Pretty Paula in Patanatic



Carlos Agustín Vasquéz Mendoza

Well, I had written a really long and detailed post about the events involving Carlos that have transpired over the last month. But then WordPress deleted it all when I put in this gallery.

So, suffice to say:

It has been one month since Carlos had life-saving surgery.

This month has been an exhausting challenge, a grueling process, a frustrating encounter with the Guatemala public health system. It’s been a month of facing many harsh realities, shedding many tears, and feeling powerless and desperate.

But it’s also been a month of pure gratitude and love, a story of triumph, an instillment of hope. A reminder that life is fragile and precious and we should be grateful for each new day in this world, and all of the amazing people in it.

After a lot of stress, tears, worry, hospital visits, trips to the city, doctor’s visits, exams, medicines, wound cleanings, dietary restrictions, etc…Carlos is doing well. Despite an initial 30% survival rate, he fought through it victoriously, and it seems both of our lives can finally go back to “normal,” though we’ll never be the same.

In the past month, Carlos and I have talked a lot about what this experience has been like for him, and Sunday after the surgery, he truly thought he was going to die, as did I. When his family came in during the 1 hour of visitation, he said his final goodbyes to each of them, and to me as well. I thought it would be the last time I saw him. That was definitely the most difficult day, for all of us.

But when I saw Carlos the following morning, something had definitely changed and that was when I knew he would live. He later told me that at some point on Sunday night, while he lay in that terrible hospital in excruciating pain with no familiar faces around to comfort him, he started thinking about all of the people who care about him and all of the things he still wanted to accomplish in life, all of the things he had to live for, and he describes a very pleasant sensation coming over him, something he had never felt before, and he believes it to have been the presence of god.

That moment gave Carlos strength, and he made up his mind to fight for his life from that point on. And he has done so admirably, without complaint, and with so much gratitude. He believes he’s been given a second chance at life, and he’s going to take full advantage of it. Let that be an inspiration to us all.

Mujeres Botanicas and the Washington Post

Yesterday, I visited the Cooperative Mujeres Botanicas in San Juan la Laguna. There are many such cooperatives in San Juan, where groups of artisan women work together to create beautiful handmade woven products, often using natural dyes, but this was my first visit to Mujeres Botanicas. They are located down a winding side street, and boast a great variety of traditional products (huipiles and traje) in addition to items popular with tourists (scarves and bags), as well as a small museum.

Of particular note, I had the pleasure of meeting Socorro and Rosario (pictured here) both of whom were recently written about in this Washington Post article. My friend Lynn, who is a frequent visitor of this cooperative, had the article pulled up on her computer, so we were able to show it to these two lovely women and I translated for them the parts about them. They were very pleased, and it is wonderful to see that the weavers of San Juan la Laguna are attracting such attention in the press.