Surprise, surprise - I didn't blog at all during the Christmas holidays. Too busy eating obscene amounts of food and being happy! I hope everyone had a great Christmas and is looking forward to this year. I certainly am. For the next seven days I'm having a "blog party" so to speak - one new blog post every day, maybe two or three! Many posts will wrap up my Guatemala chapter, some will include lots of photos, and there'll be a few random posts as well.
First of all, straight out of my blog notebook: Things we did in Guatemala. Hannah and I's trip had its ups and downs. We didn't have the experience we had expected. One day I was grumpy and dwelling on the things we didn't accomplish, and I decided to list our positive, memorable, and/or noteworthy experiences to remind myself that yes, we had indeed seen and learned a lot!
Things we did in Guatemala
October - December 2010
- successfully chicken bussed from Antigua from Reu, leaping off at the Esquintla McDonald's just in time.
- almost panicked (but didn't) when we couldn't find cheap hostels in Reu; settled on La Quinta in the central park; happily took cold showers and happily drank cold beers to escape the heat.
- the first camioneta to Nueva Alianza: This bus is going to break down. Why is everyone staring at me? Oh my gosh, that woman has a plastic bag full of living adolescent chickens.
- eating dinner with Joel, Carlos, and Kevan during the first week at Nueva Alianza. Broken Spanish conversations. How fun it was (initially).
- buying our Tigo internet stick in Antigua = a nightmare. Realized how limited my Spanish skills were.
- first shopping trip in Reu = hot and overwhelming; unpleasant mercado; no idea how much to pay for produce (I was so paranoid about people ripping me off because I was a gringa); woman steals our chicken and pancake mix.
- ... how good our first macaroni and cheese dinner was, even if it was third choice after chicken and pancakes.
- freaked out after week one in Nueva Alianza; questioned my world view and life goals; received encouraging and practical thoughts from Dave on issues related to international development.
- learned to quickly - and without hesitation - light a gas stove (I'd struggled with this before, embarrassing but true).
- learned to wash my clothes in a pila.
- ate and loved cauliflower torta (cauliflower cooked in a fried egg), arroz con leche, and the camioneta's wife's homemade tamales.
- read Johnathan Franzen's "Freedom" and discussed it ALOT with Hannah (I recommend the book).
- impressed with Earth Lodge's tree houses and their work with local schools (more about this later in the week).
- saw sea turtles dig nests and swim out to sea.
- LOVED swimming in the Pacific Ocean; usually I hate oceans, so this was a nice change.
- cooked a substantial meal for thirteen people.
- volunteered at La Festival de la Tortuga, Monterrico and Hawaii's second annual turtle festival.
- riding in the back of pick-up trucks = fun and now my preferred method of transportation.
- rode a boat, truck, and three busses to Chichicastanango with Hannah and Amy and was really happy.
- climbed Volcán San Pedro and couldn't walk normally for days.
- dock at San Marcos = idyllic. Prettiest spot I encountered in Guatemala.
- saw a murder victim in the streets of Monterrico.
- caught a ride in the back of a truck with two heavily armed soldiers. They were among the friendliest Guatemalans we met. One of them earnestly described (in Spanish) his efforts to learn English in his spare time, and his earnestness warmed my heart.
- avoided being stranded in Reu by the grace of the old woman selling snacks at the cuatro caminos intersection in Reu and Nueva Alianza's agua pura truck driver. This experience, too, warmed my heart.
Happy New Year, and see you tomorrow!