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  ANTIGUA, GUATEMALA, OCTOBER 13, 2005
 

Hundreds of dead
Hurricane Stan’s pouring rain hit Central America and consequently Guatemala also. 652 people lost their lives in the country, 1400 are missing and many families have no more home. It’s a difficult situation for people already living in poverty. Mudslides destroyed several housings and roads, causing the isolation of numerous villages where help cannot arrive. Close to us, in the city of Antigua, a fruit merchant perished when a wall in her house came down on her. Everywhere in the country people help each other by bringing food, purified water and clothing to relief agencies.

For our part
We help the people of a small community, Pastores, to clean up a school. At the same time, we take pictures that will be useful to the villagers for their archives and for demanding rebuilding funds.

The situation really touches us. What a horrible disaster for a nation already so poor. Everyday, the death toll continually increases; added to that the risk of an epidemic.  

It will probably be difficult to leave the country by road since several bridges on the way to Costa Rica are destroyed. We plan to stay here a couple more weeks to bring our help.

Rue innondée par l'ouragan Stan au Guatemala
Maison innondée par l'ouragan Stan au Guatemala
voiture sous la boue résultant du passage de l'ouragan Stan au Guatemala
To see other photos of the disaster

 
Au sommet du volvan Acatenango au Guatemala
Patrick, Hal, Hank and Eric

Vue sur le volcan Fuego au Guatemala
Seen on the Fuego volcano

Acatenango Volcano
With 3 other travellers, two Americans and one German, Patrick climbed the Acatenango volcano. Antigua is surrounded by three volcanoes. The highest is Acatenango with an altitude of 3 975m. From the top, we see volcano Fuego (3 763m), the most active in the region.

Its’ ascension takes a total of 6 hours. However, bad weather obliged us to sleep in a shelter located close to the summit. At 4 a.m. the next morning, using our frontal lamps, we continued towards the summit. A breathtaking sunrise was waiting for us. Already, at almost 4 000 m high, we begin to feel the effects of altitude. On several occasions, we need to stop to catch our breath. The sand in which we are walking makes the ascension harder. On the top, we find two craters. The last irruption dates from 1972.

 

National Children’s Day
On Saturday, October 1st, the country celebrated the International Children’s Day. Like almost everywhere in Latin America, children occupy an important place in families. The Friday before, many students from our language school, along with some teachers and the principal gathered to organize celebrations in a poor elementary school in the village of Pachali, close to Antigua. On the menu, kilograms of candy, balloons for everyone, piñatas and hundreds of happy faces!

We spent three intense hours playing different games with the kids: the potato bag game, carrying a lime on a spoon in the mouth, simply lifting them up high, and finally getting it over with the piñatas to collect all the candies. 

We are filled with happiness seeing all these little smiles. Our digital camera provokes their curiosity and they easily let themselves go to the game of picture taking. We also feel a lot of sadness to see so much poverty. A lot of these kids live in extremely difficult conditions.

Already at the age of 7 or 8 years old, some of these kids have to wake up very early to help their parents prepare tortillas, which they sell at the market for little money. Too often, they go to school with an empty stomach.

On the other side of the road, some kids that are too young to be in school are obliged to work for the sake of their families. These kids take a glimpse at the party. We can read in their eyes that they would like to be part of the celebration.

Patrick à l'école de Pachali
Enfants de l'école Pachali au Guatemala
Caroline et une fillette au Guatemala
 
Rue typique de Antigua au Guatemala
Ruine de Antigua au Guatemala

City declared a world heritage by UNESCO
Antigua, founded in 1534, once was the Spanish capital of Central America during 233 years. In 1773, a devastating earthquake completely destroyed the city. Hopping to escape other disasters, the government decided to transfer the capital in Guatemala City. However, the colonialists badly planned the move by placing the new capital to only 47 km from the old capital. Consequently, the new capital was also victim of earthquakes. The last earthquake, the most important ever known in Guatemala, was in 1976 where close to 23 000 people perished. After this event, Antigua slowly reconstructed by keeping its original look, with the same architecture and material as before. A real pleasure for the eyes, but what a mess for driving!

To see all the road diaries To see all the corresponding pictures

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