GenetAssist is tired - we are writing to you just before bed. We had an incredibly interesting day today. We ate peanut butter and banana sandwiches (ingredients purchased from the local Walmart) on top of an active volcano. The climb was long and difficult, but worth it once we got to the top-ish. The first 10 minutes were the worst because we did not know it was going to be so steep. It took about 2 hours, with many rest stops in between. Our tour guide Freddy (who calls himself Freddy Krueger) pointed out landmarks and vegetation along the way. Our favorites were the "cheese leaves" that we used as towels to wipe sweat when we were only 1/4 of the way up. Freddy was very patient.
When we reached the top (or what we thought was the top) we found the highest store in Guatemala. The owner sold jewelry made from volcanic ash from the last eruption in 2010. The proceeds go to families affected by that eruption to help rebuild their homes.
After shopping we stopped to make our lunch. This gave us the fuel to keep climbing to the actual top. We found ourselves in the middle of a crater where the holes in the ground blew hot air like a radiator. Freddy also picked out lava stones for each of us to take home. Next, he tried to persuade us to keep hiking with the promise of marshmallows roasted over the volcanic heat. At this point, GenetAssist declined.
|GenetAssist with Lorena, our new interpreter|
|On "Pride Rock"|
After long overdue showers and naps, we met Dr. Ruiz for dinner to discuss our plan for the week. She shared with us her expanding role in women and children's health issues, serving as a consultant to OSAR (Observatorio En Salud Reproductiva) Observatory. She wants to "scale up" the Abriendo Oportunidades model, by applying it to other programs within Guatemala. We will see Dr. Ruiz again in the morning to work on a project we will detail in tomorrow's blog.
Here are some more hiking pictures:
|Toward the bottom - still happy campers|