Tuesday, October 19, 2010

sarah's guatemala blog: Hello from Guatemala

sarah's guatemala blog: Hello from Guatemala:

When we arrived in Guatemala in the plane, we were just getting out of our seats and Robin asked, "Are we in Guatemala?" I said, "Yes, we are." Then he looked pensive for a moment and asked earnestly, "Why not am I speaking Spanish?":)

We arrived in Guatemala at the beginning of September- Rick the kids and myself. Rick went back home two weeks later to work (he'll be back here in November) so I have been in a huge process of adjusting to a new life here and being the only parent in the house. Leo is a big help on the weekends. I have a wonderful woman helping me every day and just recently have been able to leave the kids with her for long stretches.

Leo takes the boat all the way across Lake Atitlan (pictured here) every day to go to high school. He's studying the usual high school subjects and has just taken on an independent study in local mayan and geological history which I am quite happy about and he seems excited about it too.

Eliot has his ups and downs with school but overall he likes it more and more as time goes on.. It's all in Spanish so it's challenging for sure.

He and Robin have been enjoying climbing the jocote tree in our yard, pictured above.

I had the idea before I came that all the kids would go to school, I would hire help, and I would get straight to work at the clinic, 5 days a week. Robin had other ideas (he ultimately did not want to go to school) and this month and a half have been just about settling in physically and then dealing with one thing after another with the kids so I have been really focusing on being a mom which is a good thing but not so much what I had in mind.

I have also been taking my spare moments in the wee hours and when I can leave the house (like now) to go deeply inward to refine my vision for my life and my work. It's an ongoing process and well worth the investment. I'm getting clearer that my work as a midwife and a mother is but one expression of a deeper desire to create a life of health, balance and service and that I have a contribution to make in creating a world where the well being of mother earth and all people, particularly women and children is put up as the highest priority.

I can't waste any more time despairing over all the issues coming to a head in this world. We are either going to sink or swim and I for one plan to get busy learning how to swim. I'm placing inner peace and the skillful means of outer peace as a high priority in my life in order to undo and heal generations of abuse and neglect. I want the intergenerational wounding to stop with me and the healing to begin here and now.

Here in San Marcos I have had the blessing of a lifetime in the opportunity to utilize the skills of the amazing array of world class body workers and healers that this place attracts.

I am seeking to embody the next stage of humanity's evolution--a living being who is consciously living in a state of divinity. I want my work in the world to be an expression of this consciousness instead of a reaction to all the trauma. I want to keep my head above the clouds with a clear vision far into the future.

All of this has taken up a lot of my focus so I keep asking myself--wasn't I supposed to be working with midwives? Isn't that why I came here? And yet I know that piece will come. I'm needing right now to get more grounded than I have ever been in my life.

I have had the opportunity to go into the clinic a few times to see people for whom the on-staff nurse wanted a second opinion- one woman with an infection, another with a suspected breech which wasn't, two others with transverse babies that I helped to turn, a 13 year old who had just started her menses, and a few others...

One woman is worth mentioning. She had a classical cesarean scar, which makes for a greatly increased risk for vaginal birth because of possible rupture. She had one homebirth after that but she didn't like how the midwife treated her and was seeking other options. She came to the clinic because she heard about me and wanted to know if I would attend her. At first I said I was available and then later that week thought about it a lot and talked to a friend. Her baby was also measuring 10 cm smaller than it should be and she was almost due. I realized I was in no way comfortable with the situation but my desire to be culturally sensitive prevented me from saying anything at the time. She came back again the next week to see me and I told her I thought she would be better off in the hospital and to my relief and surprise she agreed and said she had been thinking that herself. I felt bad telling her to go the hospital because I am not totally confident she will get the best care there and yet she really isn't appropriate for a home birth. She also told me that there are only two midwives left in her village while there used to be many more. They have all died and the two left are in their 80's. What will they do when these women pass?

There is a midwife in another village that is actively seeking to start a bonafied midwifery school with the help of a foreigner here. Apparently she has 30 women who want to sign up as soon as it is started. I have not met her yet but know that she is the main person I need to talk to before I start really "getting out there."

So I am learning about the local situation and culture, poco a poco, and know that my full on involvement will come soon enough.

The lifestyle here is very easy and simple which I am loving more than I can express. It is such a breath of fresh air to be in a place where material things are not dominating the landscape and people are not in a hurry. It's hard to explain because there's a way in which when you live inside of a culture you can't really see how it is affecting you. That's the value of traveling, as I see it. To get a wider perspective.

About the photos:
In one of these photos Eliot and Robin are being quetzals-notice the colorful long tail feathers. It's the national bird and the money is named after it. The bird is super colorful and has gorgeous super long tail feathers.

In another photo, Eliot and Robin are looking at a monkey that they were playing with at the nature preserve. The monkey got so friendly with Eliot that he actually stole his money pouch! (we got it back with a ladder and the help of taxi driver.)

Also pictured left are Josefa, Alicia (two new friends) and Robin in our house.

The bridge that the kids are standing on is a hanging bridge that runs through the nature preserve.

Here is a beautiful poem I came across recently that speaks to me:

...from Blessings by Julia Cameron

I accept the gift of my vulnerability...

I am willing to be vulnerable to love...

I am willing to reveal myself in all my human beauty and frailty...

I am willing to be as I am, both perfect and a work in progress...

I am willing to be unfinished, unpolished, in a state of change...

I am willing to accept myself as I am and I am willing to allow others to see me as I am...

I am willing to be unveiled and undefended...

I am willing to be seen and understood...

I am willing to view myself and others with compassion...

I am willing to view myself and others non-judgmentally...

I am willing to be the human being, complete in myself, without the need for accomplishment to justify my worth...

Blessing myself just as I am, I lovingly open to all I can be.


  1. Sarah, your blog is so incredibly beautiful-- photos and inspiring, courageous text. I am absolutely green with envy but also so grateful for all that you've written here, all that you're doing; it's such a timely inspiration to me, you have no idea. Best wishes to you and the boys. They all look so happy. Is Eliot still seeing fairies? We really miss you all! e & j

  2. Sarah and boys,

    It snowed yesterday! In fact, it HAILED in New Lebanon, and driving home from school, there was sparkly ice on the trees in Harlemville, coming down Rt.7 out of Spencertown-- a winter wonderland already, though it didn't last more than a few hours in the late afternoon. Today all the ice was gone; it was dry and cold. We turned the clocks back this past weekend and so it is very dark already by dinner time... Winter is here!

  3. Thank you for the beautiful entries, Sarah. I am reading, and re-reading them and am in full sympathy with your position on approach to this world's state. Juan Carlos and Nicolas will be arriving in Xela on 12/12/10. Juan Carlos will be there 3 weeks, Nicolas until 2/5. I'm passing this blog on to Nicolas so he can contact you!
    Happy Thanksgiving from the North! Love,