Wednesday, June 30, 2010

El Mercado

Making tortillas with regular and black corn at the market close to our house.

Fruit stands. There are dozens of fruit and vegetable vendors, who have basically the same things. I´m not sure how they all get enough business.

There are different vendors for beef, chicken, and seafood. You can´t really see here, but they usually have the organs sitting out to sell also.


Just some more details about the food, since that is such a big part of the culture:
I feel like the standard meal, that can be used for breakfast or dinner, is fried eggs and beans, with tortillas or bread. The beans are mashed up and, depending where you are, can be anywhere between pretty solid and very runny. Our mom makes them very runny, so we basically soak them up with bread or tortillas. She buys the bread and tortillas from shops down the street, where they make them fresh. We have beans with tortillas every day for supper. We´ve had it in the mornings also, but more often we have Corn Flakes or she makes pancakes or baked oatmeal, which are both awesome. If we have the choice between beans and eggs or Corn Flakes, we usually choose the latter to get a break from the frijoles :)
We eat lunch at CASAS Monday-Friday. Lunch is the biggest meal of the day generally. The cooks there are great and the food is a bit more Americanized. For example, once we had chicken tacos with guacamole and other good stuff. Yesterday we had fried chicken with this pasta salad, along with tortiallas and an avacado. They always have fresh fruit- usually pineapple and watermelon, and sometimes papaya. We haven´t had very much fruit at home, but I went with Chinita to the market today and she bought pineapple and other things. I asked if fresh fruit is expensive to buy, and she said that it isn´t.
There are several American restaurants as well. On our bus ride home we pass 2 McDonald´s, 2 Pizza Huts, and a Burger King. I think I wrote about the time we went to TGI Friday´s and there was a Chili´s and Applebee´s right beside it. There are also a lot of Guatemalan restaurants and street vendors. We´ve only boughten from the street vendors once, on Sunday when we were with Chinita and Mary. We got tostadas with guacamole, cheese, and onions.. SO good! We also got this atol (hot drink) made with rice and milk. Chinita makes a kind of atol with milk and vanilla at home, which is one of my favorite things. I should learn how to make it before we leave.

Today is a federal holiday, so we didn´t have to go to the hospital or class. I went to the market with Chinita this morning, and other than that we´ve just been hanging out at home. Mary is on her semester break from school (the school year runs January to October), so she´s here also. She loves music and spends quite a bit of time looking up music videos of Lady Gaga and Beyonce on YouTube. She found this version of ´Telephone´ that is Alvin and the Chipmunks singing, and has been playing it all day...
Well Steph and I are going to get some coffee now. There´s a great cafe near CASAS that I´ve been getting coffee at almost everyday. It´s excellent and less than a dollar. We also stop at the McCafe near our bus stop sometimes. It´s like an actual coffee shop.. they even have a case with tiramisu and different kinds cheesecake! We don´t want to go there too often though.. it would be embarrassing if the Americans were regulars at McDonald´s.

Have a great Wednesday :)

Monday, June 28, 2010

1st day in the hospital

Today was our first day at the hospital! It was so good, but started off with a few problems... We left our house at 6:00 to take the bus and get there by 7. However, when we got to our first stop (parada de la U), we waited and waited for the bus. Normally we go to that stop and take Periferico, but today we were looking for bus 96. Literally ALL of the buses were Periferico. We waited for an hour, used a pay phone to call CASAS (with no luck), and finally took Periferico to CASAS. We waited for Lucy to get to work and she ended up driving us to the hospital, so we got there around 8:30. We were worried that the doctor would be mad, because Lucy has really emphasized the need for us to make a good impression, but he was surprisingly nice and laid back. He´s in his 30s, I´d say, and speaks English well.
He showed us around the floor and introduced us to a lot of the nurses. The hospital is called UNICAR and is relatively small. I´m not sure if it´s primarily cardiology, but our floor is pediatric cardiology intensive care. It was a big room with 6 beds and 6 nurses. Today there were only 3 patients in there, and 2 were in surgery most of the day. The patient Steph and I were working with was a little girl who actually turned 1 today. She has Down´s Syndrome and a plethera of cardiology problems- VSD, patent ductus arteriosus, left ventricular insufficiency, and resultant pulmonary hypertension and hepatomegaly. She was recieving mechanical ventilation, had a triple lumen central line, double lumen arterial line, and was recieving peritoneal dialysis. The doctor said they want to get her into surgery but have not been able to yet due to her condition. Extremely sad. Her mom stopped in for a couple minutes this morning, which I´m sure was even harder since it was her birthday. Stephanie and I did some charting, I&Os, and the peritoneal dialysis exchanges.
The hospital had extremely nice cardiac monitors and other equipment. I think most of it was donated.. there were plaques up recognizing donations from McDonald´s and other businesses. Our nurse was super helpful, and we did our best to understand her Spanish. Most of the names of medications and things are really similar to English, so that wasn´t too hard. The nurse said that they don´t send nurses home when there is a low patient census, so even though there were only 3 patients today, all 6 nurses were still there. The doctor said that only 1 nurse on that floor is actually a RN. The others have less training, maybe like LPNs, I suppose. CASAS had originally said we would be there 3 days a week, but somewhere along the line it was changed to 5 days a week. We asked the doctor what he expected and he said that it´s up to us.. so I think we are only going to go Mon, Wed, and Fri. We´re still having class every day until 5, so that will give us more time to study Spanish and we won´t have to go to bed so early all the time.
We took the bus to CASAS after and got there around 1:00. We had class from 2:00-5:00, with a new teacher named Veronica. She was really friendly and explained the grammar things well, which was helpful but also a little more intimidating than Marta.
Alright, this is long enough and I should get ready for bed! Buenas noches!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

A Few Pictures From Antigua

Many shops, homes, etc, are painted with bright colors like these.

We went with the other CASAS students. This is Claire, Angela, and Ruth. Claire and Ruth go to Bethel, and Angela just graduated from Hesston and is going to EMU. This picture was at this cute restaurant where we ate lunch.. they had great smoothies!

The arch in Antigua.

One of the streets in Antigua. In the background is the volcano which erupted, for the first time in 20 years, about a week before we came. There is still some black sand on the streets from it, but most of it has been cleaned up. It is about 40 minutes from where we live, but they said it was basically raining sand when it erupted.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

¨I was thirsty, and you gave me something to drink...¨

Before I left, Matt and I went and bought 2 copies of the same devotional book so that we could both read it while I´m gone. It´s called Grace for the Moment by Max Lucado. It has a short devotion for both the morning and evening everyday, which I have enjoyed. We usually discuss them a little over email. Last night´s devotion was on this verse from Matthew 25. ¨I was without clothes and you gave me something to wear... I tell you the truth, anything you did for the least of my people here, you also did for me¨(verses 36 & 40, I´m not sure which translation).
In Guatemala, I feel like I see so many needy people everyday. These people live with so much less than the vast majority of us in the States. Everyday I see the same blind man sitting on the bench across from CASAS, begging for money; and the same young woman with a baby strapped to her back as we walk to our bus stop every day, also begging for money. And yet, I´m not sure how to help. Do I throw them a coin every time I go by? And the children who walk around selling jewelry in the plaza- Do I buy from them, even if I don´t want it? And where is the line between being generous and flaunting money, or is there one? We debated this issue last summer in Nigeria, and there were a variety of opinions. I guess I feel like I can´t make much of a difference, but maybe giving a few quetzales to the begging woman will buy dinner for her family. Then again, who knows if she has a house or kitchen or the means to cook. Giving money always seems like the easy answer, but I guess it can´t hurt. We will start working at the hospital on Monday, which I am excited about, but also nervous because of my inability to speak Spanish. They say that most of the patients are very low income. Hopefully we will learn a lot and will be able to make a difference in at least a small way.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Weekend in Antigua & Toy Story 3!

Hello all,
Steph and I went to Antigua on Saturday with the other students, which was really fun! Antigua is definitely more touristy and less authentic than the city, but it was nice. We met the other students at CASAS at 7:30, then took the bus to the Roosevelt hospital (which is where Steph and I will be volunteering beginning next week), and then took the bus to Antigua. It was about an hour ride and cost 10 quetzales, which is like $1.50. There were probably 13 of us, so we split into 3 groups when we were there. We mostly just walked around a shopped.. my feet were sore by the end of the day. I got a bag to take to class, a nice scarf, a couple earrings, and some whole bean coffee, which I hear is some of the best in the world :) I was MOST excited about this awesome latte that I got at a coffee shop. It was probably the best I´ve ever had. I haven´t had a decent cup of coffee since I´ve been here, which I have definitely been missing. The coffee that is at CASAS is super weak, and so was the coffee I bought at a restaurant across the street. It´s kind of ironic though, since Starbucks buys so much of its coffee from Guatemala... We also had lunch at this nice restaurant.. it was on a more secluded street, and was kind of tucked away. There was a nice garden with cool plants and a path going through it, and the tables were kind of all around the outside. After walking through the garden there were shops in the back also. It was reasonably priced for how nice it looked.
The other students are all really cool. They´re leaving on Thursday for a week of free travel, and then they´re back for like 2 weeks before going on various service assignments outside the city. So then Steph and I will be the only students at CASAS I think. The people at CASAS told us to speak Spanish with them, but everyone is at different levels, so it is hard. You can´t really get to know someone else using broken Spanish. It´s been nice talking to them and hearing their stories and perspective from being here 3 weeks longer than us.
On Sunday we went to see Toy Story 3, in 3D and in Spanish. We saw it at the Miraflores mall. The show we wanted was sold out, so we waited an hour in line, and then had to wait 2 1\2 more hours before the show started.. so we walked around the mall a bit. It was a little overwhelming to be around that much Spanish for several hours, but it was fun. I didn´t understand many of the words in the movie, but watching it helped to know what was going on.
I also talked to my mom this morning. We can make phonecalls from CASAS for 2 quetzales per minute. She is at Emily´s, helping her with the new baby. It was good to talk to her and hear what is going on at home.

Thanks for reading.. have a good week!

Friday, June 18, 2010

things i love about guatemala

In trying to learn about the culture and the city, here are the top 7 things I love about Guatemala after 1 week:
  • greeting with a kiss on the cheek
  • bright colors on houses, buses, etc.
  • buying fresh tortillas from the lady down the street
  • mountain and volcano view
  • taking the bus and feeling like we have some independence (now that we understand where to go!)
  • gorgeous weather and daily rain
  • different kinds of pan (bread) that the women at casas make for us, and the fresh pineapple
This is our first weekend in the city, and we are planning on going to Antigua with the other students tomorrow! We are excited to get out of the city for a bit. Tomorrow is Sandy´s 22nd birthday, so they are having a party here tomorrow, beginning at 2:00.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010



Our sisters, Diana and Sandy

the neighborhood view from their rooftop

Steph and Mary, the youngest

the house

1st week of classes..

Steph and I started our Spanish class on Monday. We will be taking class from 1:00-5:00 every day for the first 2 weeks, and then start volunteering at a hospital in the mornings and having class from 2:00-5:00. Class has been good so far, but more challenging for me because I have only had half of the Spanish classes that Steph has had, and yet we are in the same class here. I think there is only one teacher available in the afternoon, so it had to be that way. It is just Steph and I and our teacher, Marta. We have a couple workbooks, which I think are at the elementary level, and also a medical Spanish book. We spend most of the class just talking with her though, which is harder, and also more helpful. I am already feeling a bit more comfortable with my Spanish. I know I don´t speak well, but I can understand more and it is making more sense. They tell us that we need to learn as much as possible before we start work at the hospital.
We take the bus about an hour to CASAS every day. We live in Zona 21, for those of you who are familiar with the city. The buses are absolutely crazy.. extremely crowded, sometimes with 3 rows of people smashed together in the narrow aisle, with people literally hanging out the door as well. Our mom has been coming with us everyday so far, but we will be on our own after tomorrow. She doesn´t speak English, and even if she did I don´t think she would use it with us, so it was very frustrating trying to understand the bus system and where our stops are. We love her, but she will talk a mile a minute when explaining confusing things like this, but then take 5 minutes to explain the difference between niños and niñas, like we don´t know. It can definitely be frustrating. After the bus trip both ways and 4 hours of thinking in Spanish, we are exhausted, but we are still expected to interact with our families as much as possible in the evenings.
The rest of the students are at CASAS all day, taking Spanish in the morning and culture classes in the afternoons. My friend from Hesston, Darin Schwartzendruber, is there, and also Joseph Spory, who went to Hesston and EMU, and Peyton Erb, who goes to EMU. There is another girl who just graduated from Hesston, 6 Goshen students, 3 Bethel students I think, and a girl from Indiana Weslyan. We have lunch with them every day, which is nice.
My mom said she was ´disappointed´with the modern ammentities, like the plasma TV, so I will clarify :) Our family is definitely more modern than the average Guatemalan family, and probably more wealthy. We were talking with the other students, and they were surprised at our internet access and plasma TV. However, it´s still not like our houses in the US (and we don´t even have a plasma TV). There are 3 bathrooms, but one rarely has running water, one usually does but it´s not always hot, and the other one does have hot water, but we can´t use it because the pipe is leaking. Not that I´m complaining, because I can usually get at least a mostly warm shower. We have beans that are the consistency of water for almost every meal, which are pretty good really, just not my idea of breakfast. Thankfully, the electricity is always on, in contrast to Nigeria, and they do have internet access! But we rarely watch the TV. They said that Chinita won it at work a couple days before we got here.
Last night Diana asked if Steph and I wanted to go meet Sandy at TGI Friday´s to watch the Lakers-Celtics game. We did go, and were surprised to see a Chili´s and Applebee´s right next to it. After TGI Fridays, Diana and Sandy wanted to hear a band play at another restaurant. His name was Tavo, and apparently his somewhat famous in Guatemala, but they are friends with him. We were introduced to the band, and they gave us a free CD! Between songs, he announced that Estephany and Leevy (how our names are pronouced) were visiting from American, so we had to stand up and everyone cheered. Steph and I were talking about how so many Guatemalans seem to be into American sports, American fashion, etc. Our teacher, Marta, had just been telling us how many of the young Guatemalans, especially the wealthy ones, are losing their culture. They can be so set on wanting to be American that they forget who they are. She said it´s very sad for the older generation to watch.

Monday, June 14, 2010


We made it and have been enjoying our first couple days in Guatemala! We arrived at the airport at 1:30 yesterday, and someone from CASAS picked us up. He drove us down dozens of cramped one way streets to the CASAS center. It looks so different than when we helped with the construction 11 years ago! A big white building with nice landscaping.. I´ll post a picture so you can see sometime, mom. We were told our host family would come at 4:00, and sure enough, there was only one family, which means that Steph and I are staying together! Originally they asked if we´d like to be together, and we decided we would, but then they said they didn´t think it would be possible. Anyway, it has been nice to have her here since we can´t text each other to see what´s going on!
Our host family is awesome. There are 3 girls, Diana, Sandy and Mary, and their mother Olga, who is called Chineta or something. Diana is 24 and does something with public relations. Sandy turns 22 next week and sells tickets for an airline, but she´s planning on studying psychology in the fall. Mary is adorable, 11, and is in school all summer. They are good friends with Elizabeth and Rebecca Barge, who I don´t know, but I know they´re from Harrisonburg. Amy Layman stayed with them this past semester as well. They are a very modern family, I would say. The girls are very fashionable, and they actually took us to Sex and the City 2 tonight at the theater. We also had no idea what the accomodations would be like, so I was preparing myself for 2 months of bucket baths! Thankfully, they do have running water in a couple of the bathrooms, they have internet access, and a brand new plasma TV. And I love the bright orange and teal walls :)
Steph and I went to church this morning with Chinita. We got there early because she was the worship leader, which was around 9:15. We sat through Sunday School and church, and then had birthday cake for someone in the congregation, and got back in the car at 1:30. I tried my best to listen and understand during Sunday School, which was very difficult with my limited Spanish! It is actually exhausting trying to translate all that. We met a delightful older man named Mario who loved Stephanie and joked with us a lot. He says he´s having us for dinner sometime this week.
Tonight we went with Diana and Sandy to an extremely nice mall and the theater there. They said many European stores have come to Guatemala in the last 5 years, and there were many of the stores that we have as well. It is interesting to see the impact of the US and Europe on this country. For a while during the movie, we even forgot we were in Guatemala. They took us through the drive-thru at McDonald´s on the way home.
We are definitely enjoying our time so far, but it is frustrating when we feel like we don´t know what´s going on in conversations. Diana and Sandy both speak English well, but Chinita says begining tomorrow there is no English allowed! We start classes in the morning, so Chinita is taking the bus with us at 7:30 to show us where to go. Buenas noches!

ps- While I am here, my sister has a new baby! Evelie Cole Prouse, born June 10. I´ll post a picture that Emily sent me of Evelie and her big sister Connelly, who is 2. She was born a week late, so I was supposed to be there, but I ended up missing it. I can´t wait to see them!

Friday, June 11, 2010

New Blog!

So I've decided to start a blog! I never thought I would do this, but we'll see how it goes. As many of you know, I'm leaving tomorrow for Guatemala City for 8 weeks. Steph Kanagy and I have been talking about this for months, and although it was somewhat stressful to plan, we're excited to go! We are with the CASAS program, for those of you who know what that is. We will be taking Spanish classes in the afternoons Monday-Friday for the entire time. We are also planning to do nursing volunteer work at a pediatric cardiology surgery center, although that is still somewhat up in the air. I THINK we'll be volunteering in the mornings for the last half of the trip, but as Latin American cultures go, it is subject to change. We are staying in separate host families, which we know nothing about at this point. There is a group of students from Goshen College who are already there and are doing the full 12 week program. Steph and I were only able to do these 8 weeks because we were studying for our nursing exams (which we both passed!). I'll try to write every few days and post some pictures, but I'll see how much time (and internet access) I actually have when we get there. Please pray for safe travels and no sinkholes!