Hope is a powerful thing. Once in a while you encounter something that causes it to well up in your spirit and make you believe beyond any doubt that real change is possible. It is that belief that keeps us doing what we do through Sharing the Dream. We had that kind of day today.
This morning, Israel picked us up in his truck and took us to the community of Chuk Muk. Israel, who is about thirty, grew up in Panabaj and lived through the mudslides there. Today, he and his family live in Chuk Muk. Chuk Muk is a new community built by the government to the east of Santiago. The new community is built on the site of an ancient Mayan village. It is divided into four zones. There are plans (developed by the community) to build stores, a school, hospital, etc. in the future. The homes are in neat rows, made of cement block painted white with red trim and red tin roofs. Large water tanks provide water from community wells. Diane reported that there was some trouble with the water quality, but Israel didn´t mention that. Israel did say that each house has a small indoor bathroom. Israel also said that the best part of the new community is that it is secure. Chuk Muk is built on a plateau overlooking the lake. Low hills lay just behind it, but far enough away to be safe from mudslides. Beyond that are three volcanic peaks. Again, they are far enough away to protect the community from slides, (though not from the ash). Israel was very proud of his community and every right to be. He also showed us his home and the beadwork business he is trying to establish there.
After lunch, Miguel and Mike caught a chicken bus back to the city. Along the way, we saw more of the destruction caused by Agatha. Mudslides and flash floods had torn apart crops, roads, and villages. Huge boulders, some the size of small cars, had been swept along, smashing homes, tearing up bridges and destroying lives and livelihoods. The bus had to pick its way through several places where the road had been washed away. At one point the traffic was stopped dead. People were standing along the roadside. It was announced that it would be at least a half and hour before we would get moving again. Miguel decided to hop off the bus to see what was going on, leaving Mike to watch the packs and keep the seats. No sooner than people had gotten off the bus the traffic suddenly started moving! People scrambled to get back on only… no Miguel. Mike was a little concerned. He speaks very little Spanish and wasn´t exactly sure where they were going to get off in the city. As the bus came down the hillside to the place where the road had washed out, Mike spotted Miguel. He was helping to move a pickup that had stalled on the one lane crossing, blocking traffic. Miguel had suggested using a big front end loader to drag the pickup out of the way. Good thing, or we might still be sitting there!
We arrived back in Guatemala City without incident and Diana and Diane picked us up at the bus station. Traffic was terrible, but we eventually got back to the Sharing the Dream Center. It was good to be home.