We share Sister Liza Segleau’s first letter home since arriving in Guatemala. Please continue to keep all our Salvatorian Family members in your prayers as they begin our Inter-American Collaborative Initiative in Guatemala.
Dear Sisters and family,
Sorry I have not written sooner, but we were busy visiting the various ministries in San Pablo, San Marcos and San Sebastian this entire week. We took advantage of the fact that Sisters Luz Marina and Nubia from Colombia were with us to share the experiences.
We arrived safe and sound in San Pablo on the 6th of September, but not before having a few adventures along the way! Our plane arrived on time in Guatemala City. Surface traffic was horrific. It was rush hour. We inched our way out of the city with two cars full of Sisters and luggage. The first evening we made it to Antigua, a very beautiful, cobblestoned, colonial town about three hours from Guatemala City. It has been destroyed and rebuilt many times through its history due to earthquakes. History is lucky that it is still standing, beautiful as always. At our arrival, Father Rodolfo “kind of” lost his way in the city. He finally decided to stop and ask for directions. With that, we finally found our way. We stayed at the Dionisio Inn, a very cute place and a bit rustic; it was just fine for our overnight.
The next morning we headed out to tour the colonial town of Antigua. It is now quite touristy and has become expensive. We toured some churches, a lookout area, took photos and then we headed out to get some breakfast outside of town. Once we had breakfast at this beautiful lookout spot, we began our climb towards San Pablo. Soon after leaving the restaurant, Fr. Rodolfo’s SUV broke down—something to do with the radiator. We waited about three hours on the side of the road for a flatbed to pick up the car, a taxi to pick us up, and for Marielos, a Lay Salvatorian, to turn around and help us with the rest of the luggage that had been in Fr. Rodolfo’s car. So Day 2 started with a bit of a hiccup.
Once everything was sorted out, Fr. Rodolfo took the pickup with the luggage and the rest of us and drove us to Lake Atitlan. We contemplated the lake, had dinner, and then headed out, since we knew the road ahead was pretty tough due to twists, turns and pot holes. Nighttime was coming with possible dense fog patches—we hit all of them. That made for a slow and tense drive.
We did arrive safe and sound in San Pablo around 10:30 p.m. We were pretty tired and rattled, literally.
Last week we spent time visiting the different works/projects that the Salvatorian Fathers, Brothers and Lay Salvatorian Marielos have been working on. There have been multiple celebrations in the different houses for the arrival of us Salvatorian Sisters. We’re hoping the celebrations can slow down now and we can begin to discern where we will be a good fit.
The Salvatorians have three sites: San Pablo (mainly for initial formation of men interested in entering with the Fathers and Brothers); San Marcos (a pastoral educational/training facility); and San Sebastian (serving the smaller villages surrounding San Sebastian). The Fathers and Brothers are building like crazy right now in San Pablo—to rebuild a training center they lost in the 2014 earthquake, and to provide a nice space for us. However, the construction hit some bumps and is not completed yet. We are staying with Fr. Rodolfo, Br. Emilio and Tito, who is studying to enter with the Fathers and Brothers in Colombia. They hope to complete separate living quarters for us in three months. In the meantime, two of us, including me, have our own room and two Sisters are sharing a room.
It is warm here in San Pablo, but it cools off very nicely in the evenings. San Pablo is on the edge of the Pacific region of Guatemala. San Marcos and San Sebastian are at a much higher elevation, very wet and rainy and much cooler than San Pablo.
Yesterday, the 12th of September, was the last day that Colombian Sisters Luz Marina and Nubia would be with us. Fr. Rodolfo wanted to make the day special. We all hopped in the pickup and headed up to the village of Igualdad, which is at the base of a sleeping super volcano called Tajumulco. We are all very happy it is a sleeping giant, and hope it does not wake up in our time. Scientists have calculated if it ever blows again, it could take out the southern part of Mexico and the entire section of Central America. So sleep on Tajumulco, sleep on.
We parked the pickup in the village of Igualdad and hiked up the base of the volcano to a colossal waterfall named after the town, Igualdad—or the town named after the water fall—and some thermal pools formed by the sleeping giant Tajumulco. The trail was well marked, but quite rough and slippery in spots. I only slipped and fell once—not a bad score. Others slipped and fell too, just for the record.
The waterfall was very impressive. I was not able to see the top of it. It was so powerful and tall it had its own weather system—wind, water pushed down the river, mist, etc. It was hard to look straight at it due to the force of its winds. The thermals were very nice too. There was a small waterfall next to the thermals as well. It was a very beautiful and quiet area to just relax. The only killer was that you KNEW you had to walk back down to the village of Igualdad the same way you came—more rocks, mud, questionable bridges, stairs and slippery spots. The park itself is owned and maintained by a co-op. I would say they do a very good job with very little. They have done well in keeping it rustic and natural.
In general things are good with me. I will send some pictures along to prove I’m still alive and kicking!
Sr. Liza Segleau, SDS