Guatemalans love Mayonnaise. It's pretty gross, but it is the condiment of choice. They put it on everything from sandwiches to pizza. In the supermarkets there is usually a whole row of mayo in plastic bags. That's right. They don't even mess around with trying to scrape it out of the bottom of the jar like we do. I found myself several times trying to educate random Guatemalans about the risk of heart disease resulting from this gooey love. Who knows? Maybe I saved a life!
One of the most annoying things about Guatemala is that all (few and far between as they are) the lush, green, grassy areas are off limits! Of course it makes complete sense that they need to be fenced to keep the stray dogs out, but do they really need to keep all the people out too?
Coming from a neighborhood in Denver that is situated right between 2 of the city's biggest and best parks, we are so spoiled having tons of open space to play in. There were so many days in Xela where we both longed to take a blanket and our Spanish notes to a nice plot of grass and waste the day away, but it never once happened. Since we're having freakishly warm weather here in Denver these days, I'm taking advantage of those beds of comfy grass while I still can....even if they are a little straw-like and crunchy right now!
After years of searching for a position in Central America that felt right, we may have just found ourselves a match. For the past few months we have been communicating with a non-profit group called Common Hope. Lucky for us, they happen to have positions available in their Antigua, Guatemala office that are right up our alley.
Common Hope, a non-for-profit organization, strives to make the lives of people living in poverty more stable, by providing supports in the areas of education, health care, housing and family development. They aim to create opportunities for children and families, so that they can improve the quality of their own lives. Common Hope believes in a work that is based on developing personal relationships with the people as they struggle for independence and dignity.
What we love most about Common Hope is that they are an organization that welcomes anyone willing to serve the poor without regard to religion. They believe people can join together in service and live spiritually without proselytizing. While their vision is based on spiritual principles, they value the strength that diversity offers and recognize that all people are equal and deserve respect, not matter what their beliefs are.
This week we both have telephone interviews with Common Hope for team coordinator positions they have available beginning this spring. The positions would allow us the best of both worlds - coordinating American volunteers while having working relationships with Guatemalans. We couldn't be more excited about this opportunity. Please keep us in your prayers!
If you are interested in learning more about Common Hope check out their website (www.commonhope.org). There are so many ways to help - everything from sponsoring a child to collecting supplies; hosting a party or even visiting Guatemala and volunteering your time. Who knows maybe you'll even run into us during your visit!
As we prepare ourselves to return to the land of colors, I've been thinking about beautiful textiles that are everywhere in Guatemala. We were lucky enough to witness first-hand the weaving process on several occasions. It's really quite amazing the amount of work that goes into each and every item. I really really wanted to take a weaving class at Trama Textiles in Xela, but never seemed to find the time. Hopefully during this next trip, I'll be able to learn this beautiful art.
Photos taken at a Women's Co-Op in San Antonio Palopa
The roosteris the symbol of Gallo, the national beer of Guatemala. We were lucky enough to live a mere 2 blocks from the cerveceria(brewery) in Xela. With a flavor similar to Coors Light, it wasn't our beer of choice (we prefer Cabro), but the emblem is still pretty cool!
A while back during his younger days, Ben adopted a sweet ride named Sam (after the Good Sam Camping Club sticker it sported). The whim of a college graduate who moved out west and became a mountain man, this 1977 Chevy Camper Van was the answer to all of his dreams! It didn't take long for him to say farewell to his old Jeep and make Sam his #2 ride (don't forget, his bicycle will always be #1). For Ben and his friends, it was awesome. Accessorized with fuzzy dice and Felicity, the hula dancer, Sam slept four, had a working kitchen, and even had keg hook-up inside for free flowing beer on the outside. Seriously, what more could 20-something guy want than to sleep in the parking lot of the ski resort and be the first person on the lift in the morning? Not to mention, it did come in handy for driving my graduate school friends and I to and from the bars after a long week of classes!
Soon after we both graduated from graduate school, we got married and along with our first year of marriage, Sam began to have some serious issues. With much grief, we became a 1 car, city living family (my Jetta was a college graduation gift from my parents).
Never really caring much about a car as a status symbol, the Jetta did us well for several years, but when we found our fearless little Jetta sucking money out of our pockets right and left, we decided to bite the bullet and go car shopping. With the idea of Guatemala being only dream for us at the time, we set our sights on 2 different vehicles. The slightly odd looking Honda Element and the Colorado staple, a Subaru Outback. Back and forth, back and forth we went for a few weeks until finally one saturday we left our apartment and vowed to not come home without one of the two. Both of us are horrible decision makers, so it was a long, rough day. In the end the Subaru won, mostly because we got a great deal and for our first major decision, getting a deal made us feel at peace.
Fast forward 7 months to when we began our Guatemalan adventure. Thanks to a friend, we were able to secure a garage space where Subie hibernated for 3 long months. Upon our return, she awoke and it soon felt like we had never left. While yes, Subie was a comfy ride and handled great on those snowy mountain passes, her gas mileage for city driving left us feeling a bit disappointed. Since we have made the decision to return to Guatemala we listed her on Craigslist and waited....and waited and waited. With the current economic situation here in the states, it isn't exactly a great time to sell, so we gave up and set our thoughts toward returning to Guatemala with Subie. Little did I know that the wheels in Ben's mind were turning.
While in Xela, we met a cool couple driving from California to South America. They were traveling in a Honda Element converted into a camper (eCamper). Of course this was a total throw back for Ben. While he played it cool in Guatemala, I could sense his jealousy! He has always been remorseful about letting go of Sam, so with the knowledge of eCamper he had a chance of redeeming his mountain man status. And thus, we began our search for an Element.
So long story short, say goodbye to Subie....
and hello to this guy.......
soon to be transformed into............
If we had only know about the eCamper a year ago we could have saved ourselves a lot of trouble! Nevertheless, we're scheduled for our conversion at the beginning of March in San Diego (they only do it there) and then will be heading south through Baja on From Colfax to Xela Adventure: Part Dos! And guess who couldn't be happier....................................Glory Days!
Gypsies at heart, we’ve packed up our Colfax Avenue apartment, left our jobs & said our goodbyes with hopes of making a difference in the lives of many as well as our own. Share in our adventure as we uproot ourselves from the mile high city & road trip through Mexico, on our way to a new home & new way of life in Guatemala. UPDATE: After 2 amazing years of living and loving in Latin America this family of three is learning the art of settling down in Charlotte, NC where we purchased our first fixer home. Stay turned to follow our adventures of a different sort - exploring another totally new culture (the South!) & DIYing the heck out of our home!
"It's not having what you want, It's wanting what you've got." -Sheryl Crow
Stops Along Our Way
USA Denver Las Vegas San Diego Chula Vista Los Angeles Nogales Tucson Phoenix Pagosa Springs Denver Memphis Nashville Asheville Charlotte
Baja, California Tijuana Ensenada Cataviña Bahía de Los Angeles Guerrero Negro San Ignacio Santa Rosalía Mulegé Bahía Concepcion Loreto La Paz Todos Santos Cabo San Lucas San Jose Del Cabo Cabo Pulma Los Barriles
Mexico Topolobompo Los Mochis Mazatlán San Blas Chacala Sayulita Puerto Vallarta Melaque Barra de Navidad Manzanillo Michoacán Coast Playa Azul Troncones Zihuatanejo Ixtapa Pie De La Cuesta Acapulco Pinotepa Nacional Puerto Escondido Oaxaca City Teotitlán del Valle San Bartolo Coyotepec Playa Azul Tehuantepec El Aguacero Tuxtla Gutiérrez Chiapa del Corzo Cañón Sumidero San Cristóbal de Las Casas San Juan Chemula San Lorenzo Zinacantán Cascadas El Chiflón Agua Azul Villahermosa Palenque Veracruz Xalapa Coatepec Puebla Cholula San Juan Teotihuacán Mexico City Querétaro San Miguel de Allende Guanajuato Guadalajara Tlaquepaque Tonolá Sayulita Mazatlán Guaymas Nogales Guatemala Huehuetenango Salcajá Totonicapan Quetzaltenango (Xela) Antigua Guatemala City Monterrico Sololá Lago Atitlán Panajachel San Marcos La Laguna Santa Cruz La Laguna San Juan La Laguna Santiago San Pedro La Laguna San Antonio Palopo Jaibalito Chichicastenango Coban Semuc Champey Flores Tikal Rio Dulce Livingston San Marcos Tejutla Puerto Barrios Ciudad Hildalgo Honduras Copan Ruinas Roatán Tela La Ceiba
El Salvador Playa El Tunco La Libertad San Salvador Suchitoto
We love that you are sharing in our adventures, but please don´t judge or steal the contents of this blog. It´s our experiences, perceptions and thoughts of Latin America (& now the South too). Come get your own!