Saturday, February 25, 2012

Guate Bound Again!

Well, I've booked my flights and am bound for another month long visit to family and friends in Guatemala this summer!

It truly is a beautiful country, from the highlands to the countryside and then down to the coast. Even the city, always bustling with people and super busy isn't terrible. Yes, there are some dangerous areas in the city-places I wouldn't even think of going to. But we have those same areas here in many of our larger cities in the US.

I do have a couple of pet peeves... the air quality in the city is terrible-the minute I get outside the airport I can feel the heaviness in the air and the smog is terrible. The new government has done some things to combat that lately-by prohibiting older model cars to enter the country. We've sent a couple of late model trucks down there in the last couple of weeks-in a rush to get them in before the law becomes final. However, the vehicles that we sent are ones that are working here, registered, inspected and in good condition. I disagree with the law that all vehicles after a certain model year cannot enter-if it is junk, yes-but if it is still working here and passed our inspection, it should be okay to send it there if it is still in good working order. What I didn't know was that they take out the catalytic converters in most of the vehicles since they can overheat, especially on huge hills (of which there are many, it is a very mountainous country!) so of course, that is where the emissions problems come in.

The second pet peeve? Trash everywhere! I had to yell at my smaller nieces and nephews as they would come into the room where we were staying eating say, a bag of Doritos-and when finished instead of walking a couple steps to put it in the trash they would just drop it on the floor. Apparently this is pretty common, since I see lots of trash everywhere I go throughout the country. It's quite sad, because it could be so much nicer if people didn't dispose of everything everywhere. And it's not like there aren't trash men that come around and collect the trash, in my sister in law's colonia they come twice a week.

As far as danger goes, as the white skinned, blonde, blue eyed gringa I definitely stand out. Especially when traveling with a family that is all Guatemalan-heck, even my daughter passes as one! But I have had more curious looks than anything else, and the year before last a very nice lady in the market saw me sitting alone in the car while the rest of the family went to La Terminal to buy some veggies and she came over to chat with me... everyone wonders what on Earth I am doing with these people and seems surprised that I married a Guatemalan and was actually there with family.

When in El Centro (the busy part of the city where crime can happen) I am vigilant about my surroundings. I don't wear flashy jewelry, take a purse or call any attention to myself. I usually put my money in my bra, like the Guatemalan women do. I don't carry a cell phone, hubby does-but if I did it would go in my bra along with my cash and be on vibrate-I just wouldn't answer it until I got to a safer place since cell phones are constantly being robbed over there. Part of that is because the companies will hook up any cell phone, or you can buy a prepaid card to use in any cell phone-stolen or not. There's been talk of a new law being proposed that if a cell phone is reported lost or stolen it won't work-period. Hopefully that will eventually happen, because no one wants to buy a cell phone that doesn't work.

I do worry about the gangs (maras) that they have there, but yet again, we have some very large street gangs in cities big and small here in the US that practice the same things they do there. It does help that we always go out with my brother in law, who is packing at all times (legally) one of the first things my husband wants to do is get his weapons permit and a legal weapon over there. (with more to be kept in the house in case of home invasion) While home invasion sounds scary, we've had several here in Maine this past year, and a few have been in very small cities or towns. Of course, they all have one thing in common, theft and drugs. The scariest thing to me in Guatemala is kidnapping-not something you see so much here. Down there they have it quite alot, and for that reason I try not to let people know my daughter is my daughter. I have her walk with her grandmother, or father. That way, it reduces the risk to her of people thinking she is the daughter of some "rich American woman" lol.

So I am very excited for another trip to Central America this year-even better because we will be attending 2 weddings! I can't wait to see the customs and how they celebrate weddings there. I am a little concerned about this trip because my health hasn't been good lately (which is why I haven't been posting so much) but I really am hoping that it is just something as simple as perimenopause kicking my butt! Enjoy the weekend everyone!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Where's Ayla?

Somewhere, somebody knows. And right now, they're not telling. Yes, I live in THAT town-the one where Ayla Bell Reynolds went missing in Mid-December and is still missing as of today.

Whenever a small child is missing it makes National news, and this hasn't been an exception. Traces of her gone missing are all over town: from the Missing posters put up in various businesses to the candlelight vigils, from the news trucks to the searches along (and in) the river close to where I live and work.

Facebook pages and news comments on our local newspaper are full of speculation, rumors, and heck, maybe even a few comments with some truth as well. The thing is... nobody really knows what happened to her. Except the person or persons that took her out of that home, and right now even with a $30,000.00 reward put up by local businesses and concerned individuals even the lure of a fast buck isn't loosening any lips.

Is she alive? Perhaps sold for drugs or to someone who wanted a baby but couldn't afford the outrageous adoption fees? Is she dead? A victim of parental abuse or an accident after a night gone horribly wrong? Was she hidden by the father because he had heard the mother was going to file for primary custody the day she disappeared?

I've seen comments defending both the mother, and others defending the father online. So, the mother used drugs and was in rehab cleaning up so that she could get her child back-after she was placed in the father's home supposedly temporarily by DHHS. Or was it an agreement between the parents that he'd care for her until she got out of rehab? And what WERE they doing the night she disappeared? People have said the parents didn't even have a relationship-that Ayla was the result of a one night stand and that her father didn't even know he was a father until months later.

To me, it seems like they were two young adults that hooked up a few times after partying. It happens all the time, check out the Facebook pages of some young adults you know-partying and hooking up are common things nowadays. I see way too many young adults pushing around baby carriages and wonder why on Earth they'd have young children if they were unwilling or just not ready to care for them. Yes, there are some that have done well-but others that maybe needed a little time to grow up, enjoy life (and party some more if that's what they do best) without the pitter patter of little feet running around. But those are my opinions, and your own may differ.

Recent comments in the last week or two indicate blood, Ayla's blood, was found in the basement of the home where she was living. No specific amounts of blood have been mentioned, only that it was apparently more than a small cut would have provided according to comments made by those that have been told that by our police investigators. That, of course makes it sound like the child met with foul play that terrible evening back in December. Investigators have gone as far to say that they have no evidence she was abducted by an unknown person from the home-as the father and those present in the home have claimed-and that those that were in the home that night know more than they are saying.

The natives are getting restless... we want to know what has happened to Ayla. Of course, we all hope that she is found alive, but as time goes on the prospect of that is indeed quite grim. A few nights ago, that restlessness reared its ugly face when someone busted out the windows at the father's home-the home little Ayla disappeared from.

It's terribly sad when such a young child goes missing... worse when there is a fear that he/she has met with foul play. I don't leave my doors unlocked at night anymore-Waterville is not the small town it used to be, it's changed. I don't live in the best area of town, most consider it to be the worst area to be honest-but I am lucky to have been surrounded by a good group of neighbors who watch out for each other. However that is not to say that there haven't been instances in our own neighborhood where things have gotten a bit crazy.

In addition to alcohol and marijuana, there are other harder drugs out there now-drugs like bath salts which are more prevalent here in Maine and are making people batshit crazy. Users are finding whatever they can and creating new drugs made of common household stuff to get their high. I don't know about you, but it is a pain in the ass to go to the drugstore to get some cold meds and have to take a little card up to the pharmacy area, whip out my drivers license and have them write out all my info and have me sign a paper before I can get what are supposed to be over the counter cold medicines. And gosh, if I get sick after picking up that pack or two for hubby I am shit out of luck for the month because they might think I am using it in my basement to cook up some evil potion of crack cocaine. For someone who likes to use coupons and stock up on those meds when I can get them on sale, with a coupon, cheap-and be told I can only get one, well that sucks.

But back to Ayla... daily I see her little face on the news, on the posters, in my dreams-and she haunts me. I pray that she is fine, but my gut has that sinking feeling knowing that something unfortunate (whether by accident or on purpose) has happened to her. I, like everyone else I have spoken to about this, hope for someone to talk soon. The news, whether good or bad-will give us and the family closure. Wherever she may be... it's time to bring Ayla home.