Monday, 23 June 2008

Our Two Month Anniversary

Yesterday marked 2 months since we've been home with Marta Alicia. I can't say whether it seems like forever or yesterday. It's been an intense two months full of challenge and growth for all of us. Most times it feels like we're in a bubble with the world carrying on around us...and without us. As someone once said, "It's hard work to heal a heart" and the surprise is learning my own wounds need to heal before I can help her heal. Sometimes the grief is overwhelming, and for good cause--a lot has been lost. But much has been gained, too, and that is our hope. Beneath the pain and trauma is a beautiful, sweet, gentle, loving, thoughtful, fun-loving reflection of God. We are truly blessed. :)

Thursday, 5 June 2008

Please Pray for our Friends

On Monday night, 6-2-08, our friends were in a terrible accident. It happened at the farm where the pictures were taken (at the right) with the horses. Our friend, Phil (in the picture leading Marta on the horse) was riding with Gracie and Dee Dee (the two girls on the left of the picture with the 4 girls). Gracie, the oldest who was 9 (with the glasses), was killed. Dee Dee's skull was fractured and Phil received multiple broken bones. It is a horrible tragedy and loss. We and the kids meet at this family's house each week for Bible Study, so they are very dear to us. The three girls were sisters adopted from Romania 6 years ago, so our hearts ache all the more for them. Please pray. Thank you.

Saturday, 10 May 2008

Marta's first day HOME!

We were all up at 10am, Tuesday morning. Marta got dressed and put her winter coat on as she was chilly. :) As we were hanging out in the kitchen looking out the window, I pointed down the street and told her where Mimi (Tim's Mom) lived. She asked me to help her put her sneakers on and before I knew what she was doing she flew out the door, ran down the driveway and down the street! She stopped midway to turn and wave at me, then kept running. She stopped at the first house and pointed, looking back at me inquisitively. I indicated the next one and she took off running again, rounded the fence and started up the driveway. Meanwhile, I was frantically calling Marie to alert her of her fast approaching visitor. We were incredulous and quite amused. As expected, Marie greeted her with the all of the warmth one could ever wish in a grandmother. Since I was still in my PJ's, Tim threw a jacket on and sauntered down to join her. This was our unexpected introduction to the adventurous and sometimes unpredictable nature of the little being that had just graced our lives. I must admit, I checked later with our attachment therapist as I wasn't sure this was a good or bad sign. Her response: "She had a destination. That was good. It's when they don't have a destination that you need to worry." Whew! :)

Marta came home with Tim shortly after, and then returned to Mimi's with Caleb once he had gotten dressed. They visited for a while and then met the family across the street. They have 4 children, two boys and two girls, ages 5-10, who have been anxious for Marta to come home, too. Marta was VERY shy and that's when we started realizing the disparit between how quickly she feels safe and comfortable with our adult friends but how frightened she is to interact with other children. Her fear of rejection runs deep--there is so much healing to be done...

About noon we finally sat down to eat breakfast. I was SO excited when she dug into the refried black beans I had made (and frozen) before our trip! "Rico," (Yummy!) she said as she gobbled them up! (Thank you, Carlos, for the recipe!!!) When breakfast was over, she started eating the leftovers out of the serving dish and ate every last bit of them. What a great feeling!

The afternoon was spent running amuck in the yard chasing bubbles with Caleb. Exuberance is a great descriptive word for Marta Alicia. Children are a gift from the Lord and each of them bring different things to our lives. One of the gifts that Marta is bringing to my life is living life with abandon. About 95% of the time, Marta is happy, happy, happy. When things aren't "right' in her world, the intensity of her fear is equal or greater, but it doesn't take long given the right support to come back to a place of joy. Living in the moment is something she does REALLY well!

By mid-afternoon she was asking to go visit "Tia" (Auntie) Kristin (Tripp) who had gone to Guatemala with us in December. She and I went to visit and Marta met her 4 children and husband, Ramsey. Again, Marta was very shy, but still wanted to hang out for a while. During our visit, we spotted a small pile of snow in the neighbor's yard. It wasn't very big and was quite soiled, but we ran over and played a bit in it anyway. She was VERY excited to finally see some snow! (She still hasn't quite grasped the fact that after all the pictures of snow we showed her and the months we talked about it on the phone that she has to wait a good 6 months or more before it will snow again!)

On our way home, we were passing Josh Cousineau's house (who she had met the night before at the airport). I pointed out his house to her and she said, "Let's go visit!" Goodness! It's SO unlike me to just drop in on anyone, so I tried calling their house and cell and got no answer. Just to satisfy her we turned around and went back to knock on the door. Low and behold they were all home! They invited us in and we had a GREAT visit for about an hour (see what I mean about gifts?). When we left, they gave her 3 DVD's in Spanish to borrow. Dora has been a GREAT hit--something she watches over and over during down time for comfort as much as anything. Thanks, Josh and Anna!

By 9:30pm we were all tucked in bed for a great night's sleep! One day down, a life-time to go! :)

Saturday, 3 May 2008

Monday--homeward bound

Monday morning my number one priority was getting to the Embassy to get Marta's corrected Visa. Sonia, our translator, couldn't go with us as her car was in the shop, so I had detailed instructions. Her beau dropped the documents we needed off at the front desk of our hotel and by 7:45am I was off to the Embassy. I explained that I just needed to pick up a Visa and was able to talk my way to the front of the line both outside and inside. The woman at the window knew who I was and had everything waiting for me. Piece of cake, I thought, and headed out the door. As I left the Embassy I thought I was leaving through the door I had come in, so I turned right and started cruising for the hotel. Suddenly, I was being heckled by several men, "Wanna picture? Photo, Ma'am? Taxi, wanna taxi?" I just ignored them, and headed toward the left where I thought the hotel was. Suddenly, I realized that nothing looked familiar and I had no idea where I was. At that point, the men started walking toward me still asking me if I wanted a photo or a taxi. With a quick scan right and left in a desperate attempt to get my bearings, I confirmed I was lost. Fortunately, one of the Embassy guards whistled at the men and motioned for them to back off. I approached him quickly and asked where La Casa Grande was. He said he didn't speak any English, but when I repeated La Casa Grande he said something about "su cuarto?" (your room?) and I said, "yes." He pointed me back in the opposite direction. A bit shaken at how quickly I could end up in a vulnerable position I hurried back to the hotel, my little venture having only taken 10 minutes. :)

We had breakfast, finished packing for the last time and waited for the taxi. While we were hanging out I met a woman there who was adopting a gorgeous 3 year old boy with Cerebral Palsey. She had 2 bio children and this was her 8th adopted child! As we talked she spoke of two more that they were considering. She named off the 5 different countries they had adopted from, at first getting stuck at 4 and not remembering which was the 5th! :) Anyway, she lives in Ohio but is coming out to Maine for Mother's Day weekend to speak about adoption. Hopefully, she'll remember to email me the details so we can connect again. When the taxi came we grabbed one more photo in front of the hotel and headed for the airport.

Our attachment therapist had given us a great idea to take photos on our trip down to Guatemala and then put them in an album in reverse order so Marta could visualize the trip home. It was a wonderful idea and really helped a lot. Marta quickly got the hang of all of the security measures: take off your shoes and coat, put everything you hold dear onto a conveyor belt and watch it disappear into a machine. Walk through the tunnel and gather everything back up again. Then later watch as they paw through all of your beloved belongings and confiscate the water you JUST bought INSIDE the airport and then board the plane. It was really fun watching her take on this new experience. She is very intuitive and works hard to pick up quickly how everything is done. Inside, I explained all the buttons and which one not to push (the call button for the flight attendant) which I later pushed myself by mistake, ooops! :)

Marta did great flying, without sleeping a wink, of course. It wasn't until later when she was home and talking to her foster family that I heard her say she was scared. :) And who wouldn't be? She did seem a little nervous on the first descent (no ear pain, thankfully!), and Caleb livened it up with his mock (sign language) airplane crash which I quickly insisted he modify to a gentle perfect "Grandpa" landing (My Dad was a United pilot known for his smooth landings). Marta still jokes about it. :)

We had a quick stop in Atlanta where we were doing our best to hurry through Immigration, Customs. We had an additional step for Marta as this was the point at which she legally became a United States citizen! Bienvenida, Marta Alicia! By the time we finished everything we had 15 minutes to ride the tram to the opposite side of the airport for our flight. When we got off the tram we started running. Just as we were about to reach our gate I had this urge to check the monitor only to discover they had changed not only the gate but the terminal, too! So, we turned and headed back in the opposite direction running with even more determination. Back down the escalator, onto the tram, try to breath, off the tram, run up the escalator, down the corridor arriving hot and out of breath at the gate with only a few minutes to spare. Whew! This was NOT a flight we wanted to miss! Gracias a Dios!

Finally, we arrived at Logan Airport about 10:30pm. I called Barb to let her know we had landed. She was there with Marie (Tim's Mom) and her son Josh to pick us up. It took quite a while for us to get off the plane and it was quite a distance to baggage claim, much to their chagrin! We finally made it and Josh caught our initial meeting on tape. Thanks, Josh! :) We went to claim our luggage, only to find out that 3 of our suitcases didn't make it. We had Tim's and my suitcase and Caleb's suitcase, but not Marta Alicia's! Poor thing! She looked really worried and lost until I explained it would come the next day, then she was fine. What a trouper!

We had a great trip home in the van. Marta fell asleep right away, Caleb hung out with "Mimi" and then fell asleep on her shoulder (she had really missed him a lot, so she was happy camper), Tim and Josh talked shop and I bent Barb's ear processing the trip all the way home. We arrived at 2am to a house full of balloons, 1/2 floating on the ceiling and the other 1/2 covering the floor. It was beautiful and festive and just perfect (Thank you, Glenda!). We spent 2 hours exploring the house and her room together before finally going to sleep. What a feeling-our family of four finally HOME!!!!

Wednesday, 30 April 2008

Sunday and saying Good-bye

On Sunday, everyone was up and about by 8am. As the kids ran in and out of our room playing, Caleb saw what he thought was a piece of candy near Marta's stash and thought to pick it up and put it in her box. However, when he picked it up he realized it was just an empty wrapper and put it back on the table where he found it. Nancy saw him put the empty wrapper down and, thinking he was pilfering her candy, told Marta. Marta flew into a rage, smacked Caleb on the arm a couple of times and went and took a handful of Caleb's candy. Caleb started saying, "I didn't do it, I didn't do anything." I hadn't seen what happened, but I could tell Caleb was innocent, so I told Marta so. She became doubly mad at me for taking Caleb's side and flew out of the room with the girls in toe. Yikes!

After a couple of minutes, I was able to get Caleb to explain in detail to me exactly what happened. He went out to play with Carlos and Reyna wandered in. I explained to her what happened and she was very understanding. We had an awesome talk about how difficult it was at first for Marta in Reyna's family. She had a very hard time believing they really loved her like their own children. She said it took about 2 months for it to get better and for her to settle in. She also explained that she used to get the most mad at Carlos, of all the children (and yet the night before it was the two of them that seemed the closest). Before long, the girls came flying back in the room and so I explained to Marta what Caleb had done. Instantaneously, she said she was sorry and came to give me a hug, then said sorry to Nancy and gave her a hug. Then I explained to her that I don't love Caleb more than her, that I love them both. Reyna jumped right in with her support and encouragement, reinforcing everything I said. It was really beautiful. And then I told her that Caleb really loves her and wouldn't do anything to hurt her. At that point, Caleb came in and we explained that Marta understood what had happened. Reyna encouraged Marta to apologize and to give Caleb a hug, explaining to me that in their house they always hug after an apology. Marta did. Next, she went into the other room and got Caleb's candy and her candy and poured it all into the SAME container!!! Caleb was astounded and came running to tell me, he was SO happy! The two of them are still working away at that stash of candy and haven't once spat over another piece! Amazing!

Before breakfast, we spent some more time chatting with Reyna and Fidel. With Carlos' help they wrote down 15 different kinds of food that Marta likes. I have a Guatemalan cookbook, so making these for her will be fun. We also exchanged phone numbers and addresses so that we can be sure to keep in touch. Reyna has no contact with the little girl she fostered before Marta and so has needed a lot of reassurance that we will keep in touch. I'm glad they want this, too. They are such a special family. We are very blessed to know them.

Next we had breakfast all together. The kids had staring contests while waiting for the food and it was pretty hysterical to see who could and couldn't keep a straight face (Marta has a look that can kill, as does Nancy. Vilma and Caleb giggle hopelessly!). After breakfast the kids went to swim in the hot tubs again, but they were too hot, so they ran through the cold waterfall until they couldn't take it any longer. Then, we got all of our things packed up and ready for check-out.

For lunch we headed down the hill to the hotel we had stayed at in July 2007. They have a large pool with a 2 story slide. The kids all wanted to swim, but unfortunately, there was no time at that point. Instead we went to have lunch on the veranda with views of the lake and a local band playing indiginous music. When we first arrived at the restaurant, Marta wanted to go play on the miriad of hammocks in the garden, but Reyna told her we needed to eat first. Marta got angry and said she wasn't hungry. Reyna told her she still needed to wait. Marta refused to order any food and kept insisting that she be able to go play. It was great for me to see this interaction between them. Reyna just laughed and tried to cajole her, but without giving in. We finally ordered and then told the kids they could go play, but she was so mad that she wouldn't go play! Finally, Nancy grabbed her hand and pulled her along to join the other kids and she was off and "it" was over. Tim and I and Reyna and Fidel had another good talk about Marta--their insights were so helpful!

Finally, we headed back up to our hotel to await our shuttle back to Guatemala City. We had thought Reyna et. al. were going to stay in Panajachel for a few more days visiting with Fidel's Aunt, but instead they said they were headed back to the city. We were able to arrange for them to ride with us in our van, so that worked out well and saved them a long bumpy ride on 4 different "chicken buses". While we were waiting, Reyna asked a woman at the hotel to come help translate for us. I was pleasantly surprised by this conversation, simply because there really wasn't anything that Reyna wanted to tell us that I hadn't already understood from previous conversations! The language piece was truly a God-thing! But this was a chance for she and Fidel to clearly communicate to us how greatful they were for everything we had done and how happy they are that we are Marta's family. It also allowed us to tell them that we view their gift of love for Marta as a far greater gift, one that will help her throughout the rest of her life. We reiterated how important it will be for Marta to retain a relationship with them into the future--that they will always be an important part of her life. They will help her retain a connection with Guatemala, the language, culture, food, etc. Lastly, we were able to tell them just how blessed we feel to know them, they are truly an amazingly wonderful and special family, hand-picked by God to love our daughter through an incredibly crucial transition!

Soon, we were off, all piled comfortably into the van. Did I mention the road is bumpy and windy? After about 45 minutes with Caleb and Carlos riding in the back we heard an urgent cry for a plastic bag! As Tim frantically searched for one, the requests got more persistent until I finally just asked the driver to stop. The door flew open and out went Caleb to loose his lunch. Before long, Carlos joined him. :) Unfortunately, we had stopped by a farm and as the boys were doing their thing, our van filled up quickly with flies! In fact, by the time they were done, the van ceiling was completely covered with them! Yuk! Fortunately, they mostly clung to the ceiling and not to us! As we took off again, we opened all the windows and within 10 minutes or so had managed to shoo most of them out.

We arrived back at our hotel in Guatemala City late in the afternoon. Reyna called for a taxi for her family. We visited and the kids played while we waited. It was definitely a bit tense, knowing this was the final good-bye. It was dark when the taxi pulled up and we all went out to say good-bye. As the taxi drove out... well, let's just say I have a knot in the pit of my stomach just remembering. I carried her out by the water fountain and we sat together in the chairs in the garden. We wept with her as she experienced this loss in all of it's profundity. I ached for her pain and could only begin to imagine the depth of it.

After 25-30 minutes, Marta asked to go back inside. We went to our room and she watched TV for a little while. Then we went out and had a wonderful dinner at the steak restaurant down the street. When we went back to the hotel, it was late. Bedtime was hard for Marta and she wept for quite a while again. We comforted her best we could and then eventually turned out the light. "Mama, aren't you going to read to me?" I heard (in Spanish, of course). We turned the light back on and I started reading. Before long she was fast asleep. I smiled. She always seems to know just what she needs, we just need to listen well and pay attention. :)

Sunday, 27 April 2008

Saturday in Panajachel

We woke up bright and early Saturday morning and were down waiting for our van at 8am. By 8:15am I called to find out why they hadn't come yet only to learn the night before they had only made a reservation and since we hadn't confirmed it (in our spare time) they had canceled it. Ahhh! However, for an extra chunk of change, they would come at 9am for a private shuttle! Whew! Bring it on!

So, we were off at 9am for the 2 hour, very bumpy, very mountainous trip to Panajachel. There are few ventures that turn me green around the gills, and that is one of them. We arrived pretty tired (there's a lot of hanging on to do around the corners, too) but thrilled to see Reyna, Fidel, Carlos (12 years old), Vilma (10 years old) and Nancy (8 years old)! We settled into our room and headed off for lunch. We learned this was the first time Reyna and Fidel had ever stayed in a hotel, so they had taken oodles of pictures of their family around the gardens. They were beautiful and they looked like they had just been on their honeymoon! It was VERY sweet!

We had a great lunch together. The 5 kids together are truly amazing! Caleb and Carlos ordered a HUGE lunch for 2 for the both of them (that they could never possibly finish) and by the time we were done the food had been passed back and forth down the table and things had been pretty well cleaned up.

After lunch we all took a walk to visit Fidel's Aunt Teresa, who works at a little restaurant just up from our hotel. There we also met one of his neices who was visiting from Tajulmulco, where they live. We visited for just a short while as Teresa was sick and not feeling well.

Next we decided to go swimming in the lake (which is immense!). Everyone changed into their bathing suits except for Tim and I. Although the view is prestine, the water isn't necessarily and we were a little leary. We headed down the hill to the water, laughing and giggling all the way. We found a spot and they all went in--although not too far. We discovered quickly their fear of water and so they sat on the edge, waiting for the foot sized waves to come in, screaming wildly with each one. It was a hot sunny day and it was delightful!

After swimming for quite a while, we headed back up to our hotel. The kids managed to get a few Queztales from each set of parents, so each little candy shop we passed was a new delight. It was fun to watch them buy candy and share it with each other, trying different varieties. As we neared the hotel, Tim and Martita snuck off alone. In Antigua, we had started planning a "fiesta" for her foster family (Tim's ingenious idea), to celebrate Vilma's and Fidel's birthdays, but mostly to say "Thank you!". It was to be a surprise, so Tim and Martita stole away several times to order a "postel" (cake) and to buy a pinata, candy and balloons. The others caught on that something was amiss, which made it all the more fun.

Back at the hotel we discovered two hot tubs, a sauna and refreshing waterfall. We all changed back into bathing suits and went to try it out. By this time we were already completely exhausted, hot and tired, so slipping into a perfectly tempered hot tub was heavenly! As we started relaxing in the water, I noticed Carlos, Vilma and Nancy hovering around the edges and clinging to the stairs. They were truly afraid. Caleb and Martita were in the water playing and having a great time. Before long, Martita started showing off her newly acquired skills (from swimming in Antigua) of jumping into the water, going under the water, floating on her back, etc. Her foster family was amazed! Their expressions only gave her more fuel to show off and try more, which fueled their curiousity. Slowly but surely, starting with Reyna, they all started trying to put their faces in the water, then to try to practice kicking, then to try to swim under the water, then to try to float on their backs. In time, all three children let me hold them, jump three times and then go under the water with them! "Otra vez, Otra vez!" they would cry (one more time, one more time!) It was truly the most amazing transformation watching little Martita lift her foster family out of fear into new-found joy! It was an incredible privilege for me to watch and one I won't soon forget.

As we were finishing up in the hot tub Tim went and ordered pizza for dinner. Between the two buildings where our rooms were there were three charming tables with chairs outside where we set up for dinner. After the pizza, the party began. First, Marta brought out the cake with a "10" candle on it for Vilma with the balloons. We all sang. Next she brought out the pinata, which she and Tim had stuffed with candy. It was hard to find a place to hang it properly, but eventually with Fidel holding it and one of Tim's shoes they managed to crack it open. After that we brought out the suitcase of gifts for them. I gave Reyna the album filled with pictures of Marta Alicia from the last 15 months. She went through each one and was so pleased. Then Marta Alicia gave Reyna the picture I had brought of her in a frame and the dam broke. The tears flowed hard and for a very long time with the whole family. It was very good.

As the emotions began to subside, Marta Alicia gave Reyna a necklace I had put together with the same picture in it. Reyna pressed to to her heart and kept saying, "Thank you, thank you," and cried some more. Then we started giving the kids their clothes, which they ran off with to change and model. I am always grateful how well they all fit each time (lots of prayers go up when I'm shopping!). Then Marta Alicia ran in the room to get her special gift for Reyna--a new blender! Marta had asked us to bring one for Reyna "because she doesn't have one" and so it was a special moment as Reyna relished in Marta Alicia's thoughtfulness. For Fidel we gave a gift of money. He is currently farming and the harvest won't be ready until late fall. Reyna was working as a foster mom, but with adoptions now shut down there is no more work for her. It will be a difficult year for them. Lastly, we had given them a camera but developing pictures is quite expensive in Guatemala. Last summer we had bought a picture printer, but hadn't really used it much, so we passed it along to them so they can print out all the pictures from the trip without it costing them a fortune. Carlos is their "technical guy" and with a few pointers had it going beautifully. :)

Finally, we got to eating the cake. Marta Alicia wasn't all that hungry after all the candy and emotions, so she passed on it. As things were winding down, she came and asked me if she could spend the night with Reyna. Fortunately, I had anticipated this question and was happy to go get her toothbrush and pajamas for her. After they all left and we were settling in for the night, Reyna came back to ask if Carlos could sleep with Caleb! So, within a short time the boys were settled in and we were settled in for a very good nights sleep!

Saturday, 26 April 2008

(Going slightly backwards) Friday and the eye fiasco

Friday we all had a great last day of school. It was another beautiful day and we enjoyed our teachers so much (I believe Marta snuck off to the market with hers to get some fruit, lol!)

After school we got busy packing while Tim ran off to the bank to get enough money for the weekend. We had a 4pm shuttle scheduled to Panajachel, a two hour drive from Antigua through the mountains to a volcanic lake, surrounded by 3 other volcanoes. We were excited to go and had already received a call that Reyna and the family had arrived and we waiting for us.

About 2:40pm I started to realize that my eye was getting worse, not better. I began to worry and wonder if I got to Panajachel whether there would be a doctor I could see if I needed one, especially in a smaller village and especially on the weekend. My last visit to the optomotrist had taken about 45 minutes including going to the pharmacy, so I decided I'd better try to go see him again quickly before we left. However, the last time I had gone, I had gone with my teacher and didn't quite remember how to get there, so I ran down to the office to get directions. They drew me a map, I ran back upstairs to tell Tim I was going and to get the key and then I was off.

About half way there I realized I had forgotten my map! Thinking I didn't have time to go back and get it I kept going hoping I would remember enough to find it. JUST as I was about to PASS the little mall area where the office was, the Optomotrist stepped out onto the sidewalk DIRECTLY in front of me! I was stunned, took one look at him, pointed at him and said, "I was just coming to see you!" He turned right around and headed back into the mall with me. This time he examined my eye with his little hand-held light gadget about twice as long as the last time, spending quite a bit of time comparing both eyes. When he finally finished, he said that I really needed to go see someone with better equipment. Oh, dear, I thought, not good for my eye or our schedule.

As he looked up the Opthomologist's office and phone number I looked up our travel agency and called them to tell them we wouldn't make our 4pm shuttle. He asked if I wanted it rescheduled for 5:30pm and I said I wasn't sure when I'd be ready and that I'd call him. By then the Optomotrist had the information I needed and gave it to me. I looked at it and asked him where it was. He didn't know and couldn't find a map in the phone book, so he said my best bet was to take a little "tuk-tuk". These are little 3 wheeled vehicles with canvas tops that basically fit the driver and two people in the back. I had never taken one before, let alone by myself, so he came back out to the street to help me hail one. He was a sweet man from Columbia, that had spent 6 years working in Costa Rica and had been in Guatemala only 2 years. When we decided the street was too quiet to find a tuk-tuk and that I needed to head down further to toward the market, he said good-bye and asked me to come back and tell him what was wrong with my eye, if I had a chance. I promised him I would, if I could.

I headed down the street and quickly found an available tuk-tuk. The driver looked a little confused at first, and then nodded his head "yes" and we were off. All the streets in Antigua are very old cobblestone and I'm not sure whether tuk-tuks even have shocks, so it was a loud bumpy ride as I frantically tried to count blocks and keep my bearings. We finally stopped on a street and he pointed across the street and said, "There it is" (in Spanish, of course). I looked across the street and was horrified to see what looked like an abandoned warehouse. I said, "No, that's not it" in my very best Spanish. He argued with me and said it is, "Look, number 1" I said, "No, that says 18" After arguing for another round he finally got out and asked a man on the street who pointed down the street further. I was SO relieved. Finally, I spotted the sign for the office, tapped him on the shoulder and pointed. He stopped. I was told not to pay any more than 10 Quetzales, "no more!". He charged me 20, of course, but by then I didn't really care.

As I walked up to the glass and steel bar door I had a moment of panic as the tuk-tuk drove away and the office looked closed. I read the sign "Abierto" and desperately searched my brain thinking, "That means open, doesn't it?" As I peered in, a young woman at the desk gestured how to open the door. What a relief!

I explained that I had a problem with my eye and she said they work by appointment only and she could give me one on Monday. I explained that I was leaving for the weekend and needed to see someone right away. She said she could fit me in on an emergency basis, but that I'd need to wait until all the other patients were seen first. I figured I didn't have a better option, so I went to sit down and wait. Then I realized that Tim didn't know where I was, nor that I had post-poned our shuttle. I went back to the desk to see if I could find the phone number for our school to call him. Neither I nor the young woman could find it in the phone book. She said, "It's going to be a while, so if you want to go home and then come back, that's fine." I started to cry. I said, "I just took a tuk-tuk here and I don't even know where "home" is and I was supposed to be leaving for Panajachel in 20 minutes..." At that point she began to have more compassion and said she'd ask the two patients in front of me if I could go before them. I thanked her, sat back down to wait and just cried some more. :)

In a few minutes I got myself together enough to think about calling home for some help (I'm so grateful the cell phones work internationally there!). I called Barb, but no answer. I called Mary and said she was taking a nap and could we talk later? Ahhh! LOL! I explained that I was in a "situation" and really needed her help, so she got up to look up the school number on the internet. (Thanks for the help, Mare!) I called the school and was able to reach Tim and tell him what was up. That helped a lot. A few minutes later the doctor arrived for his afternoon appointments. The young woman came over and asked the 2 patients (a family who spoke English and so were aware of what was going on) if I could go before them. They said, "No!" So, I cried some more! LOL!

Finally, about 4:30pm I was called in. The doctor spoke English, which was a HUGE blessing. He did a thorough exam and said I had inflamation behind the cornea but that he needed to dialate my eyes to make sure there wasn't anything more going on in the back of my eye. I thought, "Oh, great! More time!" So, back in the waiting room I went for 3 rounds of drops. Meanwhile, a young man came in with a patch over his eye. When the doctor came to call the next lady, she said, "Oh, no, take him first!" She warmed my heart. She started talking away to me in Spanish and then paused, "Do you understand?" I said, "Only a little" and then she switched to English and we had the most pleasant conversation. What an angel. Her daughter was there (who was probably my age) trying on glasses and we all got laughing at the different ones she tried. In time, the man came back out to join me to get his eyes dialated and the doctor took the woman and her daughter in. The only drawback to her friendliness was that it took quite a bit longer for her appointment as she was good friends with the doctor! LOL! But when she went to leave, she looked back and waved and I and the other man waved at her. What a sweetie!

While that was happening, Tim called to say the driver had shown up at the school to pick us up! It was 5:15pm. I explained that I had told him I didn't know when I would be ready and not to come until I called. I got off the phone and called the travel agency and happened to get the owner. She explained that it was getting much too late to travel to Panajachel and that if I wasn't ready, she didn't think we should go (it's a dangerous drive at night). She said she'd call the driver and talk with him. A few minutes later Tim called back to say we weren't going, that we were set up with an 8am shuttle the next day and could stay another night in our apartment. Whew!

Finally, I got back in to see the doctor and the back of my eye checked out alright. He prescribed 50mg of Prednisone (ugh!), Prednisone drops and dialator drops. I was able to get the drops from him, but needed to go to the pharmacy to get the pills. I paid my bill and then asked how far the main square was from the office. The woman said it was 5 blocks--a straight shot. So, I headed out (loathing to pay double for another tuk-tuk) and started trucking. It was 6pm and dusk was falling. I made it back to the square, and from there headed home. Because I promised, I went one block out of my way to try to find the Optomotrist, but his office was closed for the night. :( I made it home just as darkness fell, tired, safe and happy.

Next as we gathered ourselves together to head out for dinner, I realized we needed to call Reyna to tell her we wouldn't be able to make it to Panajachel that night. I called and asked if she was in the hotel and she said, yes. I sighed with relief and let her talk with Marta. But then Marta gave me the phone back and Reyna put the woman at the hotel on the phone. She explained in English that the family was here but they have no money. I said one of the rooms is for them. She explained that they couldn't let them in the hotel room without the travel agency voucher that WE HAD! Ahhh!!!! I frantically tried to explain about the doctors and that we were coming in the morning and we had paid for the room, etc. and she kept saying they couldn't do it without the voucher and then my cell phone went DEAD--no more minutes! Ahhhh!!!!!!!! So, we started rushing to get out the door to the market to get more minutes when my phone rang again (we found out it works for incoming calls when there are no minutes left!). The woman continued to insist that we had to send her the voucher some how and I finally said, "We're coming in the morning at 8am, we'll have the voucher for you, I promise!" She finally laughed (!) and said okay and we hung up.

Then we went off to the market for more cell phone minutes, my medication and then to Pollo Campero. When we finally ordered I called Reyna back and she kept saying (in English), "Thank you, thank you, thank you!" I said, "Todo bien? Todo bien?" And she said, "Si, todo bien, Thank you!!!" I started crying and laughing! I was so relieved!