Welcome back! As I type this, the volcano Fuego, which we can see here from Antigua, is erupting! Yesterday (Tuesday) night it started with some small eruptions, which we unfortunately couldn’t see because of work (and of course as soon as we were off work the weather obstructed our view). This picture just below on the right is a picture taken earlier that day from a street right around the corner of our clinic (below left).
However, the brother of the owner of the Spanish school we are attending organized a trip to the foot of the volcano that same night, and we decided to go along. He stuffed 17 sardines in a little old church van, and off we went! (I wish we had a picture, but unfortunately we don't). Rolando, our "tour guide", told us he knew a good spot to see the volcano better. He was right, but in order to get there we had to go off-roading with our old little stuffed church van. Since we were in the very last bench (we could see the springs of the bench in front of us!) we couldn't quite see the road. But when we arrived, we realized we were at the bottom of a dump. But he was right, we could see the volcano really well. And even the moon was out of the way so we could take some "good" pictures.
Unfortunately that never happened; these pictures below are the best we could take with our camera. The first one is of a actual eruption (I tried to circle the big cloud of smoke and the actual circumference of the volcano), the second of the lava streaming down the volcano. It was absolutely amazing to witness a volcano eruption, and then one this big. According to the locals here, this was the biggest eruption in several years. (CNN also featured this eruption!)
One thing we forgot to tell you above is that, when we arrived at the dump, we all got out off the van, and then someone heard a little hissing sound. Nobody seamed surprised. However, Rolando amazed us by actually having a spare tire in the van. So the tire got replaced and some people didn't even notice it.
But, on our way home, the van started wobbling and then we heard the scraping of the rim of a blown tire, the same tire that just got replaced! So we all got out and walked home, 11.30 at night. The very Guatemalan thing about this whole adventure is that Rolando did not blink a single time, and still charged us the same amount of money. (Over all Guatemaltecos are the nicest people, though!!!)
(Since there was space for a picture next to the tire I pasted in the street our clinic is on: our clinic is just to the right of the white building on the right hand side of the street)
One thing we still forgot to mention was the fact that Antigua is located on the Guatemalan Highlands. We didn't realize it at first, but Antigua is at the same height as Denver, Colorado! (I did not actually double check this, but several people have told me so far.) This means that we have about the same weather year round: 75 F (20C) daytime and it cools down to about 55 F (12C) at night. Sweaters then are a good thing to bring!
In the mean time we have been walking around a lot, not quite realizing that people always recommend wearing sunscreen in Denver. We've got nice red cheeks and a I got a T-shirt impression on my chest! The good thing about the constant weather is that everything here is built open to air. Our clinic for example, has a wrought-iron back door, no glass or anything. The windows in the back also have a gaping hole above them. But since everything has very good rain protection in the form of little roofs and gutters, it doesn't matter! Our lawyer's office for example, like many businesses, is built around a courtyard. The reception desk is in the courtyard, right outside but under a roof. The house we live in has the same thing. As soon as we walk out of our door we are, in theory, outside. It gives a very summery and relaxed feel to buildings here.
Our Spanish school liked that concept too and has little "class rooms" all over. They are little buildings with a table, two chairs and a whiteboard. (See picture below, that is our actual class room!). It is pretty nice to learn and study outside. However, it does get cold in the mornings and at night, hence my sweater (mi sueter) in the picture. As you can tell, we are learning Spanish little by little. We are both taking four hours of private lessons a day. It is quite tedious, but also very effective. Nathan and I have the same teacher, one of us goes to school in the morning, the other one works in the clinic. In the afternoon we switch. It is not ideal, but the only way for us right now to learn both how to talk to our patients and how to run our clinic!
The one on one teaching is the general way it is done here in Antigua. We have no less then 80 Spanish schools in a town that according to statistics is only 30,000 people big.
One thing I could not leave out was the car I saw in front of our school. Yes, there are Dutch people all over this town. Our school has a maximum of 30 students, we have about 20 right now and 3 of them are Dutch! This car belongs to the brother of a lady who is taking lessons at our school. He has lived here for over 8 years. So far I've seen Dutch people six out of seven days. (And yesterday night we got a new roommate: guess from where?)
And of course we are down here to take over the clinic. So far things are a little slow, but we also had the clinic closed for two weeks and our phone disconnected (due to unknown reasons) for over 2 days. But after all, we still saw a little over 100 patients. It is just awesome to get our hands on people already!
We are also talking to Marco Antonio, a local missionary here in Antigua. His job is to help out other missionaries and people in general. Since he got helped by chiropractic so much, he decided he wanted to help us build our clinic. He is our official Guatemalan sponsor, which is a pretty big responsibility for him, and also keeps coming up with new ideas to attract patients. As soon as we are ready, we can join him to go on a local radio station and do shows for free.
He also works with a local poor little town, an "aldea". So next Saturday Nathan and I are going out there with a portable table to adjust the locals for free. We are very excited about this opportunity to give back to the locals, and at the same time spread the word.
We'll keep you posted!
Love, Annette and Nathan