Thursday, July 29, 2010

Kids Chasing Pigs

Just came across these photos from a few months ago. Now remind me again -- why do we let the Montessori kids chase after pigs? Hahahaha.

They're So Cute

I'm having SUCH an I-love-these-kids week. Look how cute this card is that Marta gave me yesterday. :)

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

They Dressed Me Up in Traje

I am SOOOOOOO mad I didn't bring my camera to the section last night. I could have had some great photos.

Last night when I got to the section, their living room was full of colorful cortes (woven skirts), huipiles (embroidered-ish tops), and fajas (woven belts) -- the traditional traje (dress) of Guatemalan women. I'd barely gotten through the door when the girls started yelling, "Wear this one! Try the yellow! No the pink! Put it on right now!"

Fifteen minutes later, after a lot of tugging and pulling and wrapping and making sure we could still breathe, the girls and I were all walking around in the gorgeous traje. This traditional dress is unique to Guatemala, and every Guatemalan village tends to have its own style of weaving the clothing. You can look at a Guatemalan woman and know exactly where she's from, just by noticing the style or color of her corte. A statement of cultural, local, and personal identity, it's pretty cool.

The girls kept commenting how funny it was to see a white person in the corte, but they were also pretty cute, repeating over and over again, "¡Te miras bonita!" You look pretty. 

Sorry, no photos to show you, but just take my word for it: they all looked so cute dressed up. If you'd like a visual though, here are the results from a handy Google image search.

I'm A GIRLS' HOUSE Volunteer

We volunteers laugh, because after a few months here it becomes blatantly obvious that there are Girls' House volunteers and Boys' House volunteers. If you're the volunteer for a section of girls, you know you could never survive in a section of boys. And if your section of kids are boys, you talk about how you wouldn't have a clue how to entertain a bunch of little girls.

Maybe it's fate that you end up with your section, or maybe your section shapes who you become while you're here. Either way, you realize you're exactly cut out for the group you're with, and you wouldn't want it any other way.

I am a Girls' House volunteer, through and through. Last night, they dressed me up in beautiful traje (traditional Guatemalan dress), doodled our names on my notebook, and spent 30 minutes talking about shaving our legs and commenting on how prickly mine were.

Dress-up, doodling, and shaving your legs. Yep, girls' house it is. :)

Monday, July 26, 2010

Celeste N. Sánchez López Wrote On Your Wall

"Thank you again for the polvorosas. I didn't know what to do when I got to the States and they asked me if I had any food with me. I wasn't sure if I should "declare" the polvorosas. You should have seen me trying to figure out if I should tell the immigration officer that I had "dusty cookies" in my backpack."

Posted 13 hours ago

Weekend in Xela!

I scored a major FAIL on taking photos this weekend -- or really doing even a one of the touristy things in the city of Xela -- but what can I say, the weekend didn't turn out to be at all what I expected. But, in a good way.

When Jess and I left Friday afternoon for Xela (officially known as Quetzaltenango but called Xela -- the Mayan name used before the Spanish came and took over -- by those who truly know and love it), we'd been expecting a quiet weekend relaxing and just sort of chilling by ourselves. While Xela is a cool town, there isn't necessarily much to do there. The Fuentes Georginas hot springs used to be the biggest attraction, but that was before Tropical Storm Agatha came along and closed them to the public indefinitely. Womp womp.

Xela now remains a university town (but a big one; it's the second-biggest city in Guatemala after the capital) tucked up in the moutains, with chilly weather and strangely non-Guatemalan architecture (the central park was styled after Greece and Rome, with columns flanking either end and a pretty rotunda in the middle). The biggest plan Jess and I had for the weekend was going to be sipping McFlurries while reading in the park.

Well, plans changed! When we got to our hostel and found our dorm room, we noticed that we'd be sharing the room with two other people who'd already dropped off their stuff. Five seconds later, in walk Jenny and Sarah!

Jenny and Sarah were two of the NPH volunteers who had just left on Tuesday. Last we heard, they'd been headed to Nicaragua for some post-NPH traveling. However, due to some visa issues and crossing the border issues (love to hate Guatemalan immigration services), their plans changed and they ended up in Xela! Guatemala continues to be such a small place.

Anyway, that changed all our weekend plans. We all went out together on Friday night, met up with Jenny's friends who lived in Xela, and didn't make it home to the hostel until around 4 a.m. Consequently, we slept most of the next day, scrapped the McFlurries and books in the park idea, and instead took the afternoon to visit Xela's big market and famous bakery, XelaPan. We met up with Jenny's friend from the night before, grabbed late-afternoon coffees in the park, and oohed and ahhed over the adorable puppy he had brought along (seriously, cutest dog EVER). We met up again for quick drinks later that night and then called it an early night.

And THEN, on Sunday, instead of taking a series of uncomfortable chicken buses back home, Jenny's friend had set us up with a friend of his who was leaving Xela and passing Parramos on his way back to the capital. Gracias to all these friend connections, Jess and I enjoyed a cushy ride in an air-conditioned car that took half the time to get us back as the chicken buses would have.

So, fail on photos to document the weekend, but score on transportation back home and a few new friends. Not at all what we'd been expecting in Xela, but an awesome weekend nontheless!

Friday, July 23, 2010

The Last 10 Minutes

$%$# #*&%! Various Spanish swear words. That's what Letizia heard coming from my room a few weekends ago. That, followed by, "IT WON'T LET ME WATCH THE LAST 10 MINUTES! $%$#, #*&%, various Spanish swear words."

Letizia thought something was seriously wrong -- something horrible and grave and life-altering. And she was right. The bootleg copy of Avatar that I'd been watching cut out at the last 10 minutes.

Before you say it, I know: very mature, Carrie. But, if you're saying that, I bet you haven't seen Avatar, so hah.

Anyway, after completing my full-out temper tantrum that morning, I pouted for a few hours and then searched all the other volunteer houses to see if someone else had a copy of the movie. Nooo luck. Gahhhhh. I endured two long weeks of having no clue how the movie ended, and the rest of the girls in my house spent those two long weeks making fun of me for it. Thanks, guys.

Well FINALLY, on Sunday, I splurged, coughed up the 15 Q ($1.87), and bought another bootleg Avatar DVD in the market in Antigua. I closed my eyes and made Leeah confirm on the vender's TV that the ending, in fact, worked, and then I carefully placed the disk in my purse for the trip home. Uh uh, I wasn't taking any chances.

And yes, since you're dying to know, it worked! Leeah, Katie, and I watched the movie this week, and my life is now complete with the knowledge of what happened during those last 10 minutes. Best 15 Q I ever spent.

Story Update 17

A Mid-Year Break - This year, NPHG instituted a mid-year school break so that children could visit their families for one week.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Oh, Just Your Typical Saturday Morning

More ridiculous videos. We might need to get real lives.

In an Arts and Recreation workshop with Sarah, the kids put together this awesome, real music video.

Ayer La Vi from Carrie Daut on Vimeo.

Last Saturday morning, while still lounging in our pajamas, we made our own version.

Ayer La Vi -- Katie and Carrie from Carrie Daut on Vimeo.

We're Becoming More and More Like the Kids

We've been pretty sad these past few days, so here are a few things that have made us laugh out loud. :)

Inspired by this,

We did this: 

The Box from Carrie Daut on Vimeo.

Monday, July 19, 2010

The Last Departmental Lunch :(

 And by "departmental," I mean Casa Cabrona. :)

Elotes Locos!

Friday night, the leaving volunteers threw a Despedida extravaganza. They organized a giant bonfire (thank goodness the rain was on our side and held out!) and elotes locos for everyone.

Elotes locos, you ask?

They're awesome, can be found all over the streets of Guatemala during corn season, and Friday night's despedida was the first time I'd had one. I'm now hooked.

Elotes locos are just corn on the cob -- but messier and delicious-er. The bright yellow corn is shucked and then cooked, either grilled or boiled. Then you set out the toppings -- mayonnaise, ketchup, chile, and cheese -- and go crazy. You can jab a wooden stick into one end to seem a little more proper while eating it, but there's really no avoiding the fact that your hands and face will be covered in elote loco within seconds.  Trust me though, it's well worth the mess.

I'm telling you, seriously drool-wrothy. YUM.

Victor and the fire, haha


Katherine and Celeste with their elotes!

They're ridiculous.

Yohana and Celeste -- and elotes locos!!

So much elote.

Leeah and I snag our own elotes locos. ...My hand is awkward...

Elotes locos with the girls.

They really wanted a picture of me eating my first elote loco.

Super excited photo!

Me and Juana.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Story Update 16

Oscar - A testament to the success of NPHG's new scholarship program.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Too Soon, Too Soon

It's only July, yet:

1. The NPH website is advertising for the next person to take over my job starting in January 2011.
2. I received an email yesterday from the NPH International Information team (my sort-of bosses when it comes to website content) wanting to know if I would be staying longer as Guatemala's Home Correspondent or heading back Stateside come January.

Is the one-year mark really this close???

Oh, the Places I this Job

It's a regular event for the thought "Never in a million years would I have thought I'd be doing this" to cross my mind here at NPH Guatemala. Here's the latest example.

Earlier this week, I spent some quality time with the one hundred twenty-something pigs that NPH owns. And I sort of fell in love with the little cuties.

Starting in July, I've taken on another job here at the house: Proyectos. The volunteer who was working in Proyectos left in June, and I ended up taking over from her. The Proyectos department creates projects that the house is in need of (curtains for the kids' rooms, English supplies, a new pick-up truck), puts together descriptions, photos, and cost estimates, and then connects the projects with NPH fundraising offices all around the world in order to find someone who wants to fund them. It's a cool way to donate to a specific interest, donate only as much as you want, and know exactly where your money is going.

The language of NPH International is English, so all Proyectos have to be presented in English, which is where I come in. In addition to random other Proyecto assistance, I'm the go-to girl for writing up Proyectos that will convince you we're really in need of the donation without making you vomit at any over-the-top sappiness. It's a fine line I walk, friends.

And this week, we're working on a project to build new pig pens! Ismar and I took a stroll over to the pig pens to snap some photos and get some Proyecto info, and I ended up being the one squealing about how cute some of these piglets were. A-dorable.

Seriously, the things I do here.

Oops. But Still Here.

So yeah, I'm pretty behind on blogging this week. I assure you though, I am still alive and kicking and happy and busy.

Yes, I have still been sitting at my office computer pretty much all day every day this week, so there's really no good excuse there for not signing into Blogger and typing a little something up. Hmm. I guess the only excuse I  have right now is: July is just weird.

July begins. Eleven new volunteers get here. It's a smack in the face that this whole old-people-leaving-new-people-coming thing is actually real. When the old people leave in a matter of days, the house isn't going to be the same without them. The section isn't going to be the same without them. Sitting at my office desk awaiting daily stop-in-and-say-hi's isn't going to be the same without them. I have absolutely no doubt that the next six months with a new group will be amazing in their own way, but right now I can't stop thinking about how they won't be the same.

When you're here, your NPH world becomes small and close-knit and comfortable. You live each and every day, ups and downs, with about 20 other volunteers who are all in your same boat, and that's a pretty small boat. So when the mid-year point comes along and replaces half of them, you wonder (against what common sense and a long history of volunteer groups tell you) how your NPH world can even possibly survive that kind of change. I know, it's stupid. But in the moment, we feel what we feel. 

So yeah, in all of this mess, the blog has been caught in the crossfire. But when every moment of the day feels like a "last something as we know it," I'd rather be putting a little less obsessive energy into tending to my blog and a little more obsessive energy into just being here. :)

Monday, July 12, 2010

Lake Again

You can't really get enough of Lake Atitlan. For beautiful views (a.k.a. swimming underneath volcanoes), delicous food (a.k.a. Guajimbo's and the caramel cappuccinos at Cafe Mocha), and just all-out relaxation (a.k.a. a town full of very chill hippies), there's no better place in Guatemala.

Sam, Maria, and I spent the weekend at the lake again (I think this was my fourth time at the lake this year?) visiting our good friend Cheryl for her last weekend in Guatemala. She's about to move to Nicaragua -- but don't worry, we'll be visiting her there too later this fall. :)


Over and over again, people claim that Lake Atitlan is the most beautiful lake in the world. Looks about right, doesn't it?

Friday, July 9, 2010

Story Update 15

Pequeños Bring Relief to Communities of Volcano Pacaya - NPH Guatemala's student leaders provide help after a destructive explosion.

Quinceañeras 2010 - Sixteen young ladies from NPH Guatemala celebrated their fifteenth birthday, or Quinceañera.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

A Moment Shared Over Hair

Last night at dinner, Irma from my section came up to me and whispered, "Carrie, I want to know how to do my hair like you."

(Important hair details: your basic middle section pulled back, bobby pinned, and poofed just the slightest bit. Not looking especially good yesterday either, just FYI.)

"Ok, I'll teach you when we're back in the section after dinner. Sound good?"

"Yes. But make sure you only teach me, because everyone else is going to want to copy it."

After dinner in the section, Irma pulls me aside when no one is looking, drags me into the bathroom and pulls me down to the mirrors at the farthest end -- as far away as possible from everyone else hahaha.

"Alright Irma, grab a section of your hair, put the bobby pins in so that they make an X, and then poof it up just a little piece at a time until you think it looks good. Got it?"

"YES! I can't wait to wear my hair like this to school!"


Clases de Boxilates

Yes, I am really doing this. Oh emmeh heh. (Let's see if you catch that one.)


Boxilates Classes!

What: Exercise class (kickboxing + Pilates)
When: Tuesdays and Thursdays. We meet at 5:50 a.m. and we end at 6:30 a.m.
Where: We meet in front of Casa 4 and we have class in Sharon's workshop (in the Girls' House)
Who: All the (girl) volunteers are invited! (Sorry boys, you're not allowed to go in the Girls' House). And Carrie teaches the classes.
Why: Why not?

We start tomorrow!

I know, you don't have to tell me. 5:50 a.m.? I am LOCA. :)

I'm also still working to get some classes going for the older girls here (which yes, I have been talking about for the past six months), so stay tuned for updates about that!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Orientation Round II

This week, the new volunteers have their Semana de Orientación. Known at some moments as the week from hell, Orientation Week is a jam packed, super busy, exhausting week of introducing newbies to every single piece of NPH. It's all good information to know, but Lord is it a tiring six days.

In proper former William & Mary OA fashion, I'm helping out during this week's Orientation too. I expected the goofy icebreakers, and I expected to hear myself answering their questions with a 20-minute long schpeel (how do you spell that?) since I do so love to blabber on, but there were a few things I wasn't quite ready for.

First of all, I didn't think Orientation would be as exhausting the second time around, especially from the other side. Well, it is. I was there all yesterday morning and then could barely keep myself awake in the office yesterday afternoon. Thank goodness I have today off from Orientation duty -- my 9.5-hour office work day feels like a much-needed rest!

I also wasn't really prepared for Orientation to be emotionally exhausting the second time around. When you first get here, you hear all about your job expectations, and how you should act around the kids, and how you need to speak Spanish all the time, and how you need to respect the culture here and be patient with it instead of complaining about it and trying to change it. Every second of every day during Orientation, you're constantly freaking out and thinking "Can I do this? Can I do a good job at this?"

Now, after sitting through another Orientation a full six months later, being reminded of what my expectations are, how I should be acting around the kids, that I should be speaking Spanish all the time, and how I should be patiently respecting Guatemalan culture instead of complaining about it, I can't help but be overwhelmed this time with "Am I doing this year right? Am I doing a good job at this?"

It makes you second-guess yourself -- Am I even a good volunteer?, which sucks. But, it also makes you look at your first six months, see if they're what you expected/hoped/are proud of, and then take the last six months and do them even better -- whatever that ends up meaning. So, despite the whole utterly exhausting part, I guess that makes Orientation Round II pretty worth it in the end.

Young Love

Oscar and Victor, both about 17 years old, just walked into my office.

Oscar: "Hey Carrie, didn't you take a picture of me and Sindy during the Quinceañeras?"

Me: "Um, I have about 900 photos from the day of Quinceañeras. It's possible?"

Oscar: "Can you look? Please?"

Fifteen minutes of sorting through photo files later...

Me: "I don't see it. Maybe it came from someone else's camera?"

Oscar: "Well, then can I just look at some pictures of Sindy by herself?"

Me: "Um?"

The two boys practically climb over me to get a better view of my computer screen.

Oscar: (Sighs) "She is soooooo pretty. Let me see that one. And that one. Ooooh, and that one."

HAHAHAHAHAHAHA. I want to be 17 again. :)

Friday, July 2, 2010

Story Update 14

Thinking About University - Twenty of NPH Guatemala's high school and año de servicio students recently visited the Universidad Rafael Landivar.

A Fiesta for Everyone! - Mission Fiesta, a volunteer group based in the United States, visited NPH Guatemala once again this year to throw a huge birthday fiesta for our children.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

The Books

It's starting. The NPH Guatemala books. I wrote in my first one last night. This is scary, people!

After you've been at NPH Guatemala for six months, you officially receive your very own book. It's one of those cute, colorful, pattern-covered ones with Guatemala scribbled in the bottom right-hand corner that you see all over the markets. It's sort of an unofficial gift from the house that says "Congratulations. You've made it six months. Here's your book. You're officially one of us."

And while the books can be found scattered throughout the houses year-round, they're really only used twice a year: in January and July when old volunteers leave.

In January and July, the books become photo albums, shout-out boards, and message centers. All the leaving volunteers write in the books of those staying, and those staying write in the books of those leaving. By the time your time is up at NPHG, you'll have a book packed with pictures, drawings, notes, and jokes  -- all the best memories from your year (or more) here.

So, I officially had my first book-writing moment last night -- Ellen leaves NPHG on Friday. This. Is. Really. Happening.