Head in the clouds.

My first day visiting Heifer projects in Guatemala, we got high. Specifically, we drove up, up and up to the highlands of Alta Verapaz and into the cloud forest– which is the last refuge of Guatemala’s national bird, the resplendent quetzal, as well as hundreds of other bird species that are quickly disappearing from the earth.

Quetzal photo by Knut Eisermann.

Unfortunately, we didn’t quite get high enough to go to the 50+ villages past the end of the road that are served by Proeval Raxmu, Heifer’s partner project in Alta Verapaz, because, before I came, the folks were told, “A woman is coming from the North and she can’t walk.”

Hmmm – for the record, I can walk and love to – but I suspect the Heifer folks weren’t sure I was up for a 5-hour jaunt into the cloud forest. (I totally was.) But what I saw in Chicoj Village was more than enough to make me wish I could have spent days there.

Once it's gone, it's gone.

Despite the breathtaking beauty of the area, Alta Verapaz has a poverty rate of about 79%, and chronic malnutrition that affects about 52% of the poor farmers who live here. Deforestation of the cloud forest is happening at one of the highest rates in Latin America and is directly related to poverty. Trying to eke out a living on incredibly steep slopes at high altitude, farmers desperate for rich forest soil and firewood cut down the trees, burn off the rich forest mulch, and plant corn which further depletes the soil. What’s at risk is not just bird populations (Guatemala is home to about 700 bird species and millions of migratory birds from North America), but also life-giving water, since cutting down the trees also reduces rainfall. And that leads to fewer crops and less food.In response, this Heifer-supported program works to educate and motivate local farmers to farm more productively, grow more nutritious food, and protect their own forest. It’s a big, daunting job, but Proeval is totally up for it. Six years ago, they began working with 3 families in 1 village– and today they have passed along to more than 450 families the gift of turkeys, rabbits and sheep; red worms (for composting); fruit trees; forage crops (to feed the animals) and most importantly – campesino to campesino trainings in how to farm abundantly without damaging the cloud forest.

Going to a Proeval community meeting in Chicoj Village to see the project first-hand was like attending a big, wordy love-in. We met in Pedro’s simple, beautiful home where everybody–and I mean everybody–  had the chance to talk about what the project means to him or her.

Pedro's home, site of our community meeting.

Rudy, the veritable Johnny Appleseed of Raxmu, has been helping local farmers to plant some 800 plum, nectarine, peach and apple orchards for a dozen years and is a tireless promoter of the nutritional and income-producing capacity of fruit trees. He’s carried the stakes of trees on his back for 5 hours to give to farmers in the remote villages, taught them how to graft, compost and use bees to pollinate the trees, and never stopped singing the praises of fruit.

Efraim, a biological monitor whose job entails getting up at 4:30 a.m. to hear, see and count birds in the cloud forest, lives a two-hour walk high up in the mountains with his beautiful wife Rosaria and 3 little girls. He  told us how happy he was to be chosen as one of 3 trained monitors out of 30 applicants — while his wife explained he was gifted because he gave his heart to the forest. Efraim has trained intensively, can identify over 250 birds by sight, and has worked with some of the world’s foremost ornithologists who come to Guatemala and rely on his research. Because I come from a family of birdwatchers (and am singularly oblivious when it comes to finding a single bird in a tree) I was in awe of his cool, calm demeanor and obvious talent for the work.

Robert & Tara, tireless principals of Proeval (she is from Holland and he is American), spoke in Q’eqchi’, Spanish and English of the methods they’re passing on: using living and dead barriers to prevent erosion on the steep hillsides; combining animal manure & red worms to build a beautiful compost instead of using expensive, damaging chemicals; conserving water and soil; keeping animals healthy, hygienic and fertile; and growing a nutritious blend of crops that will better feed both the children and animals of Chicoj Village.

Flowers grown in living barriers to erosion can also be sold for income.

Together with Heifer International and the project participants, Proeval Raxmu’s mission is to use a double passing-on-of-gifts (each beneficiary family gives at least twice what they have received in animals, forage crops, and trainings to 2 other families) to restore ecological, environmental and human harmony to the people of this region. In fact, the Q’eqchi’ word “Raxmu” means fresh and cloudy weather, indicating a change to come. I felt the distinct winds of change in that room, in the palpable community solidarity and dignity of the families that surrounded me — and I felt their hope for the future. It was nothing short of intoxicating.

In the next two years, Heifer will give 800 Atla Verapaz families 6,700 rabbits, 4,364 turkeys and 360 super-cute sheep.

(And next post, I’ll get to the amazing Alta Verapaz WOMEN involved!)

Categories: Animals, Guatemala, Heifer International, Photography, Poverty, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 178 Comments

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178 thoughts on “Head in the clouds.

  1. Larry

    The beginning of an amazing journey. Beautifully told.

    • Thanks, honey — as you know, I really REALLY wanted to go all the way up there into the furthest villages — but just meeting Efraim and Rosaria was amazing enough! Miss you honey,

  2. Wow! It’s such a briliant idea to have the beneficiary families pass on double the gifts to other families. This is a really carefully thought-out project. I’m fascinated.

    • Sarah! The beautiful thing about all Heifer projects (and this one in particular is doubling the effects) is to Pass On The Gift — which means the farmer is responsible for giving the first female offspring of his animal to another family … along with the knowledge of how to take care of it … AND give the plants necessary to grow to feed it, too. That leads to a feeling of confidence, self-esteem, and community solidarity, and of course, makes for a sustainable project that keeps on giving long after the original project has ended. Miss you, honey….

    • Sounds like a good idea for all of us to follow in order to attraact more abundance into our lives. What a lovely, inspiring blog!!! Great job on FP!!

  3. Ginger O'Neill

    Hi Betty,

    It is good to hear from you. I was getting a little nervous that something untold might have happened. Then again, breaking away to write amidst all of your data gathering must be very challenging.

    The pictures are wonderful and I love the idea of a cloud forest.

    Your story is so rich given the contrast of the pitiful Republican debates that remind us of how shallow our country has become when it comes to preserving our world and planet at large.

    Hugs!

    Ginger

    • Ginger Darling! You are so right to put this in contrast — I was away (really, up in the cloud forest) for the South Carolina vote and when I heard the results and then heard about Romney’s tax return – it was so ironic in the context of these farmers who have to work so hard to simply feed their children. AND .. while idiots like the Koch Brothers are spending millions to deny the reality of climate change, the farmers here see it every day in the impact on their crops, water, ferocious storms and challenging conditions. THANKS for the comment, sweetie!

  4. What a journey, Betty, and what a great storyteller you are! Thank you for bringing their story (and the wonderful accompanying photos!) to us. I look forward to more. Wanna trade places? :-)

  5. Ah, Betty, I thought about your journey every day that I was on vacation. I am happy to be back, reading your words and looking at your beautiful photos. You bring it all to life.

    • Hope you had a FAB time in Florida and that you sold LOTS of books, Renee!! Always great to hear from you and I’m so happy you liked the post!! Guatemala has been amazing in every way … what a great way to start! (And I’ve got SO much to write about…)

  6. This reminded me of the movie…”Pay it Forward”! Thanks for the lovely photos and story / information!

  7. I’ll try not to gush on after all your entries, but reading this first thing in my morning just brings gratitude – I get to walk this spiritual journey of love (and love of what you do) – right here in my kitchen. Can’t wait for more!!!! Ivette

    • Ivette — I TOTALLY want you to come to Peru with me in March … you will simply not believe how great it is to
      meet the people and see the projects, and WE will laugh our heads off!!!

  8. Cindie

    Hi Betty, all your fans out here in the blogosphere know that you CAN walk.

    Thanks for the touching description of the PROEVAL RAXMU project. It was also informative!

    I’ve enrolled in Heifer University’s Basics course. I hope to expand my knowledge not only through your posts, but through learning specifics about Heifer.

    Blessings to you!
    Cindie

    • Wow, that is SO cool — I know that Heifer University is going to be amazing — and I’m hoping to come in and do a presentation to the folks out in California in March (with all my photos — yay!!!) Thanks for the comment!

  9. What an amazing journey you are on, Betty. I love watching your life unfold and your caring pull others into the story and possibilities of this great organization. March on!

  10. Sounds great and we hope you have a great time… welcome to Guatemala!

    • Oh, I love Guatemala (it’s my third or fourth trip here) == but this time was so special in that I got totally off the beaten path and up into the indigenous villages, saw so much of the countryside, and got to see the Heifer projects in action. I’ll be back!!!

  11. Amy

    MACANUDO!!!!!!!

    Where is Rudy from?

    In Antigua you’ll want to visit the public hospital Hermano Pedro, (I think it’s called) about 3 blocks from the main square. You’ll never forget it.

    • Hi Amy! Rudy is from Guatemala and in his 60s and he is an agricultural technician who was one of the founding members of Proeval-Raxmu. He is an incredible guy … totally passionate about the benefits of fruit trees & gifted with knowledge about how to grow, graft, fertilize and propagate trees that he cannot wait to pass along. I’ll try to fit in a trip to the hospital in Antigua, but I am leaving in 45 minutes so I’m not sure I’ll make it! Thanks for the comment!!

  12. Michael Wagner

    HI Betty,

    WOW …. once again you share your wonderful gift of bringing light to a corner of the world that is so beautiful and inhabited by people who truly want to embrace living “as one” with it. The teaching of this simple symbiotic relationship between earth, animals, and humans that Heifer & PROEVAL RAXMU is providing is so inspiring.

    Hugs & Blessings -

    Michael

  13. KittyCM

    Betty,
    Today is Jan. 30 and I can’t believe you are
    On your way home! I have so enjoyed your
    sensitive, caring and funny writing, that I
    expected it to last for months; I know that you will leave a little bit of your heart in Los Altos Nubes or is it Las Altas Nunes? As well as in Tenago y Los Lagos de Atitlan

    • Hi Kitty — Well, I am just getting started on my pieces from Guatemala, so stay tuned! And YES, i always leave a bit of my heart in Atitlan … who couldn’t?? xoxox b

  14. What a great inspiring story Betty – love the double passing-on-of-gifts idea. I somehow knew when I saw someone walking around the museum with a Guatemala bag yesterday that you were fine and having an amazing time :-)

    Your photos are wonderful – the sheep is my favorite – but I’m glad you included the picture of Robert & Tara.

    Re: the story of the woman who can’t walk. Do they think all American women can’t walk??? Tell them we can! I’d so love to be up there with you seeing those birds. (We saw them in Belize and they are beautiful.)

    • Rosie — I loved the double passing-on-the-gift, too .. that’s unique even for Heifer!! And I have seen plenty of those Guatemalan bags, so I know exactly what you were seeing in the museum — glad it made you think of me!! I knew you’d like the sheep – how cute is that, and how much does it look exactly like Sherri what’s-her-name’s puppet, Lambchop??
      About the “not walking” thing — I think they just meant they didn’t want to commit to a five-hour jaunt into the cloud forest since we had another 6 hours to drive in the car (groan) before we got to the next village … but I thought it was a hilarious turn of phrase .. and certainly got Tara’s attention! She was convinced I was either 80 or obese or in a wheelchair .. I felt like a total spring chicken at that!!
      Wish YOU were with me, sweet Rosie …

  15. Everything…beautiful and moving.

  16. Thanks for letting me tag along Barbara. We could SO have walked up to those villages. Can’t wait to see where we’re going tomorrow …

    • Oh … Sybil, we would have sprinted up those hills (ha!) — I have SO many more places I’m going to take you, and that’s just in Guatemala!! Yay!

  17. Oscar

    Dear Betty,
    how beatiful and impactful is to see my country through your eyes and read details of the project work carried out that Bob, Tara, Efraín, Rudy and many more do.

    • Dear Oscar, I love your country SO much and I was so grateful to be introduced to these amazing communities and the Heifer projects by Byron, Bob, Tara, Efrain, Rudy and all the others. I have tons of stories to tell .. and can’t wait to get on it!!

  18. Amber

    Hi, my name is Amber Moreland and I’m from King’s Fork High School in Virginia. I’ll be following your fascinating expedition from beginning to end for personal pleasure and as an assignment for my IB Theory of Knowledge class.
    The countries that you’ve visited so far seem rather beautiful from the pictures you have taken and look like wonderful places to be! Plus,the story is amazing! Look forward to seeing more.

  19. Pat

    Betty, your posts are wonderfully vivid–photos, the spirit of all involved, the value of the place and of the people who live there, and your own heartfelt enthusiasm. Thank you. Pat

    • Thank YOU, Pat — it feels like such a privilege to be invited into these villages and the people’s homes … I just cannot tell you how much I loved being there with Heifer!!

  20. What a fun adventure you had! I love all that lush greenery!

    Must have been enriching to interact with the locals:)

    • Dear Romantic Asian Guy (wow, that’s quite a moniker!) — Guatemala is VERY green, very beautiful and very poor – but the local people are so endearing, it was a brilliant trip! Thanks for sharing..

  21. I love your shot of the quetzal.

    • Ooops, it’s not MY shot (would that it were … it’s Kurt Eisenmann, one of the founders of Proeval Raxmu, and a brilliant bird photographer). Unfortunately, I didn’t get to see a quetzal or I’m sure my photo would have been just as good … ha! Thanks a million for your comment!

  22. Stunning photography and wonderful writing. Thank you so much for sharing this. :)

  23. Nice pics
    The forest is amazing … hope it is not led to deforestation
    All the best for your project !

    • Jayati — Actually, Guatemala has lost a tremendous amount of land to deforestation — the country’s NAME means: Place of Trees, and the majority of the land should be forested, but the people needed to plant food (and plantation owners wanted to make a lot of money), and so they cut the trees down. Thanks for your good wishes!!

  24. Wow! 12 countries in 12 months, I’m gonna have to follow along just to see this amazing journey unfold. I would love to travel… maybe when the kids grow up! Til then, thanks for allowing us to live vicariously through you with your wonderful photos! Great blog….

    • Dear Blondie — I totally know what you mean, as when my kids were young, I never was able to travel as much as I longed to — but now that my kiddies have flown the nest, I’d give anything to be able to live that all over again! So ..enjoy your own journey, and when you need a vicarious thrill, come along with me on Heifer 12 x 12!

  25. Great initiative. lovely blog. breathtaking pictures.
    12 countries in 12 months, you are really living the life :-)

    • I completely agree – I AM living the life (but actuallly, it’s a lot of work too — just the perfect kind of work for me!) Thanks so much for your comment!

  26. AMAZING photos. My dad is Guatemalan and I have had a love affair with the country my whole life. Thanks for sharing your experiences and bringing these issues to light.

    • Dear Sayra — I love Guatemala, too, and I know your dad must be very proud of his country. This is my fourth trip to Guatemala and I got to see SO much of the country that I’d never seen and most tourists never get to visit … wild, crazy roads but incredible scenery and SUCH wonderful people!! Thanks for reading!!

  27. You are so cool, please go to my blog:
    http://wildlifelove.wordpress.com

  28. What a wonderful blog post…
    The photos are amazing

  29. Hadas

    very interesting.

  30. Beautiful Photographs and you have written this one so beautifully just like these photographs. You are on an amazing journey.

  31. What an awesome and amazing cause to be involved with! I’m a photographer and have a journey through Mexico, Central, and South America planned out beginning this March. Your travels are inspiring, keep up the good work!

    • Thanks so much, fellow Adventurer!! I know that you will love your travels in Mexico, Central & South America (the indigenous people are so amazing) .. and I am constantly inspired by the work Heifer is doing in these countries to end poverty & hunger. So happy you liked the post — and Bon Voyage!! I’ll be following you!!

  32. Constance V. Walden

    Thanks for sharing this great blog. You are doing wonderful work. Keep it up. Connie
    http://7thandvine.wordpress.com/

    • Thanks, Connie — but the really wonderful work is being done by the beneficiaries and field workers of Heifer. I just show up for the good stuff (:

  33. Totally amazing – keep up the good work!

    Best
    Martyn

    • Thanks, Martyn! I will definitely try to keep up my end on these 12 trips around the world — and keep sharing the stories. Thanks for your comment & I can’t wait to check out YOUR photography@ martynthompsonphotography.wordpress.com !!

      • Since there is so many fields of speiailtces that I have a choice of, I still really can’t choose one. So I am going base on my personal experiences. My original goal back in high school and maybe even before that, was to work in a Neonatal ICU! I had a brother that passed before he had his first birthday from heart complications, and that year I spent a lot of time at hospitals with my parents. My goal the first couple of years was to work with babies just like him. That was until I had my own children, I would of still loved to have worked in that career field but the heart ache I would most likely endure when one of those babies did not make it home. I could not have handled!On to more positive experiences, I have worked with the elderly and Geriatrics interests me very much. Being surrounded with people that have lived a fulfilled life is so much more rewarding. Even though at times it is the ending stages of their lives, and it is sad when someone does pass. It’s less of a heartache to know that most of the time they are ready to move on. They are still very dependent on you and when you are able to help them with their needs that’s the most rewarding of all, plus you form a special relationship with the patients and their families.

  34. Our family loves Heifer, and how it works. That’s always what Grandma wants for Christmas, and our Girl Scout troop used to buy ducks and bees for them every Christmas. Now my daughter’s creative writing club at school is raising money to buy them a water buffalo. How great to be able to take pictures and write about your adventures while serving to publicize a great cause. Best of luck, and great post! Naomi

    • Thanks, Naomi — and with families like yours, Heifer is truly blessed!! It’s amazing how the gift of an animal (and all the education and practical knowledge that go along with it, before it’s even given) can change a family’s future. Am SO happy to hear your daughter is following the THIRD generation of giving with the water buffalo … I’ll dedicate my third generation cow picture (in the next few posts) to her creative writing club!!

  35. Anonymous

    ah that is beautiful pics! nice work!

  36. Quetzal!

  37. Wow, that was awesome and I love the pictures. What a great experience. The people seem so friendly and genuine.

    val
    http://valentinedefrancis.wordpress.com

    • The people in Guatemala, particularly the indigenous, are beautiful, strong, resilient, creative and incredibly hard-working (but I also fell madly in love with the Ugandans, and I’m sure I’ll be crazy about the Haitians, too) … They are so grateful for the help in learning how to be better farmers, achieve some level of food security & be able to send their children to school. How can you not want to help??? Thanks, Valentine!!

  38. Those flowers are very stunning! I can’t wait to read more of your adventures with Heifer! Deforestation is a huge issue, globally. We should be implementing the same eco-friendly agriculture in America.

    • Hi MidniteChef — Yeah, I could not believe they were growing amaryllis right there in the fields, just to hold the soil down. Specially since I just paid $10 for one at Lowe’s (not half as pretty) and there were hundreds of them in all different shades & variations! It’s so bizarre to me that politicians here are still arguing over climate change, but every farmer in the developing world can tell you how real it is, and the devastating impact it’s having. And YES .. eco-friendly agriculture would be a HUGE step in the right direction, right here at home! (Can’t wait to visit and write about Heifer’s work in Appalachia, to that end!!) Cheers!!

  39. this is a really great blog! I like it! :D

  40. My husband just returned from an expedition, studying some of the many volcanoes in Guatemala. I am in the midst of editing the over 3000 photos taken by he and the crew he was with. Truly a stunning landscape and it’s people are every bit as beautiful…..
    :)

    • Wow, that is amazing to be studying the volcanoes of Guatemala! I remember my husband & I climbed one of the volcanoes outside Antigua with a big group of tourists — and there was smoke coming out the top and we were standing on crevasses through which you could see red-hot lava beneath — not exactly anything like you’d be allowed within 3 miles of in the USA! Have a wonderful edit (and how beautiful a job!!)

  41. Betty, I am jumping for joy that you have been Freshly Pressed! This is even better than me getting Freshly Pressed! Uh, OK, maybe not better, but just as good. You are an amazing, visionary woman and I am so proud to know you.

    • Renee — you are so funny! (I know I keep saying that, but it’s true & I love anybody who makes me laugh!!) YES, i am so delighted to get on The Page, but I think that you must be constantly getting FPd, because your photos are incredible and your headlines are stoppers (like the 80 year-old pole dancer??!) http://www.lifeintheboomerlane.com … love you back!

  42. What a wonderful opportunity to make a difference in our world and in the lives of people.

  43. I’m glad you were able to experience the cloud feeling in the forest. I experienced that when I was on my High School Senior Year trip to the edges of Brazil and Argentina. We were all riding a train high up in the mountains with the jungle trees below us. The clouds were covering the trees below us and it felt like we were so high up. The feeling was surreal. I’d love to experience that again. Thanks for sharing!

    • Wow, Java Girl — sounds like you were able to experience so much global travel before you even got out of high school! With kids like you coming up, I have great hope for the future!

  44. Anonymous

    me too.

  45. Great photographs. Congratulations on being Fresh Pressed! If you can find a moment, the last image..what is it?

  46. Never mind I just looked again…

  47. Hey! I’m from Guatemala, I loved the post that’s a great project they’re doing. I’m glad you enjoyed visiting one of our “departamentos” and I love the pictures! Thanks for sharing :)

    • Thanks for the comment — and I’m really happy that you like it, given that Guatemala’s your OWN country!! I can’t tell you how much we loved the scenery, the people, the forests — and I am so happy the Heifer projects are working to alleviate poverty & hunger for your great neighbors!!

  48. A really inspiring story. Thank you for sharing.

  49. Thanks for sharing.

  50. The picture of the flower is absolutely stunning…Thank you so very much for sharing!! Good luck in the future trips. :)

    • Strawberries — I was so happy it turned out so well ! I wasn’t sure it would capture the breathtaking beauty of that amaryllis but I do think it did it justice!! Thanks for the comment!

  51. Anonymous

    Stunning photos. Great work. Traveling mercies be with you. Be blessed.

  52. i love your pictures. They are so expressive
    Greetings from Romania

  53. LOVE THIS!

  54. Wow I love all the photography!

    I hope that I can visit Guatemala and see a Quetzal in person!

  55. What a great place …!

  56. My husband and I were married (eloped!) in Guatemala in 1992. Gorgeous country! Never got to see a quetzal then or in 2002, our 10th anniversary return trip, so your blog inspires me to try again. Thanks, Denise

    • Wow .. you are a true adventurer to elope to Guatemala … but I have to admit, I didn’t see the quetzal myself but only used Kurt Eisenmann’s gorgeous shot! So clearly, I need to go back, too ( :

  57. Outstanding post and photos! My wife and I have been looking into ways we can help out and I came across the Heifer projects. I think that it is an incredible way to help others and encourage more people to give. It really makes a difference when you know what you can give and to where. The only problem your left with is where to start.

  58. 12 countries in 12 months, is that even possible ? Lovely pictures, btw.

    • Yep, Shil… it’s possible to do 12 countries in 12 months. I’m just going for 1-2 weeks to each place, come back and get some perspective, write, decompress, kiss my husband, and then pack up and go again. Thanks for your reply!!!

  59. What an incredible project!

    • Dear Not Writer — I’m a Masshole, too! UMass, class of ’75!! So happy you liked the concept of Heifer 12 x 12 — it’s my favorite idea EVER! Hope you’ll be along for the journey!!

  60. What an experience!

  61. Such emotional photos!
    (I am a WordPress photoblogger as well)
    I especially like the one of the boy holding the bowl, it reminds me a little of a sad picture I took a couple of months ago:
    http://aaroncohenphotography.wordpress.com/2011/11/20/my-favorite-compositions/elycryinghope-2/

    Anyways, beautiful photos, don’t let go of your camera!

    • Hi Aaron — wow, I love your site http://aaroncohenphotography.wordpress.com/ … Your photo of Eli was totally moving .. although I have to say in honesty that the photo I took of Pedro’s son was probably a little misleading — he wasn’t really hungry but had a big piece of rabbit in his bowl. He just was kinda mad that I was taking his photo! However, malnutrition is a big issue in Guatemala so in that sense, it’s very real! Really appreciate your comment!!

  62. Great photos and beautiful mission!

  63. Pedro’s home is beautiful.

  64. This is a beautiful and informative post.

  65. Thank you for sharing that!

  66. reinaldobanh

    Reblogged this on reinaldobanh and commented:
    The Last Hylaea?

  67. Pingback: Genuine Blogger Award « Writing Life in Words & Photos

  68. Hey lovely images, and what a gorgeous place!!
    Thanks for shareing it with us it’s just amaizing :D

    This is for you ;)
    http://andreacarbax.wordpress.com/2012/01/29/genuin-blogger-award/

    For such a great master piece of work.

  69. Wonderful post with magnificent photos! . . . Thankful to find out about this remarkable project! Congrats on being “Freshly Pressed”!

    http://arabianmusings.wordpress.com/

  70. Wonderful work, beautiful project – I am so glad you shared that and I could read a beautiful post.
    :)

  71. I liked the writing much… and the great photos to match with. Wishing you and your team the very best!

    • Well, Refractions, (myrefractions.wordpress.com) I love your Bahrain photos, too!! As for my “team” it’s really just me going around the world, and visiting the Heifer projects — but thanks SO much for your good wishes!!

  72. So interesting – a lovely read :)

  73. oh wow … that’s amazing!!! wonderful idea!!!

    Greetings from Germany
    Ani :)

  74. Lovely, gorgeous pics and amazing post! Thanks for sharing! Would love to have your blog as part of the A to Z Challenge April 2012

    Twitter: @AprilA2Z
    #atozchallenge

  75. Amazing photography!!! Thanks for sharing.

  76. 7theaven

    You should be proud of your work.

    I work at AIESEC India and I’m actively involved in Social Work, and add to that photography too (started a photoblog for the university I study in).

    Lets hope for the best!

    • Wow, 7th Heaven, you are one busy dude! Good for you for reaching out to help others, and doing your photoblog — send me a link and I’ll check it out!! So happy you liked the post!!

  77. Your pictures are stunning. This looks like an amazing place xxxx

    • Guatemala IS an amazing place … and I am so happy that you liked the post! I tried to click through to Pocket Safari, but it wouldn’t let me open the link… hope to check out your site!!

  78. Tammy

    Thank you so much for this beautiful narrative and exquisite photos. My Youth Group and I sold fudge in December to send a gift of a Llama to Heifer, Int’l. and it is so inspiring to see how helpful the support is – how it breaks down in real life. Bless you for your good work.

  79. Reblogged this on ainduldudul.

  80. Gorgeous shots!

  81. Beautiful, inspiring post! Great images!

  82. Hi Bettty,
    i’m emy from Indonesia.

    Your post is very very beautiful!
    I’m waiting for the next stories :)
    especially Nepal.
    Thank you for sharing!

    P.s: anyway, maybe i will find you in July. That’s a Vietnam’s time, rite? :p

    • Hi Emy from Indonesia!! I am so excited to hear from somebody from that country, since I’ve always wanted to visit there — and I’m happy you liked my post! I will be going to Nepal in April, but I think Vietnam might have to switch until October/November since July is the rainy period … BUT keep on following & I’ll keep you up to date! Thanks for the sweet comment…

      • ah ok, noted! October or November for Vietnam.
        and yes, i will keep on following your journeys in this blog :)

  83. Jeanne G.

    I saw your blog on WordPress’s homepage and I was excited to see the quetzal photo. I was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Guatemala in 2002-2003. I am excited to hear more about your travels and the good Heifer is doing around the world.

    • What an experience that must have been for you Jeanne — I loved Kurt Eisenmann’s photo of the quetzal and was SO happy to share it (wish I could have seen one, but as you know…. i can’t walk- ha!) Thanks for following & I have so many Heifer stories to share just from Guatemala, I can’t wait!!

  84. Felicitaciones Robert y Tara, ya me dio verguenza, porque yo soy de Guatemala, y no he podido ir a tomar fotos a este Biotopo del Quetzal. Mis felicitaciones para ustedes nuevo, que Dios me los bendiga.

  85. Pingback: Prueba | Conciencia al día

  86. Thanks for sharing these beautiful pictures. I’ve really enjoyed the article. I have friends who do Missions in Guatemala and they always go on and on about the beauty of it.

    • Hi 96! It’s so easy to get to Guatemala (only 3 hours from Atlanta, nonstop) — and it’s a beautiful country — your friends are right! I can’t wait to share more of my photos and the stories … THAnKs for your comment!!

    • Thank you SO much, Moringa … I am not an expert on this topic, so I am so grateful that you found it accurate and informative! I loved this project so much, I can’t tell you … keep in touch!!

  87. Lotto

    Hey Betty, Loved reading it to the end. I have got your blog in my reading list now. I really love what you are doing. Thanks for your efforts.

  88. Making your own compost is preferable to
    using rainforest mulch. Tropical forests are
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    is immeadiatly reconsumed by the forest, it
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    clearing more of it.

    A blogging friend –

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    Lives in the philoppenes where
    he spends his spare time exploring
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  89. I love the pictures and your story—reminds me a little of Cuzco Peru. Enjoy

    http://www.bacigirl.com

    • I’m going to be in Cuzco in March — and I loved it there when I went a few years’ back, so cannot wait to return .. and to travel up to the Central Andes & see some llamas … yipppeee!

  90. I really like the feel of your blog!

    • Thanks, Lakia — the next comment is from Liz Meitus, who designed my logo and helped me SO much with the blog — so I’m hoping to pass along your compliment to her!!!

  91. Liz Meitus

    I think everyone else said it all. Overcome with emotion and inspiration.

  92. Thanks for sharing this unique and very personal adventure with us:) Beautiful pictures!

  93. Reblogged this on adeagoeng.

  94. Thank goodness for freshly pressed or I may have never found you! I’ll be there 12×12, following along!

  95. anissette

    Reblogged this on Anissette's Blog and commented:
    Guatemala: a chance to talk with Heaven.

  96. thanks for blogging about this and allowing us to embark on the journey with you!! <3
    :)

    joujaa

    was here.

  97. Inspiring and informative.
    Great post !

  98. Hi Betty,
    It was a pleasure to meet you . . . in Guatemala of all places. This is a wonderful post, well deserving of the accolades it is receiving. Keep up the good work, both here and around the world.

    See you out there,
    Brian

    • Thanks, Brian — what a coincidence and such a great way to end my trip in Guatemala, meeting you & Shannon!! Best of luck with everything ahead of you and maybe we’ll meet in another cool place!! ALL the best, B

  99. I can’t imagine seeing the contrast–poverty vs. natural beauty, but you have done so well documenting it.

    Hooray for Efraim. I enjoy speaking with folks who love what they do, and he would be a great conversation.

    • Efraim has the most calm demeanor and beautiful face — and the Rob & Tara told me that he is just brilliant at identifying birds. On any given day, when he starts out at 4:30, walks into the forest, and by noon will have identified 60-90 different birds. With their Latin names. His dad was killed in The Violence, as they call the Guatemalan civil war that ended in 1996 … but he’s gone back to the village and is trying to preserve the forest. What a guy, right??! And his daughters want to be biological monitors in the forest, too!

  100. webbookmark

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  101. patricoleon

    check out my blog http://renovationperfection.wordpress.com/

  102. Vicki

    This is a most beautiful story with very meaningful pictures. Thanks for sharing.

  103. Anonymous

    Nice blog and great photos! Makes me want to go to Guatamala now :)

  104. munyivaresponsibletravel

    Nice blog and great photos! Makes me want to go to Guatamala now

  105. love the blog :)

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  106. Wow! This can be one particular of the most helpful blogs We’ve ever arrive across on this subject. Actually Magnificent. I am also an expert in this topic therefore I can understand your effort.

  107. Enjoyed looking through this, very good stuff, regards. How much can be done to benefit other people!

  108. Just wanna comment that you have a very decent web site, I enjoy the design it really stands out.

  109. Oh Betty, I wish I had started reading your blog at the beginning! This post is awesome! I promise someday I’ll get there and read them all. I can’t wait to feature this one on the Sunday Social good’s recommended reads. Loving them all! :)

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