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November 13, 2012


Dear Family and Friends,

I just got back from a wonderful day in town.  You may ask what is different on this day?  Well, it is Tuesday and that is when the fresh produce comes to town.  Some comes again on Friday but Tuesday is the best!  I dragged home lots of fresh produce and bought meat today as well.  This means spending the afternoon processing that to freeze in small serving sizes.  The chicken breasts here are huge and come with the back bone still in.  Since I use the meat differently than making fried, or baked chicken on the bone, I have taken most of the breast meat off and will freeze it in portions.  That leaves a lot of the meat on the bones so, I am making chicken soup.  I have just added the vegetables and it smells amazing in here.  I added onions, carrots, celery and lots of celery leaves, garlic, chayote squash, cabbage and caraway seed.  It will be yummy!

I am especially pleased to be back in the land of the big fat carrots that are so sweet and tender and also where I can buy the chayote squash at a reasonable price!  I love fresh fruits and vegetables and these are pretty fresh from the garden.

I guess you see that it doesn’t take much to make me happy!  I got a massage here yesterday from a young Australian girls who is working her way around the world.  It was wonderful.  There is also a chiropractor on a near by boat and I may avail myself of her care soon.

We are not getting as much accomplished as hoped.  Rob has not made progress with the trampolines since the picture in the last log, though he has gotten lots of other things done.  The excuse is that we went in to town until past 1 p.m. the last couple of days, and then it rains, or it is hot, or he is tired, so things are a little slow.  He’s also had stomach problems as well as an allergic reaction from the Sun, so hasn’t felt like working outside.  One can see why people may take years to get underway.  I think the tropical lethargy has really gotten to Rob more than I have seen before but, it will be done someday and there is no real rush.

We have made plans on Saturday to drive to the larger city of David which is on the Pacific side.  It will be a 5 hour trip on a 20 passenger bus/van which is likely to be over crowded.  It only costs 1 dollar for the trip!  Of course we have to take two ferries from here to get in to town and then back again on Sunday but not too expensive.  We are going to work with a woman in David who helps boaters get things at PriceSmart and then delivers things to Bocas del Toro.  I spoke with her on the phone and it will be perfect as she will pick us up at the bus station, take us shopping and then we can go to her home and process and freeze the items there and they will be delivered by truck in coolers on Tuesday.  This way, we can use their freezer to cool things down instead of trying to do it all on the boat and over tax our freezer.  Sending the things frozen is also good as they will stay that way when all items are packed frozen.

At home, I would go to the market and get everything I want and then be home in an hour.  Life here is different and while I appreciate my ease at home, shopping here is all part of the experience, just like riding on the buses is!  Of course we could survive just on the local economy but this will allow more of what we like and some special items that our company and guests aboard will enjoy.

Before this gets too long, I want to encourage you to read the following e-mail, sent to me today by our friends, Kelli and Chris, from their boat in the Rio Dulce of Guatemala.  If you read about our stay there in last year’s logs and our contributions to the local school, you will know what we are talking about.  The people there work so hard and have so little.  They do the best they can under difficult circumstances.  There is so much need that one could help in many ways but the future of the children seems to be a good way to make possible a more prosperous community.  You cannot believe what they do with so little and yet they have more than some other villages around their country.  A good wage for an uneducated worker can be about $10 per day and he may not get work every day.  Imagine clothing, feeding, housing and educating a family on that income.  Then throw in health issues or disabilities and hard choices have to be made about paying for food or paying for school.  School after the 6th grade has to be funded by the village and families.  Most of the time, there is little or no money from the centralized government after the 6th grade.  Some children drop out even before that to help do what little work they can to help out the family.

Some of these children are such bright lights and it breaks my heart not to see them get a chance in life.  We have met some of the kids who need our help so it is very personal to us.  Rob and I are going to make another donation this year to the scholarship fund.  I am not asking you to make a contribution unless it is something you can see clear to do and feel good about it.  I know you are all generous and have places where you see fit to contribute, but if this moves you, we would love to have you participate.  For the cost of a nice dinner out, you can educate a child for a year.

I want to assure you that the entire amount of the contribution will go to make this happen.  It is for real and nothing is taken off for administrative costs.   Every penny goes to help the kids.

If you read on, you will see that Kelli wanted the contributions by December 15 which would give a month to take care of this.  I am sure that at any time and for any amount, the school would be happy to hear from you and accept any contribution.

Sorry, if I overstepped on putting this information out but it is something we thought you may like to know about.  We hold no expectations.

All for now in wet Panama,
Sue and Rob

Aboard Catalyst at Red Frog Marina


Please read on to the message from Kelli!

Dear Friends and Family,

As many of you know, I’m a volunteer English teacher for Básico (equivalent to the 7th, 8th & 9th grades) and also teach an adult class in the evenings in Cayo Quemado, Guatemala. It has been a rewarding experience. In the time Chris and I have been living in this neighborhood comprised of eighty families, friends and family have donated computers, school tuitions, supplies, translation dictionaries, and money for school uniforms – all benefiting this disadvantaged community to great effect.

Básico is the highest education available in this community and is funded with virtually no Government support. The parents of Básico students, in addition to paying for tuition, books, supplies and uniforms, must contribute money for salaries for some of the teachers through monthly payments for each student attending. Unfortunately, not every household can do so as many families have more than one child spread across these grade levels. This often results in the family choosing which among their children will continue to the next grade, if any at all. Recognizing a necessity, last year I started a program of providing Tuition Grants for Básico kids that would otherwise not have been able to continue. Through donations, eight students received Grants for the 2012 school year.

Awarding of the 2012 Grants…

The Básico Committee and parents held a meeting to establish guidelines for eligibility. The conditions were: 1) a family with limited resources, 2) a commitment from the parents not to pull the student out of school to work, 3) the student had to maintain a 75% grade point average or higher, 4) the student could not miss any exams, and 5) the student had demonstrated respectful behavior with teachers and peers in the past. I was very pleased with their selections and also that the Grants were equally divided between boys and girls.

Seven of the Grant recipients excelled throughout the year and complied with all conditions. The eighth student lost his opportunity of a paid tuition because he got into trouble and the family had to pay back the money awarded. The Grant was not “lost”… it was given to another deserving student.

The 2012 school year ends with Graduation on November 30th and teachers, the Village Council, and Básico Committee members, are already diligently working to overcome the challenges forecast for 2013. There will be approximately 70 students in Básico in 2013, an 8% increase from 2012. As in previous years, they have solicited the Municipality and the Secretary of Education for teacher-salary funding but once again the prospect looks dismal.

Therefore, as I’m proud to say the 2012 program was a SUCCESS I’ve decided to do it again! I would like to extend the opportunity for you to join us this year in sponsoring tuition for a student. 100% of your donation will be in the form of Tuition Grants. Two students in the 2012 program are graduating. After discussion with the other teachers and the Village Council President, it has been agreed to give the first Grants received to the remaining students of the 2012 program enabling them to continue on to the next grade. A one-year tuition for the 2013 eleven-month school year costs Q550 or $71.50 each.

Payments for one or more Grants may be made by cash, direct deposit, or through our website by credit card via Pay Pal @ http://www.seakistservices.com/pay-your-bill-herecontact-us.html. If making a contribution via Pay Pal, please notify me by e-mail at seas2see@yahoo.com with “Tuition Grant” in the subject line once you have donated. If living in Guatemala and prefer direct deposit, please contact me for the appropriate village-owned bank account number.

Like last year, I will send an “update” letter to all supporters after school starts again in mid January. Please understand your donation is not tax deductible – Chris and I are not a non-profit entity – this is about neighbors helping neighbors. I’m requesting that all donations be made by the 15th of December so as to give ample time for teachers and the Básico Committee to make their selections for 2013.

Thank you very much for your time and consideration of this school tuition project.


In Guatemala: +(502) 5057-2093


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