Sunday, December 21, 2008

First Day of Volunteering -- Sunday, December 7 -- morning

The following morning, Michael and I woke up to beautiful sunshine and headed to Hotel Dos Mundos' restaurant for the included breakfast.

The food was very basic -- a choice between a very light continental breakfast or the Chapin (local) with eggs, refried beans, a few plantains and some watermelon. But the coffee was good, and the setting was very cheery.

After breakfast, we had a little time, so we walked down to the shore of Lake Atitlan to take a few pictures.

It was so gorgeous! I know why Atitlan has been called the most beautiful lake in the world. And this time, there was no mist obscuring the volcanoes that surround it. (In April, we never got a completely unobstructed view.)

As we were taking it all in, someone called my name. In a twist of fate, it turned out that a former co-worker of mine, Rob, whom I had not seen or spoken with in over three years, just happened to be in town and recognized me. How random is that?

Rob took this picture of Michael and me.

Then we went back to Dos Mundos to meet up with the group. We watched the parade of tuk-tuks go by on Calle Santander.

And we saw the vendors starting to set up their stands.

Today was the day of the orphanage party (which I wrote about earlier this year). The first stop was to the shoe store to buy shoes for each of the children. However, there wasn't enough room for Michael and I to go along with Tricia's gang for this part, so we brought donations over to Sharon's, instead.

When we got to Sharon's, we found piles and piles of the fixings for the tamale baskets: oil, rice, cookies, chocolate, marshmallows, beans, raisins, chicken broth, bread, and more.

Julie, one of the Helping Mayan Families group members, was instrumental in coming up with a great assembly line, so we could zip through the baskets.

We worked side by side with the Guatemalan staff of Mayan Families to create a number of baskets. There are several young people who work at Mayan Families, and we were amazed at how strong and industrious they were.

Above, Michael works with Tracy to put the finishing touches on a basket.

Once each basket was done, someone put it outside, ready to be distributed.

Tricia's group came back from shoe shopping, and it was time for us to get the presents ready for the orphans.

These are just some of the toys on hand for the party and for distribution at other parties!

Back in the States, Tricia had put together a giant ziploc bag marked for each child with their name and photo. Each bag had a variety of items, including clothes, underwear, small games, and toys. We went into the house and wrapped the biggest present for each child and put together Christmas stockings, as well.

Sharon's younger daughter, Aleeya, was too adorable. She is always part of the action.

We got ready to head out to the orphanage. There were two pinatas -- a schoolgirl for the girls and a santa for the boys. Michael and I rode in the back of the pickup truck with the pinatas, the cake, Morgan, and some of the Mayan Families staff kids.

We drove to the orphanage, which was about 15 minutes away from Sharon's. The scenery en route was incredible.

And suddenly, there we were at the orphanage, with the kids ready to greet us!

Next post: the orphanage party!

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