Inuvik to Ushuaia

Patchwork quilt to honor the dead and disappeared of the civil war

During the 1980's peak of the Guatemalan civil war, the area where we are was devastated by the army's attempt to root out the guerrillas, whom they could never seem to find. So seemingly they just destroyed all the villages and killed anybody who lived near a piece of communist graffiti. Entire regions of the highlands were deserted due to destruction and the flight of the people. Many fled to Mexico and the US, where some remain.

Evangelicals and Catholicism in Guatemala

The Catholic churches in Mexico just wore us out. Every little town had an incredibly glorious cathedral that just amazed. The Spanish did a mighty fine job converting the folks in most of Mexico. However, as we got into southern Oaxaca and Chiapas, we started noticing that the Catholic churches were smaller and less ornate (and less tended) and we started seeing more little Evangelical churches.

A Day of Joy and Poverty

Today was full of sights, events and people. We traveled by bus several hours to visit two villages outside of Chimaltenango, El Cojobal and Comalapa . It was a day full of extremes: happiness and complete sadness. I saw the poverty these hard working industrious people have to fight every moment of their lives.

It took us two hours to get to the meeting in the morning. We took a bus, walked 45 minutes up along a mountain ridge and then tromped through a maze of cornfields, farm land and dirt paths. Even though we were 45 minutes late, the women were delighted to see us. No gringos had ever come to visit them in their homes and asked questions about their daily lives. They were all very welcoming and excited to talk with us and have their photos taken. They were also glad to see us because the head of the Chimaltenango office of Friendship Bridge brought the checks for their next 6-month loan. The women were quite happy with this day. The atmosphere was charged with good vibes.

Sticks to a Walker - Thanks to a great ministry

Isabel Guitz with her sticks
Isabel Guitz with her new walker
Isabel with her walker
A few days ago I went to the home of Reyes Espantzan in Tecpan to take her picture with her weaving. While I was there, her landlord Isabel (I thought it was her mother at the time) begged me to take her picture too. She's not a Friendship Bridge client or anything, but oh well. Digital photos are free! She said "maybe somebody will see me with my sticks and send me a walker". Well, I just wrote down her name and thought nothing more of it.

We wrote a little book: The Women of Friendship Bridge in Guatemala

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We have been so taken with the wonderful women of Guatemala and their inspiring stories that we compiled the stories and pictures into a little book. It's only 40 pages, not much of a book, but it does a pretty decent job of capturing what's really happening with Friendship Bridge and Kiva.

Sidelined by Sickness: Whooping Cough!

Well, if you've been wondering whether we fell off the edge of the world, the basic answer is "yes". We flew to Denver on September 1 for a "quick" visit with our parents, and unknowingly brought Pertussis, or Whooping Cough, home with us. It's a nasty disease, and it ruined all our plans and is keeping us here for some time yet (we were supposed to fly back to Guatemala on September 18, and we have no idea when we'll be well enough and strong enough to go back).

Nancy is now getting quite a bit better is able to get out and around, but Randy is still having horrible spasms of coughing. This can last up to three months or more.

The good things about this? We don't seem to have infected anybody else (cross your fingers), and we've been staying with Randy's daughter Elisheba in her house in Denver, and it's been a delight. And Elisheba had the adult Pertussis vaccination this year, so has not gotten and is not likely to get it. Pretty lucky, huh? Almost anybody else we stayed with would have gotten it from us.

The Pertussis vaccine for adults is new - just a couple of years old. We sure do recommend it to you. This is a horrible disease.

Don't worry about us. We're going to be OK and we're going to get back to Guatemala. Nancy is certainly past the worst, and Randy should be getting there before long.

Here is a poem Nancy wrote one night lying on the couch-

Why do we feel so sick?
For 5 miserable weeks
I have been terrible ill
We came home from Central America
to visit our family and make sure all was well.
The irony is they are all fine
and we are not.

Stuart's Movie: Vancouver to Alaska

Where we are and what we're up to - Mid-October 2007

Nancy using bicycle transportation - the easy kind
Photo: Nancy using easier bike transport going to visit a borrower in El Tejar
(Here's the message we just sent out to the mailing list...)

Hi All! We hadn't send out a message for *forever* so wanted to let you know where we are. The last time we sent you a note, we were having a wonderful time as volunteers for Friendship Bridge and, taking pictures of the clients of Friendship Bridge, interviewing them, and posting their stories on where people all over the world funded their loans. We posted over 100 profiles, from more than 100 interviews with these marvelous women, and each loan was funded within a few hours by generous people in the first world.

Move to Palisade, Colorado

We are staying in Colorado until the beginning of 2008, at which time we will continue our trip to the bottom of South America. Why, you ask, well mostly to get healthy and get rid of the long lasting affects if whooping cough. One way to do this is to exercise daily which we believe we will be able to do here even in the winter. So we will take this opportunity and explore the western part of Colorado.

We have decided to relocate for two months to Palisade, Colorado where Randy's parents live. We will hang out with them and help out as we can. Randy will get some work doing website design and I will continue with my new profession. Painting. Not the wall type, but the type you do on paper which is called art. Palisade is such a beautiful place with wine vineyard and orchards through out the valley and surrounded by towering mesa called the Bookcliffs, the Colorado National Monument and the grandest of the grandest mesa called Grand Mesa. The sun in this part of the world is crisp with a golden rays brightly eliminating the landscape. Can you tell I am excited?

We are staying in migrant housing (normally used by Mexican workers here at Talbott's orchards) because they have all left for the season and there is lots of room for a couple of hobobikers. We have two roommates, Ryota who speaks Japanese and Artemio who speaks only Spanish. Our view out of the bunk house bedroom is looking at the sun rise of the towering Grand Mesa and the sunsets illuminating them and the orchards that all around our quarters.  read more here... lee mas aquí... »

Our trip so far - The Big Picture

We've finally started figuring out what to do with our GPS, and I'm a map nut, so we have lots of geographic information coming your way now - including the details of our Mexico/Guatemala section. But here's the whole things so far: You can zoom in, use satellite view, lots of things. Most of the pictures we've taken on this part of the trip now have geographic information, too.

Update: More in-depth maps are now available for each region and even daily for the entire trip

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