Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Xelaju - Quetzaltenango - Xela (shay-lah)

Although the official name for this city is the mouthful, Quetzaltenango, most people here choose to call it by it's original Maya name of Xelaju or simply Xela. Thank goodness!

We had a fantastic time wandering the streets of this city which has been conquered and destroyed by earthquakes and rebuilt. Some of the streets felt similar to the lovely Antigua, but with a grittier, real-life feel to them and LOTS of hills throughout the city. The 7500 feet in altitude made made my lungs & heart notice those hills as we walked around and I couldn't help but think this is how San Francisco would feel at the same altitude.

I am in love with doors here --

The hostel we stayed in (Casa Renaissance) was a huge highlight -- the cleanest place we've stayed in since coming to Guatemala and such a sweet spot.
Our quarters:

Jason thought maybe this was supposed to be "market" ??  But the word peleteria seems to have something to do with fur, so .... poor cats?

The real market --


And, inside -- I got to see cow lungs, kidneys & stomach (yummy) and much, much more!

Never been this happy to see a Walmart! Ha! It was lovely to be in a nice big store, with neat, clean aisles. As much fun as it is to check 10 tiny tiendas in Pana for one item, it was so so nice to walk through a store that had everything in one place. Of course, now that we're down to less than three months left here, there was very little that I could justify buying at this point, but it was fun to look.

Some of the local women in traditional outfits - we enjoyed checking out the differences in their clothing from what is worn around Lake Atitlán.

Jason was so tickled to see all the datsun, nissan and toyota vehicles from the eighties - some of them in amazing shape!

Friday, March 21, 2014

Saying goodbye to Daddy --

Luke just before Jason left for N. Dakota yesterday afternoon. He's perfectly expressing how I felt about spending five full days without Jason ... and quite possibly making it that much easier for Jason to leave :)

Interestingly enough, in the year since Luke has been born, Jason & I will have been apart over twice as much as any other year in our marriage.  Coincidence? I think not! ;-)

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

A getaway weekend

Jason's school had a couple days off last week and we took the opportunity to go to Xela (shay-luh) for a few days. Timing is always an interesting thing. Jason will be going to N. Dakota later this week to attend his grandmother's funeral (or celebration of Life). We'd hesitated on whether he should go or not, but realizing it may be a very l-o-n-g time before the cousins are all together in one place again and maybe even longer before he returns to N. Dakota again, the trip seemed like a good idea. With that coming up, we might not have gone away had we known, but since our room and shuttle to Xela was already paid for, we got to enjoy some time away exploring a new place which I am really thankful for. More picts of this cool city to follow :)

Monday, March 10, 2014

102 = heaven bound!

Jason's grandmother, Elsie, turned 102 years old today and she passed away quietly early this morning to celebrate her birthday in heaven with Jesus. I cannot imagine any better place to be. She was the last grandparent between the two of us and even though we are glad for her to be free of her earthly body, there is still sorrow in her passing. An emptiness that does not go away even while we celebrate her extraordinary life.  Here are a couple pictures of Elsie as a younger woman from the Schlafmann files:

And, from when we saw her during one of our summer visits -- she always loved to play cards.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Off the tourist path: Lake Atitlán Villages - San Andrés

Since we've explored the majority of the lakeside villages, we've started expanding our circle to include some of the villages that aren't right on the lake. They make for an easy day trip with Luke and its fun to see places off the beaten path.

San Andrés is just up the hill from Pana a couple miles and where we've heard these para-gliders take off from:

Para-gliding is on Jason's bucket list for our time here -- hopefully, he'll make it happen!

The village of San Andrés wasn't particularly exciting, but we love just walking around and observing the everyday life of Guatemalans. One of Jason's students, Rosmery lives here which gave us even more interest in seeing it. She is receiving a scholarship to attend AMA and is a very sweet girl.

Most the housing looked like this; a jumble of cinder block, tin, sticks and rocks.  Many places had vast amounts of corn drying on the patio. We saw more cows here than I've seen anywhere yet.

The town had two churches. The yellow one sat up on a hillside and had the below sign posted ...

Amorous encounters prohibited in this place!

 There was even a convent --

And, one of my favorite pictures -- corn is such an incredible staple here.