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Helping where help is needed. San Miguel, Guatemala.

Wow! What an amazing day! We spent the day working with an organization (Clubhouse Guatemala), that we have had the privilege to be with before in Guatemala. This morning started with making rebar ladders for the foundation of a new bathroom, for a single mom. She lives in a village between Antigua,and Guatemala City called San Miguel.

Catching a ride to the house!
Wire tying the rebar ladders together to reinforce the walls
Still making ladders!
Because the house was not on a road, the metal sheeting was a make-shift slide to drop the supplies down from the road above.
Waiting in line to wash before lunch.
Waiting for patiently for us to bring them their lunches.

Then the fun began! This afternoon was feeding about 80 kids, VBS, and plain outright horse playing. The kids warmed up to us quickly. I think the horseback rides and “slaps” games won them over.

Making crafts!
Transportation to the village.

Bernard and I were flat worn out after giving countless rides on our backs, galloping around the room,while the other kids hung on us, waiting their turn.Then was time for the singing, with full body motion,further wearing us out! After that? Football! (Soccer)  Angela immediately made a new friend, and they were inseparable.  Lucy made presents of all of her art projects at at the end of the week gave Angela a full page decorated letter!

It was an exhausting day, but so much fun Interacting with the kids,and seeing them being exposed to a Christian atmosphere.This is such a loving organization, that truly cares for the villages and people they work with. We decided to take a day off and then went back for more!

The addition on a house that is being built for a family in San Miguel Guatemala is making great progress. A team from Canada was at the Clubhouse Guatemala Mission House for a week, working on it. We happily joined in. We were able to work along side one of the local Mason’s, chipping concrete, building metal ladders for the wall, and laying cinder block walls. I really enjoyed the hands on experience learning to mix the mortar and concrete, level each layer, and lay the blocks. Using what felt like antiquated tools, we experienced what daily life as a mason is like in Guatemala.  Other interesting tools were a plumb line, that consisted of string and two wooden dowl-like pieces.I did add my “power tool” to the mix, a Ryobi reciprocating saw, to cut the metal. 

The most fun tool was a thick machete that was used to score blocks, and ultimately cut them to size.

I feel more every day, that the world is made up of good people, only tainted by a minority of the bad. Everyone, regardless of where they were born, should have the ability to be happy, live life, and have basic shelter and food. I love that the Clubhouse Guatemala, offers these exact things to so many local villagers, all the while sharing the love of Christ with each one, so they can be eternally happy and saved.

When you know you are in the right place at the right time, it is so peaceful and exciting! So much world to cover, I can’t wait to see the rest!

Castillo de San Felipe is not the Castle we Expected!

One thing I love about traveling, is spontaneity. If you allow yourself to veer off course and explore the unknown, it is common to be pleasantly surprised at what you find. Yesterday, was another one of those incidences. We had heard about a Castillo (castle) near where we were staying, overlooking the water in Rio Dulce. We drove through some narrow streets, past curious locals, until we found a place to park the trucks. 

We walked the grounds, admiring the beauty of the trees, flowers, and views of the water. Fisherman slowly trolled by with their nets loaded down.

Castillo de San Felipe is located on Lake Izabel and was built in 1644 and was still used well into the 18th century! It is a Spanish Colonial Fort with direct access to the Caribbean Sea & was used by the Spanish for several centuries, during which time it was destroyed and looted several times by pirates.  was built to protect the port of San Antonio de las Bodegas on the south shore of Lake Izabal from frequent pirate attacks,[10] mostly by English pirates.[2] After nightfall, passage along the river into the lake was blocked by a large chain that crossed from the fort to the far bank.
The first appearance of the castle, didn’t seem overly impressive. It was a massive Stone walled complex. As we approached, though, it was surprising to see the draw bridge and mote leading into the wall.
The architecture was intriguing. I loved the arched doorways,and maze like floor plan. Each room led to another series of rooms, until we reached some stairs that led to the terrace.
From there the views were stunning, with the breeze blowing, sunshine beaming. What a place this must have been in it’s heyday (1600s).
We spent an hour or 2 exploring, glad that we ventured off our route to see what was around us.

Hiking Ixpanpajul National Park, Guatemala!

The view a the fog cleared from one of the many suspension bridges!

We had an amazing experience our first full day in Guatemala. Up with the sun, at about 5:30,we got around and headed out for a mountain jungle hike. The humidity picked up, but the canopy of the jungle protected us from the sun. It was some of the best exercising we have done in a while. It was beautiful to capture the ray’s coming through the trees, see ornate, damp spider webs hanging in the trees, a spectacular view of the neighboring island of Flores, and breathing the fresh air! All said and done, we were back by 8:30, ready to start the day right after showers! It was so humid in the jungle! Gotta love living Life All Out!

Bright eyed and ready to get started!

There are 3.5 sq miles of dense jungle to explore with 6 suspension bridges over the jungle canopy! Although we did not see any animals on our hike we did see some bugs & spiders! During the night we did hear the infamous holler monkeys calling out high above our camp!

The fog/clouds are still clearing this early in the morning!
Sun rays shining down!
Happy Trails!
The humidity is starting to take a toll on us!
Jungle Spider!
Break time! Unless we were on a suspension bridge, we were hiking up hill!
The height & views were amazing!
Thank goodness we had well groomed trails!
Almost to the top of the mountain!

On the park grounds is also a finca (farm). Horses and donkey are allowed to roam the grounds & camp area. We were treated to the alpha donkey wrangling the horses! He was making all kinds of noise as he chased them thru our camp into the woods and back out then across the creek to where they finally came to a stop!

This old Deere has been put out to pasture!


Running the finca!
Our camp for the night. Sloppy mud and all.

This is one of our favorite places to camp near Flores! Our 3rd time here and I’m sure we will be back!

Guatemala Border Crossing meets Torrential Storm!

The day finally came when we could re-enter Guatemala! After being turned away in March because it was to soon for us to enter again with our truck papers (having just been there in January) we waited out our 3 months in Belize, a U.S. visit and Mexico. We were told in Februay when we tried to leave Belize that we were only gone one month of the required 3 months on our importation. If we wouldnt have turned it in when leaving Guatemala, all would have been fine. Slight delay in travel!

We stopped in Belmopan to fuel up first and met this adorable Mayan man who loved our truck & story. He wished us the best on our travels and welcomed us back in the future!

Such an interesting Man!
The busiest we have seen the Guate border crossing.
Quick money exchange before crossing
Always checking out the variety of trucks we cant get in the U.S.
The paper we’ve been waiting months to get!
Security at the Guatemala border
First stop! Celebrating the border crossing!

Once we were in Guatemala it was time to make a quick stop at the Sareta for ice cream! We were in a little hurry because we could see black storm clouds coming in. We made it back to the trucks just as the storm began. It was the worst storm we have driven in to this point! Tons of downed trees and water washing across the roads!

Trees down from the border to Flores!

Island Breeze & the open Sea!

Silk Caye!

There is a place so amazing, that you can swim in the Caribbean sea, along side turtles, colorful fish, sting rays, and even Sharks! This place is located about 20 miles off the shores of Belize, along the barrier reef. This reef is the 2nd largest reef in the world, and offers the most spectacular views, and experiences imaginable. This is not a staged secured area where caged animals swim. This is the real sea, with real live sea creatures, in their natural habitat. You can imagine the initial apprehension, diving from the boat, into the middle of the unknown, knowing there are sharks and sting rays below. But, I am so glad we took the plunge!

We started the day off leaving Placencia pier with smooth waters in the bay, but as we rounded the point the water started getting rough. We were hitting swells that would make you come off your seat as we went airborne for what felt like minutes!

Our ride to the island!
Riding the wake on the Caribbean!

We managed to slide into the wake of a much larger boat taking out a group to dive. It was smoother in the wake, but still eventful!

Angela Snorkling!

We were all glad to see the island come into view after an hour of riding! Once we arrived on the island we took off to snorkel around the island while the crew prepared our lunch of BBQ chicken, potatoes, and slaw!  The snorkeling was smooth and easy and we seen lots of small colorful fish and coral the water.

He fits right in here.
Grilling Chicken for Lunch!
Island time!
Chatting with our new friends from Russia who are living in New Jersey now!
Angela taking a breather!
The Sting Rays just glide across the bottom.
So much to see!
Turtle Tag!
It was pretty creepy swimming with Sharks!
So many turtles; they were spectacular!
Ahhh the stingrays feel like puffy mushrooms!


The turtles were very active and playful.
Flight of the Turtle!
These are Loggerheads!
I got in the thick of it!
Come See!!
Finished with his afternoon snack of lobster.

The lobster fisherman will go out to sea for as long as a week at a time and live on the boat or small islands. Two fisherman go in the water at a time. One will swim down to about 90 ft and grab up the lobsters. The second guy is there to pull him up in case he runs out of breathe. Once they have the catch for the day they sit and clean the lobsters on the boats discarding the remains into the ocean. Other sea life come in to feast! We were also told to be careful to leave our flippers on because the turtles will nip at your feet thinking they are conch!

Notice the toothbrushes & paste! Good hygiene is even important on the open sea!
Relaxing after a long day!

The border crossing went smoothly and the roads were easy going & the weather perfect! Not to hot & not to cold! We were able to make to our first campsite well before dark and set up camp & make a light dinner before we turned in for the night. We were just outside of Altimira, which is north of Tampico at a hotel/restaurant/truck stop combination. Behind the hotel is a huge parking lot that the truckers use to park & sleep. We went to the far back edge next to a grassy area and set up camp. It was very peaceful & only 2 semi’s in the lot when we went to bed. Couldn’t be any better….we thought. Around 2am a convoy of trucks pulling rows of

Camping at the truck stop.

Selling food at speed bumps is a way of life.
Selling food at speed bumps is a way of life.
Christmas items for sale.
Christmas items for sale.
Jesus high on the Hill.
Jesus high on the Hill.
The best fruit I have ever seen comes from a lean to on the side of the road.
Different monuments are along the roads throughout the country.
Different monuments are along the roads throughout the country.


Bibles, Diapers & Mayans, Oh My!

We were asked to provide transportation and help in passing out cloth diapers and bibles to several small villages in Southern Belize this past week. An organization called Bibles for Belize have a goal of placing a bible into every home in Belize that wants one. No religion, no preaching, no strings. Adam and Ashley had seen a need for washable diapers for the babies in Belize. So they raised the money to purchase 500 sets of diapers and brought them down to Belize on their trip down. 

Kechi, Spanish & English Bibles.
Kechi, Spanish & English Bibles.
5 Cloth diapers per family
5 Cloth diapers per family

First we visited Trio, a small Mayan village where a pastor had asked for a delivery of Bibles for his church members. We met his wife who readily invited us into her home, along with hugs and smiles. Her daughter was there and grand daughter, who was lying in the hammock under the open porch, with thatched roof.

The pastors grand baby received a pack of cloth diapers as well.
The pastors grand baby received a pack of cloth diapers as well.

You could see through the slat boards that were nailed to 2×4’s. The home was spotless. Even the outhouse, some 50 feet from the house, was very clean. You could tell there was much pride in the things that they had, though very little.

Delivering in Trio to the Pastors wife.
Delivering in Trio to the Pastors wife.

We were thanked many times for the delivery and told of a clinic that was being held further into the village, where we would find mothers and their babies. Adam and Ashley were excited to get over there to give away the diapers.

Rough roads!
Rough roads!

As we pulled up to the building where the young mothers were located, we got a lot of inquisitive looks. The vehicles do stand out a bit with their roof racks and expedition equipment. Once the back door was opened, and Ashley held the diapers up, she was immediately swarmed by the mothers all interested in the gifts.

Women started coming from everywhere!
Women started coming from everywhere!

Ashley explained how to use the diapers and the benefit of using them over the disposals. They all listened intently and smiles erupted every where as they received a set of diapers based on the gender. Then Daniel offered a bible to anyone who wanted it. It was widely received and appreciated. We were carrying 3 languages, English, Spanish, and Kekchi (Mayan). Angela helped pass out the Bibles and talk with mothers.

Handing out diapers and explaining how to use them.
Handing out diapers and explaining how to use them.
A mother carrying her baby on her back by a cloth tied around her head.
A mother carrying her baby on her back by a cloth tied around her head.
The baby hangs in the material down the mothers back. "Baby wearing" is very common .
The baby hangs in the material down the mothers back. “Baby wearing” is very common .

We waved good bye and drove onto the next villages, San Antonio and Santa Elana. These are in Southern Belize, very near the Guatemala border. Once we stopped near the village, we were again surrounded by locals excitedly receiving their own copy of the Bible. Word traveled fast. I don’t know how they communicated, as my cell phone did not have any service, but within minutes half the village was there!


We walked around offering Bibles to all who wanted them. One man was so appreciative of the gesture, that he went home to his wooden thatch roofed hut and got some dried corn on the cob. He brought back a plate full and offered it to each of us. I was skeptical of eating the corn, but did anyway so as not to offend him. He was such a generous man, and wanted to share with us. It turned out to be quite good!

A village elder who was so thankful for the bibles being brought to his village he went home & brought us back corn on the cob!
A village elder who was so thankful for the bibles being brought to his village he went home & brought us back corn on the cob!

The children were running and playing, smiling, and waving. We felt so welcomed. Everywhere we turned, someone wanted to talk to us. It was a very humbling experience. Seeing the conditions these people live in everyday. The slat walled homes, had compacted dirt floors from years of being walked on by the families. Pigs ran loose in and out of the mud and into and through the houses. There was a central hand water pump that supplied all of the village. I did not see any electricity in many of the homes. Though it was over 90 degrees and sunny, there were no fans or A/C. However, the people were truley happy, and proud of their homes. The children laughed and played, in spite of not having electronics.

He immediately sat down on the road side and began to read!
He immediately sat down on the road side and began to read!

We traveled a little further down the road before we came upon the construction of the road that will eventually cross over into Guatemala, called the Southern border. It is coming along very well. We were told we were about three miles from the border when we turned around. They are making great progress. I cant wait to use the border crossing soon!

New Road to Guata!
New Road to Guata!

It is always amazing to me to see how much more family orientated, and happy people are that do not seem to have much. Priorities are definitely different here.
I cannot describe the blessing I felt to be able to have a part in bringing these gifts to these people.

Art Festival on the Narrowest Street in the World! Placencia, Belize!


Last weekend was Art festival in Placencia Belize. We were fortunate enough to be back from our trip to Guatemala to attend. Every year local artist converge along the smallest main street in the world, according to Guinness book of world records, to showcase their talents and wares for sale. There is something for everyone, from paintings, to shell art, jewelry, pottery, signs, and woodworking, just to name a few. This 2 day festival hosts artists and visitors alike, from Belize, and around the world! We walked the sidewalk and picked up a few treasures. Angela got an Art Festival t-shirt and at the pottery booth she fell in love with a green coffee cup, blue fish bowl & a small clay piece to put in the salt shaker to keep the moisture out was her gift for spending all her money!

My new Pottery!



 Of course local fresh food is served by several vendors and local organizations, offering a taste of local and exotic fare. Unfortunately for me, and other crustacean lovers, it is also the end of the season for fresh lobster. You cannot buy it, legally from any restaurant or store after the season ends. Shirts are still available in Placencia featuring the local artist rendering of this year’s festival. Make plans for next year’s event. You will will be glad you did!

Fish Art
Scott Woodhams's photo.
Art Students raising money
Scott Woodhams's photo.
Hand crafted bowls
Scott Woodhams's photo.
Conch Shell figurines & jewelry
Scott Woodhams's photo.
Wood Crafts
 Ocean paints
Good Food is an Art!
 Glass Blowing
Pottery from Black Man Eddie Village.
Shop until you are to Hot!
 Artwork on the sidewalk
 Mayan textiles
Tourist Strolling the sidewalk