Saturday, October 1, 2011


It was 1993.Our family made a memorable trip to Guatemala. Ana and Mario invited us. They became a Christian few years ago. We were very much involved in bringing them up in Christian life. We saw them often and became close friends. Mario had injury at work and was no longer able to provide for his family. They moved back to Guatemala.

When we landed in the airport of Guatemala city, we walked down the steps to the concrete outdoors with dust flying from planes landing. As we entered the building, it did not seem less dustier than outside.

As we stood in the building we realized that no one was there to greet us. There was no familiar face waiting for us. Tom had told Mario the date we would arrive and that was all. We looked out to the street where cars were buzzing around. They all looked like junk yard, rusted, old cars that somehow got revived. The air was dense with car exhaust. None of us spoke Spanish and we did not have Mario's phone number or his address. I imagined us being stranded here at the air port not being able to get connected with Mario. It was sickening feeling. Tom said, well, if all else fails, we can call dad. He should have Mario's address & phone no.

Maybe it was one hour wait. It was the longest one hour. We saw him running towards us. We were so happy to see him. We struggled with our luggage to his car. To our dismay it was a small Volkswagen beetle. There were 6 of us plus luggage. He offered to run two trips. I don't remember how we did it. We managed to squeeze in and made in one trip. It felt like the small car could burst.

The next four days were a whirlwind. I could not believe that we could have fit in so many activities. Mario's dad was a fireman. We rented a van. I still remember to rent the van for one week, the cost was almost $700. Car rental was done mainly by Americans and it seemed they figured that Americans could afford any fee they charged.

We drove through the town. There were potholes everywhere. It was expected that your tire would blow once a week. Well. as expected we had a flat tire within days, but repair cost was only $2.00. The city was heavy in pollution. I could feel my lungs longing for fresh air. As soon as we exited the Guatemala city, I was keenly aware of wonderful and fresh air.

One day a group of church members took us out to eat. We were special. It was not everyday that an American family visited the local church in Guatemala. There must have been twenty of us. After a meal, the waiter made a bee line to Tom. He was the only white man at the whole table. So Tom paid the bill. And wherever we went it was the same. Yet everything seemed to be so inexpensive that it was really OK.