We started off our second week with our first excursion to Rio Dulce. We went for a boat ride on the river which took us to Castillo de San Felipe del Golfo, whilst admiring spectacular views of the area. Although we enjoyed this day, we could not help but notice the change in lifestyle from Puerto Barrios to this touristic area.
On Tuesday we visited Piteros, also known as the ‘’garbage village’’. The living conditions were shocking, not only are these people surrounded by garbage, but their homes are actually built from other people’s refuse. Even more, these people make a living by separating waste for recycling. For our visit we prepared sandwiches for the locals and we also gave out sweets, together with some clothes. Given the conditions, this visit left us a bit gloomy, yet it was a great experience which will help us appreciate the little things, which are actually not so little. In the afternoon we set off to work, where the girls started painting the parish hall, whilst the boys continued the work on the housing projects.
The following day we took off early in the morning and made our way to Rio Salado. The journey consisted of a two-hour drive and a muddy one hour walk through the jungle. Whilst the priests held the monthly mass we organized games for the local children including Maltese traditional games, such as ‘’Iz-zunzana ddur ddur’’ and ‘’Dawra Durella’’. Such visits are always fun and fulfilling as we interact with the locals and see the wonderful smiles on the children’s faces.
On the following two days we continued with our work. Whilst the girls continued painting the parish hall, the boys helped out in the building of the workshop. Additionally, on Thursday the boys also visited Izabal’s prison. Outside, the atmosphere was quite hostile with loads of security. As the boys moved inside they were warmly welcomed by two inmates. They greeted Fr. Anton and went inside to celebrate mass in their humble chapel. Later on the inmates guided the group around the place. Some of them were working in various workshops to make a living out of the things they sell. To support this cause the boys bought some handmade bags.
We started off our weekend by organizing water games for the resident children of Puerto Barrios in the GuateMalta Arena. It was a fun-filled morning and we were delighted to have such a good number of children attending our activities whilst seeing them enjoy the games we had prepared. We had some free time in the afternoon where we visited Las Escobas and also had a swim, both in the pouring rain and in the waterfall! In the evening Fr Mario held his first Quinceañera mass celebration which was also a first for us.
On Sunday we took a boat ride to Livingston, touring us around Rio Dulce. We then attended a Garifuna mass which was a completely different experience of celebration of the Eucharist. The atmosphere was dominated by joyful music and a vibrant feel of praise.