Well, the long awaited 2012 is finally here. 
It certainly will be interesting to see how this year plays out.  I don't believe in the doomsday end of the world hype regarding 21 December 2012.  However, the Maya Long Count Calendar does then end a 5126 year cycle -13 Baktuns - which strikes me as significant.  It kind of feels like when we waited for the year 2000.  Should I just cash in that IRA and enjoy this year ??!!  Logically, believing all will be the same, but also knowing you'll breath a sign of relief on December 22.  Hmmm.... something to think about !! 
First - the family. 
Jessenia will be 18 years old this March. Can you believe it !! Many of you met her when she was a toddler.  Now we are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel of high school, where she is doing well - honor roll all last year.  She'd then like to move to Guatemala and live with her birth family -  see what it is like to be really Mayan. And then apprentice with Calixta, learning about Mayan spirituality.  Not your usual career path, but sounds like a plan to me.  (Joey and Flori with Tommy and Leo, Flori's 3rd child)
joey floriYes, that's Tommy on the left.  He started growing his hair after the World Cup (he wanted to use a long ponytail as defense, to wap the opposing players), and then got into Michael Jackson - dancing and singing and twirling the hair around. He's still my sports boy, playing soccer and hockey, and playing both of them quite well. 

Tommy started a new school with a full day program for learning disabilities.  FInally !! he is learning, and I don't feel I need to home school him on top of everything else I need to do. He has two male teacher who are superb. They get learning struggles, and the material presented is at his level. There are lots of Latinos in the program, so he is speaking as much Spanish now as when we are in Guatemala.  Only problem is he comes home with some pretty nasty vocabulary. Those Mexicans sure do swear a lot !! However, he made the honor roll and was
elected Student of the Month - so obviously he is doing well. 

Now business and our friends in Guatemala: We wrapped up a great 2011 with Doug Beasley's 12th class with us !! He led our first photography workshop back in 1995  (his first international workshop). Now he is a sought after instructor who teaches all over the world.  At the same time Cynthia Padilla held a wonderful drawing workshop which my Tommy was able take.  A great way for us to end the year.

 Lidia and family are all doing well.  Here's Gina, one of Doug's students with Dona Felisa -
in her mid 80's but she hasn't changed a bit.  Walking strong, weaving (needs a little help w glasses, tho) and one of our favorite models.  Sindy proudly graduated this November as a teacher, which she would not have been able to do without help from some of our generous participants.  Now it is Jaqueline's turn, and David Forgay, one of our photo students, bless his heart, is sponsoring her education.

Dona Filo's daughter Brenda has for years helped with breakfasts.  Now she has also graduated and often helps me as an assistant.  Her English is great. In fact she teaches English part time in Antigua.  Ceci is also doing well. Her son Nicola is a doll.  I can't find a picture of Magna in Xenacoj.
So here is her sister in law Dona Margarita and her grand daughter.  They are all doing well and stopping in Xenacoj and meeting Magna's family and friends has been a wonderful addition to our workshops.  

As for me and business. I'm transitioning to adding workshops in other countries, such as Ecuador and Cuba and our own USA. I've always loved travel, b
ut haven't been to a country other than Guatemala since Joey was born.  I'd like to start having as much fun as you guys do !! 

It is more difficult to fill our classes in Guatemala.  Yes, there is the economy.  Yes, I spend a lot of my time simply parenting.  But also there is tons more competition.  I was the first one out there offering learning vacations in Guatemala.  Now there are lots of other folks doing the same thing, and they often look just our classes.

So I need to keep coming up with new ideas.  For this year it is the Exploring the Mayan Calendar end date class.  I've enjoyed researching the subject, organizing locals such
calixtaas Calixta, Delores and Vinny up in Santiago, author Mary Jo McConahay and others to lead discussions.

The subject fits my own interest in alternative education and health care.  There is so much to be learned from indigenous cultures.  We need to back off on some of our technology and return to more natural ways of living and learning (my opinion). I think the class will be very interesting and a lot of fun.   

A few sad updates. Calixta's mother died just a few days ago. If any of you would like to connect with her, I'm sure she would appreciate it. Here is her email: Calixta.

And also, long time Antigua resident Johnny Long died. Johnny took every writing course we ever offered, and his wife, artist Annette Weld, often takes our classes, too.  They've invited our classes into their homes for meals, we even held our despedida at Annette's this past July.  They liked that I dropped in unannounced (they live just down the street from me), said it felt like family.  I truly miss him something terrible!!  

san lucas graveLastly, I HAD to share this cemetery picture with you.  I found it while roaming  the cemetery in San Lucas Toliman with Doug's group.  The grave is painted as the village's huipil. The son said it was to honor his mother, a wonderful weaver.  It's fabulous !! I've never seen anything like it.

So, once again, there's our update.  We send our best regards and warm thoughts to all of you who have joined us, and become friends, over these past 16 years. 

Hope you are having wonderful holidays and are looking forward to this brand new exciting year !!

Abracos fuertes de Liza, Jessenia and Tommy