We’ve been in Antigua one week and are full of gratitude to be here as we walk through town or relax in the house. Settling in has been made easier by the fact that we are stepping into a functioning household where our questions re: “how can we do X?” can be easily answered.
Several of you have asked for pictures of the house, and I’m happy to oblige, but with some explanation. For the past five years our Guatemalan friend Ignacio Ochoa has lived here and run his non-profit, Nahual Foundation, from the house. He does community organizing, leadership development for grassroots leaders to do development projects, arts and culture preservation, and emergency relief. He teaches part time at the university and has been invaluable as a co-instructor for the January USD course; he also often hosts interns from the US to do projects. More info on his organization is available at www.Nahual.org.gt.
I’m sure it is a huge adjustment for him to have us move in, and it is of course an adjustment for us to live in a house which also serves a busy community organization! The bedrooms can be private, but one hears all the comings and goings. E.g.: young women speaking one of the Mayan languages in the patio outside our bedroom window one morning. We’ve had one house guest: the chair of Ignacio’s board who is an ex-Jesuit working on a community project, and had a spot in the attic. Next week we’re expecting another house guest, a former student from USD, and I’m looking forward to visits from USD colleagues starting a project in Guatemala.
Steve and I had talked about wanting the house to be a place of encounter across cultural and religious differences, and that is certainly the case thanks to Ignacio. We’ve had Guatemalan Ladino, Maya (Kaqchikel and Ixil), Dutch, Israeli, Salvadoran, Cuban, Senegalese, and gringo guests in the short time we’ve been here! Outside the house, Ignacio has been involved in a three-day Mayan celebration, a workshop, two evening community meetings, interviews being done by a student from Brown University, and plans for hosting professors from Canada this next week.
The house is a mixture of our things with some additions from Ignacio, arranged to meet the needs of the Nahual Foundation. It will evolve over time and we’ll make changes that appeal to Steve & me, and yet we are both very happy that the house is a place of service and hospitality, and don’t want to lose that.
The sitting room to the right as you come in. Lesbia has for many years come twice a week to do housekeeping, but is in a secretarial program and will come an additional two days a week, doing her internship.
There’s also Ignacio’s room underneath this bedroom and a large attic for our guests.