Guatemala | Day 3 : Wednesday, March 19th

The group in front of the hotel Kakchiquel

 Hola! Mollie here. This statement may be repetitive but what a day!

Day 3 of our trip started out with breakfast at 7am once again. We've all been working very hard and sleeping like a rock- although some of us are plagued with a rooster within earshot that likes to start its day at 2am.

Today we took a 30 minute boat ride across Lake Atitlan to San Pedro, setting up shop in a local school. We brought lab equipment to test 10 children's feces for parasites, only 5 of which were able to provide their poo, and all tested negative. Those not helping in the lab were able to play with some kids during recess while waiting for our second project of the day.

10 families were scheduled to bring in their filter systems to upgrade the filter. The World Health Organization recommends 3 liters a day per person and the ceramic filters were not quite up to par, filtering around 19 liters every 12 hours. The families all brought in their 2 bucket systems and we replaced their top bucket with the new filter which supplies 15 liters every 45 minutes- an amazing improvement that goes beyond the WHO recommendation!

We only had a half-day of volunteer work scheduled and so after we completed these two projects our team split up for the afternoon. Professor Jeff Smith mentioned a religious ceremony taking place in Santiago and 6 of us decided to go see it, the other 7 returning to Panajachel to continue exploring the markets or take a quick nap.

I went with the group to Santiago and it was a truly an incredible experience. To be brief (and maybe we can elaborate on it later, it's nearing 11:30pm and we have another early morning tomorrow), we visited the shrine to Maximon (also called San Simon)- considered the patron saint of sinners. He is a mixture of a traditional Mayan god, a Spanish conquistador, apostles Peter and Simon, archangel San Miguel, and Judas Iscariot. Maximon has become Guatemala's most popular saint, often petitioned for assistance in curing diseases, blessing crops, removing curses, winning lawsuits, and divining for the future. Today we witnessed a blessing for protection for two women who were actually Americans but spoke fluent Spanish and Mayan so we are assuming they have lived here for some time. The shrine travels to different homes every month and during the last 3 days of the holy week Maximon is paraded in the Catholic church's square. On Good Friday the festivities start at 3pm and last until 9am the next day with lots of rum drinking.

After our mini tour of Santiago we casually made our way back to the boat while shopping for souvenirs and taking in sights of a new city. The team rejoined at the hotel for dinner and shared our afternoon events and then spent our last evening in Panajachel with more exploring and a few drinks.

Life is good and we are excited for tomorrow! Eye exams and Mayan ruins await us tomorrow and we are eager to make the most of our last day in Guatemala. 

Hasta mañana!

The crew heading to San Pedro

Fecal Smears in the San Pedro elementary school

Assembling water filters

Playing with the children

MIchael and his friends

A local woman and her new,  efficient filters

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Working on the filters

A small group in Santiago de Atitlán

Sam Simón

Our tour guide in Santiago de Atitlán

Watching a beautiful weaver