Friday, May 22, 2009

More elaboration on chicken buses

Well, after I posted the chicken bus photo with my one-line description, my beautiful (among other positive adjectives) wife informed me that those who have not experienced such joy might need a little further explanation. Well, that is what a blog is for, right?

Chicken buses are basically old US school buses redesigned and definitely pimped out to make the ride more, um, exciting, to say the least. You can find more comfortable ways to travel, to be sure, but if you want to get to just about anywhere in Guatemala, or most of Central America, for that matter, you'll end up on a chicken bus. Fares are cheap, you get to know your seatmates VERY well, and you may just get a chicken or a kid in your lap (seriously!) It's really not as bad as it sounds, unless you're a real stickler for comfort.

Read here for a funny story about a chicken bus experience.

Posted via Pixelpipe.

Chicken buses in La Mesilla, Guatemala.

Posted via Pixelpipe.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Door to my classroom at Hubbard

I've really enjoyed my current job teaching Spanish. I'm excited about going to Guatemala, more than I can say, but I know that I'm going to miss what I'm doing now. This is the door that Adina and I painted when I was going to start working there. I provided the blue background, but my wife's art skillz provided the rest.

Posted via Pixelpipe.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

From a Peace Corps volunteer: Top 10 reasons Guatemala is awesome

Beveres is a Peace Corps volunteer in Guatemala who has compiled a list of Top 10 Reasons Guatemala is awesome!  Here is some of my favorites based on my Guatemala experiences:

Being called "bien gordita" (fat) is a compliment.

You never thought you'd look forward to having eggs, beans and fried plantains twice a day.

You thought the first time you stepped up on that shiny yellow school bus in kindergarten was going to be cool- little did you know you would be on that very same bus 18 years later, in a different country and totally pimped out- AND have to pay your fare to a guy who is probably better qualified for acrobatics than professionals. Not only that, but these buses rule the roads.

Catching a ride in the back of a truck when the bus hasn't come by for hours is just doing what you need to do- even if it's with livestock.

and the No. 1 reason why Guatemala is awesome...... 

1. "Fíjese que..." can be used as an excuse for pretty much ANYTHING."
(this happened a LOT while translating for medical teams in San Raymundo!)

Read the rest of the post here


According to Wikipedia, "Amigurumi (編み包み ?, lit. Knitted stuffed toy) is the Japanese art of knitting or crocheting small stuffed animals and anthropomorphic creatures. The word is derived from a combination of the Japanese words ami, meaning crocheted or knitted, and nuigurumi, meaning stuffed doll.[1] Amigurumi are typically cute animals (such as bears, rabbits, cats, dogs, etc.), but can include inanimate objects endowed with anthropomorphic features. Amigurumi can be either knitted or crocheted. In recent years crocheted amigurumi are more popular and more commonly seen."

I recently found the blog of someone who made these in Guatemala. I think they're really cute and they remind me of another crocheted animal that made an impact on me: the crocheted Care Bear Talia got when she had a multi-cystic kidney removed at Children's Hospital when she was only a few days away from being three months old. I remember all of the mental anguish I went through thinking of what could happen while she was in surgery and then seeing her tiny hand with the IV. When the nurse brought that to her, it was like someone gave me a much-needed hug and reminded me that in the middle of this hard time someone cared enough that they took the time to hand craft something to show their concern.
We are now blessed to have a happy, healthy daughter who is so active that we usually forget that she even had surgery. Yet, sometimes little things make me remember and I have to pause and consider and let that memory enhance my appreciation of the present.

Who would have thought that a cute little amigurumi could spark such memories?

I think my favorite on the blog was the one of the little purple elephant. She also has an Etsy account.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Friday, May 8, 2009

Guatemala Thoughts as a Mama

Moving abroad always makes one think about issues they might not normally consider under every day circumstances. Sometimes even ordinary things take on a whole new outlook. One of the blessings of moving to another country is that everything is different. One of the difficulties of moving to another country is that everything is different. As a father, Ben thinks of things differently than I do and is more concerned with different issues. As a mother, here are a few of the things that I consider:

Water: In Guatemala, water that is in any way consumed usually comes in one of these containers:
No problem there, except for Talia's tendency to put things in her mouth at bath time. Tub water, to my knowledge isn't purified/filtered. I'd like to find out if this is ever an issue and if so, how to resolve it.

Household cleaning products: This is not just an issue for Guatemala, but in the U.S. as well. Kids just have a bad habit of putting things in their mouth. Even if it has fallen on the floor. Because of this, I hesitate to use harsh chemicals in places that I know Talia might come in contact with... which is most of the places in our home! What's worse, though; harmful chemicals, or the germs they would clean? A nice balance to this equation that I've discovered is Thieves Oil. This has its own little history:

"As the bubonic plague decimated Europe in the year 1413, four thieves were captured and charged with robbing the dead and dying victims. When the thieves were tried, the magistrate offered leniency if they would reveal how they resisted contracting the infection as they performed their gruesome acts. They explained that they were perfumers and spice traders and told of a special concoction of aromatic herbs, including cloves and rosemary, that they rubbed on their hands, ears, and temples. " While the story is entertaining, this study holds more weight:

"Research conducted at Weber State University in cooperation with D. Gary Young, as well as other documented research, indicates that most viruses, fungi, and bacteria cannot live in the presence of many essential oils, especially those high in phenols, carcacrol, thymol, and terpenes. This, perhaps, offers a modern explanation why the Old Testament prophet Moses used aromatic substances to protect the Israelites from the plagues that decimated ancient Egypt. It may also help us understand why a notorious group of thieves, reputed to be spice traders and perfumers, was protected from the Black Plague as they robbed the bodies of the dead during the 15th century." (Essential Oils Desk Reference, 4th Edition, p6)

Besides this, it smells good and is available in Latin America!

Vitamins: This is another concern that doesn't necessarily change with ones country. I want to make sure Miss Priss gets enough of all of the ones she needs. Period.

Scrapbooking/Pictures: When one has a major change take place in his/her life, it's usually a good idea to visually document it. Especially if there is family wanting to see what's taking place! The issue is lugging around all of the stuff to have physical evidence of this record. A good way to do this that I've discovered is through I really enjoy their wide range of free digital scrap material and the easy-to-use software! (Just ask my husband. He introduced me to it, so he can't complain too much...) But what I think will come in really handy is the feature to print these blogs and then they'll ship them wherever you want... like to Grandma's and Grandpa's and other family members in the U.S. :D

Guatemalan Wares: Guatemalan's make some beautiful fabrics. This is demonstrated in their skirts, table clothes, and place mats just to name a few. Something I think about when I think of moving to Guatemala is a way to help hardworking people sale quality wares. Let me get this straight, I do not, in any way, consider myself a sales person. At all. But, if someone has something that is beautiful, useful and a good price, I'm definitely going to tell other people about it. Or at least give it as a gift. Or at least make it available on my website. Or something.

Orphanage involvement: Something I've always felt a burden for is adoption. Since as Christians we are very familiar with God's grace in the form of adoption of the gentiles, this makes this concept even more relevant and precious. Maybe it also has something to do with our visit to the Tupelo Children's Mansion when we were kids and sponsoring a girl from there with our own hard-earned money. In truth, I think God places a desire like this in your heart. All that to say that we'd eventually like to adopt a child or pair of children. Even if that never happens, I'd like to be involved with this work in Guatemala and give Talia the experience of sacrifice to help someone else and the life lesson of compassion.

Midwife/OBGYN: While I know that women all over the world give birth every day and with a lot less knowledge and advanced technology, I'm still scared. Not enough to only have one child though... I've always thought that was a little bit selfish. My brother and sister have enriched my life in so many ways that I can't imagine myself with out them and would never want to deprive my children of that experience. And I want to have other babies. It's just that birth can be scary. In another country, that just adds one more aspect to the mix of things to think about. Chel and Megan, you need to get certified so I can fly you down!

Baby wearing: In Guatemala, we walked. A lot. So much that Miss Priss couldn't always keep up and had to be carried much of the time. This can be painful on one's back if not adequately supported. I was SO thankful to have a sleepywrap! The Guatemalan woman use their own version of this, but it doesn't seem to support as well for me and it's a lot harder to learn how to use. I'm very grateful to my friend Megan for letting me borrow hers, and even more grateful to now have my own! Talia should fit it for another year or so.

Diapers: I don't know if I'm normally a paranoid person, but I do have fears. One of them is that the economy in whatever country we're in is going to fail and I'm not going to be able to buy diapers and I'll have to survive on what I've got. Weird fear, I know, OK... maybe fear is too strong of a word. But something that I've found that helps solve this are all-in-one diapers. There are several brands of these; BumGenius, FuzziBunz, um- I can't remember the other ones. The ones I have are FuzziBunz. It's a cloth diaper with a waterproof outside, a super absorbant soaker in the middle and a water-wicking liner. Washing machine friendly. Or, for that matter, I could wash it in the bath tub and hang it up to dry if I had to. Either way, it's pretty good at stopping leaks like no other cloth diaper I'd have to use would. (Since we're potty training, this may not be an issue anyhow.) They're just sort of expensive and I only have two... but those two work all day since she's only using diapers for naptime and bedtime at the moment.

I know that it doesn't matter where I am in the world, I am going to encounter challenges of some sort in my life. These are just things that, before I get there, I consider of high priority. I know when we get there, many of these things will shift and I'll see just how irrational I was. But if that happens, I'd like to see just how far I've come. So here's this post.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Next steps...

Done with the papers for I can proceed to the REST of the moving steps. The good thing about doing all sort of paperwork now, is that if we move again to a different country (just saying! don't have a heart attack! :)) it will already be done.

A major part of the paperwork process is getting documents apostilled. Definition: Apostille: A certificate that is attached to foreign-bound documents to certify that the notary's signature and seal were valid at the time of notarization. It is obtained from the Office of the Secretary of State.

This mainly involves getting things like multiple copies of degrees, birth certificates, etc, and sending them to the Secretary of State's office where they can say, "Yep, it is what you say it is." Sort of like a notary, just more important :) this has to be done to get work visas and stuff.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Interior photos of apartments - update

As posted before, we'll be moving into an apartment at Villas de San Isidro, Zona 17 in Guatemala City.  We found some sample photos on the realtor web site, so these are made to look good (but it works! :))  The apartment is about 1300 sq. ft. (125 sq. m.) with 3 br, 3 ba, and a service area, which can be maid quarters or a large pantry with a bath.  I've been told that all of the apartments are the same or very close to it, so I THINK this is pretty much what we can expect.

Picture of the living and dining area from near the entrance


Photo of the kitchen


Artist rendering of the club houses that should be done when we get there

Artist rendering of the gym that should be done, as well.


Floor plan