Sunday, January 9, 2011


Feliz 2011!

Total blog posts 2009: 17? I think.
Total blog posts 2010: 3.

That's depressing. I don't particularly believe in New Year's resolutions...if you want to change something, why wait for January 1st to do so?! That said, I would like to keep up with this blog a bit better this year.

I just got back from an absolutely glorious 2 weeks, mas o menos, in the States, split between Houston and DC. I cannot even begin to describe the amazingness that is indoor heating, newspapers and radio in english, real coffee, sushi, and delish adult beverages that simply don't exist here. If you can't tell, I think I might be in a bit of withdrawal. I find that to be a positive thing, meaning that it won't be too strange to "re-assimilate" in 6 months. Yes, 6 months. But who's counting?

There is so much left to do that only having 6 months left makes me apprehensive. I'm working on getting my own stove project off the ground in Paxcabalche, with about 25 families. It's the same idea as the project I helped my former sitemate with, just this time with one community and without the coffee co-op cohesiveness. Meaning that it has been difficult to get things together because we had to form the group and start the habit of regular meetings, but I'm looking forward to hitting the ground running now. I definitely respond well to deadlines, and we've got one! The scholarship fund, Friends of Poaquil, is doing absolutely fantastic. We're going to have 13 (!) kids with us this year, more than double than last year. I'm going to send out an email with some more specific details on the kids, but a quick recap from this year: Alex was valedictorian of his middle school class and is going to school for mechanics next year. Norma was also valedictorian of her class at teaching school in Antigua and has been awarded a partial scholarship for next year; she has 2 years left. Also, Marleny graduated from nursing school with a 90 on her final exam.

I feel like this is my version of the traditional Christmas brag letter, but instead after New Year's. I was so unbelievably proud of these kids this year. At their graduations, I was prouder of them than I was of myself graduating from college. That was expected for me. These kids aren't really required to go to school, they just have the desire and the work ethic. I feel like a silly mother hen.

This video absolutely cracks me up...I feel like I should watch it every morning!

Unfortunately, my blogging skills leave more than a bit to be desired, so I have no clue how to embed (is that even the right word?) a YouTube video in a blog post.

All in all, things are good here. I was kind of worried about coming back after so long, but it felt like I hadn't left. Gouda and Geronimo (the cat and the horse) definitely felt like I had been long gone for too long. Now I just need to start things up again, work wise!

Happy 2011 to all,

Thursday, October 21, 2010


Greetings from the worst blogger ever!

It's only been, what, 5 months? Nothing strikes me as out of the ordinary anymore, and therefore have a bit of a difficult time relaying entertaining anecdotes to y'all back home.

In a nutshell, this is what has happened:
-I got a pony. And ride said pony to work in the aldeas.
-Sitemate Rachel and I finished the stove project.
-Went to the Guatemalan dentist. Not as scary as Mom thinks.
-Vacationed in Nicaragua and Costa Rica.
-Another volunteer got sent home.
-Bad weather. Really bad. As in stuck in Antigua for a week bad.
-Cousin Kelsey almost visited.
-Poaquil vigilante justice killed 5 people.
-Mom came to visit. Dad too. But not sure if that was before or after the last post.
-My sitemates finished their service and one was replaced.
-Sitemate Kate took Host Mom Santa to the States with her.

Pony is named Geronimo (no Dad, not Geroooooonimooooo!). More like Her-on-i-mo. People ask me why I put that name to him, and I respond, "why not?" They think it's hilarious because Geronimo is a human's name in this country. So I tell them that they need to be more creative and quit naming every other dog Oso or Osita. I am actually keeping a list of my most favorite names here. Oswaldo is leading for the boys right now. Perhaps Pantaleona for the gals. Pony is smallish (for me, huge to the chapines)...anyone who knows hosses, he's about 15 hands, I'd say. Maybe a smidge more. He's gray, kind of a flea bit one, but right now he looks like a giant fluffy white sled dog with his "winter" coat. Thus far, it's chilly at night and ridic sunny during the day. Kels, bring a fleece. Pony is a trooper; absolutely nothing bothers him. Fireworks? Nah. Screaming small children? Tampoco. Motos in very close range? Nada. I'm going to have super high standards for my next horse as far as bombproofness goes.

Stove project got finished up right on time. The clausura (closing party, more or less) was a hit, and the stoves turned out fantastic. I'd like to think everyone learned a little something as well.

Guatemalan dentist has fancier tools than Dr. Novosad in Houston. As in he has this uber-fancy camera thing that shows you everything inside your mouth on a flat screen tv. He doesn't speak English, but he strikes me as a cultured, well-educated (I would hope so, if he's drilling in my mouth), very kind gentleman.

Vacay! It was fab, and quite necessary. I was at the point where I would see an entire family of 5 (3 kids under the age of 5) on a moto together, and think, "hey! population control!" rather than "yikes, maybe we should say something about safety." After ten days in Nica and CR, I had quit thinking like that. We spent 5 nights in Nicaragua - 1 in Managua (capital), 2 in Leon, and 2 on the island of Ometepe. Horseback riding, volcano boarding, and hiking amazingness. Four nights in Costa Rica consisted of 2 in Santa Elena Monteverde (cloud forest), 1 in San Jose (capital), and 1 in Puerto Viejo, a beach on the Caribbean side. Again, horseback riding, ziplining, hiking, and sunbathing amazingness.

Another volunteer got sent home. Don't have much to say on that front, other than I don't think it was deserved, and I can't help but wonder if other Peace Corps countries enjoy kicking out volunteers as much as PC Guatemala does.

Combo of one of the times of really (really) bad weather and Cousin Kelsey almost visits. Her flight was supposed to arrive around 11:30 on Friday. Delays keep pushing it back and back, 30 minutes here, an hour there. Once it's after 3ish, I'm getting pretty frustrated. It was a light drizzle, nothing else. So of course they route the flight to San Salvador...and then back to Houston. Worst. Day. Ever. I was then in Antigua for 8 nights, on what PC calls "standfast." Aka, don't move from where you are, but hey! If you're in Antigua, you get to come do paperwork at the office! The rain did get much worse, I'll give them that. Horrid mudslides across the roads, etc. Cousin Kelsey will be reattempting her trip in early November.

Vigilante justice! This unfortunately happened right when Mom was coming to she got all the dirty deets. What supposedly happened is this: an unknown person from my town contracted 5 gang members from Sumpango and Guatemala City to come to Poaquil and kidnap the daughter of a family who owns a big hardware store in town. They successfully do this on a Thursday evening. Take girl from town, go for the runaway. Too bad a mudslide has come across the road, and the sequestadores (kidnappers) are stuck. Poaquil vigilantes catch up with sequestadores and hang 3 of them in the trees on the side of the road and torch their car. It's still there, 3 WEEKS later. The other 2 are held until Friday morning. I'm happily puttering around my house, packing, waiting to pick up Momma Clote at the airport. So the vigilantes set fire to one of the two remaining kidnappers and then shot the other in one of the primary schools in town. On Dia del Nino. Children's day. I didn't know anything until after it had all happened, and I'm walking to grab a bus to go get Mom. No buses were leaving town because of landslides, as well as the police who were detaining everyone trying to leave town until the vigilante justice mess calmed down. Waited a few hours, caught a pickup out of town, walked through 3 mudslides and finally made it to Antigua to meet up with Ma.

We had a luxurious weekend in Antigua at Panza, my fav hotel ever. On Monday, we rented a car and drove to Poaquil. And then to the aldea! Ma got a real look at Guatemala country livin'. We had a little clausura with some groups that I had been working with alongside an intern from a local NGO. I'm still working with those groups, but the intern has finished her practica, unfortunately! Ma was a really good sport, and I really loved showing her off to all the little ladies.

Sitemate Kate and Sitemate Rachel are finishing up as I write this. Kate left for the States on Tuesday with her Host Mom Santa. And Rachel leaves on Sunday. The guy replacing Rachel is here visiting in Poaquil right now, and will be here for good on October 30, I believe. End of an era.

I've got a bunch of work to do on scholarship fund stuff, with school finishing up right now and kids thinking ahead to next year. And I've got a bunch of stuff to finish up to get my paperwork into USAID for a grant to build stoves with my ladies in Paxcabalche.


Wednesday, May 26, 2010


Gooooooooooood morning, Vietnam!

Not really, just kidding. More like, good afternoon, you rainy Guatemala you. I'm facing reality: I'm not a good blogger. But I guess once in a while is better than never.

Brief update, work-wise: my sitemate and I are about halfway through with training sessions for the coffee co-op associates that are receiving stoves, and started delivering the materials today. I started working with a local NGO recently that has remarkably similar goals to Peace Corps and am really enjoying it. We're having meetings in the town of Paxcabalche (try saying that 5 times fast) every Tuesday, twice a month with the teenagers, and twice a month with a group of women. Ideally, this is the community I'll be doing a construction project in later this year. But first, education! Which is where we're at now.

I've been staying in my site more after a recent change in Peace Corps' policies, but it's been fun. I spent last Saturday in head to toe traje at the 68th birthday party for an indigenous woman in one of the aldeas. And the weekend before was spent vaccinating chickens. Quite an experience, if I do say so myself. I'm sure you all can conjure up an image of some hilarity that entails me running chickens into a corner of their pen and trying to grab a wing or a foot or a feather before they explode, squawking and pseudo-flying away. Those are some nasty buggers. And the vaccinating is no biggie - a drop of this green stuff in one eye, and that's that. It's really no biggie for them, but it sure is pleasant when a rooster the size of a labrador is trying with all its might to attach its beak to some part of your body.

I guess you might say I've gotten quite comfortable with farm animals. I certainly wasn't wary of them before, I just hadn't ever had much exposure to animals outside the typical domestic pet. I was making shampoo a few weeks ago with a group of women in the kitchen (not my house), when we hear a huge crash, bang, boom outside. Standing outside the door is the 9 year old son of one of the women, with 4 goats cavorting about. One has its head halfway into a giant sack of corn, another is chewing on an old shoe, another is climbing atop the firewood stack, and the kid (baby goat, not human) is standing in the middle of it all, plaintively whining for its mommy. The poor kid (human, not goat) can't get any of them to pay attention, so I go out there and grab the ropes on the 3 adults and haul them away. Baby can't seem to figure out its mommy is leaving, and continues to stand there pitifully, waiting for me to come back a few minutes later and heft him like a watermelon (a large one at that), carry him through the kitchen, and out to where mommy is now tied up. I didn't even realize this doesn't happen every where, every day until I relayed this entertaining anecdote to a friend from home. It cracks me up this stuff doesn't even phase me anymore. Goats in the kitchen? Why not.

Ahhh, yes, and then there was the time I held up traffic (what little of it there was) on a mountain road because I was getting drug here and there by a cow. That doe-eyed bitch felt the need to go faster the harder I pulled on her, until I was more or less waterskiing up the mountain with traffic (including a police pickup) laughing hysterically at the gringa in her traditional apron running/sliding up the road after a cow. I think I can say at this point, I'm integrated.

On a completely new topic, remember a previous blog post about Friends of Poaquil? Well, today is the day that I'm officially asking for donations for this scholarship fund. I'm going to attach a letter about the program to this blog post, as well as a link to a YouTube video and some photos.

San José Poaquil, Chimaltenango

May 26, 2010

Dear Family and Friends,

As you know, I am currently a Peace Corps Volunteer in Guatemala. My primary project here is preventive health education, but I also have a secondary project that I am beyond passionate about – Friends of Poaquil. Friends of Poaquil is a scholarship fund that was started here about 8 years ago, by former volunteer. It has been handed down from one volunteer to the next, and I am currently in charge. Having responsibility for these kids’ future is at times a daunting task, but always a rewarding one. Day after day, these kids blow me away with their zeal and zest for learning and for life. As we say here in Guatemala, they are “pilas” – always going above and beyond what is expected. This year, we have 5 students on full scholarship, and one on a partial scholarship.

The two boys, Deyvin and Alex, are both in their third and last year of “basico” (high school), and will be graduating this fall from Colegio Eben-Ezer here in Poaquil. Both have plans to go to a career school in January for agricultural economics. Elvia is in her first year of basico at the National Institute of Basico Education in Hacienda Maria, a school that is known for its rigorous curriculum, and is making excellent grades. Marleny is in nursing school to be an “enfermera auxiliar,” a year-long program that will certify her to work in one of the hundreds of Health Centers or Posts throughout the country. Norma is studying to be a teacher at a well-respected school in Antigua, and doing excellent. Gladys is our student on partial scholarship, and she is in her first year of basico at the National Institute of Basico Education in Poaquil.

I spent last Thanksgiving introducing a cousin of a former Poaquil volunteer around the community for her final project in her photography and videography classes. The first link is to a YouTube video that explains a bit about the civil war in Guatemala from the perspective of scholarship recipients’ families. The second link is to a few photos that were taken of the recipients, helping to put faces with names.

Poaquil is generally a farming community, main crops being corn, coffee, beans, and assorted fruits and vegetables. So many parents are without education and they continue farming, as it is one of their few options, to try to provide for their families. Quite frequently, parents will keep their children out of school to help with chores around the house as well as the farming and animal keeping duties. Many times I’ve seen a child under the age of 10 being drug along by several sheep or cows or goats, taking them up to graze rather than going to school. An education is something that pays off in the long run, but these families live hand to mouth, and cannot see that far ahead. It is rather difficult to explain why it is better for the child to be in school, rather than helping the family to a more immediate means to an end.

And now, I am asking for your help. These kids are hardworking and resourceful, but lack sufficient funding for education for a variety of reasons. Your donation, in any amount whatsoever, will make a huge difference. We in America seem to take education for granted, myself included. It amazes me that we have students failing out of $30,000 per year universities in the States while Elvia, one of our recipients, wove huipil (the traditional blouse worn by women here) after huipil to save money to put towards her education. Our budget for this year is $6,5000 – part of which we have received in thanks to former volunteers, but not yet enough to finish educating these youngsters for the rest of the year. I thank you for your thoughts and donations, in any amount, that will help us to reach our goal. To donate, please send a check to the following address, made out to Friends of Guatemala.

Elisa Echeverria

230 Bryant St. #3

Mountain View, CA 94041

In the memo line, it would be extremely helpful to put my name as well as the town, San José Poaquil, Chimaltenango.

Elisa is a former Peace Corps Volunteer from Poaquil that was once in charge of Friends of Poaquil, and has a direct contact with the administrator responsible for getting donations directly to me. She will make sure that you receive a receipt of your donation for tax purposes, as Friends of Guatemala is non-profit and donations are tax deductible. You will be amazed how much they appreciate it.

With love,


So yeah, that's where I'm at. Things are busy, but good. On the pony front, I've found a guy here in town with one, and am attempting to summon the uumph to go knock on his door and ask to rent it. I'm waiting for the day that I'm riding bareback on some hag pony on the dirt road, on the way to Paxcabalche, with a backpack full of info about nutrition/hand washing/etc, my campesino straw hat shielding my sensitive gringa skin and eyes from the equatorial sun.

Hope to hear from some of you soon!


Thursday, February 4, 2010

rutas san jose.

Feliz 2010!

As much as we all enjoy the holidays, I'm so relieved they're finally over. There is just so very little to do work-wise during December! Now that school is back in session, I'm starting to talk with school directors here in Poaquil about doing HIV/AIDS workshops. I've given 2 thus far, and really enjoy them. The activities and information in the workshop are extremely well planned (and fun!) particularly because almost everything is very interactive. My sitemate Kate and I are starting in about a week and a half in the Instituto, one of the best schools in Poaquil's aldeas. Tomorrow morning, I'm headed to Saquitacaj, the biggest aldea, to meet with the director there. Kate and I are also planning to start doing world map murals in the schools, which should be a ton of fun for us as well as the kids.

Because of school starting back up, I've had plenty to take care of with the scholarship fund, Friends of Poaquil. These kids are so fantastic - unbelievably hardworking, and so ambitious! It really makes me realize how easily I've had everything. Petrona, the local woman in town I work with on this, continually describes these kids as fighters, and I couldn't agree more. The kids and their families are dealing with plenty of hardships in addition to the hardship that is life itself in rural Guatemala. One lives at the church, as both of her parents have passed away. Another has an absent and alcoholic father. Another has a mother whose leg was severely injured in the "time of the violence," during the civil war here, and a huge chunk of the family's income goes to her medical bills. The kids have bright futures through the education they are recieving. Instead of planting crops and grazing cows, one of the recipients will start a further education school next year to become an agricultural expert. I'm in the process of writing a solicitude, with many more details about these wonderful kids, that will get emailed to the vast majority of you. Former volunteers that lived and worked in Poaquil, as well as with the scholarship program, are doing a great job of fundraising in the States, but I know some of you have expressed interest in getting involved. Long story short, if anyone is interested in donating to Friends of Poaquil, your money will be going directly to benefit one of our 5 recipients of this year. School tuition, uniforms, school supplies, PE uniforms, etc. We're also planning to start a basic food supplementation program to the families of the recipients - a well nourished student will study and learn far better than a desnutrido, or malnourished, one. Technically, the scholarship fund is what Peace Corps calls a 'secondary project' but I'm finding far more work and enjoyment with Petrona and the kids right now. They're an inspiration.

Rachel, my other sitemate, and I are getting ready to start bi-monthly training sessions with families from CIACEP, a coffee co-operative here in town. We're doing these training sessions as preparation for building estufas mejoradas, or improved stoves, for the families. Most homes here in the actual 'town' of Poaquil have these stoves, but they are few and far between in the rural aldeas. The women cook over open fires, almost always with an infant strapped to their back, increasing the already high risk of respiratory infections. Respiratory infections and diarrhea are the two biggest causes of death in Guatemala, and both can be so easily prevented. Our training sessions are going to cover everything from nutrition to stove building and maintenance. Rachel is about to submit a grant request to USAID for the funds to cover the materials of the project. One of the biggest components of a grant of this kind is community involvement. These training sessions are a necessity, as well as the family's complete involvement in the project from start to finish. Most families can't afford to simply build a stove - they cost about $150, the average one month's salary. Therefore, they donate things such as time, expertise, food and the readily available materials.

I'm really excited that things have picked up, and I'll hopefully be seeing some of these things come to fruition in the very near future.

And just to let all the nay-sayers know, I CAN cook. Who knew? I'm past boiling water and scrambling eggs, albeit not too far.


Wednesday, December 30, 2009


I'm alive! Even though it's been forever, I figured I had to update before the year changes and I make a mockery of blogging. I just got back a few days ago from my first trip to the States, which was AMAZING. Mom and I decided that I would come home for Christmas a few weeks before Thanksgiving, and because I wasn't planning on it, she came up with the marvelous idea of not telling anyone. Easily, the hardest secret I've ever had to keep...well, I could only kind of keep it ;)

I did my best! But we managed to scare the pants off just about everyone. I can easily say that December 23 this year was the best birthday ever. It was so amazing to see everyone, friends and family, and have it be a surprise. I was in Houston for 3 full days, and managed to hit all the high points. I'm so excited to go back (in a week!) to be a bridesmaid in one of my oldest friend's weddings...I'll really see everyone then. When I got back to Poaquil after my shockingly short trip, everyone I work with was really excited to hear about how my trip to the States went, and especially, about how I managed to surprise my dad! Also, I got to meet the two sweet new additions to the fam, the lovelys Libby Mae and Mia Jane. So darling!

Work is slow right now, but I've been hearing since we got here that it's next to impossible to get anything done during December. School starts up again in early January, as well as regularly meeting groups. Right now I'm not totally bored because I've got a fair amount of odds and ends to take care of with the scholarship fund, Friends of Poaquil. The kids made precious thank you/Merry Christmas cards for donors in the States, and we're trying to get those out. I'm heading to Antigua tomorrow to celebrate New Year's Eve with a bunch of friends, so I'm really looking forward to that.

Once 2010 rolls around, I'll be back!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

flor de utatlan.

I said that I wouldn't have anything cultural to write about after a week in Antigua, but whatever. I got home this morning in time to go to a birthday lunch for a family here in Poaquil I've become acquainted with through my sitemate. I get off the bus, carrying a ridiculous amount of crap, and my neighbor rides by on his bike. He's a mechanic, so he's always in the street when I walk to the Centro working on the camionetas, completely covered in grease. A side note on the mechanics in this country - I swear they could fix something with a bit of chewing gum and a paperclip. Reject cars and buses from the States end up down here, and there is obviously hardly any access to car parts, especially for the make and model you would be looking for. I consider them to be rather creative and very handy. Impressive stuff. Anyways, this mechanic ALWAYS has a huge smile and some kind words for me, which I realized today that I had been taking for granted. You don't talk to anyone on the streets in Antigua, too many people are tourists and the others think that you are a tourist. In the small towns we live in, you say something to just about everyone that you pass.

I turn onto my street and run into the landlady of my house, who seems very excited to see me. We exchange words, but very few. More or less, she only understands greetings in Spanish, and I only understand greetings and no more in Kaqchikel, so communication between the two of us is rather limited. She too always has a huge smile for me...and she has a fantastically beautiful smile, most likely because she has dentures. After seeing Lorenza (my landlady), I run into her daughter. And then 2 kids of a family in town I've gotten to know, heading out to the campo in their brother's pickup. And then one of the nurses that works for the Centro. Etc, etc. I guess that I didn't realize how much I've started to feel at home here until I left for longer than one or two nights. Time passes slower, people are friendlier, and I didn't realize how much I enjoy the tranquilo lifestyle here until I left it. The fact that I'm finding Antigua a little fast-paced speaks volumes to how out of it I'm going to feel when I finally go back to visit the States.

Anyways, those are just my musings of the day. Could be because I've killed an entire bottle of Robitussin in about 24 hours. Yay for the seasons changing!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009


Ugh, I was doing such a good job of keeping up with this blog before I got to site. In a way, I'm much busier than I was, but it's just different. Instead of being in Spanish class all day like we were in training, my schedule is now pretty random. In the last update, I wanted to talk about Friends of Poaquil, but it was so long already. So here it is now.

Friends of Poaquil is a scholarship fund here in San Jose Poaquil that a Peace Corps volunteer started about 10 or so years ago. PCVs in Poaquil have been in charge of it, and it was handed over to me when I moved here. Basically, kids from Poaquil and the aldeas are eligible to "apply." All of the kids are either basico students (like high school) or in their career school. It's not like the States where after high school you go to college, and then to nursing school, etc. Here, after basico, you apply for a career school, whether it be teaching, nursing, accounting or what have you. This year, we have 2 recipients graduating from basico and are remaining with F0fP for next year - one is going to accounting school, the other to study elementary education. There are 2 others graduating, but from their career schools - one from elementary education and the other from nursing. They have both been with the program since their basico education. Basically, the kids are fabulous; they have to maintain their grades, obviously, but they also have some community service type work that they do through the Puesto de Salud in one of the aldeas.

I went to one of the basico graduations last Friday, for Rogelia who is going to study accounting. This coming Saturday I'm going to the career school graduation for Anabeiba, who is going to be an elementary education teacher. I feel like being part of Friends of Poaquil has given me a wonderful and immediate "in" to the community here. There is a woman here from Saquitacaj, one of the aldeas of Poaquil, that is the Guatemalan side in charge of the program. Her name is Petrona, and she is one of the more impressive Guatemalans I've met in this country. I immensely admire her. We had a meeting a few weeks ago with the recipients and some of their parents, and when it was my turn to make a little speech, I definitely discovered that many colloquialisms from English don't translate to Spanish. I said that I have some very big shoes to fill, and the whole group of people just looked at me like I was crazy. So I had to stumble to explain that I meant the volunteers before had done such a great job that I have a lot to live up to. It was somewhat embarrassing, but unfortunately, none of them found it as funny as I did.

We spent Halloween in Guatemala City, which was SO much fun and absolutely nothing like the Guatemala I've been living in for the past 6 months. We had sushi for dinner, coffee at the mall (where I felt ridiculously under dressed and frumpy) and went to a huge party that easily could have been in the States, just that everyone spoke Spanish and English. Guatemala City is absolutely bizarre, but we had an awesome time. On Sunday morning, I stopped in Sumpango, a town about 30 minutes outside of Guate with my friend Ame. November 1 is obviously All Saints Day, and the tradition here is to fly kites as sort of an homage to ancestors. In Sumpango and another town nearby, they make these GIANT kites for a contest, and the ones under 10 meters are flown. The hugest ones are just decorations. The coolest part of the festival was all the ordinary people there flying their own small homemade kites. They were everywhere, mostly kids, but a fair amount of adults too. It was a beautiful day, and we just laid in the sun, on the grass, watching hundreds of people fly kites. Very surreal.

I've been fighting with my wireless internet ever since I bought it for this month last week. Any of you who don't like calling service lines or whatever, try it in a foreign language. I'm sure I hardly make any sense at all to the people, but it's up and running again, obviously, as I wouldn't be able to write this otherwise.

So Dad finally made it down here about a week and a half ago, and we had a wonderful time. We stopped by the lake, which is one of my favorite places in the country, and spent Sunday night in Antigua. I think my favorite part was having him come to Poaquil briefly on Sunday, which is market day, so it was nuts. I made him try atol de elote, sort of a mushy drink made from corn, which is incredibly popular here. He liked it, but not enough to have more than a taste!

Everyone from my training group is heading to Antigua this weekend because we're spending ALL of next week at the office, for Spanish class and other info sessions, that kind of jazz. Should be awesome to be all together again after about 4 months. I'm sure after that week, I'll have pretty much nothing cultural to write about; it will be a week of hanging out with Americans.

Ok, that's all I've got for now. You guys need to start looking into flights to come down here, I promise it's super cheap other than the flight! I LIVE on less than $350 a month, so spending some time is not going to hit your wallet too hard. The rainy season is pretty much over, and it's a bit cooler, and absolutely even more gorgeous, if that's even possible.