Spotted in Manila, 2014

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

First Impressions of Antigua

We arrived in Guatemala 2 days ago and I’m already convinced this is the most beautiful place on the planet. Soon after landing, we were picked up by Sir Hector, our hired driver, and his 15 year old grandson, Dennis. Because they are kind people, they took it upon themselves to treat us to lunch at Pollo Campero (Guatemala’s KFC, YUMMY!!) and show us around the town. I felt like I was driving through a volume of National Geographic as we drove the old town of Antigua. The cobblestone roads, tin roof shacks, ancient ruins, and women dressed in cloth with hundreds of colors splashed on gave the town this feeling. 
We are staying in an ancient convent just outside Antigua in the town of San Juan. It is called El Convento de Retiros, owned by nuns. It is so beautiful and well kept even though it is about 600 years old. All six of us have been staying is the same room with just enough bunk beds for each of us. It is crowded and we don’t have hot water or doors on the bathrooms, so the team is getting a lot of bonding time! 
Yesterday was our first day at the hospital. We were greeted by a mile long line of patients hoping to see a doctor at the free clinic. They all pointed and smiled us six Americans as we walked through (this is the one place in Antigua that isn’t full of tourists, so they were shocked to see us there. Or maybe it was our strange black backpacks that each of us carried…) We received a tour of the entire hospital from Mayra Torres, the volunteer coordinator. The hospital is run by nuns, nurses, and volunteers who come from overseas like us. We walked through the men’s ward, women’s ward, elderly room, infant room, and finally the orphanage where we will be spending much of our time. 
It was hard. So many of the patients were clearly not given enough attention. It’s no one’s fault, the hospital just has very little money to invest in these patients. I could see each of the team member’s sadness over the situation, but I knew we would all work to turn this into something positive with our music. 
El Convento de Retiros

Obras Sociales del Santo Hermano Pedro
Some women walking near Antigua's artisan market
View of San Juan
The team with our driver, Hector

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