Learning a language in Guatemala? You can also lend a helping hand

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I enjoyed reading Katie Quirk’s article about beautiful Guatemala (“Speak It by Living It,” Jan. 15). It’s a land of gorgeous scenery, lovely indigenous warm-hearted people, great food and fascinating ruins and culture.

My husband and I visited Guatemala two years ago at the urging of our daughter, Anna, who spent two months there studying Spanish and volunteering at Integral Hearts Foundation. This nonprofit organization provides social and educational services to the impoverished residents in the colonias surrounding Antigua.

Through this program, we began monthly financial assistance for a family of seven living on $2 daily. When we visited Guatemala, we also visited our familia, which was heartwarming and heartbreaking.

With our help, the oldest children remain in school, and they receive a monthly food basket. They have a vented stove, mattresses and clothing.

Traveling to a country such as Guatemala is so much fun, but the poverty is overwhelming, and it is nice to be able to help out.


Melissa Klaskin Levy

Los Angeles

Ridgecrest is worth the drive

What a pleasant surprise to read about Ridgecrest in the Travel section’s Jan. 15 Weekend Escape (“Art on the Rocks,” by Sara Lessley). Having been a Ridgecrest resident since 1960, I appreciated her kind words and carefully crafted article about our area.

Knowledgeable military brass consider the Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake mentioned in the article (this is where I worked my entire career straight out of college) a “jewel in the desert.” It also is the home of the famous Sidewinder, the air-to-air missile.

What was missed was the U.S. Naval Museum of Armament and Technology on the base. (Editor’s note: The website says, “Because the museum is located on a highly classified U.S. Navy base, it can, unfortunately, currently take up to two hours to get clearance for access … but it is well worth the wait. Please go to the Visitor Center at the entrance of the base. You will need a driver’s license and proof of car insurance to gain access to the base.” Info: [760] 939-3530.)

I guarantee you that if you care about that sort of thing, it will be worth the time seeing the history of naval weapons development.

I agree that the Trona Pinnacles, where some movies were filmed in part, are worth that drive also. By the way, that short drive could start you through Trona on the way to Death Valley, which should be spectacular this spring with wild flowers.

Gale Poppen


It suited them to a tea

I enjoyed Rosemary McClure’s article extolling some of the world’s swankiest afternoon teas (“Take Tea in High Style,” Jan. 8).


My husband and I recently enjoyed the Champagne tea in the exquisite Salon Proust at the Ritz Paris. Upon leaving, our server presented us with a small, beautifully boxed canister of Ritz special blend tea.

It was a charming memento to bring home, especially since our next stop, the hotel’s Bar Hemingway, was full and could not seat us.

Janice Johnson Barnum

San Gabriel