Friday, December 31, 2010

10 Photos of 2010 That Didn't Make It In The Blog

It is no secret how much I love pictures...taking them, looking at them and interpreting them.  Pictures take moments and make them last; they share an infinite number of stories; they convey emotions; they cause any number of emotions, good or bad, hehe; and last but not least, they share life, reminding us all of how precious and fleeting each experience in our lives really is.  I have never had anything beyond a decent point and shoot camera and a basic knowledge of picasa to edit, but I take pictures mainly for me anyways so for now that is just fine.  I post more pictures than words here because I like to let them speak for me (I am not always good at expressing myself through words).  You would not believe how many pictures I would put up if I had a better internet signal!!  To wrap up, many pictures that mean a lot to me do not get shared, so what better time than now to throw in some of my favorites (not necessarily the best I have taken, but ones that carry deeper meanings or represent changing experiences for me) from 2010.  Enjoy!

HIDDEN SMILE

AGATHA´S WRATH

SOLDIER´S LOOKOUT

STORMY BLUE

GREY DAWN

BIRD!

CONQUEST

ADOPTED NIECE

FROSTING

FAIR BONDING

Monday, December 27, 2010

Feliz Navidad

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to everyone!!!

Having just spent my first Christmas in Guatemala and soon my first New Years, I have to say that I just love the holiday season.  It was bittersweet, to not be at my “home” home with my real family, but it was still a wonderful experience to learn new traditions here with my second family.  Christmas in rural Guatemala centers on family, community activities, religious practices and food.  I guess in those general terms, it’s like back home.  How it plays out is a different story….I don’t even know where to start!  In the weeks prior to Christmas we inaugurated the town Christmas tree, handed out 800 toys to area kids, gave out food baskets to needy families, had a duranguense concert/dance, had a Christmas parade, and saw a gorgeous fireworks show.  On the family level, we headed out the 22nd to buy supplies in Xela: moss and colored sawdust for the big nativity scene, pine and apple strings to decorate, fireworks, tamal ingredients, new clothes for the big day, presents for the gift exchange, etc.  I have never seen the market so busy and fun!  We set up the nativity scene that night and the 23rd, I have pics below so you can see how it combined with tree branches and such to be quite the Christmas arrangement (instead of a typical Christmas tree).  On the 24th we cleaned the house, I made Christmas sweets from back home, went to Christmas Eve mass and then we came home to start the celebration with a dinner of pork and chicken tamales and caliente (a hot drink made from coconut, apples, papaya, pineapple and cinnamon).  The extended family came over after that to partake in a big gift exchange and then we all waited for midnight to come.  That’s when we prayed over the holy family, went out in the streets to light off firecrackers, hugged all the neighbors outside doing the same thing, ate more tamales and opened out stockings (I brought those from back home).  It was exhausting (going to bed at 2am) but so much fun!  The 25th was spent visiting the other grandparents and I snuck out a bit to have an American Christmas lunch with the Catholic nuns that live in my town (tasty ham and homemade apple crisp!).  We went to Christmas mass together and then spent the rest of the night around town hanging out, having wars with firecrackers and eating what else but of course tamales :)


The best way to start the party, with reindeer antlers and great friends!

Getting the car decorated for the parade...I contributed the tree on top, stockings and fake snow....and we won first place!

The ceremony giving out toys and food baskets.

Oh, so this isn't directly related to Christmas although I just wanted to show the frost that was on my blanket outside the morning of the 23rd, at 8am.  The cold definitely reminds me of back home!

Fireworks in the street.


Eating tamales at midnight.

The nativity scene.







The extended family on Miguel Angel's side after the gift exchange.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Na k'inatz'ur taj

Don't bother me.  No, not you :)  That's just one of the newest phrases I've learned in K'iche' and it's really fun to say (na k'inatz'ur taj...make sure you get the k and tz glottalized, is that a word?).  I have to say, living in a house with 3 boys between the ages of 15-20 gives me the opportunity to use it often!  

So I'm not quite sure where to pick up, as it feels like forever since where I left off.  Life has brought new things, stressful things, fun things, and random things as of late.  Guatemala continues to march on as always, even though we had a time there where landslides were quite the danger in my part of the country (maybe you saw on the news? if not check here or here) and the rain seemed to never cease (10 days of no, I mean NO sun = my clothes taking forEVER to dry).  Broke the record from the last 50 years; I thought I'd never be so happy to have dust instead of mud.  Besides the crazy weather there have been the usual demonstrations interupting travel (protesting high electricity prices and columbus day), independence celebrations (Sept 15 is Independence Day), and the end of the school year. With the fam we've kept busy with an unending schedule of birthday parties, another wedding,  babies, soccer games and so on.  At work I've been busy giving trainings on trash management and recycling, general enviro education, working on a job function manual, presenting our products at an expo, colloborating on the business plan section for a community tourism manual, writing some project proposals and million other things that always seem to end up with me.  As far as my masters, I've started another online class and getting some headway done on my thesis.  Besides all this work stuff I still want to be investing in my relationships here so I've had to be super creative.  Time is such a scarce commodity for me right now, I wish I could buy more :)

So you all know how much I love pictures and to not disappoint I've included enough to more or less depict my last couple months.

My neck of the woods.  I live right in the middle, where you see the group of buildings.  Where the clouds are is Lake Atitl├ín and you can see 4 volcanoes behind it.

At the mass for one of the cousin's 15th birthday party.  My first time wearing my new corte (the fabric I have for a skirt)!  I have it in the "short" style since I didn't add on...it's just that when I do I'm so tall I look more corte than anything else.  With the extra fabric I'll get some aprons made.

Tanja, the German volunteer, and I with Fatima at the party.

Another cousin's birthday (16).  Efrain is proudly showing his new shirt I got him :)

Mama Lena with her baby at the party...she's getting so big!

I love it when they smash your face in your cake!  This time I experimented with colors to decorate the cake and it ended up looking like a mustache, nice, right?

This time it's a birthday gathering for Papa Chico.  He's doing much better these days, back to his regal self! 

Birthday dinner for Mama Lena...I had no idea what was going on in the rest of the picture.  

Independence Day sports tournament.  Our basketball team placed second, losing horribly to the most amazing team.  I made all of the baskets in the championship game which isn't saying much.  I'm tall but man these girls can push you around.

Watching the Independence Day parade.  Not quite the same as Mandan, right Jana??

Our little cousin Frank in the parade.

I thought this little girl was so adorable, the princess of the preschool.  It was super hot out and the walk long so it's a good thing they brought juice.

Tanja and I watching the festivities.

Champions again!  This time in the municipality.


At the Expomueble/Expoforestal Xela 2010.  Pretty much anything to do with forests, wood and furniture.  We featured our tourist products and pine needle handicrafts.

The newest cousin, Cesia Lourdes, just days after her birth.

My dear friend Patty came out for a visit; always a fun time.

The world.  I love that Alaska is a different color as well as the islands of Canada.  At least the kids are being exposed to geography.

Jamie and I at the inauguration of a bottle school he built in one of the poorer communities in the area.  They gathered over 5,500 plastic bottles stuffed with inorganic trash!  Pretty cool stuff.  And I have to throw a shout out to Patty and Molly for making the journey with me that morning (4 1/2 hours on 4 buses and in the back of a pickup).  Worth it to support our hermanito :)


Goodbye party for some of our practicum students.  They are super happy and smiley girls, which makes this picture pretty funny for me.

A new baby as well for the family in San Antonio Aguas Calientes.  Little guy came out just over 5 pounds.

Big birthday bash for Miguel Angel. He invited everyone in the extended family as well as some of my volunteer friends that have gotten to know the family.

Everyone loved watching the gringos dance duranguense. 

Here's a picture from the grandparents' wedding, 50 years ago this Saturday.  Of course there will be a big party to celebrate :)