Sunday, October 31, 2010

Early Morning Departure

Time now: 11:30 p.m.

Time the transport is picking me up: 2:30 a.m.

Three hours before leaving, and I'm blogging instead of sleeping. Oops. Well, I figure I'll have plenty of time to sleep on tomorrow's 15-hour bus ride. A la gran puchica.

I'm heading off to the NPH Nicaragua house for this year's Home Correspondent & Proyectos workshop hosted by NPH International! I'm really excited about the workshop -- less excited about this bus ride.

I get back in town Saturday night, so be on the lookout for updates soon after that. Oh, and I owe you a post about yesterday's hike up Volcano Pacaya! :)

Orale pues. Nos vemos!

Flying Barriletes

Barriletes. They're everywhere right now in Guatemala.

They're kites! :)

In celebration of Día de los Santos, or All Saints' Day, on November 1, the entire country of Guatemala has been breaking out giant, colorful kites. Lately, you can find them in every store, in every roadside tienda, and everywhere you look in the air. It's so fun!

Tomorrow on All Saints' Day, a Guatemalan national holiday, herds and herds of people will make their way to the famous cemeteries at Sumpango and Santiago Sacatepequez to honor the dead, eat, drink, and fly barriletes, and on this day, the barriletes are said to be windows of communication with loved ones who have passed. The famous kites at Sumpango and Sacatepequez are giant -- they can be more than a dozen meters in diameter -- and the most intricate ones take over two months to construct.

Unfortunately, I'll be on a bus all day tomorrow (more on that in a minute) missing out on the Día de los Santos party, but today at the NPHG home, we had our own mini barrilete showcase! Each section of kids has been busy making their own colorful kites, and today they flew them over the campo (soccer field). Check it out!

The Class of 2010!

On Friday, NPH Guatemala celebrated the graduation of our Montessori kindergarteners, our 6th graders, our 9th graders, and our high schoolers.

It was an adorable day of hats and gowns -- and big big big smiles. The kids were pumped, and we felt like proud parents. :)

Congrats, grads! We can't believe you'll be one grade older next year!

 My 6th grade graduates.
Me with my little graduates. :)
 Congrats, Irma!
 Escuela = School.
 Quite possibly my favorite brother-sister pair ever.
Quite possibly my favorite sister pair ever.
Leeah, Katie, and me -- representing the house well. :)
Congrats, Abner!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Story Update 24

Special Therapies Offered in Our Home - A look at three different therapy programs offered to our children with extra-special needs.

Día del Niño - Celebrating International Children's Day with a special day out for pequeños.

The Talleres - Six vocational workshops train our students in a trade of their choice.

Kimberli - A child who has made NPHG her new home this year.

Katie Dowd - (USA) Academic Guidance Counselor ---> Read Katie's volunteer testimonial!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Just Your Typical Tuesday Evening

Leeah is reading The Hunger Games aloud to Katie. Since Leeah's reading aloud, Katie's eyes can focus on making guisquil bread muffins (like zucchini bread but made with this popular Central American veggie). I'm annoying them both by sneakily taking a video.

We spend way too much time together.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The NPH Site Gets a Makeover!

NPH International has just launched its new website!

It's way prettier, and it brings way more stories and photos to the front page.

Check it out here!

Monday, October 25, 2010

I'm a Tea Drinker Now

A lot can change in a year. Here's an extremely life-altering example:

I drink tea now.

I never drank tea in the States, like ever. But Guatemalans are really into their tea. And so is my house.

We drink tea in the morning, tea after lunch, tea at night while watching Entourage.

Now, it's definitely not great tea -- we're talking the Lipton 3-packs of black tea, hibiscus, and chamomile (a.k.a. "little apples" -- ask me about it later) -- but nonetheless, they are really into it here.

So there you have it. Making crazy changes in my life, one cup at a a time.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Entourage: Our Newest Obsession

I've gotten really into TV series this year. Friends, Dexter, Glee, Sex and the City. You name it, we've probably purchased a bootleg copy of it in the market and then glued ourselves to the TV or computer screen.

The newest obsession among Katie, Leeah, and myself is Entourage. Yes, I know it's old, but being too cheap to go out much at night provides you with lots of time to catch up on things you might have missed the first time around.

We watched all of Season 1 one day earlier this week, and last night we made it through the first 8 episodes of Season 2. Huge thanks go out to Jess who happens to have all 6 seasons randomly saved on her external hard drive. Woohoo!

We now talk about Entourage all day, incorporate Entourage into our dreams at night, and basically have no lives. Which is why, this is the position we find ourselves in practically all the time now:

I know. We're just really cool.

A Full Moon = Crazy Kiddos

Everyone swears that when there's a full moon out, the kids here are crazier than normal. This was last night. Hmmm, should we be nervous? :)

Saribel's Despedida

Among my section of Fatima girls, no despedida (goodbye sendoff) at NPH Guatemala would be complete without proper dressing up and making fun of other NPHG employees. See photo above.

This week, our section hosted a despedida for Saribel. :( Sari grew up in the NPHG house and has been working her second año de servicio (year of service following high school) as a tía (caretaker) in my section of girls. She's 22 and awesome, and it's been so much fun having a friend my age to work with/talk with/hang out with when I visit the section. She has now officially completed her full year working as a tía for the girls, and she's set to start university (to study archaeology) in January.

She and I spent all of Tuesday afternoon helping her study for her English subject university exam. A) It was impossible. I don't think 90% of native-English speakers could have gotten these grammar questions right. And B) Saribel's not planning on studying English in college. She and I both are super confused as to why that crazy exam was even required in the first place. Ohhhh well.

I'm really sad she won't be working in the section anymore (how am I going to survive three weeks of tía duty in December without her????), but I'm really really excited to hear all about her starting university. Éxitos, Saribel!

Bonfire with the Girls

School is out, so fun is in! Tuesday night, the girls in the section had their very own bonfire. Thanks for the invite, niñas! :)

Turning our tortillas into tostadas. Pretty sweet bonfire, in my opinion.
 They're crazy.
 Esme and Fide!
Oh hey, Katherine.

Sindy, Marta, and I are back there somewhere!

Casa Cabrona Does San Pedro

Blog updates are back!

So last weekend, Katie, Leeah, and I (you can call us Casa Cabrona) took a trip to San Pedro on beautiful Lake Atitlan! From Saturday morning to Monday afternoon, we personified LAZY. We ate, read, napped, read, ate, read, napped, and watched two Colin Farrell movies back-to-back. Oh, and we kayaked to San Marcos (and then back again trying to out-kayak an impending storm)!

It was a great weekend, in a great place, with great weather, and with great company. Here's to Casa Cabrona fitting in one last wonderful weekend trip before Katie and Leeah (sniffle, sniffle) leave NPHG in just a few weeks. :(

 San Pedro!
 Falafel lunch at Shanti Shanti! YUM!
 Our $5.40 a night hotel. Love you, Guatemala.
 Something was wrong with this hammock.
 Time to kayak!
 Hi, Katie!
 Here we go!
 Leeah and Katie in front of Volcán San Pedro.
 Me and Katie!
 Such a pretty lake.
Thanks for the lovely weekend, San Pedro. :)

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Reason #85746843 I Belong with a Section of Preteens

7:55 p.m. on a Monday night

Me: Sorry guys, I have to go. All the volunteers have a meeting at 8 p.m. to plan this weekend's Kermes.

Section of girls: Aww, but you're leaving right in the middle of Camp Rock 2!

Me: I know, I'm bummed too. Will you guys tell me what happens when I see you tomorrow?

Girls: Of course!

Me thinking in my head as I leave the section: Hmm, or maybe I could ask them to borrow it.


Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Out and About Once Again

Weekend away. Two days here. Running off again tomorrow. In my life, that sounds about right.

Tomorrow morning, all the volunteers are leaving for a 3-day volunteer workshop about 20 minutes away. (Between this and Earth Lodge, we're having lots of together time this week.) The workshop is supposed to be a chance for us to step away from our crazy lives of work, kids, sleep, repeat (oh God, I sound like a parent) and reflect on the volunteer program at NPH Guatemala.

I'm not exactly sure what to expect. I've heard that last year's workshop got slightly out of hand when it came to what people were using their campaigning energy on: "Our showers aren't hot enough! I'm too busy! I don't like the food!" That isn't exactly the point of this whole thing. Believe me, we have no trouble complaining about those things from the comfort of our own living rooms, hah.

The 3-day workshop is meant to have a somewhat bigger focus. Are we serving a useful purpose at NPH Guatemala? What is that purpose? If I'm kind of just taking up space, how can we change that?

I for one think the volunteer program here is valuable and is making a difference, but not everyone out there agrees. Some NPH homes do not accept international volunteers, period. So, this workshop is our chance to prove that, in Guatemala at least, we do function better with an international volunteer program. It's our chance to prove that the 13 months (or more) each one of us spent here wasn't just wasted time.

Anywho, here's hoping the next 3 days go well. If all else fails, Katie, Leeah, and I bought ourselves the first season of Entourage in the market last weekend. If we're not having fun in the workshop, at least we're bringing eight 50-minute episodes of fun with us! Then, after the workshop ends Friday night, we're thinking the plan is to head out Saturday morning for a weekend at Lake Atitlan! Woohoo!

Entonces, see ya next week!

Hello, Sunshine!

Important announcement:

Rainy season is officially OVER!

A couple weeks ago, I blogged about how horrible, terrible, no-good, very-bad the weather was. Well, it appears that was the 2010 rainy season's way of going out with a bang. Because as soon as that gross rainy phase ended... has been GORGEOUS every single day since!

I may not have crimson-colored leaves in my life this October, but nontheless, I am loving this Guatemalan weather!

Monday, October 11, 2010

It's Sort of Difficult to Play Catchphrase...

...when you're playing in English with non-native English speakers.

"Ok, this is a place you go to buy things, like a tienda, when you're going to be working out a lot or something."

"We have no idea what you are describing."

"It says sweatshop."

"Oh my god. Nooooooooo."

...or when you are a native English speaker, but you've been speaking Spanish so long that you sort of forget English.

"Ok, I have no idea why these two words go together in a phrase. Hole. Punch."




Earth Lodge!

This weekend, the entire volunteer group took a volunteer salida (trip) to Earth Lodge! Earth Lodge says they're an "eco-friendly mountain lodge and avocado farm near Antigua, Guatemala, famous for their avocados, volcano views, amazing food, and magic treehouse," and they pretty much hit the nail right on the head.

Only 20 minutes outside (or should we say "above") Antigua, it's like some vacation-retreat god dropped this cozy ski lodge (minus the skiing) onto a Guatemalan plain overlooking three incredible volcanoes, equipped the place with awesome facilities, delicious food, campfire pits, a collection of every movie and board game you could ever want, and said, "Let the visitors come."

And they do. This entire year, I've been hearing good, great, and greater things about Earth Lodge, and after this weekend, I get it. You feel completely away from it all without being very far away from it all at all, and its views are probably some of the most beautiful I've come across in all of Guatemala.

Take me back, please!

Katie, Katie, and Nicole...we're on our way!
You really never get sick of riding in the back of pick-up trucks in Guatemala.
Where are the volcano views???
Oh there it is.
Earth Lodge! So close!
We MADE it!
Gorgeous. Where we spent pretty much every hour every day.
Antigua and the valley below.
This dog was crazy. You could throw his ball about a mile deep into the valley below, and he'd STILL bring it back. Best games of fetch we've ever witnessed.
Our dorm, which believe it or not, comfortably fit 8 people. Magic or something.
Getting our tan...sunburn...on.
Michael: "Right now, I'm challenging you guys to a standing tree yoga pose contest."
  Wake up. Walk outside our dorm. See this.
And then this. Volcanoes Agua, Fuego, and Acatenango.