lunes, 31 de diciembre de 2012

November, Navidad, and Nebaj

So, the last time I wrote you all it was less than a week before my mom was coming to visit.  A lot has happened since then and it has all happened fast.
First on November 12 our kiddos had their first Special Olympic tournament.  It was really awesome to see NPH supporting them.  We took a whole school bus of athletes, volunteers, and NPH employees to the tournament in the capital.  Unfortunately because of earthquakes and such, not all the departments of Guatemala could come to participate.  Because of that, the tournament was more of a recreational competition without medals, but still very cool.
Our fantastic team :)
A few days after the tournament, my wonderful mother came to visit me for two whole weeks.  It was so good to see her after being away for more than 10 months.  We did a lot of fun things including Semuc Champey, Tikal, Belize, Livingston, and Rio Dulce - check out pictures on facebook if you'd like :)

The day after my mom returned to the states, I started as a tia for the month of December with the kids with special needs.  I was excited to be working with some fun tios and to go on plenty of excursions.  One day we went to a Christmas fair in the capital to go ice-skating.. yeah I wondered the same thing - but they had a big machine to keep the ice cold even though we were outside and it was hot.  Throughout the month we also decorated for Christmas, went swimming, did art projects, went for runs, did activities with visitors coming to donate gifts, and made cakes!

The Christmas fair in the capital

Christmas day - Leo is excited with his new action figure
A chocolate strawberry cake the kids made Christmas day
Odi playing with her new doll

The tios and volunteers having cake Christmas day after the kids went to bed.
On December 26th all the tios and tias came back from Christmas vacation and the volunteers were officially done being tios.  Before starting to work again January 2nd, Charlotte and I took advantage of our last opportunity to see more of Guatemala.  We went for a two day hike in Nebaj, which is a really pretty place with a lot of small Mayan Ixil towns.  We went with a guide and walked and walked, stopping at peoples' homes for meals and lodging.  It was so nice to be outside, experience another culture, and see such a beautiful place.

I have officially been in Guatemala a whole year! I have not set foot in the U.S. of A since 2011!  crazy.  What is 2013 going to bring?  I hope you all have a happy new year!

sábado, 10 de noviembre de 2012

NPH Anniversary, Friends Visiting, and Day of the Dead

NPH Guatemala is (well was...) celebrating its 16th aniversary.  Normally there's a big three day celebration in November, but this year it was a big one day event in October due to all the financial issues.  But it still was a lot of fun.

Four hours a day for a week we practiced our dances and cheers that we would perform with our aniversary groups.  Everyone was all mixed up - kids of every age and employees from every department.  It was chaotic, a little crazy, but definitely fun.  Here we are in our costumes - my group's theme/dance was salsa. mmmm

                                                And here's my group on anniversary day

In the morning we played a bunch of games led by the teachers such as obstacle courses, riddles, and tug of war.  It was a lot of fun.  Then in the afternoon all the groups performed their dances and the winners got prizes like lunch at McDonalds or a day at the pool.  The whole day was pretty fun and a good way to spend time with the kids, especially ones I didn't know too well.

Then in mid October I had some friends come and visit and that was a lot of fun.  We went to Lake Atitlan, Antigua, and Semuc Champey. Here's some pics of the latter.


It was so great having them here.  And my mom comes to visit me in ONE WEEK!!!! I haven't seen her or hugged her for over 10 months.  I'm excited :)

Then acouple days after my friends headed back to the states, it was halloween and day of the dead.  I really like the traditions here a lot.  On November 1st and 2nd everyone goes to the cementaries and has a big barbeque.  There's tons of food and families and everyone having a good time.  I like how the atmosphere is happy and light-hearted instead of solemn and serious.  Its a nice way to remembered loved ones who've passed I think.  A really important part of the celebration is the kites.  I think they symbolize spirits and soaring up to heaven or something like that.  A bunch of kids make their own and others too to sell or compete in the big kite contest.  They make them out of tissue paper and its amazing.
We went to Santiago - a town famous for this day and their kites.  They were HUGE and very detailed, telling stories of Guatemalan history and ancestors.

Incredibly detailed right?

So yeah, that was fun :)

And now - I'm somehow so ready for Christmas.  I crave the music, the movies, the cookies.  I never thought that I would miss winter so much too.  I'm anticipating seeing pictures of Chicago snow soon :(
But I'm watching my first of many Christmas movies this evening and hopefully this will help me somehow get through the eternal springtime that is Guatemala.  gosh, my life is hard

well - hope you all at home enjoy the fall and Thanksgiving and all that stuff that comes this time of year.  I'm sure to spend a very different, but very memorable holiday season here in San Andres Itzapa.

sábado, 15 de septiembre de 2012

Independencia - Guatemala feliz que tus alas....

This week/month is all about independence.  It hardly seems like we have school with all the activities.  Its been really fun and different.

We had a day where a bunch of surrounding schools came with their bands to play and compete and be patriotic.  My kids and I watched from the second floor.

We also had a big parade with neighboring schools.  My kids dressed up as flowers, a bear, and a frog.  It was really cute.  We marched around San Andres Itzapa with our band playing in the back.

My favorite activity by far was the torch run.  Only the older kids went and it was such a unique and unifying experience.  First we drove about an hour and half away to swim and have fun.

Then we ran home! what?!?  We went to the town San Martin where the mayor made a little speech and lit our torch that we would bring all the way back to NPH.  Ok - we were a  little low on time so we drove about a half hour first, but afterwards the kids and volunteers ran through several towns, lots of hills, for about 2 hours.  Random people from random towns cheered us on and threw water on us.  We were exhausted; I didn't know if I was going to make it.  At one point I was way behind everyone with our bus on my butt honking.  All the tired people had already climbed on to take a break, but I had to keep going.  It was an incredible feeling to hear a bunch of kids cheering on "Estephanie! Estephanie!" and I caught up to the rest.  Then we finally made it to Parramos. (ok, most took a break, I skipped some hills...).  The younger kids came out to meet us along with the tios and we all ran the last stretch together.  Then we lit the torch and sang Guatemala's national hymn (well not me... I'm american) but it was super cool.

This awesome kid from my section explained that running is seen as a symbol of freedom.  I had never thought of that before.  I really like it.  We saw other groups running with their torches and we all mutually cheered each other on.

Not that I have favorites or anything, but he definitely helps me remember why I'm here and why I want to be.
Other than all the independence celebrations, everything has been going well with the Special Olympics and working with the kids with special needs.  Recently I started helping with Club Pica Pica which is a once a week cooking class.  I really like working with other volunteers and I think the kids really enjoy it.  I love having so much variety :)

sábado, 8 de septiembre de 2012

mes de la patria and other stuff

Hey everyone,

I'm happy to say our first training with the Special Olympics in the capital went swimmingly.  We brought five kids with us to a really nice sports complex.  A special olympics coach lead the practice with our kids and another group of adults and kids.

getting ready to head out!
It was really neat to see them meeting other kids with disabilities who are just like them.  At first everyone was very shy, but at the end they were giving hugs goodbye and running together and it was great.  For me it really boosted my energy and excitement to meet more athletes and see my kids participating.  It was perfect.

everyone in action


Our NPH athletes
We want to try to go every 2 weeks and we'll try to bring more kids with us.  And its all free :).  In the mean time, we'll keep up with our practices at NPH a couple times a week.
On a different note, things are about to get pretty crazy around here in Central America.  September is patria month - time to be patriotic.  The 15th of September is independence day for many Latin American countries including Guatemala.  In the school we're going to have a ton of activities throughout a span of several days with bands, torch runs, parades.  I'm looking forward to a change in pace and its so interesting to participate in celebrations I've never seen before.  
So - I'm sure its not a huge shock to the world or anything, but finances are rough, not just for NPH Guatemala, but for a lot of the homes and I imagine nonprofits in general.  If you are interested in supporting NPH and the lives and family they are trying to provide for these kids, please consider donating on this link.
Also, you can donate for specific projects.  We are particularly running low on our horse therapy fund with the kids with special needs.  We do this once a week for two hours and its so good for the kids.  A volunteer physical therapist and occupational therapist head it up and the kids not only get physical therapy with balance and building trunk support, but they also get to ride big, scarey animals.  They learn that they can do it; they can accomplish something that is hard and intimidating.  I'd hate for them to miss an activity so good for their self-esteem and well-being.  All of the specific projects are listed on this link.

So that's all for me.  I'm enjoying my low-key weekend and tomorrow I'm going to watch the first Chicago Bears game of the season! woo-hoo!

domingo, 2 de septiembre de 2012

santa maria, half marathon, and special olympics

I'm going to gloss over a lot - but here's some recent events and updates.

So, everything is still going with the Special Olympics. We met up with the director, talked things out, I've got everybody's forms, and have downloaded all the rules. We had our first couple practices and its awesome because one of the newer volunteers used to volunteer with the Special Olympics in the states and knows how to run practices and the rules we got to stick to. I'm so excited! We have about 15 kids who are going to participate and we separated them into two groups - the younger, really energetic kids, and the other older, calmer group. Its so great its happening!
Hopefully tomorrow will be our first training in an actual stadium and not at NPH. We're going to take a trip with a few of the kids and practice with the track and the lines and all that jazz. We've got transportation set - I just hope we crossed all our "t"s and dotted our "i"s to actually get there and practice!

I had a couple great weekends. A couple weeks ago Charlotte and I decided to take Friday off and head to Xela for a long weekend. Every once in a while, its so great to get away and get refreshed. We decided to climb Santa Maria, one of the 10 volcanoes that surrounds Xela. We left at 4am and arrived at the top at about 8. It was amazing. I struggled a bit the last half hour with all the altitude and steep climb, but making it to the top made it all worth it. We felt like we accomplished something (which my sore leg muscles attest to), and we got to really engage with nature. It was perfect.

Last weekend, a few volunteers ran a half marathon and a group of us went to cheer them on. As it was in the morning on Sunday and there's lots of stuff to do in the capital, we stayed the night on Saturday with a friend and her family. They were all extremely nice and wonderful. Saturday we took advantage of the fact that the Body Works exhibit was in Guatemala. It was really cool and really interesting. I liked the guy with all the nerves like a creature out of a tim burton movie. I think its amazing that even though the exhibit has traveled to so many of our countries, a good amount of us hadn't seen it yet. Then Sunday morning we all went to the race - about 9000 people running. The excitement was contagious and all the runners did great! (Charlotte under 2 hours whoa!!). Afterwards we all celebrated at IHOP which was wonderful and weird.

In my classes we're continuing coming up with a dance for our little play and making all the masks, props, and costumes. I hope it all goes well and I have a list of people to invite (it will be a smallish audience I think). But they are so cute. School will be ending in about a month and we have about 2 weeks of crazy independence activities amongst other things, so I hope we're able to finish everything in time.

Eeek - officially here in Guatemala for 8 months on Friday. Did that really just happen?
Anyway, its crazy hard to upload pictures - sorry about that. But I have some on facebook.
Hope you are all well!!

martes, 24 de julio de 2012

two quick stories

hey all,

so I've got two good stories and one is pending.

First of all - many of us out there in the United States and Europe are always worried about the dangers in Latin America and Guatemala.  All the robberies, pick pocketing, assaulting.  We can turn a beautiful country and people into a dark place.  Not saying these things don't happen, but just listen to my story.

For those of you who know me, I can be a bit clumsy, a little forgetful, downright oblivious sometimes.  Well a couple weeks ago, I was walking through Parramos chatting with a friend and I decided to take off my rain jacket.  There was absolutely no one around us and sometime in this moment I dropped my wallet.

After I realized it was gone and we searched for a 1/2 hour or so, we figured it was long gone.  I canceled my credit card and thought well it was going to happen sometime (please refer to attitude in top paragraph).


A few days later and stranger in town called NPH (because the number was in my wallet) and wanted to return it to me!  I waltzed down the street and a sweet young mom with her 4-ish year old daughter handed me my wallet and wished me a good day.

The only thing I lost was about $3

Take that cynics!  And be encouraged everyone!

ok 2nd story.

So ever since doing Americorps and serving with the Special Olympics, I've been enamored with how this organization celebrates and empowers people with disabilities.  Shortly after starting to work with the kids with special needs in Guatemala, I started the searching events and contacts for the Special Olympics.  After emailing and calling the Guatemala SO, the US sports director, the Latin American director, and I think a few others, I finally got the contact info for the director of Guatemala.
After a couple months of few and far between emails, yesterday the director and I finally set a time to meet up and talk!  What is more, I found out last minute about a tournament today and that we could come and watch!  I thought it was too late to try to go but suddenly everyone at NPH got really excited about it.  A few volunteers, the director of psychology, the director of the house of kids with disabilities.  A process I thought was going to be long and a struggle suddenly came together out of nowhere.

I scrambled to finish up my morning classes with the kids and as they got their snack and got ready to go to the library, I set out with the house director of the spec. ed. kids, and three therapists.
2 buses and a taxi later, we got to the stadium.  And in this moment, the tournament was ending. what?!? We just missed it.  But we did get to meet and chat with the director and some friendly athletes who had won medals wanted to take a few pictures.  They were great!

the field

an athlete

us volunteer posers :P

So, what we found out so far is that everything is FREE.  There's another tournament in November.  And all we have to do is register our kids and have a volunteer coach train them (aka, the person in my least I'm guessing).  This means that our Special Olympic dreams can be realized!! It won't be a financial burden on NPH, the kids will get to excel in competition and be cheered on.
Of course there's a lot more to find out about, but everything looks promising.
We're meeting with the director a week from Friday to talk about what exactly we have to do.
so excited!!!!!

As a side thought.  Volunteering here for a year is great - a year is both a long and short time.  But, gosh, something like connecting the Special Olympics with these kids at NPH would just, wow, it'd be like leaving something lasting.  Like when Stephanie is long gone like every volunteer eventually is - to be a part of something that's going to be around for them for years (hopefully) and continue to develop and just... yeah I am pretty excited!

Anyway - see you later!

sábado, 21 de julio de 2012

hey lovely blog readers... if you're still there...

I totally wrote this blog over a week ago, but somehow I never published it... well here it is.

so its been about a month - I know that's pretty bad.  And as the days and events pile up, I get more and more intimidated (more like lazy...) to write about all the Guatemalan adventures.

So, instead of continuing to run away or writing a mini-novel no one is going to get through, I'll just be short and sweet and hope that I'll blog more often in the future.  Thank you for being patient through this disclaimer.

So, vacation was fantastic.  To sum it up, we got to do everything that we wanted to do, do it for pretty cheap, and almost every last minute spontaneous plan worked out.  I've never traveled in such a way.  We went kayaking, hiking, horse-backriding, and site-seeing.  We saw a sacred lagoon, boated through a canyon, climbed a Mayan pyramid thousands of years old.  We ate Mexican, Argentinian, Mayan, Indian, and U.S. food.  We saw a ton of churches, museums, hot springs, and even a chocolate factory.  We met cool and interesting people and enjoyed nights of salsa and local reggae bands.  To see pictures of it all, please refer to my facebook page.  To read more, please visit Charlotte's blog.  She's a lot more disciplined than I am...

A part from that amazing vacation, the other big news is that the new volunteers are here!!  Already six months have gone by and a new batch came in.  We're transitioning from new to old volunteers, weird.  On the whole, the new group seems really cool and I'm excited to get to know them better.  They are almost done with their two week orientation... I'm remember those days.

well, as they say here sometimes "hasta pronto!" meaning I hope to write again sooner than later.  I hope you all are well!

domingo, 17 de junio de 2012

Excursions and Quinceañeras

hey all,

So this week was fun and different for many reasons including the anticipation of VaCaTiOn!!!

At the school it was one of those weeks where everyone had already taken exams, the kids are about to go on vacation, and just about everyone wants to take it easy and do something fun.  On Thursday all the kids in the school went on an excursion outside of NPH.  We went to a really pretty park about 1.5 hours away where there were obstacle course type stuff and important cities in Guatemala in miniature.

Here's little Tikal - Mayan ruins.  I hope to go to the real place in November

Then on Friday it was Teacher Day (does that exist in the US?).  But it was cute because a lot of the kids put on little skits and songs for the teachers.  I forgot to bring my camera that day though.

And everything starting Friday afternoon was about getting ready for quinceañeras.  Every year NPH has one day of huge celebration for all the girls who turn 15 that year.  Its an enormous event and reminded me of a mix between a wedding and prom.  We had mass and a ceremony.  The girls were presented with a ring and they performed a dance.  We had a big reception and a bunch of outside guests.  It was really fun.

Everything set up and looking nice

The girls making their grand entrance
The volunteers job was to help decorate and to serve dinner to everyone.  My job was serving the drinks.  Amazingly with all the people and movement and tendency to be clumsy, nothing fell.

serving food
And we all got to get dressed up, dance, and be in good company.

It was the perfect last day before our two week vacation.  Today Charlotte and I are headed off to Lake Atitlan and Xela before spending a week in Mexico.  Its crazy to think its already been 6 months and we already have to renew our passports.  Well, we're planning on having lots of adventures and Mexican food which will all show up in my next blog. so excited! Hope you all are well!

sábado, 9 de junio de 2012

volcanoes and chess games

Hello world,

Here's a fun activity my kids did in their workshop.  We made volcanoes outside in the mud, decorated it with "trees" and exploded them with vinager and baking soda.  Working with the mud was a good sensory aspect and the kids loved seeing them explode.

And with my class, I'm now teaching artistic expression and physical education.  I only work with small groups and in this way the kids get more attention and instruction on their different levels.  Luckily there's been huge donations of glue, paint, and various artsy stuff and an extra classroom I can use.  I hope it all goes well.  Here's a pic of Gustavo and me.  He's a little trouble maker but very cute and can be very sweet.  He's one of the kids who had a really hard time at school, but has been improving a ton in the past months.

And I was able to find a super cheap chess set a week or two ago and its become a favorite with my section of adolescent boys.  Its been surprisingly competitive especially with a certain tio who one night insisted I play in a different room away from the noisy boys to concentrate better.  45 minutes later, I won, but a rematch will be coming...
My section has been really fun as they're older and we can have more in depth conversations and play more complicated games.  Its a nice change of pace.

Speaking of changing the pace, one more week until vacation!!!! Yes, I have been here for almost 6 months and its time for me to leave the country.  The kids are going to get a break from school, and while they're out, Charlotte and I are going to take two weeks to hit up lake Atitlan, Xela, and San Cristobal de Las Casas Mexico.  We're going to kayak, hike, see ruins, relax, and eat some authentic Mexican food.  Can't wait! 

Well, I hope you all are well.  Until next time.

domingo, 27 de mayo de 2012


Yesterday happened to be one of my favorite days here in Guatemala I think so far.  There were laughs, tears, danger, love, and hot chocolate.
But I'll back up a minute first.
This past week a really sweet and awesome guatemalteca volunteer graduated from university with a degree in social work.  On Thursday 8 of us made the trip to the capital to see her graduate and it was unlike any other I've been to.  She was the only one graduating so it was very individualized.  She presented a bit of her thesis and made a speech at the end.  Her professors talked about her work and success.  Her family was so proud and it really was a beautiful ceremony.

Then yesterday 9 of us went to her house to have lunch and celebrate.  It was so cool to see a different part of Guatemala.  The family was really nice, especially her mom and grandmother, and we just felt so welcomed in.  What really got me were the speeches.  Karla and her mom just talked about how much the other meant and it was so touching.  It was beautiful and made me tear up.  After that all I wanted to do was to tell my mom how much I love her and how incredible I think she is. (hey mom! I love you and I think you are incredible!).  As the afternoon was getting later, we volunteers started getting antsy.  Taking the buses back to NPH would take 3-4 hours and we didn't want to be traveling in the dark.  But then there was cake, and gifts, and the time kept passing.  As we were stepping out the door, giving our last hugs and goodbyes, a too-generous-couple offered to drive us, all 9 of us, part of the way.  The only thing was that it was a pick-up truck, and its rainy season.  We're young, we don't care, we'd really appreciate it!  we all said as we climbed in and packed ourselves like sardines.
Faster than 60 mph, about 2 hours, holding on for dear life on the turns, pondering the landscapes when it was clear, laughing huddled under our jackets when it rained, it might have been my favorite traveling experience ever.  The too-generous-couple decided to just keep going and they brought us all the way home.
Refusing to accept gas money, the couple waved goodbye and we headed to our houses, ready to change into warm dry clothes and thinking about the great time we had and the wonderful people we met.
And then the perfect day drew to a close sipping hot chocolate, watching the sound of music cuddled under blankets, and being with good friends. 

My kids continue being their sweet, mischevious, wonderful selves.  Today I'm hoping to find a cheap chess set because one of my boys from my section really likes playing and I've been craving it for a while.  The other day I have a family project with a sweet family.  One of the three has special needs, so it was really cool to see how the siblings interacted and I could tell they really loved and took care of each other.  Walking to and from Parramos, they hardly ever were not arm in arm.

Gustavo, Saida, and Lupe

So, overall I've really been failing with this whole taking pictures thing...  I'll try to get better, but I did manage to add this one this past week

That is one unhappy tortilla

domingo, 13 de mayo de 2012

Mother Nature's Son

So things have settled down since all the craziness of April.  Instead of going through big events (and I apologize for the horrible haikus but I had little other choice...) or go through everyday stuff, I thought I'd just share some good moments.

So, my heart melted in music class one day.  Leo, who I'm just crazy about, has cerebral palsey, uses a wheel chair, and has a great sense of humor.  Anyway, we were all dancing in music class and everyone is kind of dancing to their own groove.  Lupe, another great kid, was dancing away and Leo smoothly turns toward her and extends his hand like his gentleman self and she accepts.  They dance together and it definitely warmed my heart.

me and Lupe

Another day, I was working with a couple girls with especial needs and language.  They both need an easy pace, but especially one seems to have a hard time grasping school stuff.  We were trying to find words that began with the letter "n" and she showed me a word that started with the letter "m", but before I could say anything she runs up to the board and points to the letter "m" I had written along with other letters.  Then I asked her what sound it makes and she made the "mmm" sound (she's nonverbal).  That was so exciting!  Many times, answers to questions turn into lots of guessing, but in this moment she was confident and knew it!

Carlitos en school

One day with my workshop with all the kids with disabilities and their tios, we used a huge parachute for our physical/exercise activity.  We did an activity where one person sits in the middle and everyone walks in a circle, wrapping up the person in the middle with the parachute.  When the person is pretty wrapped up, everyone pulls and runs in the other direction, making the middle person spin out.  The kids loved it and all wanted a turn, but what really got my attention is that the tios and tias were laughing and having a good time too.  The caregivers have a hard job, and I feel like if they can have fun and enjoy what they're doing, the kids are going to keep having fun and my workshop won't just be extra work.  It was encouraging :)

And just for the record, I have the most amazing mom in the world.  I love you!!  And to all of you who are mothers, power to you, must be the hardest job in the world.

domingo, 29 de abril de 2012

Oh! Darling

After a good month, I have an overwhelming amount of things to blog about.  Although I have a pretty good excuse for about every weekend in April, I have no more except that my list is a bit daunting.  Just the big things are…

-          Holy Week and Easter

-          Our get away to earth lodge

-          Kermes

-          Guatemala sign language class

-          Coffee and music museum

-          All my friends (parasites, lice, and immigration..)

And what about all the stuff in between? Like my class or workshop or section of boys or my Harry Potter adventure?!?

Well, I decided to do the only reasonable thing.  I’m going to Haiku-it up (but not for everything).
Holy Week
Semana Santa
Big parade with the whole town
Jesus is risen

Play outside all day
soccer games, I mean fútbol
sand volleyball too

Three hundred children
Paint three hundred Easter eggs

Can we find them all?

And after Holy week everyone was wiped.  We worked the next week in our normal positions and then after that almost all the volunteers took a weekend get away to this place called Earth Lodge.  It’s near Antigua and up in the mountainous area.  It was great to relax and go hiking and play cards.

 Kermes? What is that?
Volunteers plan all of it

It’s my turn to lead

 Find prizes to win
Buy 40 pounds of jello

Little hard on my back

 Its summer and hot
Water games is where it’s at

Splish splish splash thanks Em

 Everyone is soaked
Could use more waterballoons

But still big success

So, I just started this really awesome Guatemalan sign language class.  It’s once a week at a school for the deaf in a nearby town called Jocotenango.  The guy who teaches it seems really awesome and we went over soo much information in one hour.  I’m really excited because, well for one I really enjoy it, and for two the majority of the kids I work with are non-verbal and teaching them some basic sign and using it with them daily especially in my class would be fantastic.  I’d love for them to be able to communicate better and, well, to pick up some manners like please and thank you.

Time to wash my sheets

And use horrible shampoo

Can’t escape the lice

 Belly feels too full
Something is not quite right

Parasites inside

 I will give them names

To help me cope with their stay

Can be my small friends

Yesterday, Shawn, Charlotte, and I went to this really neat coffee farm with a museum. We learned all about coffee and how it’s grown and made. I’m inspired to get a coffee tree or two someday – although only to supplement what I drink… A grown coffee tree makes one pound of coffee a year or 44 cups. Whoa, I wonder how many coffee trees are supporting my habit…

Immigration Adventure
 Need to get passport
Three buses several hours

Finally arrive

 Not many people
“Thank you for understanding”

The sign says “we’re closed”

 Feeling disbelief
Will have to come back again

Now for the third time

Also we went to a Mayan music museum.  We learned a lot about different Mayan instruments and materials they used like turtle shells, horse jaws, and special wood from a tree called hormigo.  It was super interesting, especially how cultures are always mixing up and creating different unique versions.  For example the marimba, which is kind of like the xylophone, is the most important and well known musical instrument in Guatemala.  However it probably doesn’t originate in any way from the Mayans, but a better guess is from the African slaves the Spaniards brought over.  Huh.

 Well – I hope I covered the last month pretty well though missing a lot.   I'm in the second half of the 5th book with Harry.  Its still going and the tension is still building.
Hope all is well friends and family!