Sunday, May 31, 2009


Obviously the wife of a cyclist, I too now have love affairs with bicycles. This is my latest infatuation. I'm envisioning rides to the market with lots of cargo room for my goods. Wouldn't my dream Golden look oh so adorable riding around with me too? Anyway, when I came across a notification that Madsen is going to give away one of these babies to some lucky person who links to their site, I just couldn't resist! Maybe it's my lucky day..........

Madsen Cycles Cargo Bikes

Our temporary home

We’ve moved on up……or on back is more like it - last weekend in fact. It took me a whole week to unpack, crawling back into bed every 20 minutes or so, but now that we're settled, come take a look!

The week previous we had been staying in an apartment that just so happens to be about 2 feet off of a busy cobblestone road. It was nice, but loud – really loud. Fortunately for us, one of the apartments that sits way back from the road in the same complex became available and now it’s ours! It’s 2 levels, bigger and costs a bit more, but not laying in bed listening to “Guate, Guate, Guate!” as the chicken buses thunder by at 5am is priceless!

Of course it's not as homey as 1210 E. Colfax, but it's pretty much the best place we could find in our price range. So far
we've been enjoying waking up with sun coming in the windows - something that we missed out on during our time on the 'Fax. Our only complaint is the bed-like couches. They're kind of awkward, but whatever - they'll do us just fine for our short stint here.

Like I mentioned in a previous blog, this move is temporary as we’ll be moving into a 2 bedroom house with a big terrace on the other side of town in July and we can hardly wait. Book your flights now!

a nice big kitchen

open concept living and dining

bird's eye view

2 levels

the bedroom

loft style

modern bathroom

Saturday, May 30, 2009

el mercado!

There are certain things here in Guatemala that we could do without, like the crime and traffic to name a few. But there are also some things that we are so glad to have, like the mercado. Sure it's busy and crowded and even stinky in places, but it all worth it, knowing that there is fresh produce for great prices and of course, adventure to be had.

Unfortunately for us, in Denver the only thing that comes remotely close to a mercado is one of the various small, over-priced, social hangout, farmer's markets - like on Pearl Street, Bel Mar, East High or (gasp!) Cherry Creek. While they too have fresh produce, it comes with a hefty price tag. Ben will never forget about the time he bought a organic cucumber for $2. Yikes!
On the contrary, at the mercado we could get 8 cucumbers (probably more depending on your bartering skills) for $2.

Sure there are certain things we're not quite brave enough to buy yet (like any meat product), but with time we'll see. Until then, we'll be enjoying our fresh fruits & veggies!

Check out the loot we scored today - all for less than $4.

I'm sorry, so sorry

Dearest Blog Readers,

Please forgive me for my unannounced absence from Blog World. For the past almost 2 weeks I’ve been sicker than a street dog. I know what you’re thinking. Everybody gets it when they travel. Actually no - that’s not the kind of sick I’ve been experiencing. While my stomach has been quiet for the most part, the rest of my body has been wailing. Like when you have the flu, my whole body aches and my head is screaming. I go to work everyday and come home and go to bed. You haven’t missed much. Now however, after 2 visits to 2 different doctors we have concluded that I have a virus and a nasty bacteria has made it’s way into my system and is setting up camp. With luck the new antibiotics I’ve been given should have me feeling like my old self again by Tuesday (said Dra. Noelia). We’ll see. For now though I’m going to do my best to at least catch you up on a few things. Check back this afternoon for another post.
I promise never to leave you unannounced again. Thanks for sticking with me!



Sunday, May 17, 2009

We're tired!

We're tired of looking for a home! It's been a long week and a half of searching for a place to live here in Antigua. Like I mentioned before, it's expensive here and since neither of us are making anywhere near our normal salaries, we have to consider our budget. We set out with reasonable expectations, at least we think - a comfortable furnished place, 2 bedrooms (so you can visit), lots of light (remember our dungeon apt?) and hopefully a small garden.

Turns out it wasn't that easy. We didn't like most of the homes we toured for various reasons: a) they didn't make good use of their space, b). they were dark &/or musty, c) they considered plastic chairs and wood benches furniture, or d) some were just plain nasty! Finding something that fit our standards means the possibility of paying what we paid for our place on Colfax! So, with only a handful of
affordable good ones to choose from, we pretty sure we have found The One......with the exception being that it isn't available until July. With this in mind we have also looked for more temporary situations to hold us through and found one that we will be moving into this Saturday. It is nice, new, clean, spacious, bright, and has secure parking for Dewey. Good enough for us in the meantime!

If you're familiar with Antigua, we'll be just a block and a half from Tanque La Union, a beautiful pool-like structure in a park where indigenous women are often seen washing their laundry. It's a good location for both of us in terms of leaving town for our jobs.

I happened to catch this photo of the Tanque the other day while wandering the streets.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Guatemalan Girlfriends

The girls are back! My girls are back in town! Yipee!

Remember our new 'old friends' Mario & Kim and their daughters Lilian & Megan? The ones who threw me the killer birthday surprise party? Well, it seems that they just couldn't live without Tíos Ben & Krista in their lives, so they've followed us to Antigua! Just kidding! The truth is that Mario was scheduled to come down for work and since Mexico is still in "swine flu precaution mode" & the girls have been out of school for 3 weeks, they decided to tag along....and boy and I'm glad! (I was getting a little bored walking around town by myself.) Since I don't start my job until Monday, it was perfect timing! We've been just chilling out the way girls do it, doing hair, taking walks, resting in parks, shopping a bit (only a teeny bit - that's the truth), & stopping for afternoon pick-me-up dessert snacks!

Megs was in awe of the music we heard in a very romantic Thai restaurant

Lily investigating the flowers in the park

Private Eye Megan

Lilian & her lupa

we had a lunch date with Ronnie

Monday, May 11, 2009

Yes Doctor

Here's a shout out to my younger brother Ryan who graduated from his Physical Therapy program over the weekend. He can now proudly call himself Dr. Finotti (that's a Dr. of PT). While for me, my brother as a Dr. could possibly be the scariest thing that has ever entered my mind, I suppose that it will come in hand to have someone in the family who can treat the aches and pains of my aging body!

Congratulations Dr. Finotti!!
(& yes girls, he's single!)

He'll be busy this summer studying for his boards, but I'm hoping that he can find some time to come down to Guatemala and study Spanish for a few weeks. Wouldn't that just be the best resume builder - a bilingual PT!

Now all we need is for our cousin (who is training to be an OT) to graduate and the 3 of us could open our own therapy center. Maybe not such a bad idea........but where?

Ryan with our proud papa....

.... and mama

Sunday, May 10, 2009

La Antigua

This being our first weekend in Antigua, Guatemala, we decided to hit a few (no where near all) of the tourist destinations. If you haven't been, Antigua (literally antique) is an old colonial capital of Guatemala, and probably the most beautiful place in the entire country. The streets are a pretty charcoal cobblestone and everywhere you turn there are beautiful fuchsia flowers, Baroque-style yellow churches, and grand antique fountains. (Jean, we know you're going to love it here so we hope you can come visit!) There are also quite a few sites of ruins (mostly churches) that are remnants from several destructive earthquakes of the past.

At the moment we are living in a studio apartment in a guest house right in town. It's quite here with a nice garden and friendly neighbors. The search for homes has been a bit difficult. Because Antigua is a popular tourist area, the nice ones are rather prices (think US prices) and most everything else we've seen isn't anywhere we can envision ourselves getting very comfortable. For now though, at least we have a roof over our heads where we take our time finding a home. After 2 months on the road, we're both eager to unpack and settle in.

our current front door

Santa Cruz
inside Santa Cruz

not sure why, but all the statues were headless

a Mother's day procession

quite a somber parade - we're not quite sure what it was all about

Antigua from the Mirador de la Cruz

Cerro de La Cruz with Volcan Agua in the background

Tanque la Unión

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Ecamper in Action

We've been getting quite a few questions about our vehicle lately. Everyone wants to know what the Ecamper looks like in action. We get it. We too were completely curious before it became ours, so rather than making you search through the blog for photos, we're putting them all in one place - right here!

Access to the sleeping area is via the sunroof hole in the back of the vehicle, therefore the conversion can only be done to Elements that already have a factory sunroof. Two people can sleep comfortably above with room for sleeping pads (although not necessary). Made out of a weatherproof Sunbrella material, the addition has zip open sides with screens and even LED reading lights!

If you're interested in more information, check out
this link. It's the only place you can have the conversion done and it takes about one week. To see a video of how easy it is to pop up and down, click here (courtesy of The Darien Plan).

(the canopy is something we rigged up ourselves)

Whoo hoo!

54 days after beginning our journey through Baja, California and mainland Mexico, we have finally crossed the border into Guatemala. Whoo hoo! Check out our stats:
  • 4 states, 3 countries
  • 2 border crossings
  • 5,587 miles
  • 10 military checkpoints
  • 1 ferry ride
  • 1 oil change/tire rotation
  • 0 flat tires
  • 33 gas fill ups
  • 0 times getting pulled over
  • 1 police escort
  • 0 accidents
  • 3,426 speedbumps (just kidding - we lost count!)
After about an hour of jumping through the border hoops, we were on our way to where this whole thing began…..Xela, xela, xela, xela! (Oh how I wish you can hear that as the voice of the ayudante, hanging out of the bus!)

waiting to exchange our pesos for quetzales

waiting to have our car fumigated

waiting to file the paperwork for Dewey

Starving, our first stop across the border was good 'ole Pollo Campero – Guatemala’s version of KFC. After we had finished scarfing down our friend chicken and fries, we both vowed to never partake in Pollo Campero again – that is unless we are completely desperate like we were today! A few hours (and about 3 podcasts of This American Life) later, we made a brief stop in Huehuetenango, just to see what it is all about. Not much, we quickly learned and were back on the road quickly. Right outside of Xela it occurred to us that living in Antigua (several hours from Xela) we won’t have the delicious calda de frutas at our fingertips. You might recall from an earlier post that it’s a clandestino (illicit) homemade liquor made from some seriously strong fermented fruits only in Salcajá. Of course it wasn’t as easy as we had expected to stop off and buy a few bottles that can only be found at the pink house on the west side of the old church. It turns out there was a festival for the Day of the Cross right outside their door! Never fear though, we made our way out of Salcajá with a few bottles in tow. We’re saving them for our first visitors – better book your tickets soon!

This is a new one - Pollo Campero served from a trailer!

At long last we arrived in Xela where we stayed at the home of Guatemalan family, Napo & Candi Gomez. Oh how we missed them!! We had a nice dinner out at a local steakhouse and slept in our twin beds one last time. The following morning we visited our favorite café for breakfast and made a stop by ICA to visit our friends there (who we hope will come to see us in Antigua).

that's our favorite house in Xela, right under the big sign

Of course we did some people watching in Parque Central

We didn’t stay long, but our visit to Xela was just what we needed to get ourselves into the Chapín (Guatemalan) spirit!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

On a whim

On a whim we stopped off at Cascadas El Chiflón along the highway on our way toward the Mexico/Guatemala border and found it to be a really nice break! Not in any of our guidebooks, we heard about El Chiflón by word of mouth while in San Cristóbal de Las Casas and after seeing photos from a friend’s recent visit, we were sold – especially since it allowed us one more chance to camp!

El Chiflón is a series of freshwater waterfalls (5 in total) that seem to wind on along a beautiful aqua-colored river forever. There is a nice walking path the entire way and many lookouts to take in the impressive views. At the top you can even take a zip-line across the river in front of a seriously big waterfall. All along the way there are picnic and camping areas as well as a couple of restaurants where families spend the day cooling off in the water. Cabanas are also available for rent. We highly recommend this little known, but very scenic part of Chiapas.

Just a little playing around with water......

free bird!

Ben's always feeling thirsty!

Now that's a big gulp!

Princess for a night!

Friday afternoon we left San Cristobal de Las Casas for a return trip to Tuxtla where Ben told me he had a final work meeting with Mario. Ok, whatever I thought, at least I get to hang with Kim and the girls one more time.

Upon our arrival we were greeted by Lilian who put Cinderella stickers on us and led us upstairs. At the top of the stairs, to my surprise, the room was filled with balloons, confetti, birthday signs, and a delicious cake. A birthday surprise for me! I was donned with the traditional Chiapan birthday crown that is typically placed on one's head the night before your birthday to celebrate your upcoming birthday (literal translation - like the crowning of a baby during birth)! We ate a delicious meal prepared by Kim, danced to Hannah Montana, blew out a candle on a scrumptious cake and headed downstairs to take cracks at a Cinderella piñata (which was made from clay – something I didn’t know) stuffed full of dulces (candy).

All in all it was a night fit for a princess! Thanks guys, I feel so loved!

a birthday gift, complete with nose!

my favorite girls in all of Mexico!

4 princesses

taking a hit at Cinderalla

a mad dash for the candy!

delicious birthday cake

Megan entertaining us with her ballet dancing

Freddy Bear misses his brother Ben Bear