Today is the last day of our hike. After a full day yesterday, everyone is ready for a wash and a rest. Our mode of bathing is a Guatemalan sauna called a temezcal. It's a small encasement about 4x6 ft with a coal fire in one corner to heat it. A pail of very hot and very cold water sit on a plank, where you sit in the middle with an empty pail and mix the two to desired temperature. We use a small bowl to pour this water over top of us to wash and rinse, usually two people at a time. It definitely encourages bonding and discourages modesty.
We woke up at 3am to begin our hike today, extra early to catch the sunrise from a lookout point not far from our homestay. We sat bundled up with hot coffee and oatmeal as the slow sunrise lit up the seven volcano peaks silhouetted in the distance. I've never seen a skyline like this, and the soft purples, pinks and grays created a scene no camera can fully capture. I chose a few select songs to soundtrack the moment and I think I found a few that were just about perfect. Our first settling, with mostly dark except for a soft blue directly East, was accented by "the earth is not a cold dead place" by Explosions in the Sky. The soft early dawn as the peaks began to take shape was enjoyed with "the Universe" by Gregory Alan Isakov. "Pathos pathos" by Kishi Bashi seemed to coax the first bright flashes of sun to emerge, lighting up the clouds, lake water, and cities scattered below. Stunning. We have a few hours yet of our hike to the lake, where we'll begin our next project. We're smelly, tired, and sore from the voyage but spirits are high. As hard as it's been, it's been broken up by breathtaking views, dips in waterfalls, and picnics under delicious shade trees. I could live like this forever... But I'm excited for the work to begin again.
The group is still getting along well. Our last hosts had a guitar, so I recruited a friend to play a few tunes. He played guitar and sang, and I sang harmonies to various folk tunes for the group. Luckily our taste in music is nearly identical, and knew all the same songs. It definitely made me feel much more at home, as I've sorely missed making music.
I'm falling in love with the people here, they are so kind and inviting. The Mayan family I helped build a stove for thanked me with a traditional garb with stitched patterns so intricate it takes over a month to complete. I had trouble accepting it, and it was hard to express my gratitude with my broken Spanish. They taught me how to say thank you in quiche ('kee-chay), the Mayan language, but even that seemed insufficient. It's hard to believe our time is nearly half over. It seems I've been here for ages, and at the same time I feel like I just got here.
Please pray for my speech and actions, that I portray Christ well. Be well, friends