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Panajachel and Santiago

January 27, 2003

This past weekend was a great combination of relaxation and observation. Lake Atitlan is an incredibly beautiful place that cannot be described with words, or I cannot at least. The blue-green water surrounded by mountains and volcanoes with their peaks in the clouds is a sight I could stare at forever. When we arrived in Santiago it was impossible to imagine that a little over 10 years ago it was a place of fear and violence. I do not think I will ever be able to understand how a person can brutally torture another person to death. Having a reason, or thinking a person has a reason, does not justify killing a person and these people were tortured and killed for no reason at all. Chonita's testimony was very sad, but it was wonderful to meet her. She seems so happy now and at peace with her life. She is a very caring person who opened her doors and her life to us.

This morning when we got on the bus I sat down behind a father and his child. As soon as we got on, I noticed the father motion several times to his child, pointing us out to his child. My initial response was, "Are you serious? Is it really that big a deal that you need to be so obvious in pointing us out?" As I watched more I realized that they were speaking through sign language. I am not sure if they were both deaf or just the child, but it was wonderful to watch. I love watching people sign because it is so expressive and this child talked so much with his eyes. I am not sure what his father was signing but they were joking around about something and the child's eyes sparkled and laughed. I just thought of how I could have communicated with that child even though we donít communicate the same way and how even though he couldnít communicate his joy for life vocally, it was definitely shown through his expression.

- Lisa Ehst

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