asking all about where they'd sleep, what they'd do and when they would get to come to Camp Ninos del Lago.

p.s. I can't seem to make the 'tilde' over the n since my computer was ugraded.  I've already spent hours trying to make it work to no avail.  I'm not giving up though...

A day in the field

As part of setting up the clinic, I visited a couple of villages and talked with future clients of the clinics to find out what they’re already doing for their healthcare. My story for today, is about a family from Santa Catarina (above), or I should say the father and one of his sons. His other children were in school and the mother wasn’t home.

I’d been to several houses that day before coming to this home. Generally speaking, the kitchen is in a separate room with a dirt floor. Most of them have some signs of food, though it’s often just tortillas and maybe a vegetable. In this home, I saw no signs of food.

The man (above) is a carpenter by trade and the brutal rainy season that we’ve had this year has hurt his business (I heard this over and over again with those in agriculture as well). What happens is that because of all the moisture, the glue doesn’t hold. I suppose my point is that even if he were able to work, he still wouldn’t have much but in this case, he had even less.

What moved me is that as we were sitting in his kitchen/sala, he sent his son to the store to buy cola so that he could offer us a drink. I could hear him give this direction to his son and I wanted to jump up and stop him which of course would have been too rude for words. I still get teary thinking about it and I was glad to have on my sunglasses to hide my discomfort.

I’ve experienced this generosity before in other parts of the world too – families with very little themselves offer what they do have to the guests who are sitting in their livingrooms. I’ll bet you have as well. On one trip to Hungary, we arrived at 8am in a small house in a small village and we were given shots of vodka (I think some people call this an eye opener) and their daughters bedroom to sleep in (she slept on the sofa). This family didn’t have much but what they had they shared.

This was different. They had nothing and still gave.

And just so you know that I'm still OK and that it's still beautiful here....

Life happening

You remember that I began working with Niños del Lago more than five years ago and just a year and a half ago, joined the Founder in Guatemala in order to help build the organizational structure. Along the way, you’ve supported me and cheered me on and watched Niños del Lago blossom.

Well, recently, an opportunity to be a part of a health clinic in a village outside of Antigua appeared virtually out of nowhere. Along with it, came the opportunity to take on more direct responsibility and become more integrated into the local community. I think you know where this is leading, verdad? I’ve begun working with them this week to prepare the clinic for it’s opening (date to be determined) and manage the ongoing operations.

The name of the organization is called From Houses to Homes and the clinic, La Clinicas Medicas San Jose, is just a small part of what they do for the families here in Antigua’s surrounding villages. Take a look. I’m sure you’ll agree that this is a worthy venture.

And, so I say good bye to my current relationship with Niños del Lago though not good bye in total. You know that much of my heart is with them and that I will stay connected with the project and smile along with everyone else on the opening day.

In the meantime, I take on a full time employment role with From Houses to Homes as the Manager of the Clinic and look forward to further developing my work here in Guatemala.

Stay tuned!

My new name - Mira Kristina

"Mirar" in Spanish, means "to look". And, I go by Kristina here because it seems more understandable with a Latin ending- there is no such name as Kristen. Mira Kristina - Look Kris!

Yesterday, I took the kids to the zoo. When I asked the parents for permission to take them, one knew of the zoo and the other didn't really know what it was. None of the kids had been there before and asked me to explain it.

The most precious part was the planning; the girls, asked me what they should wear. I've only ever seen them in their one traditional outfit, well actually two different ones, in the year and a half that I've known them. I wouldn't have thought that question would even enter their minds and was really touched, not only by the question but, by the recognition that they are, after all, little girls with the same feelings that other little girls have. They showed up wearing their best huipil's (traditional top) and cortés (traditional skirt). They also all brought new purses (and Rebecca gave me a bracelet and ring as a gift).

I continue to be caught off guard by how the processes are different when you're dealing with those who have few resourcès. There are no clocks and there are no phones. So, even though I recieved permission from the parents of both families to take their children to the zoo at 12:30, departing from the park where they hang out, only 2 of the seven were there at the agreed upon time. In fairness to them, doce y media (12:30) sounds an awful lot like dos y media (2:30).

After tracking down the rest of the kids (I won't go into how we drove to their home to find them and then luckily found them on the way to our agreed meeting place) we were on our way, delayed only by about 30 minutes - a very acceptable delay by Guatemalan standards.

We walked through the zoo, very quickly I might add, as the kids were running, yelling (every 10 seconds) "mira Kristina" a lion, a zebra, an ostrich, monkeys, snakes, foxes (in spanish, of course). And the good news? Some of the older ones were able to read the signs.  The bad news?  Rebecca, 9, can't write her name.

p.s. I would like to thank my friend Emily for agreeing to come with me at the last minute when my housemate, Gina was too sick to join us. Also, Joe Collins, of From Houses to Homes, who paid for the transporation to the zoo and entrance fees, and our driver Mario, with 8 children himself, who was watching closely enough to remind the children to keep their heads inside the van.

Year two at the fair - impressed again

If you read the post 'impressed by an eight year old'(August,2009), you'll know that last year, we took 4 kids (2 kids from 2 families) to the fair in Antigua. I've since met all of the kids from both families and so our trip this year was with 7 kids.

It was a little more difficult this year to arrange because we needed to coordinate with the parents a day we could take them all together. What made it a logistical nightmare was that the older kids had to work (I'm talking about 11 and 12 year olds here selling ice cream and shining shoes)and so the weekends were not an option. During the week, the parents were OK with our taking them when they should be in school (only 2 go to school) but I wasn't. So we ended up settling for a Tuesday evening after school and a slow work day.

There's always something about these kids that impresses me. This time, when we arrived, all rides but two were stopped because the generator wasn't working and they'd had to go to Guatemala City for a new one. There were two manual rides where the operators physically spun them - a small ferris wheel probably no higher than 10 feet and a carousel - both really meant for children younger than the group we had.

Like last year, they were all allowed to select 2 rides. Since there were only 2rides available, and not the fun ones, I thought that they might prefer to leave and return the next day. I know kids are into immediate gratification and tomorrow may never come but what I expected was a little bit of sulking followed by agreement or disagreement. Well, no sulking and emphatic disagreement. They rode the carousel, threw their arms up in the air as if they were on a roller coaster and immediately settled into Plan B.


As promised, I just returned from Panajachel and watched the repair around the bridges and river banks and also crossed the mudslide that has blocked vehicular access to the camp. I don't know that the pictures do it justice.

Here is a picture of the workers passing heavy rocks from the ground up to their work level. I guess it struck me because I'm used to seeing machines do this type of work. They were enjoying themselves -- especially being in pictures.

This is the mudslide that blocked access to the camp. Transportation takes you to the beginning of the mudslide and then you walk across and pick up the transportation on the other side. The path now has built in steps and the path changes because it continues to slide as more rains come.

And lastly, mi amiga, Aura who is not only our architect but a masseus and healer who in one treatment did more for a pain I'd been having for over a month than 6 sessions of physical therapy. This shows you the large rock that is at the start of the mudslide on the day that we walked to the camp.

Check out the link if you want to see all the photos I took this day including a bystander who was having a little fun with his friends and posing for me on one leg.