Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Monterrico and other adventures

Last Tuesday was a sad day as we said good-bye to all of our first wavers. There is no doubt that we will miss their personalities in the house!

One of the least-mentioned, but most-fun projects we have going on right now is business. Dane and Amy are using short stories and colorful images to train basic business principles to people who are receiving micro-credit loans. At least one day a week, a small group of volunteers are going out to the villages and helping teach business classes that focus on separating business and personal expenses, budgeting and planning, and being smart with expenses. Business rocks!

After six weeks here in Guatemala, we finally began to hand out chimneys in several of the villages. We had a celebration where there was a lot of speaking, laughing, and good food. At the end of the party we handed out the chimneys to the women who were more than grateful to finally be able to have a way to escape the smoke in their homes.

Mesoamericana may be on a two week vacation, but that doesn’t mean that people aren’t still going out to Patzicia to work. Don Pedro, the grounds crew man at the school, was just called to be a bishop in Patzicia but only had a one room house. So instead of going to the school this week, we trucked over to his house to add some additions so that he can meet with people in private in his home. This was a way fun project that included everything from knocking out a window and a door to digging foundation and laying bricks.

On Saturday, all the volunteers went to Monterrico beach in southern Guatemala for a brief get-a-away. The Pacific Ocean waves were so strong that our sun block didn’t stand a chance of staying on. But regardless, relaxing and laying on the beach was a slice of heaven that was much needed and we all had a great time!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

A bit different sabor...

This week I thought you might enjoy seeing something that is commonplace for us volunteers - ratdogs. These poor creatures roam the streets everywhere (sorry animal lovers, we did all experience culture shock over this). Please vote in this week´s poll (to your right) so we can scientfically determine which dog is ugliest. Thanks for your help!

Dane´s Find
Creighton´s Find

Amy´s Find (this one you really had to see in person).

Hilary´s Find
Oh yeah...all is well in the pink and green house!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Welcome to Guatemala, we´ve got fun and games...

This week we went to Quiche and worked in the villages around there. Unfortunately we ran into a few problems while we were there like theft and misunderstandings, but the group came together and made the best of it. It was a great learning experience that will be valuable as we continue making stoves in other aldeas (villages). And despite these hickups, we were able to make a nice difference for about 83 families. One of these villages was nearly a two hour hike in the mountains where not much, if any, had been given before. It was beautiful up there and there was a sweet waterfall we got to wash off in just to top it all off.
Also this week, we got some new projects started. First, we're going to help build extra rooms to a man's house who was just called to be the bishop in his ward. He is 27, married, has 5 children, and they all live in a one room house with no water or power. He's lived like this for years but never complained and mentioned it. Finally the principle of a school we work with found out and is organizing the project. The other project is for a small village where the people are too poor to go to school. We are going to teach some classes, have activities, and give some supplies to help them get to where the need to be.
We had three new volunteers join us this week: Nicole B., Rachel J, and Rachel W. Quiche was a great way to break them into the Guatemala experience. Although they were just thrown into the whirlwind of Guatemala they have all had a great attitude despite the crazy chicken bus rides, fireworks waking them up at 2 in the morning, and mild cases of the Boo… We are excited to have them here and know that they will be a great asset to out team. However, we are all sad to the first wavers leave this week. I am sure that none of us will forget the incredible experiences we have had together these past six weeks, and I am almost certain that there will be many more to come once we return to school this upcoming fall. But as always, all is well in the pink and green house and we are all looking forward to the fun experiences and adventures we are going to have this week!

Monday, June 9, 2008

Due to a little thing we’ve come to know and love called El NiƱo, we had to cut last week’s trip to Tikal short due to back to back tropical storms. So we had to scramble to make arrangements with our partner organizations, but we still found plenty to do. We’ve continued making contacts in almost every project area. We met with the mayor of San Martin (thanks to Adalila, who happens to know everyone in Guatemala) and have started making arrangements for several projects in the surrounding villages. This is an incredibly poor area and he was very excited about the classes we had to offer and discussed with us what the greatest needs are and how we can maximize our service in that area.

We left Friday morning for Panajachel, on the shores of Lake Atitlan. The car ride was a roller coaster, but we made it there safe and sound and a little nauseous. We spent most of Friday browsing the huge expanse of handicrafts and small shops. Saturday we went on a boat ride in the morning and crossed our fingers the dark clouds would magically lift. And around noon, we got our first couple hours of sunshine in weeks, which offered a stunning view of the lake and surrounding countryside. We enjoyed a swim in the lake and a bonfire later that night. It was a great weekend trip—highly recommend it.
Otherwise, projects are going very well and we’re preparing for a 4 day trip to Quiche, where we’ll be working with the people of the villages to build over 100 stoves. Yes, all is well in the pink and green house.

Monday, June 2, 2008

One more week here in Guatemala....

Things are getting hot in Chimaltenango, and believe us, we´re not talking about the weather. The work has been blazing! We´re getting to know the women of the villages more and more and it´s really rewarding to see them get excited about the stoves and health classes that we´ve been doing. After finally figuring out the crazy aluminum french jigsaw puzzle, we were able to finish Don Juan´s house. Others have been busy with our jack pot of a contact, Heladio, building square foot gardens. Amy and Dane´s hard work is paying off because their business class went absolutely amazing last week. The women were totally enthralled with learning how to better their mushroom business. The Chimal hospital is still as crazy as ever and always a new and exciting experience. This week, we also helped brighten the orphanage with a new coat of paint! Friday, we had a way rewarding day clearing a field for a public school. We even were able to see how our hard work paid off when the children came out onto the newly cleared field and played a game of futbol, or in the states, soccer, with us.

After our hard week of working, we left Friday afternoon for Rio Dulce and Tikal. It was great, but due some inclement weather, we came back a little early and are now hard at work again.

All is well at the pink and green house! Until next time...