Thursday, May 29, 2014

Eating mangoes until we're sick

And avocados, pineapples, papaya, dragon fruit and so much more! 
Mangoes have been coming into season for the past month or so and this past week they seem to havereached a whole new level! There are trucks parked around town with their beds overflowing with the most enormous mangoes I have ever seen. The really crazy part?? They are 20 cents apiece!! The smaller ones (that are the size you’d see in the US) go for around 10 cents. Every time I see a truck, I stop and buy some and now we are eating mango! YUM!

Avocados here are amazing too – often you can get them 8 for $1. We are seriously trying to make ourselves sick of them, but haven’t managed to do so yet. Have you ever gotten tired of eating guacamole? We can't do it!

This week, we saw our first dragon fruit (or pitaya) coming into season (Can I tell you how much I LOVE living in a place where there are seasonal fruits? It makes the item seem so much more special and you kind of go into a frenzy, knowing you won’t be able to eat this particular thing again for nearly a year – luckily, avocados are available year round!) We haven’t had dragon fruit since leaving China and I was excited to see a woman selling these out of her basket. I was really surprised when I cut into it however! I was expecting it to have white flesh – not this incredibly bright fuchsia color! I didn't think natural foods came in this color! Color aside, it tasted how I remembered and looked really pretty with the mango.

I am really going to miss all of the fresh produce here, and especially how inexpensive it is. All the fresh herbs for 12 cents a bunch, instead of $2-3 a piece, lettuce, tomatoes, pumpkin, etc … ALL unbelievably cheap.  
Here's a few photos of our open-air market -- vendors set up everywhere. Many have regular booths inside or out, but some just bring a basket of what they have on any given day and sit all day long on the sidewalk. 

And always ... the men & women carrying bundles of wood.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Seven years + four days; and Lake Atitlán's San Juan la Laguna

This time seven years ago, Jason & I were arriving in Hong Kong, the first stop of our around-the-world journey. Not perhaps the honeymoon I'd recommend to a lot of people and as much as I enjoy travelling, I'll admit I'm really, really glad not to be doing that trip now - with Luke in tow.

To celebrate our seven years of marriage, we took a boat across the lake for a long weekend and had a fabulous time in a cliff-side cabin at with an amazing view. It was the perfect opportunity to enjoy the beauty of our surroundings and revive ourselves for our final weeks here. We got to swim and canoe and just relax.  Jason & I  each started and finished a book during our three days away -- there's something to be said for no TV & no internet :)

Since Luke still gets up around 5 am, we got to enjoy a spectacular sunrise together on our last morning :)

We got to visit the village of San Juan la Laguna also which was a first time for me. I loved it!  Still plenty of tourists, but not so gringo-fied as San Pedro ... it still felt like you were in Guatemala which I think is a good thing!  We also accidentally got stuck in a political rally - ha ha! For the Patriota group -- the locals seemed to enjoy seeing us weaving through the crowd.

Our last stop was at San Juan's organic coffee cooperative -- and of course to have some of their delicious coffee!

And then, like all vacations, it came to an end and we headed back across this beautiful lake --

Friday, May 16, 2014

Luke goes Mayan!

Since we arrived here I have been wanting to get some pictures of Luke with some of the beautiful Mayan people who are always so thrilled to interact with him...but I've not wanted to ruin a sweet moment by pulling out my camera and clicking away. I was afraid we would leave without getting any pictures for Luke to have of the people who loved him so much here. Then I realized I should just ask some of the ladies from our church group who take Luke off my hands any chance they get. Of course, they were happy to do it and our friend Will was an impromptu photographer (he has a great eye and a lovely camera).

Since I met Elena & Linda I have found them (like so many of the indigenous people here) incredibly beautiful. I have tried to put my finger on what quality it is that they seem to possess and I have yet to figure it out entirely. I know that their clothing fascinates me -- especially as this is not a special occasion costume, this is everyday clothing. I know that the people here have some of the best smiles around - even though many of them are missing teeth - their whole face just lights up and they seem almost more attractive because of their "flaws." Perhaps it is because there is no shame, just a pure smile? Their flaws freely shown as reminders of life lived without any cover-up. Whatever it is, it is an amazing quality.

I've thought about this concept a lot since Will passed on the great pictures he took -- looking at the two-dimensional photos of these beautiful women who have become our friends, I saw them through westerner eyes and was so shocked by how it seemed the depth of their beauty had been snatched away from them by the camera.

I hope that you might be able to catch a glimpse of them through different eyes -- these women come from a family of 14, they make and sell handicrafts for tourists and clean houses and do whatever other work they can come by to support themselves. They always seem to be smiling and I will treasure these photos of them with Luke.