Sunday, June 27, 2010


When we started up this blog it was our hope that we could share fun stuff, like travel and daily life in Guatemala, but it was also our intention to blog about issues and current events - both good and bad. Sadly we got busy and blogging became a hobby for 1 rather than 2 and this 1 didn't always feel like rehashing the "bad stuff" after a long day at work and chose to focus on the fun, light & & decorating & friends. Looking back on it, I wish we would have made more time to share frustrations too, so that it doesn't always appear like we're on a fabulous vacation, but we can't undo the past.

While we were out gallivanting around Latin America, two very major events occurred here in Guatemala and with the dramatic circumstances that surrounded the end of my travel, I unfortunately didn't pay them as much public attention as they deserve.

It all started on Friday, May 28th when Volcan Pacaya erupted. Pacaya is one of the 3 active volcanoes in Guatemala, located outside of Guatemala City. It happens to be a very major tourist attraction for many of the visitors based here in Antigua. Remember when we hiked it here & here? As a result of the eruption much of the surrounding area including the city was covered in 3 inches of ash.

*photo from the Smithsonian Institution

Then just a day later Tropical Storm Agatha hit Guatemala. More than 4 inches of rain fell in less than half a day, causing yet another form of devistation by way of another popular volcano, Agua, located magnificently right outside of Antigua.

The view from Antigua.

This time the inactive volcano wrecked havoc upon the people of surrounding villages, not by way of lava, but by mud. Tropical Storm Agatha brought such intense rainstorms that flash flooding and mudslides occurred, nearly destroying parts of San Pedro Las Huertas & San Miguel Escobar (Zone 6 of Ciudad Vieja), both which are located right at the volcano's base. Much of the rain moved downward through one single causeway, bringing down massive boulders and enormous trees with it. Eventually these dammed the causeway causing the devastating flooding. When the water finally receded, nearly 500 people were left without a home. Reports indicate that 61 homes were destroyed and 100 were severely damaged.
In addition to many homes destroyed or completely flooded with mud, but many of the locals who make their living farming on the slopes of the volcano, lost their entire season's crop.

Clean up efforts quickly got underway, with hundreds of private citizens and teams of tourists, shoveling mud and reconstructing homes. Nearly a month later, workers continue to dig out some families, albeit with limited help. Ben & I have spent a few days lending a hand in San Miguel and feel utterly amazed and inspired by the surprising good spirits and determined attitudes of the people despite the fact that it will be years before many of their lives are back to "normal".

We didn't feel it was appropriate to take along a camera ourselves, but here a few photos that illustrate the damages.

*photos from Guate Living

While progress is being made every day, there is still a great need. Many loval NGO's have and will continue to provide a copious amount of aid. If you or someone you know would like to help, please consider donating to the following organizations that are committed to provide ongoing service in these communities.

No comments: