Sunday 7/1/2012 - Lake Atitlan

Craig and I both woke up at 5:45 a.m. with the sun shining through our new window to illuminate the room. Then we both fell back asleep until 7:45. Yoselin, Yasmin, and Aracely came in and snuggled with us. We got out the computer and showed them the video we had made with footage from their New Year's Eve party. They all really it. When Paola and Eddy came in to join us, they showed the video to them.

Paulina came into the room to get us for breakfast. She asked if corn flakes were fine or if we wanted her to make eggs. I said cereal was fine; we didn't want to make extra work for her. We didn't know that she was making eggs anyway. Oh well.

We all headed into the dining room. The kids scrambled to try to sit next to us. We enjoyed our cereal and a cup of coffee. Being a weekend, the whole family was eating breakfast together, which is a rare treat.

At breakfast we looked at Aracely's report card for the school year which had just ended. She had great marks: it was all "Very Good" and "Good." We are so proud of her! It still amazed us every time she opened her mouth and English came out. It was something we were not yet used to.

The kids' cousin Josue came by after breakfast to say hi. It was nice to see him. He is so talkative now it is difficult to remember how painfully shy he used to be the first couple of years we knew him. We chatted with Humberto and the kids brought the computer into the dining room to show Humberto the New Year's video.

We then went to our room. The kids know that Craig needs to give himself a daily injection for his Multiple Sclerosis. We had explained it to them on previous trips, and with Humberto and Paulina's permission we had shown them the process, as they are quite curious about it. They asked if they could watch Craig give himself the shot today. They all gathered around and watched very respectfully and quietly. Yoselin and Aracely covered their ears. We don't know if they were trying not to hear the injection mechanism, or whether they thought that Craig would cry out or what. They were curious but nervous.

Humberto and Paulina gathered together the six kids and we all went for a family Sunday morning walk to the lake. They live just down the street from Lake Atitlan, a beautiful volcano-rimmed crater lake. As we left the house, we saw Humberto's mother sitting in the sunshine in the alley, enjoying the nice weather and watching the comings and goings of the neighborhood. Eddy and Aracely climbed up onto the arms of her chair and posed with her for a photo. We said good morning to her and thought that she looked well, considering the health problems that she had been having.

We walked a couple of blocks down to Santander Street and took a left approaching Lake Atitlan. The lake area was teeming with tourists, both local and international. Humberto explained that this was a holiday weekend in Guatemala, celebrating the foundation of the military. It was nice to see so many tourists. The town's economy is tourism-based, and everyone is always happier when tourists are in town.

Aracely climbed up into a topiary shrub and her head poked out the top. We took pictures of the family with the beautiful vista in the background. Down on the shore, an entrepreneur had sat up a fake photo backdrop, so tourists can be photographed looking like they are someplace else. We had encountered this kind of thing in urban India (We could have had our picture taken with the Statue of Liberty backdrop!) Wer found it especially ironic here, in such a picturesque destination!

Humberto paid for Yoselin, Yasmin, Aracely, and Eddy to spend five minutes on a trampoline. They bounced around giddily, tossing a ball to one another and trying to catch it while they bounced. The rest of the family sat on a stone wall with the gorgeous view of the lake and volcanoes in the background, enjoying people-watching. The trampoline was at the edge of a gravel soccer field and we were occasionally dodging the ball as locals played a pick-up game.

When the kids' five minutes were up, we walked along the lakefront down to the river. The mouth of the river where it meets the lake is very eroded. Over the past several years there has been widespread flooding and buildings have been washed away.

The older girls were enjoying using the camera, doing little photo shoots of one another that they hoped to post on Facebook later. Even those that were oin the past shy about appearing on camera now wanted to be photographed, so that they would have good profile pictures.

Clouds were gathering around the volcanoes. We could feel a cool breeze and the water was choppy. As we walked back along the waterfront, Humberto treated everyone to Sarita ice cream at the little stand overlooking the lake. We got waffle cones with luscious fresh mango ice cream. The guy dipped it in molten chocolate in a crock pot (what a clever idea!) and then rolled it in nuts. It was delicious and refreshing.

We walked home via Rancho Grande and stopped in to see Paulina's sister Isabela's new restaurant. She had just opened in this new location, having previously been located up near the market. It was so new that it didn't even have a sign. Isabela greeted us warmly, and Humberto said that we would come to eat some night during our stay. That sounded like fun.

Walking back down the alley toward the house, we saw Humberto's sister Juana and said hello to her. Her daughter Rocio wasn't with her. It's always such a friendly atmosphere. Al of Humberto and Paulina's relatives treat us like part of the family, and it is like a homecoming every time we visit.

We noticed the absence of Terry the dog, and we asked about him. We learned that he had passed away unexpectedly at home since the last time we visited in January. Although we are not generally "dog people", we had been very fond of Terry. He was a friendly dog and was a good companion for the kids. There were days when he would come into our room with the kids and jump on our bed to wake us up. We would miss him.

It started raining soon after we got home from the lake. It rained for quite a while, and there was even thunder and lightning. The kids were horsing around in our room, taking videos of one another. I told Aracely to get her Batgirl cape, and she reappeared a minute later spinning, kicking, and punching in her pink hooded cape. The kids had put Paola's mp3's onto my netbook so that they could listen to them. Willing to do anything for the girls, Craig even joined me in doing a silly dance. The kids got quite a kick out of it and took a video of the two of us.

For lunch We had chicken soup with chilies to add some spice. It was very tasty. We had a drink called pinole which was made from ground roasted corn and canola. We had lichee fruit for dessert. They had pink spines on the outside of their skin. We peeled them and extracted the fleshy nut. We ate the slippery fruit around it.

After lunch, the kids were in and out of the dining room, watching "Ice Age" on TV, playing with the computer, and taking pictures and videos. The girls set up shop in one of the empty guests rooms to make a music video for us. They set up the tripod and taped themselves lip synching and doing choreographed dance moves. This was a complete surprise to us, as we were in the dining room the whole time.

Paola brushed and styled my hair. Aracely and Eddy played cosmic pinball on the netbook. Craig disappeared to our room to take a shower, and when he came back I took my turn. I reappeared with bags of candy for the kids. They liked it all, but the Sour Patch Kids made for some amusing facial expressions, both from the kids andf from Craig, who had never tried them before.

The kids' cousin Junior came by for a quick visit. It was nice to see him, and we gave him some candy. We downloaded the pictures and videos from the cameras. Yasmin was proud to show us the video she had made for us with Yoselin and Aracely in the guest room. It was a lot of fun to watch the three of them dancing and lip synching, doing a full-on performance dedicated to us. We were very impressed. Craig and I were blown away by the girls'choreographed moves. They had also taken a video of Eddy strutting around and dancing in the yard. They just couldn't get enough of seeing Eddy dance and they watched it over and over again.

Humberto wasn't home when dinner time rolled around. We had veggies and small slices of ham in a creamy white sauce and a tea that tasted of cinnamon. It was yummy. Humberto then came home and ate. We gave him the birthday card that we had forgotten to give him yesterday. As a joke we had included a dollar bill, as we always give one to the kids on their birthdays. Eddy tried to pocket it.

After dinner, we all watched some TV. Yoselin and Yasmin went to bed. Paola, Aracely, and Eddy disappeared for a few minutes. They returned with two cold Gatorades for Craig and myself, fresh from the store. Aracely and Eddy each had a little package of banana chips. Aracely gave us each a chip. Eddy gave us each a crumb. We all laughed. He's still learning to share.

Tomorrow was a school day for the four oldest girls, so we saqid goodnight to the family and headed back to our room at around quarter past 10. As I wrote up the day's events in my journal, we downloaded the pictures from both cameras to the computer for safekeeping (on our last visit we had had an unfortunate "delete all" incident on one of the cameras, and we didn't want to repeat it.) After completing my journal entry, we went to sleep.
The kids show Humberto and Paulina some videos

The kids show Humberto and Paulina some videos

Yoselin, Humberto, Aracely, Eddy, Paola, Vanesa, Paulina, and Yasmin at Lake Atitlan

Yoselin, Humberto, Aracely, Eddy, Paola, Vanesa, Paulina, and Yasmin at Lake Atitlan

Eddy, Steph, and Aracely

Eddy, Steph, and Aracely

Aracely, Yasmin, Yoselin, and Eddy on the trampoline

Aracely, Yasmin, Yoselin, and Eddy on the trampoline

Humberto and Paulina

Humberto amd Paulina

Yoselin and Yasmin

Yoselin and Yasmin

Humberto and Eddy with ice cream

Humberto and Eddy with ice cream

Yoselin and Craig

Yoselin and Craig

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