Monthly Archives: March 2014

Thank You Blog followers…This is Post Number 50

What started as a blog site to keep our fellow Rotarians up to date has grown to 50 followers and many more viewers.  To date we have had 9137 views and 77 comments.  Thank you for your interest. We are pleased to bring you the stories of how the contributions from Chemainiacs were used.  Some very touching stories.

I have been asked how you can get to the older blog posts.  You do this by clicking on the tab way down at the bottom of the page “Older Posts”.  This will take you to more posts and then you may have to do it again to go to even older posts.

At the top of any page you will find tabs for other pages and picture pages .  We will be adding to some of these picture pages over the next few weeks.

Thanks again for your interest and support.

 

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Picture Treats For the Day

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The story of Jorge

The unused school building

The unused school building

One of the better buildings in San Antonio is a school built into the hillside by the municipality. Unfortunately the building sits empty while students go to school in tiny hot rooms in the church basement. The reason;  the school building has been declared unsafe  because in the wet season it could be suddenly washed away in a rock slide.

One of the classrooms in the church basement about the size of a single car garage.

One of the classrooms in the church basement about the size of a single car garage.

So what has all this got to do with Jorge?  I’ll get to that in a minute, but first take a look at the rocks that tumbled through this house during a past wet season. The danger to many of the poor who must live high on the mountain is real.

Who knows what happened to inhabitants of this house.

Who knows what happened to inhabitants of this house.

One of many destroyed homes.

One of many destroyed homes.

Well, you see, when Jorge was small  his parents died  and his siblings died in one of the slides.  At 17 his only relative is his disabled grandmother and he is on his own learning to do construction with our contractors.  That is where we met him.  A hard working eager young man proud to wear one of our Rotary shirts.

Meet Jorge.

Meet Jorge.

Jorge ready for the work day.

Jorge ready for the work day.

When you are junior on the construction crew you start at the bottom. In this case the latrine we built for a happy family.

When you are junior on the construction crew you start at the bottom. In this case the latrine we built for a happy family.

But this is not the  end of the story. March 5 was a very special day for Jorge.  This was the day he was to be baptised in the Catholic church and Joan,  Shelley and Ellen went along to watch the ceremony.  As events unfolded Jorge asked Ellen if she would be his Godmother and Ellen accepted.

A very very proud Jorge and very surprised Ellen.

A very  proud and happy Jorge and  a very surprised and pleased Ellen.

Jorge now has a “mom”.  A nice touch.

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Never Run With A Pair Of Scissors….there should be a law against it.

Having seen the conditions in San Antonio , Guatemala, I was made to ponder not so much their under-regulation as our over-regulation. Recent stories of overzealous bureaucrats in our area cracking  the whip for trivial violations of code seem laughable when you visit the “Real World”.  The expression “Tail wagging the dog” comes to mind.  I am sure there are terrible accidents in Guatemala but just because one child gets injured with a toy does not mean they would ban that toy. Just like everything else in the world moderation is  best. Following are examples of under regulation that do make one wince a bit.

Don't want your 11 year old to carry a pocket knife. How about a machete.

Don’t want your 11-year-old to carry a pocket knife. How about a machete.

This fellow has hard hat. That should protect him.

This fellow has a hard hat. That should protect him.

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Hand railings optional.

Hand railings optional.

Seat belts!

Seat belts!

Vehicle emission standards yet to be made.

Vehicle emission standards yet to be made.

Fire permits? I don't think so.

Fire permits? I don’t think so.

I am sure these are engineered footings.

I am sure these buildings have engineered footings.

Helmets? Anything else.

Helmets? Anything else.

Could probably get a few more passengers on board.

Could probably get a few more passengers on board.

Put you doggy do in a little blue bag.

Put you doggy doo in a little blue bag.

No bag? How about the bottom of your shoe.

No bag? How about the bottom of your shoe.

One life jacket per person. Ya, right.

One life jacket per person. Ya, right.

Be sure to cross at the cross walk.

Be sure to cross at the cross walk.

The binder twine assembly method.

The binder twine assembly method.

Smart meter.

Smart meter.

Multi function lamp cord.

Multi function lamp cord.

Always use cribbing when digging a hole. Right Butch?

Always use cribbing when digging an outhouse hole. Right Butch?

CSA approved? Used to change very cold water to not as cold water.

CSA approved? Used to change very cold water to not as cold water.

No access to construction site without steel toed safety boots.

No access to construction site without steel toed safety boots.

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Police Presence Obvious

It is know Guatemala has a major problem with illegal drug trade with the majority of this activity  along the Mexican border. While we spent our time in central  and southern regions we did notice a significant police presence.  The PNC or National Civil Police were evident everywhere and usually armed with rifles.  They seemed to be stopping commercial vehicles along the roads for what reason I am not sure.  Our van was stopped just outside Guatemala City but I did not think it appropriate to take pictures ( I was scared sh……less)  Near Guatemala city most fast food outlets, gas stations and other businesses had armed guards.  Most banks throughout the country  had armed guards.  In Antigua, which is a popular tourist local, they have special tourist police which is nice but we did not see many of them.  I am not sure of the function for other military attired individuals with assault rifles we saw frequently during  our travels.

I am told the military is  still viewed with a little scepticism since the  the country’s brutal 1960-1996 civil war, in which violence against the rural, largely indigenous population reached the level of genocide.  The military at this time was supported by the American government under Ronald Reagan. If you want to learn more about this search out the one hour documentary “ The Man We Called Juan Carlos” by Victoria film company Asterisk Productions. Co- producers and writers, David Springbett and Heather McAndrews have a personal connection to this story. Visit www.asterisk.bc.ca

The armed guard who greeted us at the entrance to a the Copan Ruins was a nice touch.

Guard at the Copan Ruins

Guard at the Copan Ruins

Gas station guard.

Gas station guard.

Road side activity

Road side activity

Private business guard

Private business guard

Must be a boring job.

Must be a boring job.

Typical bank guard

Typical bank guard

This guy took security into his own hands. Hope he remembers to unlock before driving away.

This guy took security into his own hands. Hope he remembers to unlock before driving away. Not so sure that spare in worth stealing.

Policing the street of Antigua.

Policing the streets of Antigua.

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New Image Page Added

We had about six hours to kill in the San Francisco airport so I created a new page called “Tales and Images of Antigua”.

Check it out by clicking on the tab at top of any page. There are a lot of images so the first time you view you may have to wait for them to load.

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Guatemala Farewell

This blog is coming to you from a rather nice family owned hotel in a gated community in Guatemala. Out side the gates  it is advised not to walk at night. Throughout Guatemala we noticed a considerable police presence.  Police in pick up trucks with rifles, soldiers in full battle dress with machine guns, armed security guards in fast food restaurants or business parking lots, armed guards outside most banks. We have a few images to show you but I thought I would wait until we are out of the country. You know, something for you to look forward to.  We are off to the airport tomorrow at 4 a.m. on the way home after a most incredible adventure. Adios amigos!

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Duncan Soccer Balls Huge Success

The generosity of Bruce Ovans of Duncan Minor Soccer left several boys or families with their eyes popping out. A dozen used balls donated by Duncan were handed out by Butch in San Antonio. One was given to the school and the others to individuals.

One day when we were giving out beds several of the poorest street “urchins” gathered to carry beds for a few coins. One old lady had no money at all and Butch asked the boys if any of them would help carry her bed at no cost. Only one offered his free help.  When we located this boy later with his friends Butch explained how it is good to help old people and presented him with the last ball.  The pictures tell the story.

Butch asks, " Who would like a soccer ball?"

Butch asks, ” Who would like a soccer ball?”

Explaining how this boy halped without asking for coins.

Explaining how this boy helped without asking for coins.

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Surprised buy gets his ball.

Surprised buy gets his ball.

I saw this fellow several times later. He carried the ball on his back under his shirt.

I saw this fellow several times later. He carried the ball on his back under his shirt.

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Monkey Tour Howling Success

Shelley, Art,  Daphne, Tom, Jacqueline and David were the eager beavers who got up at 5 a.m. for the Howler Monkey Kayak tour. The first half hour was a hard paddle across the river into the rising sun. As it became light we could start to hear the monkeys with their dog like growl. As we ventured up a narrowing stream the sound became louder and more varied but we could still not see the monkeys.  As the stream narrowed deeper into the jungle we spotted them high in the trees. Finally we were able to see a mother and her two babies. Mom not moving much but babies playing. With no telephoto it was difficult to get a picture but if you look close you will see baby playing above mother.All in all an excellent adventure. A howling success. A magic time we will all remember forever._MG_7765

The rising sun over the Rio Dulce.

The rising sun over the Rio Dulce.

Listening to the Howler monkeys. For once there was something louder than Shelley.

Listening to the Howler monkeys. For once there was something louder than Shelley.

Jungle noises. Magic time.

Jungle noises. Magic time.

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Mother and babies.

Mother and babies.

For some reason this bird let us get very close.

For some reason this bird let us get very close.

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Return across the lake to morning sky.

Return across the lake to morning sky.

Back seat driver!

Back seat driver!

 

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Jungle Book

The day started with a walking tour of Livingston, Guatemala, a community on the Rio Dulce (river) surrounded by jungle.There is no road access here but quite a few cars. A lot more than Jacqueline remembers from past visits. The people are quite different than most other parts of Guatemala. Much darker skin and curly hair like other Caribbean countries.

In the not too distant past the native jungle community was not happy with outsiders and might use a machete to chop off an arm if you wandered on the beach. David said it was OK though because there had been no reports for several weeks . Seriously there has been a major program running for several years to bring education to the jungle dwellers. A school has been built in the jungle which has 600 students.( see images).

The children would come to school by canoe as you will see in pictures. Many of the students who went to this school were apprenticing in our hotel as servers or other jobs. After our walking tour we traveled again by boat to visit the jungle school. On the way up to the school Joan and Butch were lucky to see a two meter snake cross the path in front of them. A Yellow Head was also spotted earlier, a extremely dangerous snake with  lethal bite.

After our visit to the school we stopped at a river side cafe and bar for food and a cerveza ( Gallo is the brand and it gets two thumbs up). Into the boat again for a tour through some subsidiaries to see where people live then on for about another half hour to our hotel for the night, Tijax Jungle Lodge. We each stay in individual cabins with the now popular bed netting. Bed netting is another Rotary supported project around the world. Tomorrow we start the day with a Howler Monkey sunrise kayak tour. Then another boat ride to the van for a 5 hour trip to Antigua.

Our hotel in Livingston

Our hotel in Livingston

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Cel phone use is endemic. We have seen them in the  remotest of communities.

Cel phone use is endemic. We have seen them in the remotest of communities.

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Another unfinished building; someone's lost dream,

Another unfinished building; someone’s lost dream,

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Livingston

Livingston

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Shelley and Tom with guide Polo. Polo is self educated and well informed with a passion for the betterment of his community.

Shelley and Tom with guide Polo. Polo is self educated and well informed with a passion for the betterment of his community.

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Tinamit school in the jungle.

Tinamit school in the jungle.

Lesson in the school.

Lesson in the school.

Students at lunch break.

Students at lunch break.

Unusual ant hill.

Unusual ant hill.

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This is how students get to school.

This is how students get to school.

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I had to ask. They are just stuck on.

I had to ask. They are just stuck on.

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Preparing a Coco Frio.

Preparing a Coco Frio.

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The blogger's nest!

The blogger’s nest!

This pool was a great relief  from the 34 degree plus temp.

This pool was a great relief from the 34 degree plus temp.

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Our tour guides David and Jacqueline.

Our tour guides David and Jacqueline.

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This was one happy man with caught fish.

This was one happy man with caught fish.

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