We have found a land of incongruous contrast in Guatemala. The vivid colours and beauty of the plants and mountains juxtapose with the myriad of armed security guards, barred windows and razor wire that encase almost every building in Guatemala City. We sleep at night behind high walls, iron gates and supported by a security guard.
With our heads armed with the philosophy and charism of Champagnat, thanks to our time in Europe we have found our hearts engaging with Guatemala. At Chichicastenango we landed in the middle of a swarm of locals all trying to sell us their wares – many of us will return with swollen suitcases filled with crafts, t-shirts, tapestries and mementos from this magnificent market. This beautiful place was truly a sensory overload. We will take with us memories of the colours, the bustle, the energy; but above all, the people. We are all Marists, some of us teachers and Principals. But we are also mothers, fathers, brothers, husbands and wives and it is hard not to be touched by the hard working families we have seen.
As a group we visited Escuala Marista, a school in Chichicastenango. The spirit of Champagnat is certainly alive in this place. There is a pragmatic, sleeves rolled up reality to the curriculum and resources we saw and this is also true of their staff. Weekend boarders were hard at work doing their weekly laundry and all made us welcome.
Our time in Guatemala continues today before we leave for San Salvador tomorrow. We are certainly blessed to be witnessing first hand the wonderful work that Marists are undertaking in this country of extremes.