I made it to the lake, which was absoluetly beautiful! Lago de Atitlan is situated between 4 volcanoes, and the scenery is amazing. I arrived in Panajachel and took a boat to Santa Cruz, where I would be working at Islaverde Hotel. I worked for a week, getting their compost cleared of plastic and cans, building beds with what I could find, and planting/transplanting some veggies and herbs. Unfortunately, all they really wanted me to do was yard-work (pruning, cutting grass, etc.)-it was a beautiful place to do yard work-but I had come to do organic gardening to produce for the kitchen/restaurant. Anyway, I knew that I wasn´t really needed there or doing much anything of significance (not to mention feeling uncomfortable with my somewhat high-strung anorexic boss), so I moved on after a week. My time there was not a total waste though-I learned a couple of things in the kitchen, helped the compost situation (which will unfortunately, probably go to heck again now that I have left), and took an amazing hike to San Marcos and back.
After leaving the lake, I headed to Xela (Quetzaltenango), which was going to be my next stop anyway. If I stick to my sort-of-tentative-schedule, I´ll be here for about another month. I applied for a volunteer position at an organic community garden directed toward local women who learn and work the land, and then get to take the veggies home. It seems very well done, with a great compost program, and I have a meeting on Monday to talk about what I will be doing, get to know people, etc. I also found a pretty good hostel to stay at, with a great group of people who are all staying for at least a month. One of the girls from Seattle and are I are going to be roomates for the month, and there is another girl from Fort Collins. I´m loving the feel of the city, some great cafés, veggie restaurants, and markets.
Currently, my favorite thing to do is go to the market and come up with different recipe ideas and experiment in the kitchen (the kitchen is one of the reasons I like my current hostel). I´ve tried a couple of fruits I had never seen before, and some of the staples are fresh, delicious, and cheap: carrots, beets, spinach,squash, watermelon, cantaloupe, banana, onion, etc. I have been making a very conscious effort not to buy anything packaged (some exceptions like oil, and rarely pasta or yogurt), and I always take my own bags to the markets and panaderías.
I arrived in Xela on ash Wednesday, and it seems that the party will not be stoping any time soon. Every Friday there is a huge "feria" outside of the cemetery and the church in front of it. It´s beautiful; with all the families, the church decorated and full of people and candles, tons of food stalls-mostly fried, delicious sweets-my favories are the macaroons and pumpkin seed discs, and some hilarious carnival games and rides. Tonight some of us from the hostel may go to a big football (soccer) game together.
And for everyone´s entertainment: I sometimes go to aerobics at a really ghetto gym by my hostel. I always stand in the back, but my head is a good foot above everyone else´s in the mirrors in front of us.