Short Stories from Guatemala.

Okay, I’m in Haiti now with Heifer International, on Month #2 of my 12-countries-in-12-months journey, and I know I have to let go and stop writing about Guatemala, my Month #1 country. (I’m pretty sure I’m going to have this same separation anxiety as I stop writing about each one of these countries, so I’m apologizing in advance for the emotional foot-dragging.)

To make this a proper goodbye, here are some of my favorite images of Guatemala– and the story behind each one of them.  This cool gent was walking down the road in Cunen, a small farming town outside Coban, Guatemala. His shirt was immaculately white, his hat was worn at a rakish angle, his bag was jaunty, and he wore his pants so elegantly, I think he’d give Andre 3000 a run for his money, sartorially speaking. (But he was missing his two front teeth.)

We were in the high mountain village of Quilinco and turned the corner to see Escolastica Lache up to her elbows in a washbasin, scrubbing away — while directly in front of her were two gigantic cable TV dishes. She had a beautiful smile that knew nothing of irony – and of course, who can resist somebody who dresses up this fancy to do the laundry?Tortillas, tortillas everywhere … at every meal. In every basket. Guatemalans eat them morning, noon and night. They’re brought in to the table, warm and fragrant, in gigantic stacks that go so far beyond carb loading, it’s ridiculous.

Toyota really needs to make a commercial featuring Heifer’s use of their trucks. We drove up the steepest hill you can imagine with 20 people (and a sheep) in the vehicle. Now that’s a payload.

The ceiba is the tree of Guatemala, and it is grand. We saw it growing in Ixcan amidst an empty corn field and you can see it for miles, its trunk stitched straight as a seam against the sky.In Quilinco, Heifer beneficiaries Juan & Anastasia grow 2000 cauliflower plants on their land. They make about $800 on the whole crop, because they sell it before it’s planted to a Canadian distributor who gives them the seed and fertilizer and guarantees their price. In the field, Juan unwrapped the green tendrils around the almost-ripe cauliflower to show it to me, then carefully wrapped the leaves back up in a big protective bow.

Sometimes you are standing in a place you’ve never been, and your eye falls on something that just delights you beyond expression…. like this bed, bath & beyond in the cloud forests of Alta Verapaz. And of course, in every nook and cranny of the world, ninos siempre ninos.

Hasta luego, Guatemala!

Categories: Agriculture, Guatemala, Heifer International, Photography, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 24 Comments

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24 thoughts on “Short Stories from Guatemala.

  1. Anonymous

    Hi Betty

    Once again your pictures say it all. The only tine I see cauliflower that beautiful is at a farmer’s market and never at the grocery store. I love the truck commercial idea, but Toyota would feel obligated to buy new trucks and I do not see that happening anytime soon.

    I cannot wait to hear about Haiti!

    Safe travels!


    • I have NEVER seen a cauliflower so beautiful — and for me, that was a little slice of heaven! The trucks here are beat to crap and beyond… (and I’m in my second country) … I am seriously going to approach Toyota to do a commercial — and by ALL means donate a few vehicles for the privilege of filming the Heifer road warriors ! It’s a fabulous story!!! SO happy to hear from you!

  2. Jean

    Wonderful perspectives Betty! I’m sure it’s the human connections that you’ve made that continually draw you back to you back to the places you’ve visited in Guatemala. Such warm smiles everywhere.

    Can’t wait to hear about your adventures in Haiti~


    • Jean — It’s really true that we have come to really love Guatemala because of our close relationship with our San Juan family …
      but it was incredible to meet so many other people and see so many other parts of Guatemala that are remote, rural and very rarely seen by tourists that made me feel as if I had experienced the country in a way that I never could have … and YES! I am loving Haiti!!!
      Can’t wait to write about it!! xoxoxo b

  3. I am delighted when I read things like this in your posts…”your eye falls on something that just delights you beyond expression…. like this bed, bath & beyond in the cloud forests”!

    • Thanks, Travel Spirit — but as a photographer who is far more talented than me, you know it’s true — you see something and you
      just go … wow!! I LOVE THAT! I don’t think my photo did it near enough credit, but I sure did try … THANKS, Sherry!!

  4. It’s all so beautiful! You are crazy gifted!

    • Hey, Country Man’s Wife — I am always ALWAYS inspired by your blog posts, so it’s a mutual admiration society — to be sure!
      I just love that at very different stages of our lives, I’m going all over the world and you are building a farm with your darling husband in South Dakota — and yet we have so much to offer one another in our reflections and paths! This, to me, is really the joy of blogging
      and I am so grateful that I found you (or you found me?? ) so early along the way !!

  5. Amazing how pictures/scenes we encounter can tell a story…beautiful pictures of what looks like a beautiful time with helping people to make their lives a little better. Thank you for sharing. Blessings!

    • Blessings right back atcha, April … and I am feeling SO privileged to be able to meet and get to know these people and their incredible stories of resilience, hope and hard work. So happy you’re along…

  6. What I see is pride and happy people, did you?
    Beautiful story and vegetables too.

  7. Great storytelling, as usual, Betty! I especially liked the photo of the stack of tortillas. I’m going to do a brief write-up about you and your new project with Heifer International so I can give you and the organization some exposure on my blog. This won’t take the place of an in-depth interview, mind you, but since you’re traveling and I’m preparing for my big exhibit, neither of has the time or energy to do a full-fledged interview—at least I don’t think so!

    Happy travels!

    • I would LOVE that, Cindy — that’s so kind of you! I know you’re incredibly busy with your upcoming show, so I’m amazed at your prolific and beautiful blogging … as always!! Really looking forward to you visiting me in Atlanta -= what fun it will be to meet in person!!!

  8. Susan

    boys will be boys – what terrific pictures Betty – hope you’re saving them all. Wonderful to see all of it – thanks for all of the vicarious living. Good luck in Haiti.

    • I am saving all my photos, Susan … and sharing them with Heifer, so hopefully I’ll have a boatload of memories at the end of this year. (I really think a Heifer 360 book is in order, don’t you??) THANKS for coming along on this journey with me!!

  9. Love these images, Betty. I imagine you have also climbed some pretty steep hills in Haiti, as well–especially on your way to the Central Plateau, but I’ve even driven some that were nearly impassible in the hills around Petion-ville. Be safe, my friend.

    • Hey Kathryn, I feel like I’m taking you along in my pocket as I’m always thinking of you here in Haiti!! Traveled from PAP to
      the Central Plateau and Mirebalais and then through Hinche and on to Cap Haitien .. which was cool and we saw an awesome project
      in Millot today … but the real insane hills were right around PAP, by Degand and Ivoire … I have video!
      I had no idea that Haiti is the most mountainous country in the Caribbean but I can certainly confirm that after this week!
      Can’t wait to post my blogs … THANKS for the wonderful support, K

  10. It’s easy to understand why you’ve experienced Guatemalan Separation Anxiety, Betty. The photos are beautiful – love the Bed, Bath & Beyond shot. Safe travels, and I suspect you’ll be feeling the same way about Haiti.

  11. One of my favorite posts of your adventures thus far. So fun to live vicariously through you!

  12. I am so enjoying virtually travelling with you Betty. I’m not even getting tired …

  13. Once again Guatemala amazes me with its charming beauty! Great photos Betty, they are just beaming with life. 🙂

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