Monday, April 4, 2011

Still alive!

sorry guys, i haven't updated this thing in ages!  i've been busy, so let me try and recap.

firstly, i am now an official volunteer with the peace corps.  i swore in at the ambassadors house here in Guatemala City on March 25th.  it was a pretty grand ceremony, though only a very small portion was devoted to us, the rest was more of a close of service production.  sort of disappointing, but what can you do.  peace corps is craving some good PR after the 20/20 story so i guess they have to do what they have to do.

after swear in we were off to Antigua for the weekend.  our ecotourism program had rented out a hostel and we painted the town that friday night and the following saturday.  after that i was off to my site, sort of.  a few of use stopped overnight in Xela to enjoy one more day of freedom before we got to work.  it was fun, we had some drinks, ate some burritos, and watched a movie.  wouldn't trade it for anything.

and now i've been here at my site for a week as of right now while i'm typing.  in this time i have... not done too much.  it looks like i'm going to start teaching next week and i am still homeless.  which is pretty disappointing.  but hey! peace corps knows i'll figure it out.  or at least they keep telling me i will.  though it does feel like i was just sort of thrown in here, i'll make the best of it.  poco a poco.

anyways, i have some cool pictures to share, but i haven't uploaded them yet.  so stay tuned!  i promise it will happen, and i'll even talk about my new site more.  once i actually have a place to live haha

Monday, March 7, 2011

judgement week

it's been a while since i really updated this bad boy. but i have plans for a giant update this evening before i sneak to bed a bit early. hopefully this post will include selected photos from FBT (Field-Based Training) and a handful of photos i stole from kim earlier today.

first of all, i have my final presentation at the muni this week. wednesday i'll be presenting some environmental education activities for teachers from my pueblo so they can use them in the future with their students. hopefully that goes smooth, i've got two pretty hilarious games to play with them, so that should be entertaining at the very least.

then i receive my official site assignment on thursday. it will be my home for the next two years, pretty nerve-racking. i'm endlessly anxious. ENDLESSLY. then life gets a bit easier, this whole training deal finally starts to rap up. but let's get to pictures!

we'll get started with FBT:

looking over the mountains toward lake atitlan

here's brandon working on some clay during a cultural tour we took

and some examples of the pottery this little guy can do

some more handy-crafts on the cultural tour

this is a mayan sewing-machine, thing's huge

the hotel we stayed at when all the highways were closed one day, it was woooooonderful haha

this is where we stayed during the last 3 nights of training, "corazón del bosque"

looking out on lago de atitlan

this is Rene, explaining his work during the interpretive trail we walked (head to my flickr for all his artwork)

looking over the lake from 9k feet up

looking over the town of santa catarina, near the lake

the whole SCT krew hanging in front of the lake!

and now for some assorted photos!

SAN ANTONIO krew! with our first language teacher, Gladis

volcanoes are way cool

me teaching some campasinos about birdwatching

Craig! our training manager, this dude is awesome.

looking over Guatemala City from a really tall building

hangin' at our traing facilitator's (Chris') house

chilly up in the mountains!

oh, hey jerry...

looking extra diverse!

me, racking coffee, unstoked

i'm going to buy this before i come home... so cool
this is what a mayan ceremony looks like before they set it on fire

stuck in the middle of a drunk dance party in the middle of a street with kim

killin' some time in antigua

well, that should be good for now. you can check out my flickr for all the photos ( ) someday i think i'll even go through and reorganize everything, but for now i just toss it in there. the last set of photos i put up here are from kim, so much love to her for letting me use those and i hope you're all doing well.

don't forget to send me emails telling me about how great america is! i'd hate to forget haha! miss everyone.

Monday, February 28, 2011


sorry for my prolonged absence aqui. i've been muy busy and when i do have tiempo libre, i feel like laying and not thinking. i will totally upload all the nifty photos i got while i was traveling the countryside soon. but i will give no date!

anyways, it's almost march! yesssss

things in the future:
saturday i'm attending a wedding, going to show every how to dance yrself clean
sunday is a freeeee day in antigua, god bless we're due
next wednesday i have my last presentation at the muni
next thursday i get my site assignment :-D
then a week from this sunday i visit my site for a week and chill with my future friends

now, i must do some much dreaded homework and then hopefully watch a few episodes of dexter to help me forget how much i'd like to murder someone for a nice steak with some garlic mashed potatoes, double stuffed oreos, sour gummy worms, and happy hour margaritas. you know what guatemala needs? don and millie's. foolish third world country...

oh ya! and volcán fuego freaking exploded this morning! with lava! holy shit, the entire town shook and it was awwwwwwwwwwesome. note to nebraska, invest in some cooler natural disasters, i'm bored of tornadoes.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

yes, my guard stood hard when abstract threats

too noble to neglect
deceived me into thinking
i had something to protect
good and bad, i define these terms
quite clear, no doubt, somehow
ah, but i was so much older then
i’m younger than that now

it's weird, like the longer i'm here the less serious i take myself.  and i know, some people are going to think that's impossible because i never really take myself that seriously.  but being this far away from anything that makes sense sort of numbs you to those norms that run your life with fear.  speaking out of turn, caring about how your hair looks or what others are thinking when they see you.  the constant reality trap of living in the States is sort of lifted here.  don't get me wrong, one thing that Guatemalans are big on is dressing nicely, but this being a poor country means that dressing nice can still be pretty casual.  i'll get compliments for wearing a collared shirt; i dressed up for a presentation i had to give at the municipality the other day and was turning heads the entire walk to the building.  what i'm getting at here is that i don't care about showering in the morning, i've come to terms with bed hair--or forgotten it looks disgusting.  i'm also aware of my awful, though improving, language skills.  so repeating the same broken sentence and doing tons of pointing to get my idea or request across doesn't feel stupid anymore.  it's just how i get around.  and people like it, i'm interesting, i'm funny, i know i look stupid, and it's just okay now.  life is much smoother when you get yourself out of the americanized mind-set.  wonderful even.

anyways, it's been a while!  i am, in fact, alive and healthy.  so stop worrying for a couple days.  last week was painful and filled so i didn't really have much time to do this.  last tuesday i was painfully sick and was sort of out-of-commission--i'll spare you all the disgusting details.  then friday i went on a trip to a coffee plantation and visited a traditional mayan music museum.  pictures below.  saturday i went to a mayan ceremony, which was super interesting.  they see the natural world in a real abstract way and it's so cool to look at it in such a drastically different light.  i'd love to try and explain it but i feel like i wouldn't represent it very well, so i'd encourage you all to take some glances at mayan beliefs.  do a quick google search or wait for me to live here a few more months so i can get a better grasp on it, haha.

this week has just flown by.  gave my first charla (presentation) on wednesday.  i was mad stressed about it for the last week and it really weighed down my spirit.  i need to toss a special shout out to morgan for letting me bitch and moan about my life, so wonderful to put up with my bullshit with a smile and kind words :-)  it was a necessary evil, or at least i'm going to keep telling myself that.

and this weekend i get another free day!  i think we're all about due.  then sunday i'll be taking off to the country side for what's called FBT (field-based training) where we'll be getting our hands dirty at a couple volunteer sites.  super excited, but i'll be out of contact for about a week.  just an fyi to anyone i haven't talked to already.

anyways, let's do some pictures!

OH HEY GUYS. that's the department i live in!

and off the la azotea...

time to take the tour!

this is a whole bunch of coffee drying in the sun. i racked some of it! it was like free labor...

our awesome guide (don't recall his name) showing us something (not sure what) sorry, this was already a long time ago!

baby coffee bushes

part of the garden after the tour, so pretty!

and into the museum, some cool pictures of traditional mayan activities

mayan handy-crafts and ME :)

these dudes are doing some serious rocking

some larger handy-crafts

i'm going back to buy this, no question

geeeetar and some other shtuff

this was really cool and HUGE. they like carry this around, almost like a float during a parade.

so life has been GOOOD lately. and i'll have sooo many pictures for next weekend hopefully. going to a lot of really cool places this next week, so stay tuned!

Friday, January 28, 2011

note to self: don't ride a bike in Guatemala

so today was a great day with a bit of a hiccup.  we had our spanish class in Antigua today to practice going to the grocery store and market.  it was fun and i finally got to pick up a few things i've been in dyer need of.  i'm not actually going to share those because a couple things are sorta gross.  haha, imagination!

we stopped by a PACA (used clothing store filled with hollister and american eagle stuff that the U.S. sends down) and wandered around the artisans market where we got to try out bargaining for the first time.  really entertaining to watch the sellers run after you and beg to make a deal.  actually got some really awesome low prices, but i am saving all my money for tomorrow.  i could use a drink or.... 10 on my first free day off here.  heyoooo.

anyways, so we got on our bus to head back to San Antonio and finish up class at my casa.  well, the bus driver floored it down one of the streets heading out of Antigua and plastered some guy on a bike.  we had no idea what was up at first because he slammed on his breaks and tossed it into reverse really quick.  everyone immediately jumped up and ran towards to the front of the bus to see what was up but our spanish teacher thought it was better to chill where we were at for the time being.  after a few minutes she walked up front and talked to a few people.  about that time the ambulance was just pulling up; she let us know the dude was still alive and that we should probably go find another bus to take back home.  definitely a souring event and even more so as we're taking the the "fastest" driving buses out of Antigua tomorrow to visit Santa Luisa Cuidad Nueva (the buses that goto Chimaltenango have a reputation of driving fast and stopping for very short periods of time, awesome...)

spanish is coming along good, got a good review from my teacher on wednesday and another good review from my tech trainer today.  so no worries.  preparing for my first spanish presentation tomorrow morning (afternoon off in Antigua for drinks with friends) and then i have a charla (formal presentation) at the municipality in about a week and a half, then we start our school project where we'll be doing some environmental education with a few teachers in one of the schools here.  so things are starting to really pick up and the days are finally feeling like days instead of months.  hurray.

loving it here in Guate, can't wait to rap up this training and get out to my site to really start working.  looks like they're going to be aiming to put me at a birding site.  should be awesome, word on the street is there's some birds here that need naming.  i think i could take care of that ;-)

miss everyone dearly, keep me update with your lives too!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

real quick update

i have a few random pictures i'm going to post. not much new; today was robert's birthday so we had lunch at his house and ate waaaaaay too much food. then waaaaaay too much cake. spanish interviews went well. old dude is out of our class, which is awesome. and life goes on.

pictures kim gave me today!

just another quiet morning in san antonio aguas calientes

VOLCAN FUEGO is always steaming

chicken buses we cruise around Guate in

the mall in Guate, Tikal Futura

dudes run around with fireworks going off all over them, no lie.

Monday, January 24, 2011

curb. yr. excitement. guatemala.

hola!  this probaly won't be long, but hopefully it'll have some neat pictures and hopefully even a couple videos for people to check out.  i'm still uploading as i type this so we'll see when i get to the end.  anyways, the last two days and then tonight have been a festival here in my pueblo, it's been nuts.  last night music and fireworks went until 3am, which sucked because i was up at 6 today to goto Guatemala City.  let's talk about that before we get into Dulce Nombre de Jesus (the name of the festival).

Guatemala City is.... AWESOME.  holy shit i don't know why Peace Corps doesn't want us to go there, okay it's super dangerious, but we only hung in the safe districts while we were there.  the mall was killer.  totally chowed down on some fast food, the best burger and fries i've ever eaten.  god i miss preservatives and processed meat.  god bless it!  but Guate City was neat and i enjoyed the day.  will return to make my outlandish purchases in the future.

anyways, Jesus-Fest or Dulce Nombre de Jesus (loosely translated to "The Sweet Name of Jesus") was here.  it was nuts and really made absolutely no sense.  everyone i asked couldn't tell me why they were doing it, what the dancing/costumes meant, or even why these days were selected.  they just do it and have tons of fun.  too much fun.


these old-boys led it off:

then it got weird...

like...really weird....

then it was like sorta normal?

but it didn't last!

then i met up with rob in front of the church

i have some more videos and such. but i didn't upload them. i've got some even more insane stuff, but i didn't want to come on too strong. it was, without a doubt, the weirdest day i've ever had. it was capped off by a guy wearing fireworks running down the street with them going off on his body... and a horse-back sword fight... absolutely ridiculous. this whole thing started on saturday and is still going tonight even. i thought it was neat at first, but i do sorta miss normality here.

anyways, that's what i was up to this weekend. last night was a live concert so i was doing a little dancing in the central park and came home early. it was absolutely unforgettable, so i'm glad i got to enjoy it live and up-close.

finally, so you can feel like you were there:

okay and one more so you can see the important stuff in action