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Wednesday, February 15, 2012

shortest blog ever for the longest day ever.

Goodbye Jacal!

I didn’t realize how many people I had made friends with in my site until I started to say my goodbyes.


This morning I left my house on a mission (not the fantasy one in my head where I go next door to the mechanic shop with a baseball bat to smash in their speakers), this was a real mission.

I had to say goodbye to people, buy some ropa tipica, clean my house and pack my bags.

So here I am, at 9:30PM with HEAVY eyelids and even heavier limbs, wondering HOW in the hell I did everything…and WHY on earth I left it to the last minute.
As for the how: I had about 14 cups of coffee today.
As for the why…I think it could have something to do with the fact that I don’t really like saying goodbye.

Apart from that one time when I was a kid in grade school and my friend moved away, I’m not much of a crier when it comes to saying, “nice to meet you…see you maybe never.”

I tend to stammer uncomfortably and throw in a, “well…maybe I’ll be back; yeah, we’ll probably see each other soon…” when in reality…the chances of that happening are pretty slim. I know it and they know it.

Only till just now, upon arriving home from my rounds am I feeling that familiar twinge of sadness. I have been so excited to get out of here that I had forgotten about all of the things that I would miss.

I will miss the old woman in the market who always says, “hasta cuando te miro!” (it’s been so long since I’ve seen you!) even if it’s only really been a day since I saw her last.
I will miss feeling like a “big deal.” As much as I have hated the attention that I sometimes attract, I will definitely miss being asked what I am doing and having people actually listen to the answer.
I will miss the weather, It was incredible out today.
I will miss talking about nothing with strangers.
I will miss the crazy woman in town who wears high heels in the park and sprays people with a hose and yells “I hate pigs!” if they litter…it’s colorful people like this that make me able to laugh at the stuff that gets me down.
I will miss people asking me if I’ve eaten, not listening to my answer and then giving me food anyways.
I will miss the simplicity of life. If all I do in one day is my laundry then I’ve accomplished something major.

I have 9 days left in Guatemala as of today. Yes, we’re in the single-digits now.

When I got to my site I was thinking two years was going to be a really long time and now that I’m about to leave I’m wondering where all the time went.

I am ready to go home but it’s definitely bitter-sweet.

There are things that I won’t miss…but I feel we should avoid that worm-hole. We may end up somewhere weird.

More to come…
Must sleep. Dead pocket.


Saturday, January 7, 2012

A new picture

I have fast internet again! let's celebrate with some pictures!

try to contain your excitement...
This is a Marimba. It's name is "Popti" which is the Mayan Language spoken where I live and, to answer your (no-doubt) lingering question, YES the acoustics in the room adjacent to mine are EXCELLENT.

2pm on a Tuesday...

The beginning of the photo shoot we wanted to go for a classic pose... 

We wanted to get some close-ups to showcase bunny's versatility. The camera loves her.

and finally, an up-do for that formal night out on the town.
I'm just saying...the teacher strike was 2 months long...

My friends sent me a package, this was one of the cards in it. you guys get me...

This is the starting picture of the project that i translated for. We installed a system to purify water with ozone and filters to then be bottled by the school.

The finished product. The water comes in through the left hand lower pipe and then passes through the filters and the ozonater which pulls air through these light-bulb like things, charging the air and then injecting it into the water to give it that fantastic spring-rain smell, then it is pushed into a tank outside where it hangs out until someone wants to bottle the water when it is circulated back through the pipes one last time and then goes to the faucet on the other side of the room, where the bottle station is. pretty neat actually.

Claire brought a mini polaroid camera...and we had lots of fun with it.

Just three Oregon gals lathering up with some SPF...conditioned to fear the sun and it's harmful rays. Me, Alicia and Mari.

A pretty sunset from our patio. Happy Thankgiving!

Mari and my Christmas dish. Chicken rolls with tomato, red bell pepper, cheese, spinach and cilantro. Taken in front of my christmas tree for obvious reasons...
an aerial view of our incredible meal. brown rice, chicken rolls, salad and red wine. we did good things.

my landlord's christmas tree kind of killed mine...yes that is a nativity scene at the foot of the tree.

I came home and they had put this adorable little wreath on my door.
and finally my christmas packages arrived from bri!
and KP! I have the best friends in the world!
So that's what's been going on... you know...for me... in Guatemala.

I'll probably have another post up soon to tell of the awesome that was christmas and new years but for now, I love you all.


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

baby it's cold (or moderate temperatures) outside...

As I was sitting at my kitchen table/counter, eating cheerios (that I miraculously found one town over) with water instead of milk (because my box of milk had become a solid) I had the incredible realization that someday, I will miss this.

I also came to the conclusion that my secret ring had been compromised as I woke up to someone ringing my bell 3x in a row (now the code’s really compromised) starting at 6ish this morning and naturally, despite the fact that my landlords and their whole family are here for the holidays, I was the first one to get my ass out of bed to answer the door -and I’m thinking…that’s got to stop.

The family I’m sharing the house with/renting from has apparently shared the ring-code with others because it was one of the workers who rang 3x this morning, having arrived to start the day’s construction on the patio.

Oh…Construction on the patio…For the last few weeks or so I have been awakened not to the sweet sound of marimba practice (in my front room, where the marimba mysteriously appeared one day to ruin my peace and quiet), not to the squishing/squashing sound of the mother doing all her boys’ laundry (I say boys…despite the fact that the majority are over 20) or even exclusively with a headache from the aroma of exhaust seeping in through my window from the mechanic shop next door but, to a symphony of machetes chopping, power tools singing, squeaky wheelbarrows and (my personal favorite) various men hocking up phlegm. All of this is happening about 2 feet outside my windows/door and thus, with an overture of 3 chimes of my doorbell, it begins again- the noise that only exists in the United States after 8-9AM, on M-F (and sometimes never) but, in Guatemala happens at every hour of every day and so, I find myself awake and writing.

It’s probably for the best as I owe an entry about my trip to the beach for thanksgiving. As was projected, everything was better at the beach. The sun was incredible and despite my vigilance with the spf I came home with a peeling nose and a layer of skin the demanded the continual application of lotion to preserve the tan.

The beach was great. The black sand burned our feet as we raced down to the water and the waves crashed around us as we laughed at each other’s misfortune at being knocked down. Once we’d gotten our fill of being thrashed by the waves we would return to our little oasis by the pool and read our books, play on the slack line, snack, nap and drink cocktails while appreciating the sunset.

Thanksgiving dinner was a big operation this year. I was in charge of stuffing and found premium ingredients in Antigua to make it delicious. I used garlic bread that I found at Dona Luisa’s bread shop to make into croutons and then mixed it with cooked, ground, Italian sausage that I found at Epicure restaurant & delicatessen, and sautéed celery, carrots, onions, and mushrooms which I then covered in vegetable stock and baked in the oven.
I love stuffing.
Then there was mashed potatoes, pasta, vegetable medley’s, baked chickens, sangria, stuffed mushrooms, hummus, eggplant, bread, and molten chocolate cake. It was a really lovely time to be with friends and enjoy a home-cooked, holiday meal. Then, without further ‘ado it was time to return to our sites… and our normal meals of pasta with ranchera sauce.

Upon my return to my site I treated myself to a Christmas tree, adorned it with colored lights and watched them blink as I fall asleep. It would feel more like Christmas if it was actually snowy or even overcast here but, the truth is, it’s been really beautiful. Even as I write now, at 8AM there is sunshine streaming in through the gaps in my curtains and my thermometer tells me that it is 70 degrees outside. Sometimes at night I put on the video fireplace, plug in the Christmas tree and read a book in an attempt to trick myself into believing I’m somewhere else but then, inevitably someone will start playing some horrible ranchera music and I know where I am.

To celebrate the holiday ambiance I tried to create, Mari and I decided to cook a Christmas-y feast and watch all the Christmas movies we had in our possession so we made chicken rolls with contained the colors green, red and white and watched, The Grinch, Love Actually, Bridget Jones, Harry Potter, and Hellboy II (some of these were a stretch…obviously but, if there was a Christmas scene or snow we decided it was close enough).

I’m really bummed to not be going home for Christmas. I know that I will be home soon enough but I feel sad all the same. I thought I had something special to do this year when I was dating that horrible person, but that turned out to be a complete disaster and now I am alone and stupidly thinking of all of the things I was looking forward to that will not be happening now. So lame.

It didn’t really help that all of the people that I’m really close with here have all elected to go home for Christmas this year; I found myself posting on face book trying to figure out who would be in the country this year to find someone, anyone to hang out with. After asking around I found a few people who would be here and called them to invite myself to do whatever they were doing. I hate inviting myself to things, I know that it’s probably fine but I always think- what if they didn’t want me to come but they didn’t know how to say, “no”? I mean, shit, it’s the holidays right? How grinchy would you feel saying, “no” to someone who would otherwise be alone on Christmas? Buh.
So, I asked, I asked to not be alone on Christmas and now I won’t be. I am going to go with a couple of my fellow PCVs to the beach to lay, eat food, read, and be merry.

I’m excited to get to know both of these people better and to get back to the beach for a little relaxation.
When I get back from the beach I am planning on spending a few days in my site and then heading to Antigua to celebrate the end of this year, the beginning of a new one, Mari’s birthday, and the two-year in-country mark!

On Christmas day I will have exactly 3 months until my official Close of Service date. Time has flown by and I am ready for the next phase of my life to begin.

GUH so...It took a million an a half years trying upload the pictures on here so, I had to stop. For next time you can all look forward to pictures about all the things I talked about and bonus glamour shots I took of my stuffed animal bunny rabbit. It was one of those 2PM on a Tuesday type situations. Try and contain your excitement.

Thanks to all of my friends for the support- the emails, packages and cards. You make me feel loved.



Tuesday, November 1, 2011

When life gives you lemons, make lemon bars. They’re delicious.

When life gives you lemons, make lemon bars. They’re delicious.

Now...To Quote "Knocked Up"

“We’re going to be positive. Positive! Positive! Positive!”

“How many Red Bulls have you had?”

“I’ve had about three Red Bulls in the
last fifteen minutes. And I feel
fabulous! We’re going to create a new
life and it’s going to be awesome!
Let’s go!”

Excellent advice.

I need to do the dishes but decided to write a blog entry instead.

It’s been a while. I sort of fell off the face of the world but, I’m back. Yay!

For comprehension purposes, you should probably read this blog with a large infusion of sarcasm. As I wrote a lot of it in a slightly self-deprecating and meant-to-be-humorous tone to downplay it’s seriousness for me at this point in time.

I’m actually not even sure if some of it’s appropriate to write about but…it’s what’s been on the brain and I figure if you’re're probably a friend or family member so it’s okay if you know. If we’re not friends…well, welcome to a more personal moment of my life in service.

That being said…Let's Go!

A lot has happened since my last entry. As I said in the last entry, Dad sold the house so I went home to help pack up the last 20 years into boxes to be moved to the downtown “flat“, the storage unit, goodwill and the dump. It was nice to be home, even if it was to say goodbye to my family home and sleep on a mat on the floor by the dining room table for the two weeks that followed in the new place.

I was also afforded an extra week of time in Portland because while I was there I received word from Peace Corps that it would be better for me to stay in the US for another week because they were evacuating my site due to upcoming elections that had the potential to bring about some violence. So, since I couldn’t go back to my site anyways, I stayed in Oregon for another glorious week.

It was actually a little bit awkward…since I’d already said my goodbyes and had my goodbye cocktails and goodbye dinners…I found myself actually kind of longing to get back to Guatemala. I was starting to feel a little bit self-conscious about my outdated, terribly unfashionable wardrobe and that I sometimes couldn’t think of appropriate words to make witty remarks in English. I was actually feeling ready to go back to my site, to my bed, to my peace corps friends, to my boyfriend.


Alas, “boyfriend“- I had one of those. Up until about a month ago I thought he was the best thing since sliced-bread (or, more appropriately, tortillas) but, he turned out to be, unfortunately, a total and complete loser. It’s funny how people can warn you about things but you go ahead and do them anyway with this idea that you aren’t the same, that you’re an exception to the rule. It turned out that this particular thing was something that I had to learn for myself. Other volunteers advised me to exercise extreme caution in dating a local dude because infidelity is really common and unfortunately, acknowledged but generally ignored in this culture.
So, I learned a lesson. Well, actually, I haven’t. Not yet (apart from “that guy is an asshat“ I‘m unsure what goodies are in this…but they‘re there, they‘ve got to be) I’m sure under all of these feelings of hostility and betrayal…there’s a lesson in there and I imagine somewhere down the road I will understand it all better.
So that's it, I was betrayed by someone that I loved. It was a real bummer.
I know that this happens everywhere…I am in NO WAY saying that Guatemala is the only haven for philanderers, it happens even in my beloved United States of America but dealing with everything within the framework of a culture where it is considered a very common occurrence is a really interesting twist. When I told my host-country friends about what happened I got, what I considered, "abnormal" responses to the situation I found myself in. They said, “oh gee, well that’s too bad. That happens here. Oh, Guatemala, oh men! Hah! Oh well, keep on!” and I’m thinking to myself, “would we laugh at this already?” as I was entirely unprepared to do that a day after I found out what kind of man I had been dating for the past 8 months.
While discussing my woes with Bri, she told me, someday this will be funny. It’ll be something that we can say to get you out of the “never have I ever” game; “never have I ever dated a guy who turned out to be married with two kids” and down my finger goes.
What really shocks me is how many people were in on the deception. I met his friends and the families of his friends, the girlfriends of his friends etc. and they all went along with it when he introduced me as his girlfriend, I didn’t even get a hint of what they all knew I really was- the other woman. At least his family wasn’t in on it…because I never met them. I didn’t even think to question the rationale he gave me, that he thought his dad would scare me away because he’s not the nicest person ever. In retrospect I would classify that as a “red flag“. AHA! A lesson. Nice.
It makes me think that you don’t often hear the story of “the other woman.” I had a picture of her in my mind, she looked nothing like me. Even though I know that it really isn’t my fault because I didn’t know (despite directly asking him whether he had a girlfriend, a wife, another woman or kids in his life) it doesn’t make me feel much better. I just can’t believe that scenario actually played out in my life, my life! it’s absolutely insane but, I digress…

So, with only 5 months left, I’m in a bit of a mood towards Guatemala these days. I am aware that “Guatemala” didn’t do this to me, that honor goes to Ricardo…but it kind of feels like I can’t catch a break in this country lately.

Even small things seem to be triggers that have the potential to completely exasperate me. For example, I have been trying to get this bolt to fix my elliptical (I know. I have one. It’s silly. We’ve discussed this, get over it…I was getting fat, I saw one for sale in Huehue and I went for it, okay? I had needs…wow, okay, we know I feel pretty silly now since I felt I needed to justify that purchase to all of you. Hah.) Well, I’ve been trying to get a replacement bolt for it since April- let’s do the math here…carry the…that’s 6 months! I’ve been to the place where I bought it about two-dozen times and each time they have some jacked story that always ends in, “so, that’s why we couldn’t get the bolt.” Two times now they have given me a replacement and I have gotten all the way back to my site only to find that they don’t fit. So I’m still trying to work with them on getting the right part but it seems they are having a very difficult time in troubleshooting the situation. I tried to take the reins into my own hands and went online to try and order the replacement part, send it to my parents and then have them mail it to me. I did a search and what did I find? That the brand of the machine doesn’t exist. I was only able to find one website that even had mention of “Mastertech Fitness” and it was in a Blog… from El Salvador. So It looks like I’m completely reliant on the employees of Tropigas to help me out on this one. So I wait… Touche Guatemala, touche.

So I can’t get the bolt to fix my elliptical, I find out that my whole relationship was a complete sham, and I finally got ripped-off by some jerk on the bus. I probably had this coming, just based on the odds and the fact that until this incident I had not been the victim of even a pick-pocket (probably due to my completely anal way of hiding my belongings about my person). Well, they rummaged around in my pack while it was stowed in the back and stole all of my makeup, some of my meds and some jewelry that was in a compartment of the kit…and while I always put the things I don’t consider valuable in my backpack, always mentally preparing myself to lose them, I am sad to have lost that kit. I can’t help but think of how it probably ended up in a garbage can minutes after the thieves checked it. It would do NO ONE any good here…since well, there aren’t many people with my complexion/coloring, the meds were unlabelled and all together loose in a plastic bag and the jewelry wasn’t really worth anything but sentimental value. It’s more annoying than anything else. I can’t replace what was stolen and that sucks. Losing my makeup isn’t the end of the world. It‘s lame but, I can make do. I mean, hey, it’s not all bad- it cut my getting ready time in half! Now I have more time to complete that Sudoku puzzle while I drink my coffee. Now that’s pretty sweet…


Also, *warning* in addition to being a little bit unenthused with my current situation…I’m also a little bit peeved with men in general, so…that means that if you’re a man you should probably exercise caution for the next few months in any dealings with me, I may be forced to de-friend you on Facebook if you rub me the wrong way like that *snap* and then you’d have no way to see my awesome status-updates or tagged photos. I know you would all miss THAT so…tread carefully.

In other news, Bri has told me that she’s coming to visit just before Christmas! I’m so excited to show my darling wife about my life here in Guatemala! I’m also thinking about flying back with her to be somewhere familiar for Christmas…even if it is just the city of Portland as a whole. At this current point in time have no desire to spend Christmas by myself in Spanish. So…if you’re one of my wonderful friends in Portland you may want to accept it now that I may impose and stay with you as to avoid the sleeping-under-dining-room-table scenario at the ‘rents’ new flat.

On to other things that I’m excited about

- Thanksgiving is coming up! A group of us have decided to spend it at the beach. We’ve rented the same house we had last year and I can’t wait to feel the sand between my toes again. I think it may be just what the doctor ordered. After all, everything is better at the beach.

Let’s see…what else...
Here’s some randoms:

-The last time I wrote an entry that was sparked by price of water and whether or not it really went up or I was being taken advantage of. Good news on that, it actually did go up! I was not being fleeced out of 1Q by an old woman. She was just genuinely being nice.

- I got stung by a bee and this just in, that really hurts. I haven’t been stung by a bee since I was like seven and I had completely forgotten. Dear all seven year olds, you are TOTALLY justified in crying when that happens! Love, Kristin.

- an older woman sat next to me on the bus recently and asked me all about my life and work here and when I told her that I cook for myself she was really surprised and touched my knee and said, “how cute you are!” it was pretty nice to get some physical contact that wasn’t creepy. I wonder if she’ll stay in touch…

- I just had the startling realization that I don’t know how to cook without using Picamas (hot sauce).

- Liz Soucie and Jake Albright got engaged! Congrats you crazy kids, I’m excited for the wedding!

- I didn’t get my driver’s license when I went home because although I passed the written test (with flying colors mind you…) I couldn’t get an appointment to take the behind-the-wheel test while I was home. That was pretty lame…I felt like I was 15 all over again. The DMV lady suggested that I get my permit, then I could drive with a licensed driver over which I replied, if I’m with a licensed driver who’s over 21...they’ll be driving, this isn’t a matter of me wanting to practice driving, this is about me driving places by myself. So, I ended up riding my mom’s old yellow bike everywhere and by “everywhere” I of course mean the storage unit, the grocery store and (obviously) taco bell. I like that bike.

- I just finished reading the book, “The Hunger Games” by Suzanne Collins….IT. WAS. AWESOME. It was a quick read and highly entertaining. If you haven’t read it I suggest you pick up a copy.

- I just ate an entire container (bag) of green olives. They were really tasty and now I’m really thirsty.

- I think I’m expecting some packages from my friends and this brings me great excitement.

- I didn’t dress up for Halloween this year and that makes me sad. I love dressing up. So be prepared for next year’s costume to rock your world. It’s going to be awesome. I have to make up for a lost dress-up opportunity! Ah!

- After 2 months of being on strike the teachers came back to work for 2 weeks before ending the school year. So now I’m in search of purpose again. I’m thinking of doing a little garden project. Try my hand at making something grow. We’ll see. I’m not sure how green my thumb is.

- I will have something to do in the next few weeks. There is a group from habitat for humanity coming down and I’m going to help translate and train people on how to use and repair these new water purification systems that they’re installing in two locations within the urban area of my site! So I’ve got that to look forward to. That and, many peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

- I am loving the new Adele and Maroon 5 CD’s. They are fantastic.

- I have been spending a lot of time lately on Craiglist looking at apartments and sectional couches.

- I have a thing for sectional couches.


I miss my friends and family. I’m hopeful that the next 5 months of my service are going to bring better stories and experiences. I really do feel really privileged to have the opportunity to do this despite the fact that I have had some bad luck of late…

That’s why we run these tests! (right?)


I suck at taking pictures. It’s on my “try harder to” list.
So here’s a picture of me and some friends, Megan and Ingris in HueHue.
And a burger that I made with Mari (while she nursed me back to health, you’re a darling Mar) where I tried to mimic the double-patty situation on a Big Mac. It didn’t really work out. That’s a lot of meat.