A postscript to finish off this first day: It is about a 2.5 hour flight from MIA to Guatemala City. The airport is large and while not quite modern and ‘sleek’, it was a pleasant and easy experience going through customs, getting luggage (whew!), and heading to the hotel for a few nights in the capital. It is election season here – blessedly much shorter than our own, with presidential and parliamentary choices being made in early September. So far the locals we have had the chance to speak with are singing the same tune – there are no good candidates! We learned from the AJWS in-country coordinator that trust in all government is very low, corruption is rampant and even expected, and things are no better on the national than the local level and vice-versa. Political dynasties are beginning to take hold (this is sounding vaguely familiar) and although there has been more inquiry into the political parties as of late, with some forced resignations and some better accountability, there is by most accounts a long way to go. I asked if the elections are considered at least “free and fair” and the answer was “it depends who you ask!” But given the history of the country through the last half of the 20th century, which was violent and tumultuous and filled with uncertainty, it seems to be “better” but not yet stable, and for too many not yet even fully hopeful. We are learning already that vast swaths of the population simply have no power of clout, that they are taken advantage of constantly, and that they have no recourse to just courts (so important that it is one of the few “requirements” the Jewish tradition places on everyone to create a civil society). We did enjoy a lovely dinner at a beautiful downtown restaurant, sampling a buffet of local fare – truly a vegetarian’s delight. The chili pepper powder on the table should have come with a warning – definitely five alarms (I loved it!). Looking forward to a most informative week and to staying in touch. Buenas noches (Laila tov) from Guatemala City.