Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Deep thoughts and the war within

8:23 am

My head has been incredibly foggy for the last 2 days. I've had a lot to ponder. Thinking about all the elements of my life. rearranging them like pieces of a puzzle to see how they all fit together. Feeling like I'm not a "whole" person. Or that who I am isn't really me. I'm just a mirror or self creation of the people in my current surrounding. Adaptable and mold-able. So then when are you a "whole"? Maybe no one is ever really "whole". Our states never stay the same. We're always changing, and growing. So when someone says, "I like who I am". Is it simply a naive statement? Lacking the knowledge of depth of consciousness to truly comprehend. Maybe over thinking this idea is at fault for feeling more lost. Idea's begin to swarm and surround me.

Everything has a solution. But is everything a problem? Our brain attacks any new awareness like a disease that needs to be cured. I thought the solution would be to remove myself from the elements in my life that I didn't want to see, because I couldn't stop them. the constant self absorbed egoistic ramblings of people, who place their beliefs in the external. Never growing, never changing, remaining closed and constant. In an endless re-iteration of the same; from sunrise to sunset.

I feel enraged and tortured, surrounded by this.

This is only the latter problem of my mental maze I've been lost in. The first was dealing with my new awareness of my own consumer driven life up to this point. Which was a lot to handle at first. On its own, seeing the lack of sight for this place. People from all over flock here to do the same thing they do at home. Only, they can do it wearing phony cultural touristic attire. Tho the 2 worlds may be in one place, they will never meet. I've seen 5 worlds while here so far.

1. The free thinking, do gooder types.
2.The tourist luxury vacationers
3. The spiritual life changing path seekers
4. The all for one, non material, non structural, non responsibility runners from all their own shitty home lives.
5.Those who come to give you food and better your lives, if you worship their god.

I'm aware of my cynical tone. I'm in a cynical place. Tho I most related to group 4 because of it's live for yourself aspect, and not answering to anyone or any rule. But don't take that as an irresponsible endeavor. I mean in the way of Following yourself. Being your own guide in life. Not adhering to societal constructs and behaviours. But living true to yourself and your heart. I couldn't run forevour. But the idea of dropping off the map for a bit and just dancing to the rhythm of the earth and going where I shall go, is my am-biotic Jumanji within. And someday I will fullfil this tune. But I've decided for the surcomstances for this will remain light, but can spark at any time. For now I'll grit my teeth and bare my surroundings and envy those who are aligned with this impulse.

Today I got to make the meal for all the community children in La Pinada. I unwrapped individually packaged mini hot dogs and used a knife blade with no handle to cut them up.  Quite a large blade too. A young girl (12-13 yrs old) also used this blade to cut the skin off "poco papa's". They only had 2 knives and a clever. No pairing knives, and not even a peeler. I can't imagine a household in Canada or any industrialized country not having a peeler.  We cooked over a stove. But it wasn't being used properly. The door was open. The chimney seal was non existent. None of the women cooking had a stove in their casa's from what I saw yesturday when Walking around. They made sure to tell me how much they wanted one.

I made a zillion misshaped Tortilla's by hand with Karen, Margarita and some of the other volunteers. I stayed to help for the duration tho. We had a good chuckle back and forth lost in translations, using hand gestures and my 20 words of vocabulary to decipher it all.

Serving lunch was hard today, as the kids came in their hands were checked to see if they were clean and a vitamin was shoved in their mouth and they were monitored to make sure they ate it before they could sit down. I found this rather disturbing. They were all quite willing to eat it. The boys all wanted 2 so they could grow extra big and strong. I saw one girl throw her gum on the floor before going in. I had her pick it up and put it in the "Bano", but saw later she just thru it on the floor in their too.

We sang some christian songs before lunch with the kids. I partook despite my own oppinions and beliefs.

Food portioning then began, the kids helped out with dispensing the vitamin water and bowls.  Near the end we almost were out of rice/papas, so the portioning was getting smaller and smaller. The idea of eating the food prepared for the kids who were trying to take some home for parents was soul shattering. And any desire to eat had vanished as an option. I ate a tortilla a bit later, but it left a taste of bitter taste on my tongue. This was the first time I've skipped a meal by choice I think.

Never in my life has the thought of eating been ripped from my routine.

The kids cleaned up, then we did some art. They all had paper and a pencil in their hand, but waited to be instructed on what to draw. Their names were all neatly placed on the corner as well. Most wanted me to draw something for them. I tried to tell them to just do whatever. Let their creativity flourish and take over.  I drew up some random examples, like a smiling sun, a volcano like the one out their windows. We had crayons, paint and markers for them to experiment with. Needed more brushes tho.

Once they started they became possessed. whipping out picture after picture. I then started putting them up with tape to decorated the newly painting Feeding center we had helped paint the day before. Once they saw their drawings going up on the walls, they were running towards me to have picture after picture put up, more paper! More pictures! The energy and excitement, and pure joy surrounding each of them was awe inspiring. One girl couldn't seem to get very far. I had a bit of trouble with her at first. She didn't like my ear gages, or my lip stud. She actually spit on the ground to show her disgust over it. I kindly had her grab a mop and clean it up.

Hilmar gave me a hug and told me it was some of the kids first time doing art ever. Never drawn a picture before. Although I was running around getting supplies and taping stuff up on the walls, I wish I could have sat down with them more to show them some things. But I'm so happy I could give them an opportunity to express themselves. A curriculum writer I met last night, who helped me find where to get the Bristol board, told me that in school here their isn't any outside the box thinking, and definitely no discussions. They do a lot of memorizing and that's about it.

After all the art was cleaned up we were on our way back to the truck to go back to Antigua. and the faces that were just overwhelmed with joy and happiness had fallen and they were carrying bricks on their heads about a mile to a plot of land for a new house. Some carried them on their backs. others their head. They were on a hill with about a 75 Degree incline upwards to get the bricks too.  Some other Canadians who were their to build the house were helping as well, but seeing these young kids have to do this kind of work and having Hilmar simply say this is how it is here was not comforting. On my way out I assisted one of the girls with placing the brick on her head. Her pictures were some of the best out of the whole lot. I watched her walk down the hill with one hand on the brick, and her younger brothers in the other. That is strength.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

My night with 3 Guatemalans and a Russian.

As the end of San Pedro Approaches. There was just enough time to change my life. To cross the threshold from just another tourist traveling backpacker, to grow new eyes, and see it ALL from an alternate reality.

It started with me being a possession and image driven girl, buying bracelets, and what not. I had the intention of giving them as gifts of course, but mostly wanted to keep it all for my greedy little self!

I was invited to party with Selbean and his friend Nada, who he originally met in Costa Rica, who randomly showed up in San Pedro La Laguna that very day and was selling her jewelry beside him. Their was also a Russian girl named Natalia who I met later, and another jewelry seller, whose name escapes me so we'll call him "Grande Bohemian Senior". Natalia does nothing, she just chills out and parties at night. I don't think she sells anything for an income. She might not need one for all I know. She had some really dope ninja boots she got from a friend in Japan. I say ninja boots because they half the 1 slit in the middle like ninja shoes do. I'm sure you get the reference. So she just hangs and learns Spanish all day. All of them are coincidentally staying in the hostel next to mine, mine is about 30Q a night (per person so about 60Q a room) Theirs is 15Q a room. But all you're getting is a single bed and a table on a concrete floor. I went over just before 6, wearing all my new tourist buys. I had just bought a long skirt, and had a matching shirt. BLUE , light blue. I looked like the biggest tourist their was.. and felt like a FOOOL. I even had on my new head band I bought from Nada, and all my new bracelets and necklaces. Like... I was full-on loaded.. WOW. with a scarf shall.. COME ON.. looked like such a princess. hahah. I felt horribly uncomfortable. Here I was surrounded by ppl literally wearing all the clothes they own pretty much. Just selling enough to keep on keeping on. They have the money they made that day in their pockets. Which they used to cook me dinner for my last night their. It was one of the best meals I've ever had too. The fish had bones (I got the jaw!)

[There was a moment looking back. I see myself as "Dian Fossey" living with the Gorillas. I have to learn how to mimic their behaviour and customs. Understand and become them. Transform my mind from this Societal structured thinking and throw out every thing I once knew and start over. but I didn't see that that was what I was doing at the time. I had all these fish bones I was spitting out. I didn't know what to do with them. I had started by placing them on the side of my plate, then saw "Grande Bohemian Senior" chucking them to the side, so I did that for a while. But then noticed others were putting them on their plates, so I went back to that... The bread was stale, but the potatoes were unlike any potato I'd ever eaten before. Seasoning goes a long way. And it was all cooked on an open top stove with grill bars on it, in pots and pans of course tho. The kitchen was an outdoor kitchen. It was beautiful there and the kitchen had a roof over it so whats there to complain about. And a massive fresh lime tree right beside it. The limes were orange inside...very strange. But delicious!

Going back a step, I mention how ridiculous I looked. Well I was laying on a hammock and I spilt wine on my shirt. so I used that as an out to go change, but they kept saying "nonooo you look fine, don't change" I was just like, "COME ON!" in my head hahah. I snuck away before dinner. It was getting cold anyway. But still I put shorts on.. (Dope) and a T-shirt (double dope) and didn't take a sweater..(TRIPLE Dope) I'm such a dumb dumb...

[I have a lot of identity issues. If you know me you'd know why.. But I find it very difficult to dress "myself" I find the concept of "Who I am" daunting, and impossible to know. I find it hard to feel comfortable with a new group sometimes. Especially if I don't dress like them. I like to be a sheep in the crowd. Appearance wise. And then Stand out for my personality. I remember often what this girl who lives down the hall from my once said. "As soon as you're with someone new, you close right up instantly". So I thought about this.. A lot..throughout the night. Also thought about this group of people I'd stumbled into. So free. and Barbaric almost. Living for the now, tomorrow is tomorrow, nothing we can do about it today. Selbean completely got me. Despite our language barrier it was no problem. ]

This moment was outstanding..It happened right after dinner. Me, Natalia and "Grande Bohemian Senior" were all laying on hammocks swinging side to side. (It was night by this time and the stars were shining and the crickets were singing) We all just started swinging to the beat of the crickets, around the same time.. just swaying to the song of the night. Bohemian Senior started drumming on a tree next to him and singing. (His second performance of of the evening actually) Totally sureal, and for most other people who were in my shoes would have probably thought. "Is this guy for real", ( which I too thought of course a couple times, seriously, who was this guy) but I idolized him immediatly after. What reason did I have to think these thoughts and judge him, for doing something so beautiful, that I myself too wished I could unleash from within. I could feel it coursing within me, this uncontrollable desire to free the sounds from the cage I held them in, but was unable to... Its seemed impossible for me to let my guard down so much so soon, I have a general period in which new friends are "eased" into the personality that IS "Sarah Barbary" as to not scare people off, but really that's my own insecurity speaking and fears of rejection stemming from a few too many new school experiences.

I was freazing and had no idea what time it was at this point, which was freaky, but freeing at the same time.  But Selbean got us all up out of our daze and we headed to get some beers. I ran back to grab a sweater, but Karen had the only key to our room with her, and who knows where she was having dinner. So Selbean lent me a plead shirt. which helped a lot. So we made our way to the bars and restaurant area. We stopped in a nice garden restaurant first to hear a japanese man play the drum and sing in portuguese haha. We sat on the ground on a matt with pillows and shared a Big Gallo.(beer) I saw the whole stove group come in while we were waiting for the beer. I didn't want to be seen. [Mainly because, I really just wanted a night away from the group. I love the group. And everyone in it. But I need to feed the freedom beast in order for it to transform into a free "adult" beast. Tho I'm 23, on the verge of 24. I've only started feeling like an adult recently. School extends your naivity and innocence I think, and puts off the inevitable adulthood in many ways. but I had been working a good job for the past year, I was on my own in a bachelor apt now, I was FINALLY paying for my car insurance and I seemed to have a handle on my "shit" so to speak. But still I felt like I had to make this move, I had to have this grand transitional moment I could see. Where I can say, " That was when I become an adult", and I wasn't gunna wait for it anymore. I was going to create it myself. It's the only way anything seems real, is if I personally make an effort to conciously act on it and understand it.]

[I'm often at constant war inside of myself. Trying to weed thru the bullshit and get to what's real. If their IS anything real to find. But if you're constantly changing and adapting and growing within your mind, then I'll just constantly be looking. I'm scared of never feeling at peace or at one within myself. Will I always just bounce from persona to persona?  Will this be how I'll learn?  or find my answers? Just constantly in the changing room? I thought I was starting to get a grip on all this back home. But I was just slinking back into my old patterns perhaps, and the only reason why it felt right was because it felt familiar.. Slinking back into old patterns I didn't think was a bad thing, Because it was familiar I clung to the idea that maybe that's who I was. But then why is there a fight at all at this if it was right? If it actually is who I am then why do I fight to not be that so bad?]

We went and saw "The clown", which was just a jewish magician. Pretty funny act. He pulled me up on stage too! RIGHT after Selbean told me I was gunna be next... he tried a bunch of other girls before me and they just would NOT budge. I think we've all seen those ppl who just REFUSE to be a part of the show, and it gets uncomfortable to  watch the struggle for a while.. I went up with only the hesitation of holding my drink, which he helped me with by taking it and giving it to someone haha.  I ended up whipping him in the ass with a mini deck of cards that were hand cuffed to my thumb (with those mini handcuffs we used to get in gumball machines). I really had no idea if that's what he wanted me to do because he was only speaking spanish haha. So it's a good thing I really like ass slapping already. At the end of his show he took off all his clothes leaving his boxers, lowered this HUGE ballon down from the ceiling, like..HUGE about a metre and a half high balloon haha. He CLIMBED INSIDE(it reminded me of of that Rhino scene in "Ace Ventura: When nature calls"hahha) and managed to get completely in it. Then he jumped around for a while hahah and inevitably weasled his way out almost losing his undies haha.

[At this show I had a very specific moment, where I feel like I "crossed" over, so to speak. Or "Passed through the veil" saw through the "Looking glass" I can go on.. I saw these two tourist girls who spoke no spanish go up on stage. They had these matching parachute pants on, (made for tourists) and they sorta had this ignorance and arrogance to them, They seemed to only be there to chill out on their "Vacay" time, they made jokes about knowing no spanish, and the "clown" Spoke no english on purpose for learning I feel. We're in a country where the majority language is Spanish, you should make an effort to see that and try, which I didn't really see from these two female westerners. I glanced over at Natalia, Nada, and the guys... They had brought me there because I was tourist. I saw it. They dont go to these shows, prolly cuz they're always the same, EVERYONE in the room was a tourist. EVERYONE. minus staff. When I first met Selbean and Nada they joked about taking me Salsa dancing. I thought they were serious..hahah(hence the dress...) and at the moment I saw the reality of it being all a joke. Coming here, going to free salsa classes, looking like a doof. Its this whole fake world created for ppl like me. None of it was real... And I honestly didn't see that.. It was a hard fact to swallow how stupid I felt for my naivity. How obvious it all was, and we were all fooled. I took it a little harsher then I should have. But that is understandable when worlds collapse infront of you. I kept my composure and thinking critically from that point on.]

We went to a bar that Selbean worked at called "Freedom Bar". Sometimes He didn't get paid, but instead he'd just get a bottle of rum and would party and drink and share his rum around. It all came around y'know. So I had some free rum all night. the music was very ravey, wasn't no salsa club haha. But It was just what I needed. I recognized some of the people from the Buddha bar a few nights earlier. We jungle rave danced for a few hours until the 11 o'clock curfew. and we all cleared out. The bar owner told us all to come back in an hour. Me thinks that cops only do one round of checks then let it all start up again, prolly with bribes. I dunno.

After that we all headed over to "Yo Momma's Casa" hahah,Which I believe was a hostel but we had the afterparty in the courtyard their. I bought a couple big bottles of gallo. Me and Selbean shared one and the others shared one(Selbean opened it with his teeth!! hahah crazy). All the tourists were there too, playing some weird spoon drinking game, I didn't get it. I just thought it was weird how they all came to this country to hang out with eachother and play games they prolly learned back home. Me and Selbean just chatted up and away for the rest of the night. After that we went back to the hostel. I knew karen would be waiting up so I couldn't stay too much longer. I knew it musta been 12 or something by now. I went and hung out with selbean for another drink before calling it a night. His belongings consisted of some clothes and his unsold jewelry, and a bible. We talked about his life and up bringing, how he's been on the road like this for a number of years, and how his parents sorta dishowned him. His dad did over his tattoo's (he has 4) and his mother for his lifestyle. He said he has 15 brothers and sisters and that his dad had 16000Q in the bank for him and he took it away when he got a tattoo. ALSO he was shot at on a bus once when it was hijacked. Simply for saying to the gunmen something along the lines of.." What are you doing man?  Stop all this nonsense, you don't have to do this" and he was shot at, and his friend next to him jumped in front of the bullet and got shot in the hand. He spoke very highly of this friend (I believe that) I've never had to place myself in that sorta situation. Would you or anyone you know do that? Selbean's lead a hard life. He grew up in Guatemala City, doesn't get much rougher then the bad zona's their. And to not be fazed by it and to still just have the life he wants. He knows its breaking his mother's heart that he's not living a typical life.

But at Some point everyone will have to do this in order for the shit to stop. For people to actually start living a life of their own, and not one forced on them, and not just surviving. That's what I want. I don't want to live typically. I want to be more open, freeing and not just working to fill the gap. I have no idea how I can do this. My life in Canada is so planned out. and straight'n narrow. I put on movies to numb the silence. Today I spent the whole day in a daze. Seeing these tourists go by on these poor horses, I almost couldn't take it anymore. So I just said nothing. I didn't wanna talk about my life, what I was doing. It didn't matter what I thought about it. It only mattered that it was being done. Silence is often how I've coped with my frustrations. No one deserves to have to be pulled in. But inevitably I do explode with word vomit on someone. Which invariably places WAY too much of my emotional baggage on them. I want to just get rid of everything and sail away. With no end date. No responsibilities and debt. No bills and no worries. Each of these things MAY be a key to life on Earth at this time. But each key also holds with it a piece of you, and is a bar on your prison cell.

I've never felt more lost..

Selbean gave me one of two original 50centavo bills that he kept in his bible. To remember him so to speak. Guatemala was the last place I ever expected to meet such a forward thinking person as him and his friends. It was certainly exactly what I needed in my life. Often things happen at exactly the moment I didn't know I needed them too. And they bring to light new awareness. This has certainly helped me take a giant leap forward in personal comfort with relationship I have with myself

Today I got to our new volunteer project. We were staying a group house with the "Oneness Project". There was also a Christian Evangelical group operating in the house.  One of the members made a comment to me, " Is that a metal rod through your lip?" idk how I could not feel judgement from a statement like that. Foreshadowing of the days to come in what were my last days in Guatemala..

Friday, February 18, 2011

The Laundry Loop de Loop

9:34am The Night before
So Last night was a tonne of fun! I got my first taste of being free and alone during this trip. To get an idea of what it'll be like when I travel this summer to Europe. So I got to practice my meeting of new travelers! The band played all the classic tunes, Sublime. Sexual healing haha. It's true about German efficiency. SHtefani took spanish before coming here, and she made comments about how things could run more smoothly haha. Gave me a giggle in my inside.

On the "Ferry" boat heading back to San Pedro from Santiago. Me, Marg, Joe, and Margarita went to explore the lake side town today, but separately. We ended up at the wrong dock this morning so we took a tuk tuk to the right dock for 15Q total and the ferry was 40Q each there and back. Marg, Karen, Joe and margarita, managed to get us 200Q refunded back to us for the horrible driver yesterday from Chi Chi market.  I laid low, I'm not one for confrontations. I did arrange for me and joe to go Hang gliding tomorrow in Pana Jachel. We're to meet our driver at noon at the dock.

I got a shit tonne of stuff in the santago markets today. Found an incredible carved Mayan Calendar and I got some gifts for people as well as a pair of pants and a skirt. wouldn't mind a mini wallet for going out tho. But Yo es Broko.

We have reservations at La Peurto tonight. It was nice walking around on my own again today. I wish I had time to do some spanish school this trip but it'll have to wait till next time I guess.

Had an amazing dinner at La Peurto. I got the Naranju pollo and a green goddess cocktail and a mojito. The mojito was good but it had so much big chunks of mint leaf in it that It was getting sucked up my straw and stuck and and it was just annoying blaah. I just got all my clothes off the bed. what a nightmare! I got home today from santiago and my laundry bag with dirty clothes in it was GONE. Mini heart attack moment.  But then I thought, Karen must have taken it with hers today. Then she came back to the room with just her laundry, and the heart thing again. I went to the hotel staff who only spoke espanol.. I was just like.. "Dandes Lavendria?" Jack knew more spanish then me so he helped me the best he could explain the situation.  I walked up to the room.. my sweaters were on a line drying up there. But where was the rest!! Wasn't in this big pile they were sorting. Dandes dandes dandes!!?? One of the owners or something of hotel said " Uno momento" to me. So I waited in a panic. Then she goes Andalay and leads me off the hotel PROPERTY... down the street... we stop at a shop, she chits and chats.. we continue on down the road. then make a sharp right down a shifty ass back alley with tin roofs over head. She knocks on this womans door. They talk for a bit. Then we start following her BACK in the direction of the hotel. We're back on hotel property now.. I'm so lost at this point. Que? Que? She opens the door to this warehouse... it was nearly deserted inside except for a stack of chairs in the corner. and on top of a low stack.. was my laundry bag.. sitting all by its lonesome.  Not a morsal of other people's lavandria anywhere in site.  Karen's sweater was in my bag, and I was missing 3 towels. She kept saying I wasn't... One of them was in Max's laundry bag.. She was convinced I didn't have another towel in there. Rosa Taya ci. Missing!! She ended up finding it in ANOTHER building in a room below the office. The 3rd towel I gave back to Margarita and forgot. so all is well!! 


She wanted me to pay her hahahah. This whole incident was just hilarious the whole. All is good, I got all my laundry. It was cleaned. Felt Hand washed and sun dried. She got paid!

Funny shit.


Thursday, February 17, 2011

In the land where druggies come to die.

So yesterday was pretty packed and I wasn't feeling a hundred percent. I took an immodium yesturday morning and for the whole day it felt like someone put a plug in my tub. But it fixed itself around 3 am....

So we stopped on the way to San Pedro at a village so Paul could visit a girl he's been sponsoring for about 4 years whose 18 now. She almost finished up with school and will be able to be a teacher afterwords!

After we left this town it wasn't long before we were heading down the winding road on the side of the mountain, litterally sooo windy, that cars honked before every corner incase someone was coming on the other side. We stopped in one of the villages surrounding the lake called San Juan (san won). We drove around lost in it for a while looking for a clinic we donated medical supplies to. Eventually we found it. And the path to get to it litterally made it impossible to simply stubble upon it. You really had to KNOW where this place was. It was opened by a woman named Mary from Colorado. the Clinic is called ODIM www.odimguatemala.org The clinic was muy Bonita, and very well built/designed. They also recently had a dental facility donated that was bran new. They offered vasectomy's for 35Q! ($3.50-4 CAD) and they make medicines from plants they grow on the rooftop garden.

Getting to San Pedro from Xela was such a bumpy winding drive. Up and Down, RIGHT corner, LEFT corner. Me and Karen sat in the back of the van which is now going to the CHICHI Market. (same road we were on yesterday) and will take back to San Pedro later.. thats 3 times on this road.. not good..its a good 2 hour drive each way as well.

7:26 PM Night 2 in San Pedro
Our drive back was well... THE WORST TRIP TO DATE!!! Our driver was an Hour late, he was this young little punk ass. The Van was pretty Shit-tastic too and falling apart. And it apparently rained in the space between San Pedro and Chichi. making the roads and drive back, that much more fun, and longer. Also on our way to Chichi market this morning we saw the end result of a fatal accident at one of those wonderful sharp corners, with a truck and a jeep. Seat belts pretty much don't exist here either, and are not used by anyone. I had heard from someone the driver was still in the jeep. which was a crushed tin can in the side of the truck. People here really know how to hustle and help out when their are accidents tho.

We had a few close calls on the way back with our driver. Our driver we had in Xela who drove us to San Pedro would honk before each corner. This guy honked, maybe once.

Me, Karen, and Margarita are eating dinner at "Mikaso" now, and using the WiFi. We had our last group breakfast here this morning and our last lunch here yesterday when we arrived. The papas (fries) and Mayo here are unbelievable..The best mayo I have ever had in my life. We all went over our thoughts about the trip and what the next step would be. Everyone had a lot of nice experiences and moments to share from their sides of the trip. Grizelda thanked us for helping her people. "My people need many things" is how she put it. And the fundraising not only provides people with the relief from Smoke inhilation and blindness. But it also gives them a larger cooking area, and it uses less wood. So they have more time live their lives, and not just spend it surviving. 

This whole town is filled with tourists. This restaurant is also a Hostel/Hotel. And they have a lot of Lounge places with hammocks and a pool table. The view is just incredible from here. Its right on the lake. almost too close with the rising water levels. Our hotel is really nice too. and has a great balcony, and the roof has great view, but doesn't have anything on it. We have a bathroom/shower in our room here too! wOooo! But I had a cold shower tonight. Sucked. I had about 2mins of hotwater and then nada. I think I heard a generator switch off while I was in it.

Me and Karen did a walk about yesturday afternoon. Went thru the hippy district where you can do Yoga/meditation. Get hot STONE massages and whatnots. lots of Outdoor restaurants and Spanish schools. A good amount of Internet cafe's as well. I saw a flyer for a piercing and tattoo place above "The Clover" Restaurant. Where I had eaten the night before. I wanted to get some earings there. No mom I didn't get another piercing.. lol.

I've had a lot of thoughts about seriously moving here and running an art class and or selling art. I wouldn't make any money. But I would make enough to live here atleast.

 I just met some nice Norwegian girls and a German girl. We went to hear the owner of "Mikaso's" play at the Buddha bar.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

A wake-up thought in between

Putting your hopes, desires, and energy into dreams of grandeur and security. In our society it's all about "later" it seems, reaching that "place" in time. Sometimes it's a financial place, sometimes it's a place in time we believe will end our suffering in our present lives. For whatever reason, people always seem to not have it right, right now. I see it time and time again. People reach that "place", that state, and then that state is no longer what they want. Because, like the organisms we are... Our wants, needs, and desires start to the change the second we create them in our minds. We just don't consciously know it yet.  When a person says to another person. "You've changed" the origin of this statement is from the perspective of it being sudden.  But then of course we look at the reasons for this statement and the events leading up to it and we see falsie in this. The point I'm trying to adhere to is to waste your time on an idea that things could be better someday as long as you pay your due's to father time, is the game. But when playing game's, one always knows that inevitably the game will end. Will you still want the prize you were fighting for at the begining in the end? The trials and struggles you enduring while playing have changed you, because you've lived them. Anything you've lived and experienced. HAS affected your mental state, and been written down in your unofficial biography.

Once all your dreams have come true, they've already faded away. So ride the wave when its here, and chill till the next one.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Tuesday February 15th ,2011

I passed out last night trying to finish my journal, so I'm finishing it on our way to work today.

I was in Marvin's Group yesterday (by request cuz I luuurve him). He always gives me this wide eyed look and being totally lost as to what the hell I'm asking. I work with him just for this.  But he's so helpful and he really gives you a chance to do whatever you want to do on the stove. Very encouraging too. I gave him 2 melted kisses I got from the Chocolate shop in Xela, for Valentines day.  Haha I found out from him that Guatemalan's hate Mexicans and Mexicans hate Guatemalans. I said something like An-delay to Marvin while he was working and he said oh Mexicana's an-delay, Vamoos! haha.  He commented on the fact that I'm Poco Español and he's Poco Inglais. Then I called him Loco for wearing a French/Paris shirt hah.

Words that Get me thru the day in a Spanish and Kiche speaking village
Aki- Here
Aya- there?
Fuerte- hard
Baño- bathroom
Poco- Little
Mi Amo- My Name is ______
I-tu?- and you?
No Say- I dont know/understand
Hola- Hi/hello
Como es ta?- how are you?
(Ciche)Ut's - good
Muy- very
Bueno- good
Buenos Dias- Good Morning
Buenas Tardes- Good Afternoon
Uno- 1
Todo- We
Photo/Pictura- Photo?
Rapido- Faster
An delay- Get going hurry
Hasta- Fast!
Vamoose- Come on/Let's go

I like that I'm finding a way to convey my sarcastic joking nature in Spanish to the villagers haha..
They are probably laughing at me and not with me tho...

So the melatonin didn't work last night. I suppose it did. I passed out journaling at like 9pm. I decided I would try not zipping up my sleeping bag to see if I could get this sweating to CEASE already. I had some pretty horrible dreams last night. so Melatonin is out I guess. I woke up crying from one of them. Not cool.

One of the major details of this trip that I wanted to stick to was doing it on my own. Without financial help from my parents. It was a good starter trip to get my heels wet for Europe this summer. I'm surrounded by so many kind and caring people from Ottawa/Perth area who wanna look out for me. But I'm looking forward to when I can sneak away from them as well and do some stuff on my own. 

Last day of Stove Building today then packing up tonight, paying the $45 dollars for the hostel and heading to San Pedro tomorrow. 

6:23pm Spanish Simpsons
So last day of stove building es finitoooo! Can't believe I debated on not coming because I had another bad sleep. But I'm so glad I went. Today we went to the other-side of the hill and it was sort of like a different world. More poor I feel. Not every family had a baño here. We always had some kind at the other sites. The family I was with today told us that they use the creek beside the house as a baño, which was also beside the main road... On top of the hill was an incredibly nice bathroom with a real toilette, sink and even a shower!! Their didn't seem to be any water going to it tho. Had to use a bucket to flush the toilette. My house had a sweet brick dome next to it. Apparently its a sauna, which is how they clean themselves. Rita told me that Her and Tom were Naked in one once haha. And Karen, Liz, went in one while looking at stoves in Comiticancillo, but not naked :p..

I had Marvin again today! Marvin the Mason! I try to jokingly boss him around.. haha. He lets me do any job I want and seeing as its our last day I asked if I could seal the chimney on the roof. I hadn't seen any of the women attempt this yet, only the rogue mountain men in the group like John haha.  We usually have a Spanish speaker in the group, but Liz, and john were both out today, so we didn't have enough to go around. But me and Marvin are tight yo, we have an understanding I think amongst each other.  He taught me some more Spanish words (or tried) I remember Bonita(I think means 'beautiful'), Feurta(which means 'hard'), and Todo (We).

Today was Margarita's Birthday so we got Pastel again. White Pastel this time! No es Bueno as the chocolate pound cake we usually got. Our lunch was really nommers tho, we had dos kinds of pasta salad. Which was a nice change from the Mantikia de mani(peanut butter) and the Red Bean buns, and Tuna sandwiches. Plus we had fresh watermelon, pineapple, and of course some cookies!

So after me and Margarita's trek to the bathroom (which took like Trenta minutos I think!). I put the Mortar around the Chimney on the roof. It was messy, (I got roof gunk down my boob crevas). The roof had those brick half pipe tiles on it, so I had to remove those to get close enough to the chimney, and even then getting to the other side of it wasn't gunna happen, so I had to hop down a few towns to check and see if their was any light coming thru the seal. Then I put back all the roof tiles and Bam! Done! It was fun, and I'm glad I got to try every different step in the stove making process.

After the stove was all done, we did our pictures, and gave out some gifts. I played catch with the older girl for a while. She was muy Bonita and her amo was Caterina. I taught her what I could remember basketball trick wise, like how to spin a ball on her finger tip, and dribble between her legs. (I'm quite out of practice tho.. wooow)
Her pequeno brother jumped in a couple times to play catch as well. Her laugh was completely intoxicating, and she had the giggles like mad. I'd guess 10-12 for her age. But who knows.

We handed out what was left to other families near by before leaving for the day.

I decided to shower first instead of taking pictures right away like I wanted. It was freazing today. Well not FREAZING, but a cold wind and cloudy again mostly. I wanted to shower because of all the weird boob gunk I had. also while playing ball with Caterina, the ball often fell into the water by their Pila. And idk if that was their bathroom or WHAT, so i just cleaned the ball off on my pants and kept playing... so yeah.. thought it best to shower.

Numero Uno attempt at a shower failed caliente agua wise. I tried a different bathroom then I had been using the whole time. Guess I had it right the first time. So I went up to the 2nd story (in my towel, the boys suggested I use that bathroom.. playas) for attempt numero dos.

Then me and Karen went for picture taking and the internet cafe attached to the "North South Book Store" (Where I picked up a spanish dictionary and a used Guatemala guide book). Next time I come to Guatemala I do some spanish school for a couple weeks I think.

Karen didn't take pictures for long, the wifi and Pastel was calling her name. So I went out on the town alone. I walked all over the place, didn't know where I was going or what lead to what. But my sense of North and South was down and I ended up walking right beside the Book store where Karen was without even planning it. I was pretty impressed with myself. Idk how I do it. Guess not being afraid to be lost helps. Getting lost is the best way to find your way around and learn landmarks too.

I used public computer at the cafe to type up some blogs, I felt bad stealing Karen's computer and I tried not to as much as possible. we were both just getting behind on everything sharing it. But I used it transfer my pictures to my mini hardrive and type at night sometimes when Karen read still. At the cafe I got invited to a dance class they were having in a room to the side. I'd been listening to them learn the thriller dance for an hour while typing hahah. I told him unfortunately I was leaving tomorrow at 9 am and wouldn't be coming back for a year or so. He said he'd wait for my return haha.

Me and karen didn't much feel like a big huge dinner that night, so when we were kicked out of the cafe we went to the coffee place where the Wifi is really good and we got some sandwiches and pastel. They had the simpsons in spanish playing on the big tv. It was the Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer episode, where their riding the train and the old man who they spunge bath is telling them stories. Super old! And i didn't remember what the episode actually talked about.

Then home around 10pm to start packing haha. Some things never change.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Monday Feb 14, 2011 Te Amo

Woke up extremely exhausted today. Karen was up for the 2nd night in a row sick. I took half a gravel to help me sleep. But to avail. So Tonight I'm gunna get some Melatonin from Andrew. That might help me sleep thru a night.

Today we had an incredible rain shower at like 5pm. We stopped at a "Mall" (yeah theirs a mall here), to get some money out of an ATM that was "safer" then the ones in the Market that I've been using the whole time.  Me and Rita used the Bathroom. There was only like 5 stalls (in a room with space for 10), and there was a line up for each stall. not just a general line.  There was ads on a few of the doors for a beauty spa with the actress from Serendipity on it. She was looking fiiiiiiine too. The Food court had a Taco Bell, Burger king, Pizza Pizza, some chinese place. There was a payless shoe store, lots a sandles in therr. Duh. I saw a gap and "The Source". There was also an arcade are. I saw this boy playing DDR!! He was uber pro. Rockin both sides!! Of course I'd get excited about this haha. So I got back to the hostel, we left Phil Meg, and Tom at the mall because some of us had to get to a few market stores before they closed. Karen Stayed home today, and was no where to be seen with the room key for quite a while. I assumed she got lost because she has no sense of direction or landmarks it seems. I thought about going out to look for her, but it was raining...  Renny said he left her at the coffee shop. I debated just going there, but I played with the Parrot in the lobby instead. Then I hung out with Renny and Andre for a bit. Everyone kept offering to let me hang out in their rooms because they wouldn't be in there. Which was really nice of them, but when I heard the offer all I could picture was me sitting in the dark in a foreign room. Why would I do that? I didn't spend any time in my own room at this point, just went their to drop stuff off and sleep.  So me and the guys were gunna go get a Gallo (beer) and chill, and on our way out, guess who came in. Yup! wait. what did you guess? If you said Tom, Phil and Meg, your wrong. It was KAREN!! YAAAAAAaaaaaay.  She did get lost. I gave her a scolding eye and she gave me the key.

We decided to go to a place called "Brooklyn" but it was closed. So we went to "Royal Paris".  It was all decorated up fancy like for Valentines Day. Candles, and an old guy playing the keyboard and singing in French at the front. I had TILAPIA! MMMM with a cream dijon and dill saw sauce, on the side it looked like mashed sweet papa's.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Sun, Feb 13, 2011 The Higher you go, the closer you are

Had the worst sleep ever!! Woke up a zillion (that IS litterally) times. Which I often do when I'm worried my alarm will fail and or if I have to wake up for something important. I also woke up with hot flashes and cold chills again. Just can't find a happy medium with this sleeping bag and pajamas.

 My alarm did fail ironically enough...

I had a billion dreams too (another literal implication of course).

like this but longer and
flatter on the inside
1. The first dream I had  I was picked up by this outlandish spanish man, who switched randomly to the worlds most perfect sounding english, no accent even on a whim when he broke from he cell phone call to great me. He made us stop at a Walmart to pick up a Valentines Day gift for his Mother before going climbing. (He was not an attractive Spanish man either.. why must my dreams always be so real... just once I'd like them to lie to me and let me have some fun! Anyway... He had this Candle Holder. He had a small tea candle on the bottom. I told him to put the big long candle on top of it. for some reason both are lit. And the little melts the big one, trapping  the little one inside on fire. He sets it on a wooden table inside Walmart and it catches on fire! We managed to defuse the fire, but the fire department was ALL already on their way. I seem o recall and understand of the fire fighters mostly wanting to mooch some free McDonalds because they were corrupt. The manager was pissed she had to feed them all, and wanted me to pay. I said  basically.. "I'm gunna go now..." and woke up.
2. The 2 guys from how I met your mother (Jason Segel, and Josh Radnor) were hot tubbing naked (of my dreams curse me again with damn jacuzzi bubbles). Their clothes were stolen by some women who were in there with them (again my dreams curse me because, I wasn't in the hot tub, I was just observing their misfortune like a creepy stocker ghost). ANYWAY, They had to get a ride, but were naked. They saw the blonde transvestite hooker from Xela (a real person we saw almost everynight) get a ride with this big truck. so they ran naked to the truck to get a ride. They figured if the trucker would pick her up, then he'd pick them up too. Then I woke up... I'm nutz..  I'm aware..

I had more dreams but I couldn't remember them to write them down. too many.

Adrenalina is picking me up any minute. I was locked in the hostel this morning. There were 3 of us trying to get out. At 4 am I heard the door buzzer going off.

Fun fact I think I've forgotten. Every single door in Guatemala is locked up, and a lot have intercoms to speak thru, and most lock you in as well.

So the woman who runs the hostel was up at all hours opening the door for people who were out partying I guess. So she didn't get up to take the padlock off.

We scrambled up to the 
some of the writing I saw on rock. It
was all over the mountain top tho.
3:34pm Sitting at the coffee shop "& Cafe", with Karen and John. Today was overly incredible. My biggest fear was that my guide today wouldn't speak Inglais... and it came true...  But it was okay.
We scrambled up the moutain like 300 feet I think in total. I was gasping and panting the whole way up as Mayan men and women passed me with heels and babies on their backs. They were all flocking to various plateaus to pray. Their was writing on rocks all over the cliffs as well. I asked my guide, "Pourque (writing gesture), roca, (point)". haha he got me. He said it was the name's of the churches. The Whole Cliff and the property the rocks were on was owned by the church which I find incredible. I don't know how this came to be, but it was the same issue with Pannimaquem. So instead of going to Church, these people come here to the mountain tops to pray and chant, which my guide confirmed, is a way in their eyes to be closer to god, and heaven. They chanted for hours, some every day of the week, all day. The chanting was torturous and intense at most times, as tho some were crying out with all the passion in their souls for help.  So while I'm climbing I'm just surrounded by it all. I saw one man carrying a grande guitar down too.

the corner on the far left is the route I climbed
me coming up to the 1/2 pitches on the 2nd climb
coming up to the 2nd pitch
After the 2nd climb(5.8) which was a lot more fun and warmer then the first climb (5.9), we walked along the top. We did it in 2 pitches (the second outing I've done a multi-pitch at! Good thing I sorta randomly learned about multipitch belaying a couple weeks before I left with Ryzard at Altitude gym in Hull). The first climb was a corn one. but not an inside corner, and outside one, does that make sense? Anyway I wore shorts and a thing sweater, and it was one of the windiest and coldest days I've felt here yet.. yaaay.. Anyway I couldn't finish it because the rope was twisted so I had to come down. and it was right after I finally got over the Crux!! Booo. My hands were all cut up and cold. The rocks are quite sharpe there. When we got to the top tho.. wow...I saw about 3 medium sized groups up there praying. They walked up their too. I saw a lot of these white flag markers all over the place as well as flower offerings.
Sorta looks like a man wrapped up. I don't think it was anyway..

The Rock Clusters on top reminded me of Mount Roraima in Venezuela (movie UP) a bit. Just because they were so alien and really painful and jagged to grab.

Amongst these were random Sexy Gorges thru the mountain you could fall in. Fun stuff.

Then we had lunch, I booked the climb at 6:45pm last night when I got back from yesterdays excursion. So my guide Victor Miguel didn't have time to make up a really fancy Meal. So we had sandwiches on white bread with cheese and some kind of, meat (I think ham?), and some tomatoes and onions. It was fantastic. He hand split an "awacoti" (avocado) in half and then dipped Ritz crackers in it. Genious!

We talked about various things. He told me about the church owning the land and I asked about the praying, he told me about foot fetish. Leave it to me to find out something like that without speaking the other language. We also discussed how the Economy for coffee has gone way down and Guatemalan's don't get paid as much as they used to for exporting. I told him small groups of people in Canada are working to change this. People don't genuinely want to see the poor get F$%^'d over. But they do, and end up supporting that unknowingly. which is unfair to place people in the same position of the corporate manipulation nation. Bridgehead coffee is currently the only coffee shop that supports fair trading with coffee. Companies like Starbucks are getting their coffee from plantations that force workers to live on the farm, leaving their families for months at a time, and for unfair wages. I remember Starbucks selling special water that said something like. 1$ from every bottle goes to support WHATEVER. The idea that their using water in Bottles to do this is laughable. Lets help the poor and impoverished people who are already living in their own filth because they have no where to take their garbage by doing it with bottles that create the most waste on the planet. Good call Starbucks. Oh and you only make billions, so dont worry about being able to afford private recycling at your locations. Just send it all to the dump! But you say your green and you help the planet. So I'll let it slide.
Corporations in general who come here and plaster their advertising everywhere, without even bothering to change it for the demographic. Billboards with gringo's smiling drinking pop. WOO its a party! Coke, candy, and fast food! What it's all about! I mean its cheaper then the market vegatables so most families sell their vegetation and buy cheaper alternatives. Outside of all the schools are stores and stalls with nothing but candy and pop! And of course all the wrappers are thrown on the ground afterwords. Their Mouths are rotting to pieces by the age of 2 because mothers are putting pop in their children's bottles.

I love it when I walk by a hair salon and see this giant poster of a white woman from the 90's all did up.

Route number 3
More Sexy Roca's

The last climb was a 5.9. We just did half of it. People were finishing praying at this point and starting to trickle down the paths. I was climbing up and under a Roof in a crack. They started to gather at the bottom to watch. I suppose some of them haven't seen someone try to climb the mountain with gear before.

My heart just swelled today.

4:30 pm
Just heard some music start up outside in the town square I checked it out. Some freaky ass festival where everyone is dressed up like the population of workers or something haha.

There was an amazing sunset today as well.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Saturday February 12th, 2011 Santiaguita

9:19am On the road for a weekend adventure
Just stopped by the side of the road to look at the twin Volcanoes Santa Maria, and Santiaguita. We were blessed with the a shot of Santiaguita spewing out a puff of smoke! Totally Rad! So now we're continuingon our way to Takalik Abaj to see the ruins.

Got a glimpse of some rubber trees. I always thought it was all syntheticly made in a lab. But the process is like Sap.

12:16pm Takalik Abaj
Just finished he tour of the Takalib Abaj site. Took about 2 hours, and wow it was incredible. Our guide was very informative, Liz and Rita translated. The Mayans paid very close attention to west, east, south, and north. West represented Death, and East was birth. So when you died they would bury you facing west, unlessyou were a child. They faced children to the east towards life because they didn't get one. If you died and were burried facin east and you're an adult, then your family would end there, and would not continue on in the afterlife. It's unclear wether they did this on purpose as a punishement for a crime or not.

Toads, Serpents and Owls represented after life. Frogs were the main symbol for birth I believe, apparently because of the fact hat Frogs have alot of eggs. This of course was on the East side of the temple, for life. Their were 9 statues also to represent the 9 cycles of Pregnancy.

The Vegetation ther was so alien feeling. We saw wild avocado, banana's. I think I saw a fig gourd which I painted for a BG in Kratts and had no idea what it was until I googled it. I also saw a Cocoa Tree! Their was also a petting zoo. Hard to pet the animals tho cuz they were in cages.

It's incredibly hot as well. I'm feelin quite dehydrated again, and my sunscreen is all flak on me for some reason. Their was one Temple we couldn't take pictures of because still being reconstructed and I think nationoal georaphic has the rights to first photos or something? Its really interesting to see how they're attempting to reconstruct it as well as figure out what it is and what it was used for all at tthe same time. We got to walk inside it tho. They've uncovered what they believe to be a ball court, and a stone walkway that looks to connect alters to the temple as well

On our way home. My laundry is locked in the laundry place :( that cloased at 4:30. I should make Adrenalina in time to book my climb tomorrow morning tho!

The first thing you notice when you arrive at the coffee plantation (after the horrificly bumpy road for about 5 km of paint machine shakin goodness, on a road wide enough barely for our vehicle) is the vegitation. It was like being in the amazon or something.  Big Palm tree's, and bamboo.

When we got their they fed us lunch. Chicken, pickled beats, and mashed potatoes. Also we drank this wonderful juice which taste like iced tea but it was made of "Rosa do Jamyca" or habiscus flower. It was very sweet and delicious! We also (of course) got our cup of coffee made from the coffee beans grown on the plantation, which tasted great just black. A lot of Tourist come to stay on the plantation to bird watch They have over 100 different species, many of witch you can only see at certain times of day, like sunrise or sunset too.

We start off with the Zip line across the forest tho!As soon as you run off that edge and just glide over the forest, with grande palm leaves covering the ground while you twirl with endless valley's of trees created for the presence of giants.

We went for about a 40 minute walk thru the forest after doing 2 ziplines, our guide told us a lot about the vegitiation in the forest. Something called a wyaboo or Gwyabo tree can grow up to 100ft in only 12 years!

We bird watched some parakeets' for a bit. Their song was so beautiful echoing from the trees. Their was this leaf and with and interesting underside to it.. "Paulino", (our guide) wrote out his name with a capped pen. As you write the white on the back of the leaf is scraped off, revealing dark letters with the leaf colour. He also told us about some tree's and plants in the forest hat have medicinal properties, one of which can be used to create a natural parasite remover. Somehow haha, shoulda wrote it down..The forest was really incredible, wih bamboo's teetering all around us. we walked alongside this stream and a steep ridge on the otherside. We were almost completely encased by the teetering trees all growing in cooperation endlessly fighting to seal off the sky to those who dare to travel within it.

6:40pm It's on now!

Got to Adrenalina in the nick of time to book my climb tomorrow for 7 am pick up time. Just me and my hopefully english speaking instructor lol. I get a pequeno breakfast with it I'm told. and the whole day is costing my $55US. It'll just be me and the instructor too. (hopefully a cutey!)

8:00pm Wind down.
Pizza for dinner tonight, nom nom nom! With Pollo, onion and tomates, sliced not cubed. I Took over 500 pics and videos today... yikers!! Both camera's died too haha

Left Gillsepies and Tom, David, and Max were standing outside across the street. Looks like they were having a good a night haha. They rescued our laundry too!! Apparently they ran into the guy that runs the laundry place and he opened it up and gave it to them! which is just Awesome cuz both my pairs of pant's were in there and both my sweaters, AND my towel!! I had to borrow pants and a towel from Margarita and John! Johns' shirt smelled like him. I dressed it up with a scarf from karen haha. Sleep now. its 10:22pm I'm pooped and I have Climbing in 8 hours and 47 mins! EEE!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Friday February 11th, 2011 Pannemaquem

On our way to Pannemaquin! I have a massage booked for 5 pm tonight! $200 Quetzals!
Just hit the highest peak on the Pan American highway at 10 000ft.
Sitting outside of the garage I had a massage at earlier this evening, waiting for Karen to finish her massage. I was just at my first internet place. It was very frustrating trying to type out my blog on their keyboards. For multiple reasons: the keys kept sticking, commas and apostrophes and basically all the symbols are in a different spot. To use the @ symbol you have to push a secondary key. And that wasn’t even working for some reason so I had to copy and paste it from a Google search to sign in to anything! So I spent the whole time roughly looking for commas and deleting spaces that the space key would make every time it got stuck. I got about a paragraph done in 30 minutes and gave up and came to write my journal and wait for Karen. Karen still hasn’t been able to get money out, so she sent me an interact email money order, and I’ll just take money out for her. So I walked back up to the square use the ATM.
Me, Karen, and Margarita discussed traveling the coast from lake Atitlan next week. But now it’s look like we might stay in Atitlan instead of going to Antigua early since our 2nd project will be almost in side Antigua where we’re staying.
Tomorrow a small group of us are going to the Takalik Abaj Archeological Site, then to the Coffee plantation with zip lining!! Muy excited about that!
So.. Today… wow. Where to start... We arrived at the village. I took half a gravol in the car because think all the altitude changes every day were messing with me a bit.  When we got there, they lit fire crackers off, and we just walked around and met with the people. They Spoke Quiche (kee-chay) and not Spanish. But there was a woman there named Clara and a man named Miguel who were translating from Quiche to English or Quiche to Spanish to English. 

Clara spent the day translating with her baby on her back and another young daughter running around. After roaming about the village a bit, we all sat down to listen to some special thanks and some performances. There was a DJ and a sound system (2 speakers, 1 mic).
The whole village was atop a mountain basically the view was magnificent!
They built the school in memory of their son Sam Clark who died in an acceded. On the Stage was a picture of Sam on a chair with flower bouquets around it. They spoke so kindly of same and Celina as well. One of the people who spoke said that “Sam was always very kind and respectful, always ate what he was given, and that they know he’s an angel looking over the village from Heaven”. The Adornment the people have for Tom and Rita’s family is so touching.  Part of me wanted to cry for them and what they’ve done for the people. They came to this village and built stoves, and then a school, and gave them food. The people wanted a picture of Tom and Rita so that when they talked about them to local communities they could show other people who they are. I took a picture on the first day of building on the 7th for them and got it printed so they could give it to them.
The children put on a little parade. The boys wore these masks and the girls wore matching skirts/wraps. They did this dance where a few danced in a circle on the stage while one of them danced around them. Then the boys did a little something with the masks on.
There was some thanks to Tom and Rita after the dances. I never really realized just how much Tom and Rita have really helped this village. Because they’re so isolated from any real towns and with no vehicle to get to them, when the mudslides hit in May, all their crops were destroyed and washed out, and they were simply helpless. If they had any Money they couldn’t even get to a store to buy some food with it. Tom and Rita used money out of the stove fund to buy food for them.
After finishing our butchering of “Oh Canada”, and “Alouette”, we handed out mini Canadian flags and snowflakes cut out of paper, and then we were presented with handmade cloths, each unique and done by someone who received a stove. Tom and Rita emphasized to us the fact that they requested the villagers not do anything for us. But we’ve found that people, tho they have nothing really, still will try to offer us food or a drink to show their gratitude. Which can be a good thing too because it shows that they aren’t just expecting handouts, and that if they could pay they would. Which does happen with some of the people at times, especially children who don’t know the value of money and its impact on life yet.
After all the thanks and dance performances we had lunch. During the performances that I was at war with the gravol. My eye lids were shaking quite heavily and I felt really bad about any yawns I had. It just completely drained and dehydrated me. For lunch they made us Beans, with a square of “Fresca Queso”, (unpasteurized) in them and Tomalies wrapped in a big leaf! Also they made this drink which tasted like hot sugar water, most likely what it was, made with “Agua Purifico”(purified water). They poured ours into cups but the villagers had theirs in plastic bags with a small hole in them to drink from. We also had utensils with our food and the villagers used their hands. Which with the beans can be a little tricky. But that’s why the right is for eating and the left is for wiping.
Liz brought bread and maple syrup for desert for everyone.  At this time I went around and took pictures. I wandered all over the hill top village. I also had mini seniorita stocker for a while during this. I came across a mango tree on my walk about, very cool to see.
 The moment that changed this trip for me was an hour later or so when members of the group were looking at handmade fabrics to buy from the villagers, and Tom and Rita were conversing with a few of them.
A woman came up to Tom and Rita and thanked them in advance for the wheelchair that was coming soon. She said, (thru a translator) “I had my baby, and I carried him for 12 years (on her back in a sling), and now I can rest”. That was it. I was done. 
When you think about malnutrition and impoverished areas, you think, Skinny children, with growth and vitamin deficiencies. I never personally thought about those children who are born with disabilities. Like this woman’s child who was born with Down syndrome. His disability made it impossible for him to walk or even communicate. I’ve seen some women carry their children till their 2 or so. But 12. Wow. I think when I thought about people with disabilities, I associated it with our society because of all the garbage we put into our bodies, and all the vaccinations and stuff. The only stats I could find say that in the USA alone there are 6 million adults with learning disabilities. I feel like there is still not as large a disabled public here as there is in North America. But the population is smaller as well. I’ve seen some people on the street who have obvious disabilities, and others that are just decaying from Cusha (homemade liquour).
 On our way they stopped us and ask to meet with us. They requested that we help them get some land for a field for recreation activity during school. This brought up a lot of issues. Apparently the Church owns a lot of the land in Guatemala. So they asked for about 1200 dollars (US) to buy some land from the church. Which brought up a whole string of debates about why does the church own the land, how is that possible. John got quite agitated with this information, because. It’s Land! And it’s their land at that! He said they should get mad! Fight for their land! Which was like the movie Avatar all over again (ie. The historical repetition of what happened to the Native Americans).  This people are very much being abused and fooled because of their ignorance in real time though by corporations like Coke, Pepsi, Fast food chains like McDonalds, Dominos, and Burger King. The Candy Companies! It’s so sickening to see. Every day when go to build stoves we pass by a school down the road. And outside the school there is just stall after stall of candy and pop. When we came here we were asked to not give out candy because of all the dental problems. I mean people are putting pop in baby bottles for their kids! It’s amazing! But I digress…

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Thursday,February 10th, 2011.

7:20pm Last night I had a dream we went thru the jungle slums singing Bruno Mars. Then I woke up and listened to some on my Ipod while I got ready for work.
Today was our last day of stove building this week. Tomorrow we’re headed to Pannemaquim to the Sam Clarke School.  It’s about an hour or 2 drive up in the mountains again. So it’ll be cool in the morning and muy caliento in the afternoon. My neck burn  from yesterday was burning this morning when I woke up. I also decided to wake up late on purpose today because I haven’t been sleeping thru the night. I decided to drink a little more to kinda konk me out ahah see if that helped. But I woke up with a hydrant full of pee. I really debated on not going because I just felt really drained. But Gotta keep on keepin on, there’s a lot more people worse off. I’m sure the Kiche women don’t feel like lugging laundry down to the stream to hand scrub it with babies on their backs. But they do it because it must be done. So I’ll drag my pathetic spoiled ass outa bed. I also woke up when I got bit by a bed bug I think….yep…  Def have the bed bugs. Which is BS!! Cuz I got the sleeping bag, and the vinyle sheet too!! Grr! I have ankle bites, 3 randomly above my ass crack and a few around my waste. It’s the only thing that’s happened health wise to date tho. So that’s good.  The only pill I’ve taken was a Reactine on the first day of stove building for the dust, and I didn’t have to take another one yet.
We had four people who fell ill today and skipped work. So my team only had 3 people plus the mason Don Juan Hernandez! Muy Calar! Haha. We were right behind the house I worked at yesterday. So I gave him the pictures at the end of the day today. He asked me to take a picture of some other families to get printed as well. But it was getting to the point where everyone who got pictures wanted more and more, Rita warned us about this, so I simnply told him(By I simply Told him I mean Rita simply told him) That I didn’t know if I’d be back or not and I don’t think they understand that it costs Quetzals to print them.
We finished our stove very early today around 2pm, which was surprising with less people,  so Don Juan went to help the other groups finish. He went over to a house from yesterday to finish up the chimney part  as well earlier in the day before lunch! Haha
The Family we had didn’t love getting their pictures taken. So I didn’t get a lot of footage , but Andre juggled with one of the girls for a while and even went around to the other houses and juggled for them too. I took some pictures of the kind of living conditions they had. At all the houses we visit, theirs always garbage all over the place, and dogs and cat who are suffering from malnutrition, and abuse running around losing their hair. That’s one of the hardest things to see every day here, all the stray animals in the streets. The pollution usually consists of Pop bottles, like coke and pepsi. Its cheaper to drink pop then the unsafe water. But all the families we visit are lucky enough to have a sink with well water at the very least. And now a stove!
There was a funny incident when I tried to use the bano at the house today.  As I approached it, a dog appeared as I turned the corner and (almost) scared the piss right outa me. But it was barking mostly at this little puppy who was on approach as well. One of the elder women of the house came over and helped silence the dogs so I could do my business. This was one of the hardest bano’s to go in to date. A real thigh burner to squat in this one! I had usually used the one we had near the house we ate lunch in everyday (our packed lunch).
I’ve noticed the Animals here react differently to same calls and actions we give ours back home. They for the most part are fearful of humans here, and don’t come at all for play, because well, they’ve never played. Andre had the cat playing with a string for a bit. Cat’s care even less here about humans then they do back home. Something I thought was impossible. I mean. Cats care back home sure. When they want it. Not usually when we want to give them attention. Can’t really get too close to any of the animals here, they all run off. Tho I don’t blame them. Kids kick them, and adults spit on them. Sensless torture to show their dominance.  I saw 2 dogs “Making Whoopy” in the street of Xela yesterday. Something I can honestly say I haven’t seen thus far. Glad I got to see it in Central America first? But the puppies rarely live to be full grown, theres just no food for them.
Google Flaming Banana dish!
I hung out with the village kids for a while today before we left. Andre Juggled some more with them.  The boys I met on Day 1 were all hassling me for more pictures, I said, “No Tengo", which meants I don’t have any, or just “No Seniors”, with my trademark finger pointed scoldly.
When we got to the downtown thanks to our driver, mason Marvin, me and Liz hopped out and went to Adrenalina tours (they picked us up in Guatemala city and also in Antigua to go to Xela) to enquire about a coupel day trips on the weekend. On Saturday we want to go to Takalik Abaj Archeological Site (currently in active Escavation still( and then to a coffee plantation with a zip line! Only $60 American for the day and it comes with a lunch. On Sunday a bunch of the woman want to tour the churches, but I want to go rock climbing! Looks like I’ll be the only one doing it tho. I just wanna say I climbed a mountain in Guatemala. They’ll have all the gear.
Tonight is the zombie wedding with Quetzal Trekkers. They are located in our hostel. Little sleep expected.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Wed, Feb 9th,2011 "Yo no Casada"

Jim with the Father 2 sons and a daughter
John. The hippy traveling poem writer
 Stove #3 finished! I learned so many words each day, it´s so hard to remember them all. I worked with Marg, and John again today and Jim who arrive yesturday (Liz too) joined our group as well. Our mason was Marvin! He was Muy Bueno. Very fast and efficient and really paid attention to details.

The family we were with today had 6 kids! We had our chimney up by lunch. It was incredible.

Since everyone is here in the GSP group finally, we took a group picture after breakfast, and at lunch as well.

Renny cutting some delicious pound
cake up for us
It was Renny´s birthday today, so we had a pound cake and sang happy birthday in french. After lunch, me and Karen went to hand out the photos we printed and some other gifts. This morning I went to the store across the street to see if they had paper notebooks to hand out with the pencil´s I had. But we found 2 huge bags of pequeno(small) balls instead. So Phil got those and we gave 5 out with the photos from where we were on Day 1 of stove building.With hair ties, sharpeners, and erasers too.

And now for my string of awkward photos with the people.
Marg bought some plasticine so we gave that to the boy. Reinaldo who was making pyramids with the Mortar and trowel. They were all just grabbing at what we had. I held it up high to fend them off, but that didn´t deter them much haha. They were very grabby with the photos as well, and most of them ended up getting mangled a bit. But they were so happy to get them.

 I was taking pics of the family we were with today and Padre requested a picture copy of his family too. So I´ll get some more printed for him too after work.
"Yo no Casada"  is, I´m not married..
"Yo no Quiero a casar", is I don´t want to be married.. Which is a very important one to know so they dont try to fix me up with their sons after they see that i´m 23 and not married with babies yet haha.

Me and Marg played football with some garbage today, and tried to get the male and femail children involved too. Then they brought out their ball. which the father had to fill up by blowing into it occassionally. The Padre wet the ground so it wasn´t so dusty to play on. They had a make'shift goal up, with 2 sticks and a strip of fabric.

I was watching 2 of the daughters washing clothes today, and it was gallo soap (which is the same name as the beer we usually order..).

Where we built the stove in the house was all black on the walls and there was a roof hole above it that was closeable. Hard to imagine having an open fire in your kitchen that smoke´s that much.
When we finally got into the van to get the gifts for the family, Marg and I went back to give them tooth brushes/toothpaste, some clay, a skipping rope, and a brand new soccer ball!! there was a woman there who didn´t live there who asked us if she was getting a stove a too (which took longer then I´d like to admit to figure out), but odds were if she didn´t know yet then she wasn´t getting one, as they have the supplies there waiting a bit in advance. But she could still get one at a later time.

Me and Max went on a tour of Xela after completing our mission for Helado! (Ice cream) We came across this big cemetary, but didn´t wander too far in because we thought they were closing soon. and Tom got locked in one year haha. We wandered into the bussling downtown district where it´s just non stop traffic and people. The car fumes eventually started making me feel sick (a lot of cars run on deisel here). So we wandered back in the direction of the hostel. I had Indian for Dinner and got the only non picante (spicey) dish. Or so I thought... I ended up ordered an extra nan bread for 8 quetzal ($1).