Monday, January 25, 2010

When the Sicklers came to town

My two families together! Crazy to see the cultures of North Dakota and rural Guatemala meet up; it definitely says something for globalization :)

My parents hanging out in the corn field on my walk to work.

We stayed at a beautiful hotel for a couple days on the lake...incredibly refreshing (except for the 100 stairs we had to climb up the mountain to reach our room!)

Matt and I kayaking on Lake Atitlan.

My family looks like giants compared to my old host family in San Antonio!

I never thought I'd be the one to end up teaching my mom how to do laundry...but then again it changes things when you don't have a washing machine. I wash my clothes at the pila (the cement basin) almost every weekend...super fun...

We hiked up Pacaya with a guide and were fortunate enough to see the lava! It was spurting out slowly, and they grey you see on top is the lava cooling. Although I wouldn't by any means call it cool; the air was thick with heat.

El Volcan Payaca

My poor mom going up the volcano on horseback...I don't know if she'll ever forgive us!

We stopped on the way to my house for a quick visit to the ruins at Iximche.

My dad and brother at the top of Cerro de la Cruz, overlooking Antigua. The volcano in the back is the Volcan de Agua.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

A New Year….lots to update

So I know it’s been quite some time since I’ve posted, and for that I apologize. It’s not that there’s been a lack of things to share; just so many that I haven’t taken the time to sort them all out and share. But now the hard part is where to begin. So let me start with a brief refresher: I’m still in Guatemala, (it’s been just over a year since my arrival). I still call El Novillero home and have grown quite used to life here (except for the cold that sometimes comes and leaves me frozen to the bone…for example it was 45 degrees inside my room when I woke up this morning). Work in the park has been good, keeping busy in the office trying to implement better procedures, increase marketing, improve the products and services, do client studies and monitor conservation. One fun (albeit difficult) project we’re completing is a playground out of recycled tires and wood. I got a manual from a fellow Peace Corps volunteer and it turned out pretty good, I’ll have to post pics.

I’m still living with the family and enjoy it more than ever. They’re a joy to be around, love me like family and are super fun overall. One of my more recent adventures with them was taking them camping for the first time (well, the two oldest boys had gone before, but not the parents, the youngest and some cousins). One thing you might not know about Guatemalans is they NEVER go camping (who wants to sleep outside on the ground when we have a perfectly fine house and beds?) Well I wanted to go so I got together some tents, my dear friend Molly and s’mores materials. We hiked up to some land Miguel Angel owns and camped at the top of mountain with the most gorgeous view (in the morning the sun rose over the volcanoes- amazing!) Although it was cold, we all loved it :) Besides that, there never seems to be an end to family get-togethers, movie nights and cooking experiments.

The last few months of 2009 also brought me some important visitors; my parents and brother were able to stay for a week in October. It was great showing them around (although for those of you who know my mom, you can believe she kept me busy translating!) and sharing a bit of my life, mixing my two worlds. Highlights include hiking up Pacaya (my mom on horse), hanging out in Antigua, visiting ruins, kayaking at the lake and hiking around Corazón del Bosque. And now everyone understands why I’m so tall (they still talk about Matt…)

Thanksgiving was spent at the lake…beautiful view, friends and food. I have to admit it was a little cheesy buying deli turkey breast and heating it in the toaster over. But at least the stove top and package gravy made a good combo with the chive mashed potatoes. The best part of the meal was Molly’s gift to us of squash pie (tasted just like pumpkin from home!) And there was enough left over for breakfast :)

Christmas I decided would be a good time for me to head back to the States and be with family and friends. My girls from college picked me up a snowy night at the airport in Chicago- it was quite interesting to experience the extreme cold again, walk on carpet, have hot water come out of the faucet and turn on the heat. Things I don’t spend time missing in Guatemala but definitely took advantage of when I was home. I only had two weeks in North Dakota and they flew by- so much to catch up on (sometimes I feel like I forget other peoples’ lives keep going even though I’m not there!) After having my fill of Christmas goodies and old fashioned consumerism I headed back to my life Guatemala (which feels now so comfortable and simple), arriving in time for my welcome-back party at the house (how I missed caldo de pollo criollo and tamalitos!).

The best part is I’m excited about 2010. We’ve already started some new projects at work, I’m working more on my master’s thesis (I’ll get in to that later), learning more K’iche’ and livin’ it up. I hate catching up so briefly when there’s so much that’s taken place….so I’m setting more goals for myself to post. Keep checking in and don’t feel back to nudge me when it’s been awhile!