Flat Stanley
category: Emilys Guatemala, Jims Guatemala

This blog post is dedicated to Makenna Timmons and her second grade class at St. Matthew’s School in Indianapolis, Indiana. Makenna is a pretty cool cat; we love her and miss her a lot. See you in July chica!

A lot of interesting people have come to visit us during our time in Peace Corps, and for that we consider ourselves lucky, especially since we are so far out in the boonies. It lightens our spirits and recharges us to keep going. Last week we got a visit from someone very special: Flat Stanley.

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Flat Stanley is a pretty normal kid, except that one day, a large bulletin board mounted over his bed fell off the wall and smashed him… and now he’s as flat as a pancake! This sounds terrible, but Stanley soon discovered that he could do things while flat that he couldn’t when he was rounded. His friend Makenna thought he might like to see Guatemala, so she mailed Stanley to her Aunt Emily.

Guatemala is a small country in Central America, about 1,750 miles from Indianapolis. While the United States touches the northern border of Mexico, Guatemala touches the southern border of Mexico. Guatemala is full of steamy jungles, frigid mountains, and everything in between. Since we live high up in the mountains, Uncle Fletch worried Flat Stanley might get cold on his travels through Guatemala, so he made Stanley a capishay to keep him warm. The men in their village have worn the capishay for as long as anyone can remember, and they make them out of wool from the sheep they raise.

The first thing Stanley did in the village was to meet the kids. I like to read to them, so Stanley joined in… even though he doesn’t speak any Spanish! At least the pictures were familiar since we read Where the Wild Things Are, or Donde Viven los Monstruos. Guatemalans speak Spanish, so we took turns translating for Stanley. Some Guatemalans also speak a Mayan language. There are 22 different ones, and in our village, the kids speak Q’anjob’al.

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Stanley played with the kids for a while, and made friends with Chalio. Chalio makes toy boats and airplanes out of cornstalks, and he shared one with Stanley. Then, they went out to play in the garden. The bright sunlight and volcanic soils in Guatemala are good for growing just about anything, like potatoes and carrots and beets and spinach. Some plants like warmer weather, though, so Uncle Fletch decided we should have a greenhouse for growing cucumbers and tomatoes and melons. We like to teach the locals about good nutrition, and growing and eating fruits and vegetables is really good for your health. You guys should try this at home!

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Later that afternoon, we went for a hike. We live in the mountains, but in the nearby valley they have a pretty stream.

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Stanley arrived in Guatemala just before my scheduled girl’s weekend at the lake. Now, I know Stanley is a not a girl, but he was only going to be here for a limited time, so I made an exception and let him come along. Long ago, Lake Atitl├ín was a huge volcano surrounded by several smaller ones. When it stopped erupting, the crater filled with water until it became a very deep, cold lake. It is the second largest lake in Guatemala, ten miles wide! The locals have tiny boats they paddle out into the lake to go fishing for their dinner.

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Stanley really liked the volcanos, so we invited him along for Uncle Fletch’s birthday trip to climb to the highest point in all of Central America: a volcano called Tajamulco. The trip took two days, and we had to spend the night in a tent near the top. Stanley didn’t mind the climb though, because he rode in my back pack all the way up, so his legs didn’t get tired at all. And, unlike Uncle Fletch and me, Stanley didn’t get soaked on the way up either. We took extra clothes and jackets and mittens, because the freezing wind and thin air would be dangerous to someone without a way to keep warm. Stanley was concerned about being on top of a volcano, but I explained to him that Tajamulco has been extinct for a long time, so we had nothing to worry about. Here’s a picture of me and Stanley at sunrise on the top of the mountain. We could see lots of volcanos in the distance (Guatemala is home to 34 volcanos) AND we could see all the way to the pacific coast. It was pretty cool, and super cold. Frost collected on our hiking boots while we watched the sun come up, and I had to hold on tight so the wind didn’t blow Stanley away!  

stanley_mercedSM.jpgAfter we climbed Tajamulco, I had to go to some meetings near the city of Antigua, Guatemala. It’s the oldest city in the country. It was founded by the Spanish Conquistadores a few years after Columbus discovered the New World. Some of the buildings in Antigua are 500 years old! That’s older than the United States.

But all good things must end, and so Flat Stanley had to head home. The mail in Guatemala is very slow, so Stanley is probably in a big mail boat in the middle of the ocean right now, sailing his way back to Indianapolis. But he asked that we write a blog post about his adventures, so Makenna and her friends could know what he did in Guatemala and not be worried about him.

Thanks for sending your friend to visit, Makenna. Too bad you can’t fit through the mail, too!

Love,

Aunt Emmy and Uncle Fletch

Posted by: emily