Thursday, April 30, 2009

Our new home and a new acquaintance!

I was fortunate enough to make the acquaintance of another staff member of our school, Victor, who lives with his family in the same apartments that the school has found for us.  He's from Costa Rica and his wife is from Germany.  They have a daughter who will be three this summer.  The apartments are called Villas de San Isidro in Zona 17 of Guatemala City (eastern side), which is supposed to be the nice side of the city.  

Here's a picture of the apartment building that's about a year old.

shot of Villas de San Isidro

Here's a picture taken from an airplane with the apartments highlighted.  This was taken from the north, I believe.  You can see that we're sort of outside the city, with lots of greenery.

aerial shot

Artist's rendering of the apartments.  There are basketball courts and a playground and a few other things.  By the time we arrive there's supposed to be a pool, gym, and club house.

artist rendering

Picture of the playground.  

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Another shot of the apartments.

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On another note, Victor told us about a preschool five minutes from our apartment.  Problem solved!  And....it's open until we get off work, so the nanny thing can wait a while.  Big load off the mind!

Don't have any interior shots of the apartment yet...working on that!  We're grateful for the generosity of the school and how everything seems to be working out.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Guatemalan Capitals and Volcanoes

Pictured to the left is the: "Volcan de Agua as seen from Tecpan, Guatemala (80 km away)." Wikipedia

Another example of extremes in Guatemala is reflected in the natural landscape. Two volcanes or volcanoes that are important in Guatemalan history are the Volcan de Agua and the Volcan de Fuego or, volcanoes of "water" and "fire." These stratovolcanoes are close to the city of Antigua, Guatemala where we visited in October last year.

The Volcan de Agua was originally called HunapĂș, or "place of the flowers." The Spaniards also called it by this name until 1541 when it erupted, but not with lava, with a mudflow destroying the second capital city of Guatemala. They then changed the name to "Volcano of Water."

Not too far away, resides the Volcan de Fuego. As you can guess, it received its name from its eruptions. According to Wikipedia, "It has erupted frequently since the Spanish conquest. "Fuego" is famous for being almost constantly active at a low level. Smoke issues from its top daily, but larger eruptions are rare." It is pictured below:


Between these two Guatemalan volcanoes lies a bit of the conquest history. Pedro de Alvarado, a lieutenant of Cortes, originally founded his capital of Guatemala at Iximche under the name of Santiago. However, the Indians hassled him so much, he decided to move the capital. His new locations was between the two extremes: Volcan de Agua, and Volcan de Fuego. This capital city flourished and he brought his second wife here. When he died, his widow was elected to be the next governor, but not for long. The Volcan de Agua, with the help of a storm and an earthquake, erupted- spewing water down the mountainside from its inner lake and collapsing almost all of what was the new capital city. (Information from Young People of Mexico and Central America by Charles R. Joy).

Because of the tragedy caused by the Volcan de Agua, the people moved the capital to a safer place, which is now Guatemala City. (Where we'll be living.) This is far enough away to not be flooded by the beautiful, water-filled mountain, but close enough to appreciate it.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Washing/Exercise Machine!

Wouldn't you be in great shape?

Bittersweet...


Yesterday I said goodbye to my beautiful 1969 VW Bug, with its unique two-tone pink hue.

Oh well.
At least we got some neat wedding photos from it! But it is sort of sad to see it go.

We also sold the Jeep Cherokee, and we've had the 4Runner for about a week. Things are shaping up. God has really worked all this out right on time. Got plenty more to do, so let's hope he doesn't take too long of a coffee break!! :)

(As if God needed coffee...) Yay! I get to drive a standard again! This one drives really well, a lot like the one I learned on. Everything seems to be selling quickly.

Got one more car to sell, the 2004 Toyota Corolla. Let's hope it goes fast!

To end, a few wedding shots of the ole 69 VW:



*Ben's words in black
*Adina's words in orange








Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Our new car is in the works...






1998 4Runner 4x4 4WD

We've committed to buying, and Lord willin' and the creek don't rise...we'll have it Friday.  

Here's a couple of pics...we'll add more later.


The Quetzal, Cuchuchito and the Cenzontle; Guatemala's story in birds

In a book titled "Young People of Mexico and Central America," Charles R. Joy describes three distinct types of birds that stand out in Guatemalan culture.

The most significant bird he mentions is called the quetzal. It is a green, blue and red bird with a very long tail that was prized by the Indians of Guatemala. This bird is now almost extinct, yet remains popular emblem throughout Guatemala. It appears on Guatemalan money and is an object of national pride. According to Vera Kelsey in "Four Keys to Guatemala" the quetzal has at least one legend attached to it. "One curious and deep-seated superstition stems from antiquity: the nagual According to this belief, each Indian's spirit has a counterpart in some animal; his life is irrevocably identified with
that of his animal guardian. The nagual of Tecum-Umam, who led the Quiche armies against the Spanish, was the quetzal, the beautiful bird now used as Guatemala s symbol of liberty. And the legend is often encountered that when Indian chief and Alvarado met in hand-to-hand conflict, Alvarado really killed the quetzal which appeared at that moment above the Indian's head."



The second type of birds he mentions are all birds that herald bad omens. The cuchuchito, a bird whose call sounds like the bark of a dog, and the owl are both thought to be signs of calamity. He mentions the Indian saying "when the owl sings, an Indian dies." This is also mentioned in "Four Keys to Guatemala" along with another bird, the guia del leon. This "variety is known as the Guide of the Lion (Guia del Leon) as a result of its habit of flitting ahead from tree to tree, emitting short, sharp notes whenever a puma or tropical lion is stalking his prey
at night."

The third bird is another treasured bird of Guatemala called a cenzontle the "bird of four hundred voices." This is a type of brown thrush that can sing many different songs. It is also frequently called the "Mexican Mockingbird." Kelsey says: "Though an insignificant brown in appearance, it has a song of such range and variety that it is said to be the inspiration for Indian music." I found it interesting that just by casually looking at these three Guatemalan birds, one could find out so much about the country's cultural heritage. These three cover almost every spectrum of life. The patriotic, beautiful, almost extinct quetzal ; the ugly, scavenging for survival, birds of bad omen; the unremarkable looking cenzontle that has thrived with remarkable skills. Each mirror many aspects of the Guatemalan Indian lifestyle. Like the quetzal, the past glory of the Mayan kingdom is extinct. Only the indigenous blood in much of the population and a few emblems remain to prove it existed. The horror of the fall of that kingdom and bloody nightmare of war forced many of them into the role of an unpleasant scavenger, like the owl who sings a scared story of bad omen because he's seen too much horror to hope. And then there is the product of those generations that I think resembles more the censontle. Not glorious, like the quetzal, not scary and nocturnal like the owl, but surviving and thriving with a skill like no other bird.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Buy a car in the USA or wait till Guatemala....that's the question.