from Guatemala without the tears

For those inquiring about my safety I enclose part of a report to my parents:

   As fate would have it the day I arrived in Guatemala was the day the disaster struck, last Wednesday [Oct 5]. After days of saturating rain, the additional tropical rains from Hurricane Stan brought disaster in many forms to Guatemala.

   The village next to my school village at the foot of a volcano experienced first a tremor, then came an avalanche of mud from the supersaturated mountain that killed 50.

   1,400 kilometers of roads, 52% of those in the country were eroded, collapsed, covered with avalanches of rock, washed out, unpassable, aggravated by 17 bridges destroyed or weakened. Hence, transport was stopped. Even rescue helicopters were hampered by the continued low ceilings and continued rain. These rains in subsequent days kept 630 destroyed villages isolated, [figures from Prensa Libra October 9, 2005] many residents without food and water.

   I knew Friday after two calls Thursday and Friday produced the same result that I’d have to leave: Transport Rebelli which normally provides bus service to Panajachel from where I’d take a boat across Lake Atitlan to San Pedro, where I planned to study, was not running. [In the past 4 study visits I lived in Quetzaltenango; it too being further along the road to Panajachel was unreachable.] Meantime, I’m still in my hotel in Guatemala City where I stayed until I flew yesterday. [Sunday, Oct 9] Santiago Atitlan, the village next to my town was the one that lost 50. Nearby Panabaj, 1200.

   I began making reservations to leave.  I’ll study Spanish in Boulder, using the tapes and text I took to Guatemala, as well as continue to edit Murshid: a memoir of Murshid Samuel L. Lewis, my book slated for publication soon. Deborah and I will drive to Tucson Oct 22 to continue for another two weeks our study vacation slated for Guatemala.

   Poor Guatemala. I’m afraid she won’t be ready to receive our return visit which was going to be in the spring, also for one month.

I love you guys,