Flat Stanley Reporting

Follow Catalyst’s voyage at:  http://www.winlink.org/dotnet/maps/PositionReportsDetail.aspx?callsign=KG4QFO

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February 20, 2012

Dear Friends and family,

In order to save my typing hand, I am sending out another Flat Stanley report to get you up dated.  I am doing well.  My hand is more comfortable and I am getting used to being a lefty.  On the other hand, Rob is the one with a big challenge.  He is doing my work and his.  We have been eating out most meals.  I am ready to eat my own cooking again.  Two weeks down, 4 to go!

Flat Stanley reporting.

Well, I didn’t realize I would have such an eventful week but I have a lot to tell you.

Did you have a nice Valentines Day?  Well, I had an interesting one.  We went to visit a fort that is here in Rio Dulce.  It is located at the start of the river at the entrance to a very big lake.  It was used to stop pirates in the area, to be a place where people payed taxes on the things they brought in to the lake, and also as a prison.

It is not a really big fort but had about 200 soldiers there at one time.  The fort was used for about 150 years.  It was built about the middle 1600s and was restored in 1995.  A lot of it is not original but it was very nice to see what it would have looked like.

Some of the cannon there are original and some are cannon captured from the English.   Back at that time, the English and the Spanish fought for control of land and treasure, such as gold.  The Spanish thought the English were pirates and thieves.  The English thought the same of the Spanish so being captured as a pirate most often depended on who did the capturing.  Of course there were those who stole only for themselves and not for their country and were true pirates.

What was really terrible was to see a large dark room with no opening for light.  Small hollows were put along the wall with a small low bench.  Two prisoners were put there with one arm chained to the wall.  It was dark and in the rainy season they may be sitting waist high in water.  They were fed little, got no change of clothes and had to go to the bathroom right there.  Most prisoners didn’t survive more than three months.  When we see movies and cartoons about pirates, they don’t usually show that part of the life!

Even though they don’t seem very nice they did worship and being Catholic was important.  This fort had a chapel.  It would not have been big enough for everyone to attend but they did have a special place for prayer.

The fort had a moat around it.  Do you know what a moat is and what it is for?  The original chain was still there but they don’t pull up the draw bridge any more.

Because the fort is near fresh water rather than salt water, it would have been easier to live because they could drink and wash with this water.  It is a very pretty park now.

Here we are coming up to the fort.  Inside the stairs were steep and you had to duck or hit your head.  I think people were a lot shorter back then.  Of course, I am not too tall but Sue did help me get around.

Here is the outside and inside of the chapel.  See me in the window?

Here is our tour guide Abby, who is showing us the size of the area where two prisoners would have been chained.  There would have been bars across the front.

Here is the draw bridge at the top where you roll up the chain that lifts the bridge.  I am standing at the gate with the draw bridge behind me.  It was a beautiful fort.

We also had a fun weekend being a ferry service.  Our friend Kelli who lives on her boat at the river village, told us that some children were coming from a school in Guatemala City and needed to get to the river village by boat.  They come from all over the country to a school in the city.  They come from families that could not afford to give them an education.  They live together in one big boarding house and they are young and some as old as twenty because they couldn’t finish high school sooner.  There were about 35 people to transport.  We needed more than just our boat to move them, so I put out a request for help from other boaters and 5 other boats said the would help.  On Friday, we picked up the kids on our boats and took them the 2 ½ hour ride down to the river village.  This was a field trip for the kids because most of them have never traveled.  For many of them, it was the first time to see a big river.  Many people never get to go on boats like ours but they got to.  Some rode in a dingy and they rode in launchas once they got to the village so they had many boating experiences.  They thought it was wonderful.  Most of the kids got to drive the boats they were on and really liked that.  The kids switched boats for the return trip home on Sunday morning so they could have a different experience.

The school was started by two Austrian men and the children are sponsored by people from Austria.  (Do you know where Austria is?   Sometimes people get it confused with Australia!)  The Austrian person has a home near the river village and all the children stayed there.  We unloaded and loaded the  children at his dock.  The children from the village school hosted soccer games so that the kids could play together.

The kids got to go to the mouth of the river by the sea and many of the children had never seen the ocean before,  There was endless water with no land in sight!  Have you ever seen the sea?

The boaters that brought the children also did some fun things together so it was a wonderful way to make new friends with more Guatemalan children as well as other boaters.  One of the cruiser boats has a 9 year old girl on board.  Her name is Archer.  She met a girl on a boat anchored there who lives with her parents.  She has lived on the boat in Guatemala since she can remember.  She speaks English and Spanish fluently.  She has an unusual name.  It is Africa!

Sue and Rob keep hoping to leave for Guatemala soon but things don’t always go as planned so it will be a surprise for next week!  Hope you like the pictures!

Flat Stanley Reporting.

his boat was the only non sail boat and has spent 6 years cruising here from Australia and is hoping to go through the Panama canal soon.  They will have circled the world!

Here are the other boats that took children.

Which boat would you want to ride on?

Pretty cool school bus, don’t you think!

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