Sunday, June 29, 2014

A possibility?

Jason and I were able to video interview for a property caretaker position with the owner of this fantastic property on Friday. We had a great time learning more about the property and much of it sounds right up our alley -- for our labor, we'd get to live in the gorgeous house shown on the web page. We'll see what comes of it :)

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Leaving & re-entry

We made it! Now comes our transition time which brings its own set of challenges -- it's hard to imagine that on Sunday afternoon this was our life.
View from our compound before saying a final goodbye --

A quick trip to the mercado, shopping street and lake front --

Last time I'll see a woman carrying a huge bundle on her head for a while and randomly ran into one of Jason's students who adores Luke.

A few of the many things I'll miss:
-- the abundant and cheap fruits, vegetables and delicious tortillas
-- the jaw-dropping, spectacular beauty
-- seeing traditional Mayan culture/lifestyle around me everyday
-- walking everywhere
-- buenos (dias, tardes, noches) ... it is so nice to live in a place where there is a standard/polite greeting for people as you pass by and everyone uses it.
-- the sense of community that comes from walking everywhere - everyone is on the street, life seems essentially lived in view of others and while at first that feels a bit claustrophobic, it becomes natural. And the sense of community that comes out of it is a rare gift.
-- our friends; we were incredibly blessed this year by two other families in Pana who we met through our church. Jason watched sports, went jogging and hiking with the guys while I got to enjoy coffee dates and having kid play-dates with the women. Plus we had some awesome potlucks and ice cream dates with the whole crew. It was great! We have not had kindred-spirit couple-friends like this living in the same vicinity as us since we've been married. The friendship of Kevin & Mel, Amber & Will kept us both afloat this year and we will miss them so so much.

I will not miss:
-- bugs - everywhere, all the time:
    * doing spider checks before bed, finding spiders in my hair in the night; waking up with all kinds of random bites, all the time.
   * termites, ugh ... their waste on our floor EVERY day, the sound of them crunching the wood in our place,  flying around the lights at night and crawling on the walls
   * large scorpions! I accidentally picked one of these up by the stinger and thankfully didn't get bit
-- the drama of Jason's school - one tip, if the name of your organization rhymes with something unpleasant (AMA = DRAMA), consider taking a pass!
-- having to disinfect all produce
-- making nearly all phone calls from in front of our computer (but was SO SO thankful to have internet that usually worked in our home this year, what a treat!)
-- people in the street telling me Luke is cold (even though it was 75 degrees!)

Our travel went really well, even in spite of 1) our driver getting lost on the way to our hostel Sunday night, 2) the hostel owner telling us the shuttle we'd ordered for the next morning would not be available at the correct time and wouldn't be able to fit our luggage,  3) spending two additional hours ON the plane before take-off, and 4) trying to drive out of Los Angeles at 4:30 pm on a work day with a baby who hadn't been in a car seat for 10 months. We made it safely which is what was important, and our luggage made it too with only one souvenir broken.

Re-entry challenges:
-- I keep wanting to throw my toilet paper into the trash can ... Guatemalan sewers can't handle it and it became such a habit over ten months
-- Riding in a car seems SO SO fast! After mostly walking and taking the occasional tuk-tuk (@ 15 mph), riding in a car traveling at 40 mph seems too too fast.
-- Everything seems incredibly flat...I knew that it would seem very dry here (especially with the drought in California), but I hadn't thought about the fact that I'd spent the last ten months living in a volcanic crater and how open and flat other places would feel.
-- I want to say 'excuse me' in Spanish every time I walk in front of someone
-- Water out of the faucet is SAFE!! Every time water from the faucet starts to spray something edible, I have a quick bit of anxiety before my brain registers that it doesn't matter ... the water isn't contaminated.
-- I'm feeling somewhat awkward around people here; it's hard to connect when it seems you have so little in common. At this moment, I cannot fully understand what drives/challenges/thrills most people in this culture and it feels like most people here cannot understand the same for us (which of course makes sense unless a person has also had a similar experience). I know this is a normal feeling for most people returning from living overseas, but it still leaves me a bit out of sorts and disconnected.

For now, Luke is absolutely LOVING my parents backyard. My mom picked up several used toys/swings and even bought Luke a little swimming pool. He is happy and our first two days here slept in until nearly 9 am!!! I big first and one we really, really needed. It was wonderful!

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Luke--Lucas--Alicox (Ah-lee-cosh)

Luke has gone by his name in three languages during our time here. Of course, Luke to our native english-speaking friends, but since "Luke" in Spanish doesn't really make sense, we have introduced him as Lucas to anyone who asks. In addition, we've learned that his name in Cakchiquel (the Mayan dialect spoken in this region) is Alicox (Ah-lee-cosh).

Ever since we moved to Las Manos and I began walking our long street everyday, Lucas/Alicox has made many friends on our road. To the point that often when we are elsewhere in town, children playing in the road, women at the market and men on bicycles will holler his name out, giving him a big smile and wave. It is really sweet and something I am quite certain won't be happening in the US. I'm afraid Luke will go into shock when we get back at the lack of attention he gets from strangers :)

Two of Luke's most favorite friends on our walk are Eduardo (who asks to be called Mike) & Julio.  Mike operates a small tienda right outside our compound and is so sweet to Luke. Always telling me how big & fat he is (which is a compliment here and sounds nice when said in Spanish somehow) and giving Luke juice for free. Today he pulled out a brand new beach ball for Luke, pumped it up and gave it to him.

Julio operates a small outdoor welding shop with a gorgeous view. No matter what he is working on or who he is with, he always stops what he is doing and yells a hello and goodbye to Luke.  Luke always looks for him as we pass his shop/home.

Living here with a baby has completely changed what our life here would have looked like without Luke. While there are times that I feel a bit sad at the change in activity/travel level because of Luke, I also know that our experience here in Pana was so so much richer because of him. He is an automatic "in" with any and (seemingly) all strangers. No one hesitates to come up to me and begin talking to me about Luke. I realize that most of the people who speak with me would have never approached if it weren't for Luke. I have also felt like he kept me safer than I would have been, which is weird to think of a baby keeping you safe, but that's the truth. And I am thankful for it.

One of Luke's other special friends is Esthela, a Mayan woman who teaches Cakchiquel at AMA. She tells me everytime she see us how much she loves Luke -- today was the AMA graduation and the last time he'll get to see her.

A picture of all the staff before everybody moves on --

Thursday, June 12, 2014

This beautiful street and the flowers on it

I LOVE our street! Every morning when I head out with Luke for our walk into town, I just get overwhelmed at how beautiful it is ... rainy season is in full swing, so everything is just so GREEN! I love it! Once I round the curve up ahead, I can catch glimpses of the lake and the volcanoes across. It makes me so happy, I feel breathless. Granted since my foot is still gimpy, the mile+ walk is not quite as pleasant as it used to be, but I'm managing it s-l-o-w-l-y. Hurrah for that!

Along with all the wonderful greenery, the flowers here are stunning -- here are a few of my favorites:



Monday, June 9, 2014

Family Photos

When Luke had his photo shoot with our Mayan friends, Will was kind enough to shoot a few family photos for us as well. These are my favorites:

Friday, June 6, 2014

The crowns of King Luke

Like all babies, Luke loves exploring and especially turning random items into hats.

And carrying objects that seem far too big for him!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

A retreat in disguise

To most people a retreat looks like this ...

... or perhaps more like this

A few weeks ago a mom-friend of mine described this as a day that felt like a retreat:

"I needed a root canal. The closest place to get one done was in Xela.  I spent three hours on chicken buses and had to transfer twice. I got there had my root canal and then spent the same three hours on three chicken buses coming back. It was like a retreat. I didn't have to talk to anyone or take care of anyone else. I just relaxed."

This weekend I got my own version of a retreat. I took a fall coming out of the grocery store on Saturday. With Luke strapped to my chest and another 20 pounds of groceries in my bag, I was lucky to only wind up with a bum foot and knee ... and to have an empty tuk-tuk right across the street to hobble over to for a ride home. By the time I arrived home, I could hardly hobble and was incredibly relieved when Jason got home from an all-day hike. He took Luke out and took care of most of the household stuff for the rest of the day Saturday and all day Sunday. I was amazed at how good I felt in spite of being in pain and unable to walk. The break from Luke was ironically exactly what I'd been needing and it was something I never would have done had it not been forced upon me.

Monday brought an additional blessing. Jason came home from school during his prep period to help me with Luke since I still wasn't able to do much and as he was about to head back to school found out that all the schools in Pana had been closed for Monday and Tuesday due to a heavy rain storm. Woo-hoo! What a relief (for both of us) and special gift from God.
My picture of a retreat.