Thursday, October 31, 2013

Trick or Treat!

My cousin knit these AWESOME hats for Luke -- I can't decide if he should be a puppy or a pumpkin today??!!

On Luke news ...
- he's got four teeth now and is quickly learning how to use them (ouch, they're sharp!)
- he crawls EVERYWHERE and pulls himself up onto everything in sight (I've been exhausted these past two weeks as I adjust to his new level of activity)
- he says dada and has learned to growl/roar :)

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Lake Atitlan Villages: Santa Cruz la Laguna & Jaibalito

Our weekend away in Santa Cruz was by far the best weekend we've had here yet -- we'd been scrambling to find a getaway destination that wouldn't cost a fortune and wouldn't require hours on a bus to get there.  Santa Cruz is a 5 minute tuk-tuk ride + 15 minute boat ride away from Pana and was just perfect.

My favorite picture from our weekend --

We arrived at Isla Verde on Thursday evening in the rain and were thrilled just to arrive (especially after the significant stair climb up to our cabin -- times like these remind me quite suddenly that we are living at 5,000 feet).

In the morning, we had an awesome panorama of this gorgeous lake we live on.  We had nowhere to be, nothing really to do - it was perfection.

Isla Verde is just outside of Santa Cruz village and it's cabins are built going up the hill just above the white building at the water's edge.

Our cozy cabin & views from our windows - amazing!

The bathroom in our cabin was a sort of indoor/outdoor affair. Built into the cliffside, with rock and bamboo. Very cool.

One of the coolest flowers I've seen here!

A big part of what is special about the two villages is that they can only be reached by boat or by foot.  I love that!
The village of Santa Cruz la Laguna -- built into the steep hills rising from the lake.

One of my favorites -- corn growing in a small plot of soil on the rooftop terrace of this building.

Jaibalito was a 30 minute walk from Isla Verde and we loved both the walk and the village.  I think the village reminded us a bit of our time on Apo Island and maybe the nostalgia made us love this village even more.  

I am fascinated by how any available spot in the sun is utilized to hang laundry.

The homes of the locals were very simple.

As opposed to the ex-pat homes -- which were so noticeable in their contrast to the surrounding homes.
This blue/brown doorway is one the prettiest I've seen yet.

 More corn!

One final view from Santa Cruz of this gorgeous place!

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Climbing a 9,900 foot volcano

That's right!  Jason will soon be viewing the world from the top of the San Pedro volcano!

This morning he took off across the lake with a couple of his co-workers, Emily & Allison, plus Allison's Dad (who is an amazing float plane adventurer).  It's been killing Jason to be within view of SO many spectacular mountains and yet not be able to just go out exploring.  Unfortunately, unlike Vermont it's just not safe to venture out on your own in the mountains here.  So, with local guide in tow - the group set off around six this morning.  Luke and I had to take a pass -- I'm not sure if he's ready for nearly 10,000 feet!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Six months & Feria week

Last week was an interesting week.

First, I'll admit that we were excited to have made it to the six month mark as parents ... sometimes we wonder what in the world we are doing trying to raise a person??!!?  I don't feel like I'm grown up enough to really be in charge of another person's well-being.  But, here I am with a child :)  Poor kid!  Here are some pictures of Luke on his half-birthday.

Second to that, we passed our six week mark of living in Guatemala which was celebrated by Pana's Fair (Feria) Week.  Wow, am I glad it is over!  It was a WILD week.  Since we arrived, we've been surprised by the amount of artillery shell fireworks being set off at all hours of the day and night ... most nights we are startled awake to what seems like a full-on bombing - until we remember that it's just someone have "fun" at 3 am.  These bombings ramped up last week to the point that sleep was pretty illusive.  Top that with another unexpected sound -- marching bands practicing constantly.  I love that the kids here are involved in a healthy/productive activity, but is practicing into the middle of the night really the best?

We got to see all that practicing in action during the town parade -- with the bands out in full force and all the school's dressing up with a theme.

A man thoughtfully setting off some fireworks between each of the school groups --

A woman and man in traditional Mayan dress -- the men wear wrap-around skirts over their pants.  Jason made the tactful observation that he thought maybe some of the women may use their tops to carry small items.  I've seen a woman dig her entire purse out of her shirt, so he was certainly correct! ;-)

A man walked up and down the parade route selling scoops of ice cream with a balloon vendor in the background.

AMA's theme was China -- with all the students in costume.  Lucky teachers -- they got to try to corral their students for over three hours on the parade route!

Saturday, October 5, 2013

A present for Luke AND a present for us :)

For Luke's six month birthday this past week we decided it was time for him to have a high chair.  Of course, getting a high chair isn't exactly as easy as it sounds due to our location.  I highly doubt that most local Guatemalan women have high chairs for their children, so the demand is pretty low and those that are for sale seemed incredibly expensive.  We've been scouting at second-hand shops for weeks and this vintage/retro high chair kept me coming back.

It is definitely not fancy and does not have any bells and whistles; but, it works, I love that's it's old and it was the cheapest one we could find.  It was very grubby at the store and as I cleaned it up at home, I was thankful to have parents who have shown me that dirty, old things can often be made almost new again with a good cleaning job.

So, Luke gets a high chair AND his first taste of green beans for his birthday ...

... our present to ourselves was to escape across the lake for three days - to a place where this is the view from the shower!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

A new month (finally!)

I am REALLY excited that this is the first day of a new month!  I generally try to be content in this present moment, instead of continually looking ahead to what is next to make me happier or somehow make my life better; but I'll admit, last month was a challenge. It was our first month of spending more time apart than together and Jason's first month of teaching at a new school with a very challenging class (topped with the school losing two teachers in the first month), plus the unsettling events: the earthquake, a terrible murder of a local woman, then getting flooded out of our home; and the exhaustion of moving THREE times in one week.

But, through it all I have been reminded that God provides and protects.

After getting flooded and moving back into our original apartment, we were given an unexpected gift. A young Israeli woman who had been living in the same complex as us while she volunteered at AMA left early.  Her apartment was paid for and empty, so after three nights at our original place we were able to move into her apartment and got the gift of 10 free days of housing while we looked for a permanent place.  Pretty awesome, right?  Unfortunately, our permanent place is being very illusive. We've now paid for another month here while we keep looking -- several people have asked why we don't just stay in this spot. It is a beautiful spot, but besides being over our budget, it is expensive for this area for what you actually get inside the the hunt continues.

As we go through this unexpected process I am reminded how God wants me to be heaven focused, remembering that my home is really not on this earth.  As much as I want to feel settled and secure wherever I am, being unsettled makes me rely on Him more and look with great anticipation toward my heavenly home.

That doesn't mean that I'm not looking forward to see what God has in store for us this month -- it feels like we have a fresh, clean start.  Plus, Jason got his first paycheck yesterday - our first paycheck in six months which is quite a thrill.  This Friday is a Panajachel holiday (sort of like carnival for this town) so Jason gets a day off of school. Woo-hoo! We'll see what adventuring we can get up to.

In the meantime, we are enjoying the beauty and culture of where we get to live -- here are some of my favorite photos from the past week.

A beautiful evening at the lake --

How people get to nearby villages -- taxi-trucks.  A tarp goes over the top when it rains.

A piƱata shop -- they look just a tad creepy to me...

What every historic, beautiful church needs - a Ferris wheel!

Some of the local children preparing for the holiday festivities.

In Guatemala, the men carry the horses -not the other way around.