Happy New Year.....
It is a very happy new year....
And a glorious old year it has been!
2010 for me was largely about preparing for this journey to Guatemala--a long held dream--and then coming here and actually living it.
For me it is a testament to the power of intention. I don't believe any of us really has control over our lives but I do believe we have the power to create and celebrate beauty and magic and so every day I try to focus on all that is beautiful and working well and try to imagine what might be wonderful to create if I could wave my magic wand....
In the past I have been grateful for all that I have in life. These days I feel so grateful just be alive and breathing, with a body that gets to experience all the millions of sensations of life on planet earth and a soul that gets to feel the vibration of life moving through me.
Leo is performing "I use to rule the world" with some fellow classmates and a teacher at the first annual Christmas dinner at his high school in Panajachel. It's the first annual because the school just opened this September. All things considered he seems to be having a good academic year and when asked says earnestly that he is enjoying his school and his time in Guatemala.
L-R: Ester (a local very experienced midwife), Inti (1 1/2 yrs), Mariu (an aspiring midwife), Alicia (local doula and organizer extraordinaire), Corina (visiting midwife from Miami), and me. This was taken at our first official meeting to begin organizing a midwifery school here on the Lake. We are hoping to offer a well rounded midwifery education that includes clinical experience which is not happening right now in Guatemala and rarely has. There are many women here asking for this education so it is very exciting to begin to consider how we can answer that need.
The waiting area at Clinicas Maya where I spend every weekday morning doing prenatal care. Most of the care is provided in Kaqchikel which is great for the families but puts me in a position of asking for translations and probably missing a lot. I do get many opportunities to lend my knowledge and skills and it has been immensely satisfying even though I am a bit on the outside. I especially love it when the midwives bring in their clients and I get to meet them. When they learn I am a midwife the invariably smile and their eyes light up. They can barely say hello in Spanish but a connection is made nonetheless.
Me with Candelaria (the nurse that sees prenatal patients at the clinic) inside the prenatal room. She works 40 hours a week and sees women and children for general complaints as well. There is also a naturopath that works in another room and they both use primarily herbs that they grow in the clinic gardens as treatments. They also use homeopathics and some basic allopathic medicine.
My first meeting with the midwives of San Pablo--all seven of them showed up to meet me! Two of them had already met me in the clinic. Only the one on my left speaks Spanish so she did the translating. Several of them are excited to take me on prenatal rounds around the village and bring me to births. I started doing that last week. This is where it gets really exciting for me.
Leo and his newfound buddy Neo. Yes, Leo and Neo. Isn't that cute? They are cute.
We spent about 5 days in the Peten jungle, the northernmost part of Guatemala near the Mexican border. There was a Mayan solstice ceremony that lasted several days and went around to seven sacred Mayan sites. The last of these was in Tikal on the 21st the same day as the full moon ecplipse. 1200 Mayan priests showed up to spend the night at Tikal, watch the eclipse, and dance around the fire and play marimba for the solstice. There were actually two celebrations--one in the central plaza, pictured here, and our group which was a mixture of Mayans, Ladinos, and Gringos. The purpose of our group was to unify the people of the various continents to focus on healing for mother earth. It is a very big deal for these Mayan priest and priestesses to break down the cultural and racial barriers and share their ceremonies with outsiders. It was a great honor to be there.
Here are a few hundred people gathered for solstice, dancing around the fire, and playing marimba.. a very festive scene indeed. Right in the central plaza of Tikal. Apparently this was an unprecedented event--for the Mayans to be able to publicly display their indigenous religious practices in the original Mayan capital.
Rick, Eliot, and Robin next a to a GIANT ceiba tree in Tikal.
Eliot examining a morning glory in swampy area in a bird sanctuary in the Peten.
And of course the beautiful, beautiful Lake Atitlan. I can help but taking pictures of it. It's just so stunning. We were noticing when we were at Lake Peten-Itza, next to our hotel in the Peten how peaceful it was up there. Equally beautiful for sure but so so tranquilo. We stayed an extra couple of days just to soak it up. Here at our beloved Atitlan the energy around the lake is often described as intense. Maybe its the unknown depth, the underground rivers, the towering volcanoes, the steep terrain that we all have to walk just to get around, the close proximity of the neighbors or just being sandwiched between the steep mountains. For example, New Years day (or any other holiday or other excuse to celebrate) is one big fiesta with music and more music on impressive sound systems... and lots and lots of firecrackers. Not the cute little poppy ones but the big bombas and massive skycrackers. They've been going constantly for two days. My kids have gotten into as well, with Leo's help! If you're not into the party, forget it. You live inside the party. At the moment, I am hearing the marimba band from Guatemala city and there is no point in going to to town square to listen because I can hear it like it's in my own yard. I'm actually enjoying quite a bit.. thankfully!!!
So the point was that this place has a very intense energy about it, particularly San Marcos. I certainly felt it when I came here. A lot of people come here to do healing work because there are so many holistic therapists in this town. It was described to me that because so many are doing healing work here that it's just "in the air" and people pick up on it without realizing what's happening to them. That was certainly true for me. For about the first three and a half months I was "processing"--emotionally and physically--which of course are all intertwined. It became a part time job for me, really, no kidding. I am still on that road but I am able now to get out and connect with more people and start working on my project, and that is a wonderful place to be.
I apologize for not being able to figure out how to organize this blog well but below you will see a picture of part of the village (where we went today for new years day tamales) from way up high (we live much lower) and you can see the steep terrain I'm talking about. Also, you see Eliot taking a guitar lesson with Diego. We love him. He teaches Eliot songs in Spanish and Kaqchikel and he gives me lessons in Kaqchikel. Eliot is doing fantastic. I have a long way to go! The last picture is of Robin one morning when he got very enthusiastic about planting squash seeds in the garden. He went out there and started digging without even changing out of his pajamas!
That's all for now...please keep sending your wonderful comments.