Saturday, February 28, 2009

heart attack in a bag

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!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

safe behind fences

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!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Exactly what we've been hoping for

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 ( 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!

The Art of Weaving

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

Friday, February 13, 2009

Rooster Juice

The rooster is 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!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Freedom Born Again

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............

Sam reincarnated!

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!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

art with a purpose

During a stroll around Xela one day we came across this mural. It was nice to see that no matter where we are, there are people who care about the same things we do.

Do you want water tomorrow? Care for the trees today.