Monday, March 30, 2009

Sleep Tight, Don´t Let the Bed Bugs...

BITE! That´s right folks, bed bugs and the whole sha-bang. Oh well, it was bound to happen sooner or later.

Ayway, I spent this weekend on a 2 day pack trip up Tajumulco, the highest point in Central America. It was absolutely beautiful!!! I went with QuetzalTrekkers, a non-profit, volunteer-run trekking group out of Quetzaltenango, who I highly recommend! A group of 17 of us, from all around the world, left Xela at 5 on Saturday morning. We got to Minerva in the back of a pick-up (Cold!) and then took 2 chicken buses to get to the trail-head. Then we hiked up to base camp which is in the saddle between the crater of the volcano and the point next to it. The guides (all about our ages) said that we were the fastest group they had ever had, which was nice because it meant that we got to take a nice long luinch and hang out at base camp in the afternoon. Lunch was really delicious veggie food, including a beet salad and guac. That evening we climbed "La Corona" to watch the sunset, which was amazing because of the clouds we had watched rolling in all day. Then down to base camp for dinner, and early to bed.

We got up at about 4:30 the next morning to make it to the summit of Tajumulco for sunrise. We al took up out pads and sleeping bags with us to relax and eat cookies and watch the sun come up. We also had views of tons of volcanoes around us and theoretically we could see the ocean. On of the smaller and very active volcanoes, Santiaguito, errupted while we were watching it from the summit! Then we walked around the rim of the crater and back down to camp for breakfast. The hike down was fast and we ate at a comedor (which put hot dogs on the veggie plates) before taking the 2 chicken buses back to Xela. One of the buses had 4 people in most seats and 3 in come, with all 17 of us plus some others standing in the aisles. Not the worst ride I´ve ever had, but the other passengers were probably not happy about how we smelled. The trip was beautiful and it felt good to be out of the city for a bit and do some nice hiking!

Last weekend we went to Fuentes Georginas, which is are really nice natural hot-springs, and spend a few hours there reading, sunning, and getting all pruney in the pools. On the drive there we went through some beautiful farm land around Zunil, which is know for it´s agricultural market, and all of the nasty chemicals it is dumping into the river running through town that they use for irrigation. A couple of days before Fuentes, we did a nice hike to Laguna Chicabal, which is a lake in the crater of an inactive volcano. It is said to be sacred for the Mayans, and when we went we saw some small altars and flowers as offerings on the beach of the lake. The view from the mirador above the lake was stunning and we could see two inactive and one active volcanoes from there.

We also had a pot-lich and birthday party, complete with cupcake decorating, this past week for my friends Amanda´s birthday. The food was delicious and we had a blast all evening. Things are going great here, and I will be sad to see poeple go this week and then leave myself, but I am so grateful for the experience I have had here!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009


Xela is proving to be a wonderful city!!! I have a little "family" at my hostel: we go to movies together,, take day-trips, make meals, and whatnot. I'm still loving the markets, and went to the biggest one in the city last week. All the food is so delicious (I got lentils, flax seed, and sesame seed, because we can't find those as easily at the market by the hostel). When we were there we tried some tamales and little animal-shaped waffle thingies. I've made all sorts of oatmeal creations, spinach and snow peas with a boiled egg, sweet bell pepper tomato sauce, temphe caluiflower snow pea curry, lentil soup (with my delicious sprouted lentils), cream-of-pumpkin soup, and Martin (one of the fam members) makes us delicious, usually veggie treats!

We also had a pastry-tasting one night, where we bought a bunch of different sweets from Xelapan, and cut them up so we could try them all. Then we giggled off our sugar high.

In the evenings I've seen some movies, including Australia (hilatious, with "hottie McTight-Shirt"), Milk (highly recommended), and Tropic Thunder. Also, some great documentaries about the Guatemalan Civil War and local conflict/struggle on the coffee and banana fincas. I also saw the Los Monologos de la Vagnia, which was wonderful! And I've been reading some good books, including "I, Rigoberta Menchu."

My volunteer job turned out to be nothing like I thought it would, but it's been a good experience! I'm teaching art at an after-school program for local gradeschool children. The school is about a 20 min walk out of town, and there are some really fun volunteers.

Last weekend we took a chicken bus to Momostenango for their market day. It was fun to see everything set up, and we had choco-mango and choco-banano, before sitting down to eat soup and tamalitos. On the way back, a preacher-man on the bus got mad at all of us white girls for not giving hime any money and we got a pretty nasty lecture about injustice and whatnot.

I also went to the Cultural museun in Xela with Megan and Jon, which is packed with tons of stuff and basically no information about any of it. The highlight, though, is the Taxidermy Room! That's right a room full of horrible taxidermy, fesuses (including human) in jars, dries "devils of the sea," two-headed cows, and a family of lions.

I'm loving this place, and the fam is going to make crepes tonight with our french friend, and then go to a documentary about Guatemalan fincas.