Guatemala Family Trip January 1978

Austin American Statesmam, Neighbor Section, February 16, 1978


In January 1978, Mel Oakes was invited to give lectures at the Central American Conference on Physics, CUCAF in Antigua, Guatemala. Jorgé and Miriam Antillón generously invited the whole family to come and stay in their home in Guatemala City. They had four children, however only two were living at home, Jo rgito and Fritz. The family flew first to Mexico City where they enjoyed the Christmas decorations in that city and visited many of the major tourist attractions before continuing on to Guatemala City. We arrived at the airport, Jorgé picked us up in a van. He hinted that we were in for a surprise. Indeed we were, another family. Dick and Susan Nostrand and their two children, had ask to visit the Antillons, and they kindly agreed and shoehorned everyone into the house. The families enjoyed visiting together. Pat prepared for the trip by going to UT and taking a Spanish class, (second semester Spanish. since the first semester course was full.) With her amazing facility with languages and her knowledge of French, she did well. Speaking Spanish everyday with Miriam, she became quite fluent. Sadly for Mel, nearly everyone spoke English, thus despite his memorizing Spanish conversations in preparation, he made very little language progress, however he made friends with many of the students in the class, friends which continued long after he returned to the home. A number of the students later enrolled in UT and earned advanced degrees in physics.

During the stay, the Antillon arranged many trips to major tourist sites throughout the country. Lake Atitlan, Lake Amatilan, Likin seashore, Antiqua. and Chicicastenango. Mel and Jorgé drove to Antigua each day for the lectures. Pat, the kids and Miriam enjoyed their beautiful home and garden. Miriam introduced them to many different foods, flowers and various family relatives.