I arrived safely in Guatemala on June 11, but getting here was a bit of a challenge. My 6.15 am flight time necessitated leaving home at 4 am. Sleep was not an option. By the time I got to the airport and entered a long line of expectant passengers, I had been awake for 24 hours. My palpitating heart and weary bones complained as I commanded them to wrestle with two heavy suitcases and a 43 pound sewing machine that I chose to take as a carry on bag. Being a seasoned traveler, I had learned to keep my own possessions to a minimum. That way, I could pack my bags to the 50 pound limit with gifts for the children of the orphanage and supplies for my sewing classes.
Having successfully negotiated another long line snaking through the security checkpoint, I eased myself into the airplane seat and fell into a deep and blissful sleep. I discovered myself dozing again during my 3 and a half hour layover at the Miami airport, with my head thrown back and mouth agape. My need for sleep overtook me on the second flight and I didn´t even notice the turbulence. A heavy rainstorm over Guatemala City prevented the pilot from landing the plane and he diverted to El Salvador. What a beautiful country! From my limited perspective through the airplane window, I could see lush agricultural vegetation surrounded by neat rows of trees, a pristine sandy coastline, and rolling blue waves beyond that. After 2 hours of sitting on the tarmac, the view put me to sleep.
We finally arrived in Guatemala, where I was met by Ericka, the assistant director of Hogar Rafael Ayau, who wisked me off to the orphanage. Having visited this place so often over the last 13 years, I have come to consider it a second home. Surrounded by familiar smiles and warmed by the children´s embraces, I am made to realize that I am not a stranger in this foreign land.