Guatemala – November 11, 2010

We are now in Guatemala to visit Melanie and family for two weeks.

I do not know when I might be able to get back to reporting on the trip to Spain! But setting that aside for the moment, here is current news.

Here are recent photos of Julio, Melanie and their daughters.

We arrived in Guatemala City on Tuesday, November 9, in the evening. Julio and Mel met us and we all went to a nearby bed and breakfast for the night.

Wednesday, we went by car a 3 hour drive to Xela (or officially, Quetzaltenango) where they live. We traveled on four-lane highway, part of the Pan American highway. En route we stopped for a second breakfast, a practice you learn from the hobbits in Lord of the Rings.

At the restaurant an Indian woman was selling fruit.

They also had this on display.

It looked like a small version of an old threshing machine. Was it used for sugar cane? We didn’t ask, so we don’t know.

Unusual bees were buzzing in the yard.

Finally, Xela. It was so good to see the girls again. Samaya is a very grown up three and a half and Genesis is almost two.

We opened two large suitcases of clothing, supplies and gifts that we and others had prepared for the family. We also have Christmas gifts, so these we reserved for
a later “party.”

Today, Thursday morning, I went birding with Clive Rainey, an American who is a leader and volunteer with Habitat for Humanity, and) who now lives here, in a hotel across the street from Mel’s family. We went to a mountain on the southwest side of Xela and walked, mostly uphill, for five hours, until 1:00 PM. We walked slowly through paths and fields, birding all the time, so the five hours didn’t seem so bad. The return walk took only two and a half hours. Even so, my legs and back were glad for a rest.

Clive is well experienced in birding Central America, so I saw so many things that I would have never seen if I had gone out on my own – and of course I would never even have tried to explore this mountain without a knowledgeable local person to guide me.

Here is a view of the city from the mountain.

As you see, the city is surrounded by mountains on all sides.

Here is one kind of habitat that we explored. You see Clive here.

Part of Xela’s water supply comes from this mountain, from a spring we surmise, topped with this cement cover, and marked by a monument with verses from the Bible about natural and spiritual water. I was quite impressed with this public acknowledgement of the Bible, God, Christ and living water.

On the roadsides and in the grazing areas and corn fields we saw abundant wild flowers.

One seemed to be a dahlia, almost always facing down so that getting a good photo was a challenge.

We saw a white-eared hummingbird feeding at the wild salvia. Do you see him below?

Just teasing. We did see him there, but only for a few seconds, not long enough to get a photo. Sorry.

In one field, workers were harvesting cultivated flowers for market.

Ancient Mayan worship is still practiced today. We came upon a shrine with an idol.

As we left this site, I proclaimed the name of Jesus Christ over these people and this city.

We saw 34 different species of birds. Probably 14 of them were new ones for my life list. I will have to check my files at home to be sure of the exact number of new ones. One species was new for Clive, which is great since he has birded this mountain often and has seen almost everything there is to see. We saw twenty or more Eastern bluebirds. Have some of them come here from PA? From my nesting boxes?

Wild Bird magazine invites readers to send in a photo of yourself at a birding site, holding a copy of the magazine. So I had Clive snap a photo of me on the mountain, with the city of Xela in the background. I will send it in and see if I get published.

From the lower part of the mountain you can see (left center of the photo) the small central park (ten or twenty trees) where the shoeshine boys work, the boys that Mel and Julio serve. To the right of the park is the main Catholic cathedral, a building with several white domes.

On Thursdays, a Catholic family opens a room of their home for prayer. Come and go as you wish. In the evening Melanie and I went there to pray. At the front of the room, in addition to the host (communion wafer) candles and other decorations were two Scriptures:
Build your house on the rock.
That which is impossible with men is possible with God.

I was impressed that so many men, including young men, were present; that people were praying fervently, although silently or semi-audibly; and that at the end, 7:00 PM, everyone greeted everyone with hugs and comments like “Que Dios te bendiga.”

May God bless you.

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3 Responses

  1. Beautiful pictures. Thank you for sharing pictures of Melanie’s beautiful family with us! Bob and Lois

    • Hey, it is great to know you are “with us” as we travel. John

  2. nice a day Wind Blowing , i review your blog , be a nice blog and perfect. Good for me. best review for and Birding in Guatemala content. i going to plan to read and review your blog.

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