Monday, March 2, 2009

The Trip to the village...

Wake up call at 5 am. This is going to surely be a long day. This is a picture of Aiden, Anns kid with my bike outside the PLAN office in Guatemala City. Todays agenda is packed. We had to wake up early to get to the opffice. At the office we had to switch cars and get into, yet another 4x4 PLAN truck. Today our journey is taking us a few hours outside of Guatemala City to the exact village where the money is going to build 2 new classrooms for the kids. On top of that this is the day where I get to meet my sponsor child Merdardo. Its going to be a packed day so we had to get up early.

Aiden was taking the day off school. His parents thought that this would be a great educational experience for Aiden. Aiden was quick to jump on the opportunity to miss class and he was also really excited to get to meet some of the kids. The night before, when Aiden and I were building a massive lego land bridge with Indiana Jones and a wicked sourccerer, we got really excited because this entire journey was all new and completly different. So after another story from Captain Underpants, Aidens fav book, we got som ZZZZs.

This picture was taken outside the Plan satelite office in Jilotepque, Guatemala. From Guatemala City we took the Plan truck to this office. From here we had another long drive but it also gave me the opportunity to meet the field office manager, Helen, and her staff. All very exciting stuff. On the way to the office Ann was giving me a break down of all the challenges that this particular area is facing. On top of that she mentioned that I was only the 3rd person to ever make the journey to this office and only the first sponsor to make the journey to the actuall village. This all was turning into quite a big deal.

The office staff was great. When I walked into the office they had a big sign with my name on it welcoming me to the Jalapa office. Ann is next to me with Aiden in the background. Helen is in the middle, shes the manager at the office and the gentleman on the right is the Plan worker that is in charge of this particular village. The map behind us gave me a great visual of the entire municipality of Jalapa. A muinicipality is kind of like a state within Guatemala. They had all these pins on the board indicating where the villages were, where some villages had no running water, where other villages needed electricity. The communities in need were EVERYWHERE. Theres a lot of work to do...

The trip out to the village was through some rugged terrain in Guatemala. Good thing we had the truck because I doint think Ceasar could handle these roads. At some points we were high in the mountains and the views were amazing.

This particular community is WAY OUTSIDE of town., an extremely remote place.

Before heading to the community itself we made a stop at the capital of the municipality, Jilotepque, Jilotepque, Guatemala. Get it...hopefully.... We stopped here because some of the government officials were coming along with us.

At this point of the trip I still wasnt sure what to expect. The last time I visited the communities in El Salvador and Nicaragua we met with some officials but then we were on our own way. This time they were coming with us. Before we left, one of the officials gave us a quick tour of the main church across the street and of the market. This particular area gets most of its income from agriculture but theres also some artisians selling some hand made crafts. The communties around this area is in particular need of help. The president recently declared it a high priority area because of the high levels of poverty. Walking around the main square was nice because I could tell they dont get many visitors.

Here is a picture that I quickly took while in the municipalities office. Helen is making a few introductions to the workers before we get on our way. Ann pointed out that next door they had a Womans Office that was dedicated to any urgent needs from the women in the municipalities. Its designed as a safe place for them to come to give suggestions to the local government. Ann, a long time Plan worker and total professional, acknowledge that this is a rarity a good step in the right direction.

Heres a quick pic of the inside of the church across the street. It was a very traditional church. The inside didnt have many decorations or anything like that but it was still a very peaceful place. I had a quick moment to sit down and relax myself a bit. I still wasnt sure about the agenda or anythign like that. I told myself to just go with the flow. I was a bit nervous. This whole adventure, this whole thing is becoming REAL. Im about to meet the people in this small far off community that are going to benefit from the donations being made from this fundraiser. Thinking about it made me more nervous. I said a quick prayer. Im not a religious person in the organized since but everyonce in a while I do take a quick moment to send out some good vibes. I asked for courage and strength. I prayed for my family and friends and I prayed for the people of Jalapa, they have so many challenges. That really helped. I was starting to get really excitied.

This entire area is quite beautiful. I took this shot when I was walking out of the church. The market is in the foreground with the government building and the beautiful mountains are in the background. The inside of the municipality building reminded me of a typical smallish highschool with an auditorium. It was small and simple but hopefully it gets the job done. There was also a health clinic off to the right.

This is a typical small shop near the community. Theres an old scary looking bridge in the background with a nice stream flowing under it. It was good to see running water. A lot of river beds are usually dried up.

Off to the community

Peace, Power and Pedal


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