Donors Provide Parties for 357 Indigenous Mayans

Rosa & Luisa were very sad. They told me that the women missed cooking together and had begun to ask if there was going to be a party at all. Rosa had not gotten used to this condition and she knew she could not face the kids…

‘Twas the month before Christmas…
And all through three pueblos parents were concerned that the childrens’ parties would not happen because of issues with the NGO that ordinarily provides them. Rosa & Luisa were very sad. They told me that the women missed cooking together and had begun to ask if there was going to be a party at all. Rosa had not gotten used to this condition and she knew she could not face the kids…


These Donors made the parties happen!!!!

    • Pamela Kirlin
    • Dean Savas
    • Meike Ziegler
    • Ecki Idler
    • Sheila Emery
    • Dagmar Bohn
    • Jana Bailey
    • Jackie Garrido
    • Suzanne Snider
    • Linda & Jack Smith
    • Jean Smith
    • Jim Britt
    • Monica Jordan Linville












Rosa Garcia is a woman with a vision.. She is the glue for the three pueblos..Thank you, Rosa
Rosa Garcia is a woman with a vision.. She is the glue for the three pueblos..Thank you, Rosa

Thanks to you, artisan’s, domestic worker’s and tenant farmer’s children got the message that someone cared about them. Over 600 of your youngest friends celebrated the holiday in style..The clowns challenged the kids…They got dizzyand won prizes, Pinatas exploded with sweets, and the Mamas got a day off to eat someone else’s tamales and sweets.
Please, take great pleasure from your gift to these commuities. This year, you made a big difference.

Gracias and Thanks to you all.

Easter in the Mayan Highlands

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Last week was Easter.  Up here there were glorious displays of carpets all over the streets.. Rather than go to Antigua and be carried hand-over-hand..We took in the local celebrations 

Rosa and the Rice Road Show.

ImageFeed the Children’s  Guatemala City HQ reached out and tagged Rosa and Patantic’s A-team Chefs to roll out a training and sampling session for the Guatemalan equivalent of the USDA.  This was a “big deal” that FTC´s Country Coordinator, Altagracia Hernandez, cooked up with MAGA (Ministry of Agriculture.)  If this class goes well, then, MAGA´s Solola groups will participate with the Oklahoma based NGO in their next distribution campaign:  VitaMeal.  Such alliances are key to an NGO’s functioning.
Back up in pueblo, Rosa readied the show.  And, even though it would have been easier for her to do it herself, Rosa took the opportunity to promote Juanita.   Thorough as ever, she made doubly sure the ladies would “nail” the presentation by holding a few practice sessions.   The outfit for the day would be totally “Toto”  meaning that we would wear the red, black and white brindled traje from Totonicapan and navy blue or black skirts.  Belting was freestyle.  And, I wore my thin red “training” belt while the others snorted at because they were wrapped in much wider and more decorative items.  Despite the difference in the width of the belts, I like to think that I blended into to the crew, as we waded into the market and set about examining onions, divining degrees of freshness, palpating chicken feet.  Unlike pesky New Yorkers, the Mayans haggle sweetly with their silky manners in a very fun, pleasant way.  These ladies would never-ever ever display the reptilian demeanor of, say, a Filine´s sale rack shopper – like myself.
We took a truck to Solola and eventually the nine women from MAGA’s far-flung community programs in Los Encuentros and San Antonio Palpolo  were collected.  All fourteen of us to got wedged into MAGA pick’em up truck and headed towards Dona Rosa Maria’s studio in a town that happens to have been home to Rosa’s aunt.  Interestingly, the town has a section called “Totonicapan.”  But, Rosa said, in so many words, that the place was not as “aligned” or as densely packed with people from the old District as was Patanatic.  She assured me that we would be the only ones dressed in our colors in the steep village.
The road got so extreme and we proved too heavy for the truck even in 4×4 mode, that we could not make it up that road.   So, we set out on foot across a cow path that made the prior road look like salt flats, in comparison.  We had divided the produce into everybody’s bags before making the ascent.  Rosa Maria, who was hosting the event for MAGA, met us at an unbelievably) narrowing branch – with room for only one of my feet at a time.   She coaxed us around barbed wire on the left, and cautioned about the precipice yawning on the right.  Her compound had an outdoor sink, an ample shady front porch and a 10´x8´room with a wood-stove at one end. It also had turkeys, puppies and bunnies wandering around.

Introductions were made, prayers said and the meeting commenced.  Everyone pitched in with the washing and chopping the vegetables — Don Samuel and I amused ourselves by discussing the virtues of rabbits vs. chickens.  Rabbits mature in about half the time that chickens do but do not lay eggs, he would tell me.  This factoid was offered after I told the agricultural engineer that I thought that rabbits laid eggs… and…he had believed me.
The group worked and visited and at the end seemed to enjoy the chicken soup and vegetarian rice dishes.  On the way home, in the spirit of John Lennon, Rosa said (again in so many words) “I’d like to say thank you on behalf of the group and ourselves and I hope we’ve passed the audition.”
Of course, she did.

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Fish Fry in San Antonio Palpolo

Luisa's daughter Carolina works the shuttle
Luisa’s daughter Carolina works the shuttle

Luisa’s son-in –law, a fisherman, had had a very good night.  So, she called Rosa, who invited Marco and me up to San Antonio Palpolo.  She told Rosa that we should set aside some serious time for her intimate fish fry.  It would be a very bony and slow going but a good time to chat.   Rosa changed into her red guipil quickly and urged us into a truck.  We rode high above the lake into the perilous land of the ladies in blue.  Cerulean guipils hung on clotheslines everywhere in the landslide prone  village.  For a sapphire flash, I wondered what crisp white wine would be good to sip with lunch?

Then Marco popped out of the tienda with 2 liters of Coke and  I remembered,

“We’re not in SOHO.  Puchica. “

Up some snag-ly steps is Luisa’s narrow balcony where, like Rosa, she runs a FTC feeding center.    A bunch of children were calmly lined up by the serving area set up on the landing.  We tucked around the woman, who was doling out atoll, tortillias and beans at an astonishing speed and squeezed past a  waist-high blue queue holding plates.   Luisas’ studio is a small room packed with a single bed,  two cabinets and mostly  occupied by the frame of a large format loom -about the size of a four poster.

We sat on the bed and looked out on the quiet crowd that now and then peeked  through the door.  Mostly they kept their eye on what was being served.

“Luisa’s feeding center is so small that she provides take-away and seats everybody else in turns.  Sometimes, it takes two hours to do the hand out,” Rosa observed.

Luisa returned with glasses for the soda and invited us to see the working loom —

“Both of the looms are gifts from Feed The Children.”  As we left her room she allowed,    “This one needs  a harness assembly to go into production.”

In order to see the cloth in progress we needed to wind beyond the lunch area and skirt the open fire, get past two ladies patting tortillas, down a narrow path that opened into a sink area; then, down high, skinny stairs.

They were producing a batch of place mats.  And, they can get twenty individual piecesif they weave the long cloth into 10”hx15”w rectangles leaving a couple of inches of fringe space in between.  The finished mats are cut like sausage.

I asked if there was a lot of demand to use the looms and, when she answered in the negative,  I asked her if it was because they were complicated to operate.

“No.  It’s not that – many people know how to use it…  It is that the investment in thread is very expensive – because you have to string such an expanse.  So, unless you have a client ready to buy your finished product, it is a big risk to assume.”

A table had been set up between the bed and the loom.  Luisa set out a kettle of  prehistoric looking smelts swimming in Mayan Marinara …

“By August, the fish will be a half a pound, but, now (in March) they are delicacies to be consumed with utmost care.  Provecho.” 

We dug in and ceremoniously stripped each vertebrae of meat and talked about ways to bring embroidered textiles to market and what was need for an exhibition.

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Lake Atitlan Hosts an Extreme Marathon in Panajachel

Record Holders 2012
42K Winners
Kristina Margarita Milne————————–3:38:22
Javier Isaac Turnil Ixquiac———————–3:09:31
21K Winners
Laura Co Torres—————————————1:35:36
Diego Ajtzalam—————————————–1:14:45

traducción al español a continuación

Mayan ladies in traditional dress watched an international field of competitors trek past their doorways. It looked like the entire pueblo of Panajachel stepped out to cheer on the extraordinary racers. School kids sporting “Marathon Atitlan” headbands handed out Gatorade, some young men, in rain gear, directed the runners onto the narrow road up. The Federal government contributed a CONRED truck as an escort and, all along the route, cars and tuk-tuks skulked to a virtual stop. Traffic was held up behind the convoy of support vehicles. What was especially nice was that the chicken buses were obliged to withhold their inky plumes from the athletes.

More than three hundred participants signed up to negotiate one of the two lanes spanning the steep hills above Lake Atitlan. Sixty-six stalwart women entered the Half and one 70 year old completed in a very respectable time.

Women 65+
21K Nancy Pullo ———–3:03:38

There were a eleven women competing in the Full.

The title “Extreme” applies because the volcanic caldera slopes at such sharp angles – like a coffee filter. In some places, it rises/falls more than 2,000 feet in under a mile. One wheel-chair bound “Achilles” runner, J.C.Perez, covered some of the steepest down-hills backwards. Maybe he does this because he brakes better. Maybe he does it by “feel” rather than looking. One runner told me she caught his eye as he rolled (face first) downhill and barely made a “very lucky swerve” avoiding a steep fall. This formidable competitor tackled both races this weekend. He finished the Half in 4:22:08. On Sunday, he started the Marathon 2 hours ahead of everyone because he did not want to be last – J.C.Perez finished the Full in 7:27:47

If the course was tough, at least the weather favored the runners. As race week started, NOAA reported tropical storms off both Pacific and Atlantic coasts and the maps showed very few breaks in the soggy lace of clouds. The morning of the Half Marathon the soaking let up just as people had to enter the chutes. Fortunately, both races were run under a thick, cool cloud cover. In some places, the field had wide pools of water under foot but, hey, this is an Extreme Marathon.

Many of the runners were Guatemalan; some made the three hour trek up from the Capital others came from nearer by in the Highlands. There were comparably trained runners from mountainous, high altitude Colorado. But, we were most delighted to see some of our Mayan neighbors, competing on their own turf and leading the pack. There were some senior men, who completed both races back to back. One of them, Efrain Elias Ramirez Velasquez a sixty three year old from Panajachel, won his age group with a good margin in both races.

Men 60 – 65
42K Efrain Elias Ramirez Velasquez —–4:06:39
21K Efrain Elias Ramirez Velasquez —–1:53:41

This Marathon was the idea of a local runner, who wanted to stimulate the community’s economy during the rainy season. Somehow, he mobilized this resort town of retired ex-pats, NGO workers and Indigenous people. He tapped a local group to find sponsors. Then, he set about getting the race course officially sanctioned; measured and marked. Finally, he set about to train to win his age division – which he did.

MEN 66+ –
Richard John Morgan-Szybist —–5:42:24.0

Richard can be proud of this win and for planting the seeds that grew into this Marathon. It was wildly successful in engaging the whole town – together. Business boomed and everyone enjoyed the sporty visitors and their families. Lots of local people are so inspired they are talking about training up for next year… or at least starting a volley ball team.

Las damas en trajes tradicionales mayas vieron un campo internacional de los competidores de caminata más allá de sus puertas. Parecía que todo el pueblo de Panajachel salió para animar a los corredores extraordinarias. Niños de la escuela deportiva “Maratón de Atitlán” bandas para la cabeza entregó Gatorade, algunos hombres jóvenes, en las artes de la lluvia, dirigida a los corredores a la calle estrecha hacia arriba. El Gobierno Federal aportó un camión CONRED como un escolta y, a lo largo de la ruta, coches y tuk-tuks acechaba a una parada virtual. El tráfico se mantuvo detrás de la caravana de vehículos de apoyo. Lo que era especialmente bueno fue que los autobuses de pollo se vieron obligados a suspender sus plumas manchadas de tinta de los atletas.

Más de trescientos participantes firmaron para negociar uno de los dos carriles que atraviesan las empinadas colinas por encima del lago de Atitlán. Sesenta y seis mujeres de carácter entraron en la mitad y uno de 70 años completó en un tiempo muy respetable.

Las mujeres de 65 +
21K Nancy Pullo 03:03:38

Había menos de una docena de mujeres inscritas en el pleno.

El título de “Extreme” se aplica debido a que las pistas de caldera volcánica en ángulos tan agudos-como un filtro de café. En algunos lugares, se sube / baja de más de 2.000 metros en menos de un kilómetro y medio. Uno en silla de ruedas “Aquiles” corredor, JCPerez, cubierto algunas de las más escarpadas de las colinas abajo hacia atrás. Tal vez lo hace porque frena mejor. Tal vez lo hace por la “sensación” en lugar de buscar. Un corredor me dijo que le llamó la atención, como laminados (primera cara) hacia abajo y apenas cometió un “viraje muy afortunado” para evitar una fuerte caída. Este formidable competidor abordado las dos carreras este fin de semana. Terminó la mitad de 4:22:08. En domingo, comenzó la maratón de 2 horas por delante de todos, porque él no quería ser el último.

Si el curso fue duro, por lo menos el clima favoreció a los corredores. Como semana de la carrera comenzó, la NOAA informó de las tormentas tropicales de ambas costas del Pacífico y Atlántico y los mapas mostraban muy pocas pausas en el encaje empapado de nubes. La mañana de la Media Maratón de la maceración que justo cuando la gente tenía que entrar en las rampas. Afortunadamente, las dos carreras se realizaron bajo una gruesa cubierta, nube fresca. En algunos lugares, el campo tenía remansos de agua bajo sus pies, pero, hey, esto es un maratón de Extreme.

Muchos de los corredores eran de Guatemala, y algunos hicieron la caminata de tres horas a partir de las demás capitales vinieron de cerca por los de las Tierras Altas. Había corredores con una formación comparable de montaña, la altitud de Colorado. Pero, fueron los más felices de ver algunos de nuestros vecinos mayas, compitiendo en su propio territorio y a la cabeza. Había algunos hombres mayores, que completaron las dos carreras espalda con espalda. Uno de ellos, Efraín Elías Ramírez Velázquez un sesenta y tres años de edad de Panajachel, ganó su grupo de edad con un buen margen en las dos carreras.

Los hombres de 60 a 65
42K Efraín Elías Ramírez Velásquez 04:06:39
21K Efraín Elías Ramírez Velásquez 01:53:41

Esta Maratón fue la idea de un corredor local, que quería estimular la economía de la comunidad durante la temporada de lluvias. De alguna manera, que movilizó a esta ciudad turística de jubilados expatriados, trabajadores de ONG y personas indígenas. Se tocó un grupo local para encontrar patrocinadores. Luego, se dedicó a conseguir el campo de regatas oficialmente sancionada, medido y marcado. Por último, se dedicó a entrenar para ganar su división de edad – lo que hizo.

HOMBRES 66 + –
Richard John Morgan-Szybist 5:42:24.0

Richard puede estar orgulloso de esta victoria y para la siembra de las semillas que crecieron en este Maratón. Fue un gran éxito en la participación del pueblo entero – juntos. El negocio floreció y todos disfrutamos de los visitantes deportistas y sus familias. Muchos de los habitantes locales están tan inspirados que están hablando de la formación para el próximo año … o al menos a partir de un equipo de voleibol.

Link to Race Results and information on next year’s race

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