ANTIGUA, GUATEMALA, OCTOBER 13, 2005
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.
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
situation really touches us.
horrible disaster for a nation already so poor. Everyday, the
death toll continually increases; added to that the risk of an
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.
other photos of the disaster
Patrick, Hal, Hank and Eric
Seen on the Fuego 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
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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