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.

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