Thursday, February 16, 2006

...and in the local news

First off, I’ve finally got some photos of my time in Guatemala on the internet. If you’d like to view them simply click the link:

…And in the local news, both of the only two shops that I regularly visit in my neighborhood have been robbed. The peluqueria (barber shop) was robbed shortly before I left to the states for Christmas. The thief apparently used a sledgehammer to break the large padlocks holding down the cage door covering the entrance. He made off with both chairs, the hair dryer, both sets of shears, a 15” tv as well as a limited supply of hair products including the ever popular “Moco de Gorilla” (Translation: Gorilla Mucus, a popular styling gel among children… and yes it is the color green.) Sadly having insurance is not the norm. The owner was closed for three days looking for replacement chairs and some new-used shears. He is currently renting chairs until he, once again, has saved up the money to purchase new hair cutting chairs (according to the internet, that’s the official term). And there is no longer a TV with bad-reception in the upper corner giving customers something to do while waiting their turn for a friendly barber to remove their slender threadlike outgrowth of the epidermis (Definition taken from Webster Dictionary). Even still, life continues and for just under three dollars you can get a professional cut with friendly service (Sorry ladies, men only for this barber).

Just this week the local internet café suffered a similar fate, losing all of its computers to an unknown entity. At a cost of 75 cents for an hour of use, the time required to recuperate lost funds will be very long indeed. The café has been closed indefinitely. Fortunately for the rest of the populace the next one lies just 3 blocks up the road.

As for the news in zone three (the zone bordering the dump, and also the zone where Potter’s House is located), there have been 2 more murders within 3 blocks of Potter’s House over the last month. The most recent was a stabbing and killing of a 17 year old girl who was apparently out late at night in the Piedra Santa Colony (just around the corner from Potter’s House). The killer and motive are (and will likely remain) unknown.

In one of my previous updates I spoke of a 3 or 4 year old girl who was kidnapped. It has now been just over two months since the kidnapping and almost all traces of her existence have faded. No longer, do signs that read, “Girl Missing” decorate rusting walls. And there were reports from an eye-witness who saw the mother whether in happiness or out of an immense sadness, celebrating and drunk on New Years eve. When the eye-witness was asked if the mother was still mourning the loss, the response was, “Why should she? She still has five healthy children, and the lost one was likely sold to an adoption agency to be given to some family in the states.”

As is quite apparent, violent crime has been on the rise ever since the end of Guatemala’s 35 year civil war. The war was begun and maintained in large part with the help of funds from the US government and support from the CIA to prevent possible socialistic or communistic governments from maintaining power. However, the result was that a dictator government with power invested in the military pushed big business and economic growth at the expense of the poor which generally happened to also be the indigenous people of Mayan decent. The result is that the gap between the rich and poor has grown extremely wide. The poorest 10% now garnering roughly 0.9% of the national GDP. With a year 2000 per capita GDP of $1670, that comes to about $150.30 per year for the lowest 10%, far too little to live on. Since 2000, Guatemala’s national GDP has enjoyed a positive 4% gain per year, however the average per capita income among the poor continues to decline. And out of that hopelessness comes the ability to do the extreme, even commit atrocious acts in order to allow you and your loved ones to survive. (Data from

On a lighter note, the new school year has begun and over 200 students now attend Potter’s House’s primary school. Additionally, the computer lab has been finished and a computer teacher is able to teach children valuable computer skills that may one day allow them to find a job outside the garbage. Also, an English teacher from the states fluent in both English and Spanish has volunteered a year of her life, and so students will begin down the path towards being bilingual, giving them a leg up in the job market.

Another highlight, is that this year the education department will begin offering adults without high school degrees the opportunity to continue their own education in the comfort (or lack thereof) of their own home. By broadcasting classes over a localized frequency adults in zones 3 and 7 will be able to take the courses required to earn their high school diplomas.

As for the weather, we are officially more than half way through the summer season (roughly October through April). To mark the occasion we had an absolutely astounding display of rain. October through April is known as summer because during these months it generally does not rain (This rain was the first that I remember since November). However, the temperature is on average a little cooler, the coldest month being December reaching average lows of 54 degrees and highs of 73. The winter runs from May through September and it will generally rain daily during these months. May being the hottest with lows of 61 degrees and highs of 84 degrees.

While, during this time (right now) the clouds in the sky are scarce, clouds of dust roam the earth in abundance. Within the dump a new flying specie now competes with the vultures for domination of the skies. On windy days plastic bags of all sizes and colors float amongst the dust for all (except those who work within the dump) to enjoy. Yet the dry season has one huge advantage over the rainy season. The stench has been greatly lessened. Also, your house is much less likely to collapse due to erosion or mud slides.

And finally, on to personal news. For those of you who were praying for my grandfather, thank you for your prayers. My grandfather passed away early Christmas Morning. While the event of death is a sad one and we are all definitely sad to see him go, my grandfather lived a good and full life of 91 years. He had a loving wife and a loving family as well as a host of adoring friends. I was blessed with the opportunity to attend the memorial service and to see over 300 of these friends and to hear some of them speak and to listen as others gave their talents in honor of him. He was and continues to be greatly respected and loved by all. For those of you who were praying for him, I ask that you’d redirect your prayers now towards my grandmother who has just lost her husband of over 67 years. Pray that she would find comfort and encouragement from the Lord in this time and that she would know that she still has many on this earth who love her very much.

On another note, even though I delayed by 10 months, Allstate has graciously allowed me the opportunity to work for them and I plan on starting with them late summer.

That’s all for this segment of News in Guatemala, I hope you’ve enjoyed it. I’d love to hear from you personally so write me at

God Bless,

-Enoch Hill