Our last few days with CCDA were lovely, and they sent us away with an extremely touching farewell dinner. We spent the afternoon on a touristy hotspot on the dock, followed by a boat and then bus ride to Santa Anita de la union, a small but proud coffee and banana farming community. They are wonderful people, and have welcomed us into their homes and fields. Many of the coffee farmers here are ex guerrillas, and regale us with stories of the civil war. Our host is an ex guerrilla fighter who told us he spent six months in the mountains to escape death and was taken in by a group of people who would become revolutionaries. He told us about three times he was nearly killed in battle, and now he farms a plot of coffee plantation in the daytime and reads his Bible in the evenings. "I am quiet and serious sometimes," he tells us, "but I have a very big heart".
Our second host, a warm woman named doña Maria, cooks and cares for us. She is the wife of a beekeeper and has no children. There is no shortage of honey or laughter in her home. Her two dogs and pet parrot, Paco, are a constant source of entertainment. She tells us of brothers and mother in Guatemala City, and with a touch of pain she told the story of her other brother who was active in the resistance and was disappeared by the government. She never found out what happened to him, but suspects he was tortured to find the location of her and her family. She is only alive because he did not actually know where they were at the time. This community, this country, has seen so much pain but still they press on. The president of the community cooked us tortillas and told us they we should rejoice in our suffering and failings because they are opportunities to learn and grow. I am humbled by them.
We have been put to work in the community alongside the men. We've helped in construction in the project we funded, a housing for their pulpera. We have helped weed coffee plants and chop firewood, and have one more day left of construction before we bid them farewell and make our way to higher ground to visit the mining communities. The weather here is subtropic, hot and humid every day and rainy and cold every evening. The insects are thick and during my running tally of bites on my body I counted 62. I'm sure I'll add to the number tomorrow.
The lack of plumbing has been hard and I am craving a hot shower but yesterday I bathed under a waterfall after a long hike to and from the fields and I must say... I'll take that over a hot shower any day. But for now, bucket baths are a small price to pay for the privilege of working alongside these incredible people.
Be well, friends