Tuesday, October 12, 2010

a weekend in the city

Downtown Minneapolis. Matt and I went downtown to eat (at the Dancing Ganisha.. a good Indian restaurant) on Friday night to celebrate our 4 year anniversary :) It was really nice out, so there were a lot of people out and things going on.

The next day we went to Starbucks, of course, and went on a little hike. Note: This is me SANS nosering.. I do kind of miss it, but I decided it was time to be a professional.

Yay for fall leaves! It's hard to believe this trail is in the middle of a developed area, right between a state highway and an interstate.. One of the great things about Minneapolis.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Official MN Address

This is my current residence. It's about 10 minutes south of downtown Minneapolis. There are 3 grocery stores, 2 malls, a Caribou and a Starbucks, several restaurants, AND the Pier 1 I work at, all within a mile! The airport is only 4 miles away, as is the Mall of America (too bad I don't have much of an income).

My roommates, Jennifer and Megan. We got a 4th roommate, Laurie, last week as well.

My bedroom. It's in the basement. The other 3 bedrooms are on the 2nd floor. (We made several trips to Ikea when I moved in.. basically everything you see is from that store.) There is quite a bit of extra sleeping space, for anyone who wants to come visit! Well, maybe not anyone..

The other side of my room.

The living room, with the kitchen to the left. Our landlords are a middle-aged couple, and the husband actually grew up here, but they remodeled pretty much the entire house before they started renting it out a few years ago.

The kitchen (obviously). Kayla, Steph, and Tam, I will make some chicken enchiladas and maybe even tiramisu cheesecake for you when you come visit :) Not to bribe or anything.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Connelly & Evelie

I haven't done anything with this blog since the day Steph and I got back from Guatemala, but there have been a lot of changes and blog-worthy events since then, so here we go. These are a few pictures of my nieces that I got to spend some time with while I was in Kansas for a couple weeks :)


Don't you love Connelly's outfit? I think she even picked it out. It almost looks like something I'd wear, minus the baby doll in hand.

We went to Melvern Lake one Sunday afternoon. She was super excited and full of energy the whole time, as usual.

She found this blue dragonfly, but I think she was a bit scared of it.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Back in the USA!

We arrived safely back to Dulles last night at 11pm. Kayla, Tam, and Megan picked us up. We have great friends! It was fun telling them our stories and catching up on their lives.
I have been looking forward to being home with friends, family, and familiar things, but I do have mixed feelings. I already miss our family in Guatemala, and I know I will miss some of the food and craziness of the city. Hearing English everywhere is weird. And doing laundry this morning in the machine was so boring compared to the pila on the roof! And driving in my quiet car (Well, Kayla's actually. Mine is in Ohio.), compared to the Guatemalan buses?! The water pressure in the shower? Good grief. Although, that is actually really nice, AND it didn't turn cold in the middle. Anyway, it will take a little while to get used to the things that used to be "normal".

Now it's time to get busy looking for apartments, applying to jobs, and driving back to Kansas (via Ohio and Minneapolis) this week. I'm planning on moving to Minneapolis the first of September. I'm looking at a couple houses with roommates when I'm there this week, so I'm praying that things will fall into place.

Thanks for reading the blog:) Hope you enjoyed hearing about our adventures in Guatemala. I plan to keep it going after I move to Minneapolis, so feel free to check back later.
Have a good week!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Different Priorities

Our 1st day in Nigeria last summer, I remember Danny McCain saying, ¨Their priorities are different than yours. Clean houses... clean bathrooms, clean kitchens are not a priority. Relationships are the priority.¨ Danny and his family are from Louisiana but have lived in Nigeria for 22 years.
I have thought of those words several times during this trip. It´s okay not to have a clean or nice house. It´s okay to not have matching dinnerware, or running water all the time. It´s okay to use plastic chairs instead of pews in church. And it´s ok to be a few minutes late because you were talking with a friend in the street. Shouldn´t relationships always be the priority? These material things are not necessary for a Christian lifestyle, which really is the priority, or should be. Just because these things seem important to me, coming from our culture, doesn´t mean that they actually are important in the scheme of things. And just because some people don´t have nice things doesn´t mean they even want them. It´s all what we´re used to.
When Steph and I were at Lake Atitlan, with all the indiginous people, we were talking about what it would be like if they would come to the US. Why would they want to give up living on this beautiful lake, with a community of people they know, and relatively simple lifestyles, to live in the US? And actually, most of them probably wouldn´t want that. I think I tend to feel like most people would like to live in the US if they had the opportunity, when it really isn´t the case. They wouldn´t have their family, couldn´t speak the language, and, according to that website Ann showed us in Community Health class, their health would start deteriorating basically from the minute they entered.
But for me, growing up in the US and now being immersed in this lifestyle for 2 months, it will be a challenge to take what I´ve learned and incorporate it into my life at home. I do enjoy fashion, decorating, and making things look nice. I know they are not that important in the big picture, but I don´t think it´s ¨bad¨ to care about those things. I just need to make sure they are not the priority. I should give my time and money willingly (when I get a job!) to the church or charities, and see what is left for the extra things, rather than the other way around.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

A Few of My Favorite Things..

Trying new things :) This coconut cost about 50 cents. We actually didn´t like it at all, it´s just warm coconut milk, but it was fun and made for some good pictures. This was at Tikal, so we ended up giving to our bus driver.

Tostadas. There´s a market close to our house, so sometimes we just get off the bus a few stops early to get them before going home. The vendors also sell papusas and arroz con leche (rice with milk.. a hot drink that is really good actually.)

Café con leche. Or, coffee with milk. I get it somewhere almost every day, and it´s usually less than a dollar.

Our walk along the University of San Carlos every day, between buses. There are usually dozens of college students along this sidewalk. I heard that 90,000 students go to the University, but I really don´t know if that´s true. It is a public university, so it is much bigger, and cheaper, than the private universities.

Chocobananas. Why don´t we have these in the US? You can buy them pretty much anywhere for like a quarter. We´ve even made them in class a couple times :)

Doing laundry, a mano, en la pila (by hand, in this sink on the roof). Who wouldn´t want to do laundry with this view?

Dancing. I don´t know if I´ll miss dancing myself, but it´s fun as a part of the culture. This is one of our sisters, Diana, and her friend, Julio. Steph and I have gotten a couple salsa lessons from their friends also, which have been pretty unsuccessful.


Sunday, August 1, 2010

This week in pictures...

We went to the zoo for class on Tuesday :) This is our teacher, Veronica.

The view of the City from the roof of Tikal Futura (a 5 star hotel\mall). I have no idea who actually stays in the hotel, but there were a lot of people in the mall and food court area.

The Nacional Palacio, in Zone 1. I don´t really know what happens in there. The regular CASAS students had to take classes about Guatemalan history and the government, but I don´t know much about it. I wish I did. I do know that there was a terrible civil war, which ended in 1996, but there is still a lot of corruption in the government. They are getting ready for elections now, but the 2 candidates are the current president´s wife and one of the main guys in their army, so it doesn´t look like there is much hope for change.

The national cathedral. We went downtown with Joseph on Thursday afternoon.

Mary teaching Steph a song on the guitar.

Chinita, Steph, and I at a cousin´s 16th birthday party Saturday night.

A Big View of God

Traveling to a different country with a different culture, different language, and different people, but finding the same God is amazing. Sometimes it takes a while to feel God- there are a lot of adjustments and the people may worship differently- but he is still there. Even though I still don´t really understand the sermons, it is awesome to realize that we are worshipping the same God. They don´t have hymns or the words to the songs projected, but today they sang ¨How Great Thou Art¨, which was cool to hear in Spanish. In the city, we ride buses that are decorated with Christian symbols and the words ¨Jesuchristo¨. It is awesome for me to think about how big God really it, but yet see the things that he does in each of our lives.

Friday, July 30, 2010

No room to complain

We just discovered a new route to take the bus to the hospital! It cuts the amount of time walking between buses from 25 minutes, to about 5. It now takes us a little under an hour to get there. I´ve been looking into apartments in Minneapolis for when I get back, and I´ve been thinking that I don´t want to commute more than 30-40 minutes, which is hard to figure out since I don´t know where I´m going to work. However, after this trip, with a good hours worth of commuting each way in buses that are bursting at the seams, I feel like I can handle just about any commute at home. And Marta, our first teacher, commutes 2 hours each way every day! 2 hours each way! That´s like 20 hours per week spent in a public bus, for several years. I definitely have no room to complain.

Dr. Mack told us that RNs in Guatemala make about $400 per month, which is less than $5000 per year. The nurses we work with are actually like LPNs, so they make even less. I can´t imagine living with that little. I know I get stressed about money sometimes, but I will always have enough to get by and still have some to go shopping or buy coffee. I know that I will always be able to have a house, and one that is not 4 pieces of tin with a dirt floor, like many that I have seen. I definitely have no room to complain there.

There is a dump in Guatemala City, near the downtown. I heard that it is filling up and is only estimated to be able to be used for 2 more years. There are an estimated 4000 people who depend on the dump for food and to find things to sell. As if these people don´t already have it hard enough, who knows what will happen in 2 years. I definitely have no room to complain.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Santiago & The Lake

The market street in Santiago Atitlan.

The view from our hotel room. Those are houses with tin roofs, and the lake is behind them.

The docks with people getting on and off the boats. We heard that it´s only 8 quetzales for locals to cross the lake, but they charged us 25 (like 3 dollars).

Steph, loving the boat ride :)


The main shopping street in Panajachel.

A vendor near the docks. I try to be respectful about taking pictures in public, so I asked her for permission and gave her a couple quetzales.

The lake is gorgeous.. It basically fills the valley between these mountains.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Lago Atitlan

Steph and I did go to Lake Atitlan this weekend, which was beautiful! We left Saturday morning on a chicken bus that was supposed to be direct. Our hotel was in Santiago, but the other, more touristy town is called Panajachel and is across the lake. After about 2 hours on the chicken bus, the driver told us that it was our stop and we would need to take another bus to Santiago. So, we got off in what looked like the middle of nowhere, and there was a 15 passenger van across the road. The guy told us that it was headed to Santiago, so we got on and waited for it to fill up with other people (mostly indiginous). It dropped everyone off in a small village, so we were looking around for another bus to take to Santiago. One friendly street vendor told us we would need to either take a bus or a pick-up to another town, where we would find the bus that would actually take us to Santiago. We jumped in the back of a pick-up (which are used a lot for public transportation) with about 7 other people and took a 40 minute ride through the moutains. It was SO much fun, definitely my favorite part of the transportation. We saw our first view of the lake from the truck, which was gorgeous. One guy in the truck said that he was going to Santiago and would help us find the final bus. The bus was exxxtremely full, but we finally made it, and safely! We got off in Santiago and took a tuctuc (little red things that are used like taxis) to our hotel.
We wanted to call the other students, but realized that we didn´t have their phone number like we thought. After we checked into our hotel, we literally walked a block and ran into them. We hung out with them most of the afternoon and heard about their first week of service. The people who live in that area are mostly indiginous. The woman all wear traditional dress, and most of them speak indiginous languages. The other students said their host families are all indiginous, and some of the family members are not fluent in Spanish, but the others can translate into Spanish. Two of the students are working in a clinic (and have seen some deliveries!), two are doing health teaching in schools, and two are teaching English at a special ed school.
The rest of the day Steph and I shopped in the markets. The next day, Sunday, we took a boat across the lake to Panajachel. There is a main street lined with vendors there. In the afternoon we found a direct bus back to the City, which was a little less eventful :)
I can´t believe we have less than 2 weeks left! It took a couple weeks to get adjusted, but these last few weeks have been flying by. I have been loving every new experience and getting to understand the culture a little bit. The more I think about going home, the more excited I am, but I am still definitely enjoying it.
I just tried to upload pictures of the weekend, but it´s not letting me for some reason. I´ll try to do that tomorrow.

Friday, July 23, 2010

This Week´s Happenings

This was the first week without the rest of the students here. We went to the hospital Mon, Wed, and Fri, and had class everyday, as usual. We have seen a mother crying over her baby that is near death, and made friends with an elderly man in a wheelchair on our street. I cannot predict a day in our lives or the adventures we will encounter. Last week, 3 buses were attacked. I´m not sure if the drivers were killed or just robbed. There has been some of both cases lately. The buses were very scarce after that, but they have been almost back to normal in the last couple days.
Veronica, our teacher, took us to Zone 1 on Tuesday to the market and to see the ¨Palacio National¨ and the cathedral. Afterward, we had cake and coffee in a cute restaurant and bought bread for our family in a bakery that is definitely worth going back to.
As far as the language goes, I definitely have improved. At the beginning, I could hardly follow a conversation at our house or put a sentence together. It was incredibly frustrating. I felt like people were also less patient with me because Steph could speak pretty well. I still don´t speak well, but it is easier to follow conversations and respond some. I´m not terrified to order coffee anymore, and actually enjoy some small talk in Spanish. I still have some stumbles, take an example from the bus yesterday: There was an empty seat between me and a college-age guy. I usually just motion for the other person to sit, but for some reason I just said ¨Quieres sentir?¨ He said no, so I said ¨Gracias¨and sat down. I immediately realized that I meant to say ¨Quieres sentar?¨, and that I had asked him if he wanted to feel, instead of if he wanted to sit! Oops. Luckily, my stop was only a couple minutes later...
Steph and I are planning on going to Lake Atitlan this weekend. We hear that we can pay for the bus both ways and a night in a hotel for less than 100Q ($12)! Four of the other students are doing their service there, so we are planning on meeting up with them too.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Antigua Una Otra Vez

We went to Antigua again yesterday, with Joseph Spory. He went to both Hesston and EMU, but he´s a year behind us. All of the regular CASAS students are leaving tomorrow for their 4 weeks of service in various parts of the country. Joseph is going to take another class at CASAS in the last 4 weeks, so he is staying in the city. It´s only a dollar to get to Antigua, and it´s only an hour away, so it´s easy to go on a Saturday. We did less shopping and more seeing of old buildings and stuff than the first time we went.

The artisan market

Part of the old cathedral

One of the streets.. they all basically look like this, adorable.

Joseph consulting the map.. Definitely reminds me of my dad on vacations, ha.

This is the director (I think) at the hospital where we are working. We´ve met him a few times, but he is very well known here. It´s kind of a long story, but his dad was Guatemalan, his mom was from Honduras, he was born in Italy and grew up in Germany, attended Harvard and taught there, and now lives here. He knows 7 languages and has been a pediatric cardiologist for 50 years (he´s now 80 and still working). There is a foundation here named after him (Aldo Castañeda Foundation). The pediatric cardiologists we work with had an international conference in Antigua this weekend, which we were invited to, but we didn´t go because it was expensive. It was going to be a 3 day event all about Transposition of the Great Arteries, in English. Anyway, when we were walking around Antigua, I had forgotten about the conference, but we happened upon the building where it was taking place, so we took a picture with this :)

Antigua, cont´d

Entrance to the Merced church

The view of Antigua from the hill. You should be able to see the volcano in the background, but it was too cloudy.

I love these paintings! I bought one about the size of a postcard because it was all I could afford. I know he´s got nothing on Isaac, but they are pretty amazing :)

The street market.. they sell a lot of jewelry, bags, etc.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Random Observations

  • People live with their parents loooooong past age 18. Our teacher is probably around 50 and lives with both her mother and her own children. Our sisters are 22 and 24 and they both still live at home. Most people go to college close by so they can stay living at home. I think it is both a culture thing and a money issue. Or maybe it became a culture thing because it saves money. I don´t know, but it is cool how much emphasis is on the family and relationships. (Not that I would still want to live at home, or am planning to do so.... :) )
  • There is a chain of donut stores called ´American Donuts´. When we saw it, I said ¨I´ve seen stores for American Clothing, American Music, and now they want American obesity?!¨ Steph said, ¨Yeah, someone should tell them it´s not as glamorous as it looks.¨ Haha.
  • The city has been buying a bunch of brand new buses. Right now the buses cost 1 or 2 quetzales per trip, so the bus drivers always have a ton of cash. Apparently, there have been gangs in the evenings that will go around and rob the bus drivers. The new buses are made so that people swipe a charge card when they get on, in an effort to prevent the robberies. The government doesn´t have enough money or the capabilities to let everyone get cards right now, so there are only a few of the new buses. We can´t get cards anyway, since we´re not residents. Because there are new buses, there are less of the old buses, which means that people without cards have to wait longer to get a bus.
  • No one cares about PDA. We see at least 5 couples making out per day! The culture is more affectionate in general than we are, which is fine, but sometimes I feel like it is a little excessive. Last week we had a bus driver, who looked 18, and had his girlfriend sitting in the seat next to him. When he´d stop to let people off, he would turn around and start making out with her! They are also not shy about making cat calls. It feels like we get 10 per day. I´m not sure if it´s because we´re American or just female, but we are so sick of it and groan everytime. It´s kind of frustrating because we are used to saying ´hi´to people and being friendly, but there are 2 or 3 groups of guys that we pass on the street every day that we feel like we almost have to ignore because we don´t want to give the wrong impression..
  • Remember Tavo? The band we saw play the first week we were here? Sandy had dated the lead singer´s brother, so she and Diana wanted to go see them. They told us that the band was fairly famous here, whatever that means. We met him and he introduced us to the crowd and gave us a free CD. Well, a couple weeks ago we saw a celeb gossip magazine on the rack by the checkout at the supermarket.. and it had his picture kissing a pregnant woman´s belly, with some headline about him having a child. Kind of sad, but I guess they like celeb gossip as much as many Americans.

Monday, July 12, 2010


Ancient Mayan ruins in Guatemala, about an hour from Flores..

Map of Tikal. I didn´t realize it was so spread out! Lots and lots of walking through the jungle.

Some of the ruins, including the most famous one on the left.


I must have overlooked my fav picture when I was putting them on the computer. The view from one of the temples was awesome... It´s above the trees, so you can see for miles and some of the temples stick up through the trees. I´ll try to post it later this week.

Walking through the jungle. We didn´t see any animals, but some of the others on our bus saw monkies and other things.. We should have been looking harder!