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Published: August 10th 2007
¡Una qué experiencia maravillosa de dos familias y de dos culturas que vienen junto!!
We are all loaded up and ready to head for San Marcos to meet up with Libardo's folks and then to "The Rancho", Libardo's grandparents home in the mountains. The ride to the Rancho is over two hours to go 30 KM (20 miles). Nine people and our luggage, had five backpacks strapped to the roof of the car. (Still can't figure out why the car rental only has roof racks for the five passenger version of our SUV, not our seven passenger).
The ride to the Rancho is gorgeous and hard to believe traveled by chicken buses. Potholes, steep (really steep) grades, river crossings, it's slippery with the rain and darkness is falling...it's an adventure. We come to a parked car in the road at one point and wait for them to move, but only after we honk the horn, realize a couple is "having some time alone" in the truck. They do move and then we realize they are parked in the middle of the road, because...there is no road beyond that point, washed out from the storms a couple of years ago.
Libardo has a conversation with the guy and the guy gives a hand motion to follow him...yikes!!!...really downhill, meandering through a tiny village with very steep slippery grades from the rain. (Are we glad for the four wheel drive!!, don't think about anything else if traveling in Guate). We are all thankful for running into this guy and give him a small amount of Q's for his help.
Darkness had fallen and as we approach the driveway to the Rancho, a boy jumps into the road and lights off some fireworks. After the smoke clears we head up the drive and realize the fireworks were a signal for the family to assemble. We could not believe the reception, as what seemed like over 50 people surrounded us while clapping and yelling their welcome. Many more are to arrive in the morning.
Ruth and I could not help but be proud of Caitlin and her independent spirit that has provided for the two families and and two cultures to come together. The Rancho has become the traditional place for the extended, and I mean extended, family to come together. The people are very warm and inclusive. The children
seem to just melt in your arms and love being together. It truly was a special time.
I don't know how they did it, but the celebration was amazing. How they got all the people and supplies to the mountain side was hard to imagine. Everyone had a part in the preparation for the celebration,..blowing up balloons, creating a shelter from the sun with palm leaves, Tio Otto made the candle holders and plant stands in his shop, and of course the food, food, food.
The service was beautiful with participation by many members of the family, with speaking and singing.
Seemed like 40-50 people stayed to sleep for the nights. It was fun to sit up talking to friends and relatives. Caitlin obviously was the center of attention. But it was fun to find yourself talking with various people and then wanting emails to keep in touch. One of Libardo's cousins and I talked at some length about recycling and "green" building practices. He wants to start his own company. It was interesting to hear about his job with a company now that sounded very similar to my brother Matt's manufacturing of products with plastics...Matt has
given me enough info and the vocabulary to mention lean manufacturing, front-end engineering, world class manufacturing to get his interest.
Needless to say, we were sorry for the time to end, I think we each kissed and hugged every person there. I heard Libardo's Tio Jorge (I have learned to trust and respect him) was heading out at 9:00am, and I intended to make sure we followed him as we made our way back to San Marcos to pick up what luggage we had not taken to the Rancho. Found out buses were not running on Good Friday, so we needed to drive back to Guate with the two friends of Caitlin also in our car.
As we drove back we stopped a number of times to take photos of the decorations in the streets for the Holy Week processions. Some are made of plant material and flowers, others are made of colored sawdust. We took a quick trip into Antigua to see more night processions and grab a bite. Hope we didn't push Libardo's knee too hard with all the walking.
Caitlin and Libardo had arranged for us to stay at another family member's house for
the night before we caught the midday flight back to Atlanta. Their place was right out of "off-the-grid." Beautiful piece of property outside of Antigua on a hillside with nighttime views of the lava following down an active volcano. The vegetable garden, fruit trees, chickens, rabbits and milk goats make them seem pretty self sufficient. The house had the most reliable water system we had seen and had solar water heating. The guest house was exactly what Ruth and I want to start with on our property in north Georgia mtns...and the beds were comfortable with soft pillows!! I slept in the hammock on the covered porch and awoke to the sunrise on the mountains beyond...I could stay here.
Fortunately Saturday was uneventful, flight was on time, and we are heading back to Atlanta.
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