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Casa San Bartolomé – Allow us to share

We received a warm reply for our email to Casa San Bartolomé to ask for a sponsorship stay for 5 nights.

We would like to help you

We would like to help you

When we met Anabella, the owner, she said, “This is a nice project. And my husband and I want to be a part of it; even it’s just supporting you through hosting you. We want to be associated with I Believe That Dreams Can Come True”. We almost bowed over with gratitude, because here is someone who truly understood what we are trying to do, what the project stands for…and wants to be associated with us for that. The honor was mutual.

It is important to us that people who agreed to help us understood what we are doing and why we are doing it. The two of us can have a big dream, a great project. The fact is, we would not have made it this far without the help of people who has given us money, equipment, gear, a house to rest in, a table to work on and a meal to feed our souls for the last 16 months on this journey. This chain of dreams inspiring dreams becomes longer and stronger with every single person who believed in it. And it is extremely important to us that people who helped us understood that.

And because Anabella was not going to be in town during the time we were going to stay at Casa San Bartolomé, she told us that if we need anything, we could seek the assistance of the two caretakers of the house – Doña Chicky and Doña Braula.

Our hosts at Casa San Bartolomé - Doña Chicky and Doña Braula

Our hosts at Casa San Bartolomé - Doña Chicky and Doña Braula

For the next 5 days, we had a cosy room to rest and regain our sanity after the trip to Momostenango via the roller coaster rides on the chicken buses. We worked in a quiet environment with huge tables and stable internet connection. Tay was able to sleep and sleep and sleep after an exhausting hike up Santa Maria. We had a kitchen to make simple and satisfying meals which we could enjoy in the privacy of our room when the night turned cold.

看看電視節目 - 讓勞碌了一天的腦袋"放空" A time to let go of one's mind and just "chillax" with channel surfing

看看電視節目 - 讓勞碌了一天的腦袋"放空" A time to let go of one's mind and just "chillax" with channel surfing

Casa San Bartolomé supported us well for what we were doing in Xela that week. The only thing that was missing was we had wanted to connect more with Doña Chicky and Doña Braula throughout our stay but there always seemed to be distance between us that could not be breached.

Maybe it begun from the morning when one of the Doñas asked us how we slept; and we answered, “Good, except for the mozzies or bugs which bit us during the night. Now we’re itching. Is there something we can do about it?”

Perhaps it was self-defense and a reflex response to protect their jobs (which was perfectly understandable), the Doña replied, “It cannot be. Our sheets are all sprayed with repellent. It must have been you walking on the streets and brought them back to the room.”

We were slightly taken aback; after all, Casa San Bartolomé is known for its hospitality and wonderful hosts who go out of their way to make stays enjoyable for their guests. We could not help but feel that maybe as “non-paying guests”, it was best to keep to ourselves and not bother the Doñas so much.

We couldn’t blame the Doñas, because perhaps all they were given were simply instructions to take us in and not collect payment from us. We couldn’t possibly expect them to understand why the hosts decided to help us when they know nothing about our project.

So we decided to make an effort to bridge the gap and share our stories with them…

One morning whilst we were preparing breakfast, Doña Braula was seen hovering around us in the kitchen. She seemed to be curious about what we are preparing and that morning’s breakfast.

We took the opportunity to strike a conversation and introduced mango avocado basil salad to Doña Chicky and Doña Braula. They would not have prepared these ingredients this way. They tasted it and said, “Not bad, not bad at all.”

Over a plate of salad, Doña Chicky and Doña Braula asked where exactly is Singapore, what does the country look like, what language do we speak, are we Chinese, what is our staple food at home, how old are we, where are our parents, do we have tortillas in Singapore, etc. We shared Singapore with them. A country that is 30 hours by plane from theirs, a country that is only 42km across but has 5 million people. Our parents live in Singapore, our primary language is English, we speak Mandarin which is our mother tongue and an indigenous language from China, Teochew which we called our grandmothers’ language…

For the next hour, we shared Singapore, a country that they could only read about in the news or the internet if we had not been there. We shared, “I Believe That Dreams Can Come True” and what the whole project is about, why we are collecting people’s dreams, why the owner of the house decided to help us. Doña Chicky and Doña Braulas’ eyes grew really big and wide when they heard that we do not own a single thing that we have or wear. Our money for food comes from donations. We kept sharing and they listened in silence, occasionally nodding their heads.

In the end, Doña Chicky asked us, “Do you believe in God?” And we said, “There is God in everyone, and we have come this far because of that. This is the hope and humanity that we hoped to share on this journey.”

On the note of humanity, doors of our hearts opened and somewhere between us and Doña Chicky and Doña Braula, a bridge was built.

The next morning, Val was supposed to fetch Tay back to the Casa after her hike to Santa Maria Volcano at 12pm, just in case she could no longer walk or was not conscious enough to find her way home.

From 1130am to 1145am, Doña Braula popped her head into our room to check what Val was doing 3 times. She had come to remind Val, “You need to go and bring your amiga back from the hike.”

“I almost went over to hug her (Doña Braula) when she said to leave now, bring your friend back home. In that moment, I knew that we (Tay and myself) are now part of the little family in Casa San Bartolomé – our “home” for those last 5 days in Xela. I was happy we took the initiative to get to know each other.”Val

The day we left for Panajachel, we asked if Doña Braula and Doña Chicky would share their dreams with us. They did not hesitate.

The Dreams of Doña Chicky and Doña Braula

The Dreams of Doña Chicky and Doña Braula

Relationships need to be built. We do not expect to walk into people’s lives and expect them to share their lives and dreams just like that. It is an honor when people opened their houses to us, it is a privilege when people open their hearts to us, it is humbling when people share their personal dreams with us. It is not something that we take for granted.

“Dear Doña Chicky and Doña Braula, you reminded us of something precious, you reminded us that we need to communicate, you reminded us that if we want others to open their hearts, we need to open ours first. You reminded us what human relationships are all about. It is about sharing. Thank you for allowing us to share. Thank you for sharing a part of yourselves that we will always remember.”Tay

Our "Thank You" Note

Opened Doors, Opened Hearts – Our Hospitality Sponsor
Casa San Bartolomé“Casa San Bartolomé is located in one of the oldest neighborhoods of the beautiful Xelajú, very close to Central Park. From here you will have a view of the most important mountains that surround Quetzaltenango. We have seven rooms in a modern house that has an architectural design that follows the norms mandated by the Historical Downtown of Quetzaltenango. The hotel is located near the green sections of Xela, which allows for easy hikes and bicycle rides. Attended by it’s owners, the staff of Casa San Bartolomé can provide with information about ecotours and cultural activities. We do our best to offer a quiet spaces that invites you to rest in a nice, family setting surrounded by gardens.”

For more information about Casa San Bartolomé in Xela, Guatemala, click here.

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