Monday, June 29, 2009

the soundtrack to my summer

you know music ruts? When you listen to the same music over and over and it gets really old? Well, I'm deep in one. I'm desperately needing new music, but I'm fresh out of ideas.

current favorites:
ingrid michaelson
meese has a good new album
jack's mannequin
relient k
coldplay, as always
regina spektor
taylor swift
and even a little ne-yo.

but really, where do I go from here?
Suggestions for summer listening, please?

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

fruity summer

Lately, I've been missing this...

licuados in Guatemala.
So so good.

We had them everywhere. This place in El Estor was the best, only 3 quetzales (less than 40 cents) for refreshing fruity deliciousness.

Luckily, the other day I found an easy recipe for a licuado de banano. Not as good as the Guatemalan version, but still lovely.

1 banana
1.5 cups milk
2 tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla

Blend until smooth. Devour.
(recipe from spark.)

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

rise and shout

Being a Y Group Leader at New Student Orientation this past weekend was such a fun experience! It made me think back to my own freshmen year, which seems like it was yesterday even though it was two years ago. I had a slight palpitation when I realized that I'm getting pretty old.

I loved being a fake freshman for a few days. The freshmen are so excited about everything that I am used to and take for granted about BYU. I am truly blessed to go there.
A sampling of things I have a renewed appreciation for:
  • Saying prayers and singing hymns before each meeting and class. I forget how unusual and wonderful it is.
  • Weekly devotionals that allow me to de-stress and feel the spirit
  • A beautiful and huge library that is full of so many resources
  • creamery chocolate milk
  • The award-winning Department of Communications
  • BYU sports, and athletes with standards
  • The Honor Code. People give it a lot of grief, but it really is an amazing thing.
  • The ability to combine spiritual and secular learning and to gain a love for learning.
Oh how I love BYU!

(I took this picture outside my apartment the other day. Provo is beautiful, even when it rains in June)

Friday, June 19, 2009

the last bit

Ok, here's the last few days of Guatemala.

The clouds are so much better there!
We spent one of our last days in Tikal. We went early in the morning, which was good because it was super hot and humid by the time we left. Tikal is so cool!! It will be totally jungly and then a huge temple will come out of nowhere. This is the view from the tallest temple. You can see Mexico from the top and its where they filmed the 4th Star Wars. Just picture ewoks here.
Our guide in Tikal took us on some questionable jungle shortcuts. Being in a jungle makes me really small because everything is so huge, like this tree!
This is the grand plaza, and boy, was it grand!
The cool thing about Tikal was that there weren't that many tourists, so we pretty much had our run of the place.
On one of our long driving days, we took a stop at the Castilla San Felipe. It used to guard from pirates on the Rio Dulce. Who knew there were castles in Guatemala?
The reason for our trip to the Peten was to visit 4 indigenous villages to evaluate projects done by Choice Humanitarian. These villages are the poorest in Guatemala and are incredibly remote, but so beautiful. The people spoke Quiche, so we could barely communicate with them. There was a marimba band and firecrackers welcoming us to each village, and everyone would be waiting for us and the village leaders gave thank you speaches. It was great to meet the people, but made me feel guilty for bringing out all this fanfare when we hadn't even done anything for these people.
The kids loved getting their picture taken and then looking at it, so I took a ton of pictures this day.
All of the kids suddenly surrounded us at one village. We couldn't really move and we couldn't really communicate with them, so we just took pictures to show them and gave them high-fives, which apparently is a universally fun thing.
I think this is the cutest child I saw in all of Guatemala. Just eating some grass and watching soccer.
Maria was so cute. We loved rolling down the hill together!
The people were definitley my favorite part of Guatemala! They are the kindest and most humble people I have ever met.

well, thats the trip. and now I'm getting ready to get back on a plane and head home to Washington!!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

week two

ok, back to the recap of Guatemalan adventures--our second full week.
disclaimer-- these pictures are way out of order.

We woke up one particularly clear morning and saw this view, volcano and all, from our hotel in Chimaltenango.
At the end of the week we drove all day (and I mean all day) and ended up in El Estor on the shore of Lake Izabel, the largest lake in Guatemala. Our hotel was right across the street and it was beautiful... we had to swim in it! It was the warmest water I've ever been in, like a bathtub! The lake is invested with crocodiles and manatees, but apparently they don't come to the part we were in. Which is sad, because we're always up for an adventure.
Earlier in the week a group of us went back to Santa Cruz Balanya to continue work on the Habitat house. We were mixing concrete by hand, but then there was a chance of rain so we had to stop and they sent us home. We ended up waiting for the bus for a bit, so we had an artsy photo-shoot. This picture is so Guatemala with the church and the chicken bus. Please excuse our faces, we were trying to be "hardcore", obviously.
On our long day of driving to El Estor, we stopped at Quirigua. These ruins were amazing! We had left the mountains and were in the jungle Peten region, so it was super hot and humid, but so beautiful!

I loved the thatched roofs and ceiba trees. So tropical!Earlier in the week we spent a day working on a mushroom co-op we were funding for a women's group. The construction supplies weren't ready, so we spent most of the day playing with the kids. This is Martina and Dalia, two of my favorite girls in Guatemala. Dalia and I decided we would be friends forever.

We ended the day playing "pato pato gonso" with the kids in the street. They loved it, and we soon had atleast 30 people watching us up and down the street.We spent a day working with agricultural development, so we delivered seedlings to farmers and taught them new planting techniques.

Miracle of miracles, there was a branch of the Grameen bank across the street from our hotel in Chimaltenango. I'm writing my paper on microcredit, and it was amazing to talk to the women in the office!!! (This was after a day of painting and on laundry day, hence the clothes)

wow, this was really long. but YAY!! my papers are done!! we celebrated guatemalan style with a midnight ice cream party last night. lovely!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

an interlude...

This has been my surroundings for the past week, mostly in the library but recreated on my desk because I've had enough of periodicals.

Two 15-page papers in a week. Joy.

But the end is in sight and they will all be done and turned in by midnight tonight!

Monday, June 15, 2009

tourist weekend

We took a break from our first week of working to be touristy for the weekend in Guatemala. It felt good to put down our shovels and gloves, but it was weird to not be the only white people in town. I'll admit it felt like other gringos were stealing our secret because we had so enjoyed our first week of experiencing "real Guatemala". I got over it, because even though these places were touristy, it was for good reason. They were fabulous!

On Sunday afternoon we drove about 40 minutes to Antigua, the capital of Guatemala until an earthquake destroyed it in the 1770s. It's been restored and it is beautiful! The clean streets, horse-drawn carriages and clean air were a welcome break after a week in smelly by great Chimaltenango. We ate an an amazing restaurant, but it took a lot of time so we didn't get to explore as much as I would have liked. What we did see was amazing! The top picture is us in front of the Iglesia San Fransisco, where they were in the middle of a Sunday evening rock concert/worship service.

This is the Church of the Merced. It is amazingly beautiful on the outside, but incredibly somber inside. It was neat to go on a Sunday when there was mass in progress in every church we stopped at. I never discovered why all the churches we saw were yellow, but it sure was beautiful!

We stumbled across a huge bazaar-type store in Antigua that was full of Guatemalan handicrafts. I loved this wall of masks, and there were two other walls full of masks like this.
We felt a few raindrops, but it was a great day to be in Antigua! Here are all the girls in front of the city arch. I loved being able to walk down the street and not have to worry too much about dodging oncoming traffic!

On Saturday, we drove to Ixichme, the market at Chichicastenango, and Lake Atitlan. Lake Atitlan is probably one of the most beautiful places I have ever been. Pictures don't even come close to doing it justice. It is surrounded by three huge volcanoes, and the lake itself used to be a volcano so it is super deep, but the water is fairly comfortable. This picture was taken when we stopped at a viewpoint on our way out, just as the sun was setting. So beautiful, but please excuse my unruly hair in these pictures. I was going for the natural look. We took a boat to a few smaller towns around the lake. This is an alley in Santa Catarina. I loved the vibe of this town, relaxed and not too touristy. Mostly I just love the colors of Guatemala. I really want to paint a house in the US this color to see what would happen.

The view from the boat. There are all kinds of people living around the lake from poor Mayans to hippies from all over Europe.
Once again, a beautiful day to see the sights! Lake Atitlan is huge!
At the viewpoint before heading down to the lake. We were really excited to see it, obviously. See the volcanoes in the background?

Sunday, June 14, 2009

here goes...

I am slightly hesitant to blog about my Guatemalan adventures because they are so amazing and vibrant and I almost don't want to belittle them in the blogging world. So I'll try to make them as cool here as they were when they happened.

here it is...week one in guatemala.
(but not really in order)
The first Saturday we took a break from working and went to the ruins at Ixichme. We were there in the early morning and it was so peaceful and green. Mayans still use these temples and altars for some of their traditions.

A group of us took the bus about 45 minutes outside of Chimaltenango where we were staying to work with Habitat for Humanity. Santa Cruz Balanya is a beautiful town, very colonial and very empty. We were walking through town when we came across the empty plaza with this beautiful church.
We were the first group of gringos to ever visit this village, atleast an hour truck drive outside of San Martin. We met with the women to discuss building adobe stoves with them.
The Guatemalan highlands are beautiful...espeically from the back of a pick-up truck!
The San Martin market is one of the largest Mayan markets in all of Guatemalan. I don't think they knew what to do when they saw gringos walking down the aisles! It is full of fruits and vegetables and spices and people speaking Quiche. So cool and energetic!
The kids at the orpahange in Chimaltenango loved playing with oobleck. Mangi and Tania were super cute
I loved the kids at the orphanage! They were so cute and good-natured even though they had been through incredibly difficult things in their young lives.
Our first typical Guatemalan meal, with tortillas of course. so good!

Friday, June 12, 2009


i'm back in the states after the most amazing trip to Guatemala.
Now, its just a matter of sorting through my suitcase, pictures, and life to get everything back in order again.

this is what I came home to on Wednesday night...I have super cute roommates