Strong as passion

Sorry yall, these updates just keep getting farther and farther apart.

Tuesday: Work went well, I brought this braided thing and some clips to make an art display area for the kids in the class. I think they liked seeing their work up there, and the pictures on the line now are the macaroni art we made on Monday.
After work we just kinda chilled till Spanish lesson, and it was later than usual so we had all taken naps before and we were all pretty tired, but regardless, Spanish was good, and we even learned some words in Katchikel too! That night me and abbey decided we wanted Italian food so we found this place online called "Jake's Tomate Bar" that was supposedly good. So we got a taxi over to zone 10 and got all the way over there only to find out ONCE AGAIN that the place no longer exists...seeing a common theme here? Well luckily we were in an area with alot of good restaurants so we wandered around until we found a place called Mexico Lindo with awesome Mexican food, and it wasnt a total bust. Also the toilets there are so weird, they have this thing where the seat is basically covered in some sort of plastic wrap and there is a crank on the back of the seat that you turn when its done and it refreshes the wrap...
cool lights at the restaurant
Wednesday: At work I had a pretty normal day, I got a really cute video of a kid though, he's pretty camera shy. He's 2 and he just learned the word "mariposa" so he was running all over the patio and pointing to all the butterflies yelling "posa! mariposa!" it was adorable, but he kinda stopped when I pulled out my camera.

After work we went on a group field trip to Antigua to a coffee museum and plantation and a Mayan music museum. The coffee museum was pretty cool and we got to taste coffee beans and even chocolate they made there! It was funny cuz they kept talking about how adding sugar to coffee ruins it, and anyone who knows me knows that my own philosophy on that is a bit different.."I like my sugar with coffee and cream."

The Mayan music museum was really neat, alot of pictures were really hard to take though cuz the lighting was really bad, but a guide also came and played some of the instruments for us, so heres a few videos I got of that!

After the Mayan music museum we went to this church in Antigua that had one of the vigils for Holy Week! It is basically like a painted canvas with elaborate scenes in front of it and on the floor there is an "alfombra" made out of painted sawdust and vegetables and there are lights and music going on during all of this. These are found in the main churches during lent as a way of showing respect to God and celebrating Holy Week. Again sorry about the poor quality of the pics, the lighting was terrible. 

the alfombra made of sawdust
the vigil

Im excited to see alot more of these vigils during Semana Santa. After the church Virginia took all of us out to a really nice ITALIAN dinner in Antigua at a place called Tre Fratelli. It was delicious and Im so glad we finally got our Italian fix in. It was kind of sad though because Virginia said it was our goodbye dinner since we are leaving next Saturday and we'll be in Antigua for Semana Santa wednesday-friday :(

Today: Work went well but I got there way later than usual because there was a procession going on in Zone 1 where I work and they had a ton of roads blocked off so I got dropped off last instead of first. It was ok though because I finally got to see where everyone else is working and I've been wanting to do that for awhile. After work we went to the Popol Vuh museum at the private university here in Guatemala City. If you dont remember the Popol Vuh was the Mayan scripture book equivalent. But interestingly the museum didnt have a whole lot to do with that. They more showed us lots of old artifacts they had found in excavations and in lakes in Guatemala which were given as sacrifices to the gods. They were still pretty cool, unfortunately they wouldnt let us take any pictures in there. But afterwards they took us to learn how to make Mayan pottery! It was so cool! I wasnt very good, but I had fun and made a coffee cup and a bowl thing. The symbol in the middle of the bowl is actually a glyph that is of the date December 21, 2012. 

Tonight me and Abbey decided it was time to try Pollo Campero, which is this fast food fried chicken place here in the city that we heard was sooo awesome that people brought it back with them on the airplane. Well, it was good, but I mean, meh, not great. 

Overall its been a pretty awesome week. I actually dont have work tomorrow because there are all kinds of crazy processions and demonstrations going on by my placement and I wont be able to get in. There are the usual processions that happen every Friday during lent, but they will be even bigger since it is the last week before Semana Santa, and there is also a huge student demonstration going on. Apparently there is some sort of secret student organization in all the campuses across Guatemala and they wear masks and put on plays and parades and demonstrations as parodies of Holy Week and of the Guatemala government. Tomorrow is the biggest one of they demonstrations and so it's going to be pretty crazy around here. Me and abbey are still trying to decide what to do this weekend, so we'll see what happens!


Semuk or bust

sorry its been so long yall but ive been busy! Here's the update...

Thursday: We had of work to go on a field trip because our cook Dona Mari is leaving us :( and we wanted to giver her a going away thing. We went to a place called Sabana Grande about an hour away from our house and brought lunch. We really had no idea what to expect but it was amazing. Sabana Grande is in the middle of the forest area on land owned by the university for agricultural students. It was this park away with picnic tables, grills, lodging, pools, forest hiking trails and, my favorite part...a waterfall and river! We spent most of the morning swimming in the waterfalls and then grilled chicken and steak and everyone had lunch together, me, abbey, clark and the whole staff was there. It was soo much fun and we are so lucky we got to go there :)

After we got home that night me and abbey decided to go out to dinner with her friend Brena from work to Fridays! We met up with Brena, her cousin Andrea and her friend Anita and had a pretty awesome dinner. They were a really good time, and Brena is so nice, we'll prob try to hang out with them again. 

Friday: Work was fun, I brought macaroni and penne noodles and had the kids paint them to make necklaces! The only problem was that the macaroni was too skinny for the string to fit through so we just had to use the penne noodles and saved the macaroni noodles for another project. Friday afternoon right after lunch me abbey and clark set out on a grand adventure. The plan was to go to these waterfalls and pools called Semuk Champey. That is not what happened. So Friday we took a charter city bus to this town called Coban. Overall the bus wasnt bad but there was this couple in the seats right in front of us that was taking PDA to a whole new level. So that was cool....not. Heres some videos from the drive, and one of them is some sort of procession we saw on the way.

Once we got to Coban after the 5 hour drive we wandered around the town aimlessly for about 2 hours cuz it turns out the hostel we thought we made reservations at didnt exist anymore, and the one we ACTUALLY had reservations at we didnt know existed. So we ended up at a hostel called Casa Luna which was actually pretty nice and we went to eat at a yummy restaurant across the street!  
Saturday: The next morning we got up and decided that we werent going to take a tour from Coban through Lanquin onto see Semuk but that we'd rather find our own way to Lanquin and then walk to Semuk...So we finally found a bus going to Lanquin and we loaded up for the 2 hour drive. Luckily it ended up that the guy next to us on the bus worked at a hostel in Lanquin, so we had a place to stay! But unfortunately by the time we got to Lanquin it was like 1 and the park where Semuk is closes at 4...so there was no way we were going to be able to make it. We were all really disappointed to have gone all that way only to not get to see the falls, but then we stopped and looked around for a minute and realized just how beautiful the place we were staying in Lanquin was. The hostel is on top of a mountain, surrounded by beautiful terrain, and it even has a river on the property. The people who worked there was amazing, and all in all it was alot of fun. 

Sunday: We got in a shuttle at 8 in the morning for our 7 hour drive back to Guatemala City. So that was crazy long, and uncomfortable, and just not a good time. And after we got back here that night we were all pretty exhausted and we basically just went to sleep. 

Today: At work we used the macaroni we painted friday to make the letters of their first and middle names on paper. They turned out pretty cute and I think its interesting how many of the kids here actually go by both names, its very different from our culture. This afternoon we had a lesson on Semana Santa (Holy Week) in Guatemala. Our guest speaker basically showed us pictures and videos of the different processions during the week in Antigua and Guatemala City and explained to us the meaning behind all of them. It was really interesting and basically it just got me REALLY excited for next week in Antigua :) Cant wait! Also 2 new volunteers got here on Saturday, there is Debbie from Puerto Rico, and she is a nurse, and Joe (Ironman) from Cleveland who graduated high school a semester early and decided to come here. So far they are really cool, and theyll both be with us in Antigua! yay! Well I gotta go eat dinner, Ill update later.


buen provecho

this post is titled after the 2 most common words heard in our house...

So Monday night we didnt really do anything, after dinner me and abbey watched American Beauty and went to bed, I was feeling pretty crappy.

Tuesday: work was fun on tuesday, nothing really out of the ordinary happened there but after lunch we got to have a different kind of Spanish lesson! we went to the palace in central park! It was built by general Jorge Urbino when Guatemala was under total military rule, but now it is mostly like a white house type of governmental building. Some cool things about it are: like every room has a different type of chandelier, and they are all beautiful, Jorge Urbino put his fingerprint on every door handle, the number 5 is very repetitive because it was his wife's favorite, and in what used to be a garage all the stained glass windows were destroyed at least partially by a bomb and were never fixed. Here's a few pictures of the palace but there's more on facebook, sorry alot of them are blurry and such but they didnt let us use any flash and I didnt have a tripod.

After the palace we took a short walk in the park and saw entirely too many pigeons, it was pretty scary.

And later on that night after dinner (buen provecho) me abbey and clark went out so we could all split the biggest margarita ever! and then we went to bed pretty early again. 

Today: I'm feeling much better. At work I brought my camera again so heres some pics and videos of the kids...

bad hair day
I love how this little girl is all sweet pretending to be a dog and in the background the boys are beating each other up. typical.

After lunch we went and had another Spanish lesson adventure. We went to the topographical map of Guatemala down the street. The map is really cool, it used to have water flowing through it where all the lakes and rivers were but it dried up and it doesnt work anymore i guess. Also all around the map are trees that are the kind used to make Mirimbas and so they are all named after famous mirimba players! pretty cool! Here's a couple broad pictures, but there area ton more on facebook of course.

I dont really know what the plan is for tonight, but I'll let you know how it goes!


Aj in tzagat

Today has been pretty good so far! At school during the morning gymnastics lessons I do for the kids I havent been feeling well and so I was super out of breath and the kids were making fun of me cuz I couldnt keep up with them. But after that we made the bunnies (conejos) I brought and for the most part I was pretty impressed by them, but there were a few that were definitely ridiculous. I wish I had brought my camera cuz we had some pretty messed up bunnies goin on in my class...like eyes all upside down, feet instead of noses, some just gave up completely and glued things wherever they wanted, but hey, at least they were occupied for a bit. Later on I brought out the awesome playdoh I made and the teacher was pretty excited to have some more for the kids. The kids kept bringing me the playdoh and asking me to make chuchitos (puppies) and munecas (dolls) for them. Only problem is that I definitely cant sculpt so we had some dilapidated puppies running around our classroom.

At lunch we were all sitting, eating, as happy as can be when Virginia suddenly said..."Do you know what you ate last week??". Never a good sentence to hear. Well come to find out we all ate cow tongue last week....and I know exactly which dish she was talking about cuz the meat was super fatty and slimy. gross. some warning would be nice, but Virginia thought it was pretty funny.

After lunch we finally got to go drop off our laundry!! yay! I really hope it doesnt get stolen. And then we had a lesson on the Mayan calendar. Mario was the name of the man giving the lesson and he explained to us the cycles of the Mayan calendar and the way of Mayan life. He explained to us how Mayans feel a deep connection with everyone and everything in the universe and for that reason they are very respectful of our Earth. He told a story of how when he was little his grandfather worked with wood and for this reason he needed to go out to the forest and cut trees. Well one day he went with his grandfather and before he cut down the tree he told Mario that they needed to ask forgiveness because they were killing a living being and disrupting our universe. I thought this was a very interesting way of thinking especially when we come from a culture in the US where it is rare to have any respect for nature. They have a saying in Mayan culture that relates to our golden rule that is Wachalal or in English-"I am you and you are me." This is a way of saying that we are all part of the greater universe and so whatever we do to harm one another harms us as well. My favorite saying was "Aj in tzagat" which means "Sin usted no estoy completo" or "without you I am not complete". This saying was not just relating to another person though but that without the trees, the wind, fire...etc. no person is complete.

Mario also told us what our birthday meant according to the Mayan calendar. My birthday is I'x which is the sign of mother earth. This sign is related closely to women, mountains, strength, vigor, vitality and feminine energy. People who are born on my birthday have a destiny of Iq' which means wind. These people are strong, vigorous, intelligent, daring, patient (no) and make good decisions. On the downside they can be easily angered, proud, vain, and can give in easily to the 7 shames (sins) -- which I sure hope is not me. On this date you should offer forgiveness by mother nature for crimes committed against her. Mario also told us of a story of the "evil eye" which is thought to be an evil spirit that descends upon children. You can clear this spirit from the child by passing an egg or a duck over them. He told us of how one time he thought his son was effected by the evil eye and so his aunt passed a baby duck over the child and the son was bette within a half hour, and an hour later the duck was dead. Virginia also told us of how she passed an egg over her granddaughter who she believed to be effected and she was immediately better and when Virginia cracked the egg open after this, the egg was rotted. So the lesson was very interesting and also Mario said the world isnt going to end....so just calm down people.

Now we're just hanging our before dinner so I'll update later!



So last night we ended up going to see "All Good Things" or as they titled it in Spanish "Crimen en Familia"...i dont really know how they came up with that translation. Luckily the movie was in English (yay!) with Spanish subtitles. To see a movie we had to go over to zone 10 and the theatre was inside Oakland Mall, which was insanely nice. It was amazing the difference between this place and the street stores in our part of town. The mall had bumper boats, a waterfall, a train that went all over and tons of nice restaurants and fancy shops. It was crazy. Also when you go up to order your ticket here ($5) you get to see a seating chart of the theatre and pick out what seat you want, which is such a good idea. Overall the movie was pretty bad and crazy long, and it was pretty funny that they were playing that movie in the theatre since it came out in 2010, but I guess that movies come out later here. But the theatre was really cool and so was the mall. After we got home we pretty much just went to bed, which let me tell you is no easy feat in this town where there are crazy sounds all night long. As a small demonstration I took a video so yall could hear the noises outside our window before we went to bed...

Today: today we got to sleep in again :) but we missed banana pancakes for breakfast :(. We went to the grocery store after we finally got up and going cuz I wanted to make some playdoh for my students. Well once we got home I tried take one of playdoh, and it was a HUGE fail. The "playdoh" had the consistency of thick glue and it was impossible to get it off my fingers and into the trash can, so that was sad. But I dont give up that easy. So take 2... i realized that we didnt have any food coloring so we got creative and used abbey's red tea to dye the dough and I made it in the microwave this time off a different recipe I found online and this time...SUCCESS!!! yay!! I think my kids will really like it because as of now they have one can of playdoh to share between all of them so they each only get a tiny piece.

This afternoon we heard this voice on a megaphone over and over and I decided to look outside and see what was going on and I saw some sort of procession going on. I think it probably has something to do with lent but I'm not too sure...but heres a video of it!

Well thats all for today, I'll update again tomorrow, night!


el mirador

Hello everyone....so here's the update...

Thursday: At work we worked on this worksheet I brought for the kids but only the older ones could do it and I'm not really sure they enjoyed it so I probably wont be doing that again. But at recess the kids tried to use the beach ball again and I kept having to blow it up like every 2 minutes cuz it would deflate from all the holes and I couldnt even begin to find them all to tape them us sooo I'm going to have to find a new ball.

After work we went on a field trip!! yay! So at first we all piled into the car (all 12 of us) and went for an hour long drive...that part was rough. But definitely worth it. Our first stop was at a mirrador (lookout) on the way which over-looked the city of Antigua and it was absolutely beautiful.

view from the top
After this we continued our drive and stopped at an old monastery at the edge of Antigua. It used to be a huge Cathedral with a Monastery attached but it was destroyed in an earthquake. After the earthquake no one cleaned up the ruins and it was just abandoned. Which is actually lucky for us because it was pretty awesome. We all got to wander around the ruins and then we got to this one part with a locked door....well Virginia did some sweet talking got a guard to unlock it for us and we all got to go into this secret blocked off room, it was so cool! I felt like a badass. Here's some pictures of this place, but there are a ton more on facebook.

Abbey and Virginia, our director

Secret door

So after the monastery we got back in the car and drove to this small Mayan town outside of Antigua called San Antonio Aguas Calientes. Some of the women in this town were working to preserve their culture and so they put on presentations of Mayan culture and they put one on for our group. The first part of the presentation was showing us how they wove all the clothing and rugs and blankets. They told us that by the time the girls are 8 years old they have already just about mastered the process, and let me tell you, it is insanely complicated. They dont use looms or anything, everything is done by hand. They showed us a small shirt they had woven and said it would take about 6 months to make if they worked 8 hours a day. It kind of makes you feel bad for trying to haggle with them about the price, because its so obvious about how much work went into it.

After that they showed us typical dress for Mayan men and women in their community and showed us a mock Mayan wedding! Clark and Jill are now happily married, big congratulations to them. They told us that in Mayan culture the groom's family pays for everything, and that there are all kinds of hand-woven gifts that the bride must make for all the members of the groom's family. All these gifts take about a year to finish and actually the bride for the mother of the groom is something that the bride already made when she was 14 years old as a sort of rite of passage. Also the typical wedding is about 12 hours with the ceremony and reception and everything and after all this the bride has to go over to the groom's parents house that night and show the mother in law that she can make tortillas and coffee before she can go home with their son. Its actually pretty funny. At the ceremony there is also a part where they put incense over the bride and groom and the lady leading the presentation (her name was Liliana) told us they make sure to purify the groom really well. 

the wedding party

Clark getting purified

So after the wedding they let everyone shop because alot of the women had little shops set up in the area where the presentation was. I didnt end up getting anything because I didnt bring enough money since I didnt know we were shopping. But after that we got to make corn tortillas!! This Mayan woman showed us how they made a typical tortilla and let us do it! Mine turned out pretty bad and I actually dropped the first one so its probably a good thing I'm not Mayan cuz I would never get married.

After the tortillas we got to grind our own coffee, but I didnt buy any of it, I definitely should have though, it was awesome.

Then we had to go home...but as soon as we got home we basically jumped back in the car because I guess someone had made dinner reservations at this place in zone 10. Zone 10 is where all the big hotels are so its really Americanized and everything is a bit more expensive. But the restaurant was really nice, all the waiters were dressed in traditional Mayan outfits and the food was amazing. Im glad we went, but it was more expensive than I wanted it to be so we probably wont be going back. 

Friday: I BROUGHT MY CAMERA TO WORK!!! YAY! so I took a bunch of pictures of my 2 year old and 4 year old classes. Most of the kids were there in my older class, but there were only 4 in my 2 yr old class so i'll have to bring my camera back when more come. Here are a few pictures of them but there are a bunch more on facebook.

my 4 yr olds

Ian, one of the 2 yr olds :)

Jose, mi amor

After work we actually didnt have anything to do, so we got to take naps!! yay! After that me Abbey and Clark decided to go out and we found this really cool place where there was some live music! They played a good mix of stuff in English and Spanish and I think we'll definitely be going back there.

TODAY: today we have pretty much been useless. We've been really taking advantage of having nothing we have to do and pretty much we've been laying around the house all day. Everyone else left today so its just gonna be me abbey and clark for this week, good crowd. Me and Abbey tried to do laundry today, so we lugged our huge laundry bags 3 blocks down the road only to realize when we got there that it was closed...blah. So now we're trying to figure out how to see a movie in English here, wish us luck!

Check out my facebook for tons more pictures!


Guatemala is money. So money.

HEY THE INTERNET IS BACK!!! Sorry for not updating the past couple days with all these new people in the house the internet has been super sketchy. So here is goes…

Sunday: So the new people got back Sunday night, it’s a group of 8 but theyre not all together. There’s a dad and his daughter (Dan and Grace), two friends from college ( Jill and Terry-Ann) and everyone else is by themselves: Kathy, Mishiah, Sarah and Caitlin. Sunday night we just kind of hung out and played a little uno before bed and did the basic getting to know you conversations…blah. Also it was the longest game of uno I’ve ever heard of.  So that’s all I remember of Sunday.

Monday: Work was good, pretty much the same as usual, except that the teacher had asked me to bring in a craft for the kids to make Munecas (dolls). At least that’s what im pretty sure she asked….anyways I decided to use the activity as art and  to teach the kids some body parts in English. So at breakfast Monday morning me, abbey and Natalie started the ridiculous task of trying to draw little dolls for the kids to color in and glue body parts onto. They were pretty awful, but luckily kids aren’t too picky and the teacher didn’t laugh at me too much. Just a little, which is completely understandable. After work we had a history of Guatemala lesson with Virginia and she showed us this video about the genocides in Guatemala. Between 1982-1984 the military government here authorized the killing of hundreds of Mayan people in Guatemala. The men who were responsible for this are just now being brought to justice and even so, it is only a few of the men and it has been 30 years. I found it interesting that this event is something that I had never really heard of; how could genocide just be forgotten? I think it has something to do with the fact that the United States supported the military government that committed all these crimes. But after that me, Abbey and Natalie decided to go on a walk to the Central Park area in town and check out some of the stores around there. On the way we saw this big building we’d been by a bunch of times and were like “oh that’s pretty, what is it?” So we walked inside and it turned out to be a beautiful church that we’d never noticed. Unfortunately we didn’t have our cameras but we’ll definitely bring them next time. The church was so ornately decorated and because it’s lent, in one of the side chapels they had what we thought was a rug on the floor with purple and gold decorations, but when we got closer we noticed that it was actually made completely out of sawdust. It was amazing. Here's some pictures I got of the outside on Tuesday, inside ones to come...

Spooky lookin with the clouds

After, we walked around to a few shops and I found a few really cute pairs of cheap shoes that I may have to come back for. That night we ordered PIZZA, which was surprisingly difficult because we couldn’t work the online system, but it was delicious and we watched Swingers, which was money.

Tuesday: At work on Tuesday I brought in some worksheets for the kids to do that basically taught colors and they went ok, the kids didn’t really understand what they were supposed to do, but regardless they had fun coloring. After work and lunch we had our Spanish lesson and I finally learned the words to this song that the kids have been singing at recess, so that’s exciting. Then me, Abbey and Natalie went on another walk to see more of the street market, we didn’t really find anything we wanted to buy but I remembered my camera so I got some pictures!

Parque Centrale

Names of victims of genocide

Street Market

Uncle Sam

And after that Me, Abbey and Natalie met Clark at Tacontendo for happy hour and dinner, mmmm. The pina coladas there are probably the best I’ve ever tasted. After that we headed back home where Miguel (the awesome guard) taught us some puzzle games. One was where you nail a nail into a table just a bit and you have to figure out how to balance 7-9 other nails on top of it. It was crazy hard. And the other he tied a rope around your left wrist and then put a knot in the middle and tied the other end around you right ankle and you had to figure out how to untangle it. We all tried for like an hour before Miguel showed us how to do it and it was of course ridiculously easy. It was a really fun night.

Today: So today at work I decided to bring a beach ball for recess. Two problems: one- the kids do not understand how to play volleyball or keep it up and I couldn’t explain it in Spanish so they all just kept throwing the ball in the air and then fighting over who got to throw it next. And two- there are barbed wire rolls all over the top of the building and they hit the ball at them repeatedly so by the end of recess the ball was like covered in tape where I had tried to cover up the holes. Overall, it was a fail. After work we just had lunch which was awesome and now we’re getting ready to go see some Mayan ruins that are apparently in Guatemala City! And after Virginia says she has a surprise for us, I’m excited! And then Me, Abbey and Natalie are going to dinner with her family that lives here in the city. Ill try and take lots of pictures and update tonight if the internet works! Adios. 


The ruins: So went all piled in the car to go see the ruins and I'm kind of expecting another long trip but much to my surprise we didnt even leave the city. The ruins were actually a site that is currently being excavated in a park in the city. The park is named Kaminaljuyu and there are tons of hills in the park and underneath them they have been finding ruins from an ancient Mayan city. It was pretty cool to see the work in progress going on but the ruins here were still nothing compared to pictures I have seen of Tikal of course. The guide was telling us that when they were building the houses in the neighborhood surrounding the park they found a bunch of arrowheads and other small artifacts and many of them actually have personal collections of Mayan artifacts in their houses. Kaminaljuyu is actually an important ceremonial site for Mayan so while we were at the park we saw three different people building altars and performing ceremonies, it was really cool! Here are some pics from the park but theres more on facebook!

Surprise!: So after we went to the ruins Virginia had said that she had a surprise for all of of so we got driven around for awhile to throw us off and then ended up back at home,  where we found out it was a birthday celebration for Dan (the Dad) whose birthday was in March! So I got to experience another Guatemalan birthday. Virginia had bought a pinata and we all got to take turns hitting it, i was pretty intense. After that we ate legit non-taco bell tostadas, which were amazing and some cake. Here's some pictures and video of me and Natalie doing the pinata! 


Dinner: So after pinata time me abbey and natalie went to dinner at natalie's family's house in the city. The dinner was absolutely delicious and I definitely ate wayyyy too much. Also her family was awesome and so welcoming they told us to call anytime we want and we definitely will

Well thats all for yesterday! ill update later about today :)