Thursday, January 15, 2015

to market, to market

My first months here in Guatemala I spent living with first one family, then a different family.  In December I  found a place to live where I have my own bathroom and get to do my own cooking.  So several days a week, I go to one of the local markets (there are plenty to choose from) to buy fruit and vegetables.  There are a multitude of women selling produce. It is a treat for me to have access to such fresh produce at this time of the year.  The vegetables are reasonably priced, too.  The picture above is what I bought one day for ten quetzales (less than one dollar and fifty cents worth)-two pounds of tomatoes, a red pepper, a half dozen carrots, a bunch of cilantro and a pound of onions.  The availability of fresh fruit and vegetables is definitely one of the great things about Guatemala.

Monday, January 12, 2015


Saturday I was on a walk to the mall when I happened upon a back to school sale in one of the plazas here.  There were tables set up under canopies with a variety of vendors.  Some had your basic school suppplies.  Others had something far more valuable to me-tables full of used books.  I abandoned my walk to the mall, choosing instead to look for a few novels written in English.  At my reading rate, I hoped to find at least a few books of interest to me as it is close to a month before I go home.  Each vendor searched the tables for an English book I would find suitable for purchase.  One young woman found several books in English at her table.  I hated to disappoint her by not buying the books she found for me, but one was a Bible (I have one Bible and one New Testament with me here), another was an English dictionary, and the third book was written for people who were married for the second time.  At the end of my time, I had found two novels (one by Eoin Colfer, the other by Debbie Macomber) in English and the biography of Joni Eareckson Tada in Spanish to purchase.  It definitely made my day to find new reading material.  If the books are still there this week, I may return there with more money and time to see if I can find anything else.

Friday, January 9, 2015


This morning, I went biking. It was good to be able to get on a bike and see a bit more of the city.  It is a little scary biking in the city because the cars and buses do not seem to worry how close they get to you.  Later, I went a bit out of town in another direction.  It was good to be on a calmer and less used road.
It doesn´t take long to get out of town.  Soon there were cattle tied to a stake somewhere grazing.  As you can see from the green in the pictures, January in Xela is a bit different than Minnesota.  By the end of my bike ride, I had shed my sweatshirt and long sleeve t-shirt and was in short sleeves.

Friday, January 2, 2015

goals for 2015

Most of the time I do not like to share my goals with the world as it feels too personal.  This year, though, I am going to share a partial list of my goals in hopes to inspire you to make a few of your own.  Every year I make some, and though I never finish complete them all, I am always glad for the things that I did accomplish.  Here is a part of my list for the coming year.
  1. Read 12 nonfiction books.  I prefer fiction 9 times out of 10, but nonfiction books help me understand things I would not get from reading a novel.  Foreign to Familiar and How Children Succeed are two great examples.
  2. Finish the Spanish portion of Duolingo.  I started sometime last year or the year before, and have no excuse for not finishing this year.
  3. Learn to can salsa or dill pickles.  Two foods that I cannot get enough of, why should I rely on others to make them and give them to me.
  4. Complete my hexagon quilt.  I started it in the fall and has a good start.
What are some of your goals for 2015?

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

favorite books of 2014

I read 52 books this year, a few less than normal as it is a little harder to access English books here.  This is a list of my favorites that I would recommend for your reading in the upcoming year.  I blogged about all these books earlier so if you want to see more detail about a certain book, click on the title. 
  • Wonder by R. J. Palacio-written for older elementary students, anyone with school aged children or who works in a school should find this story engaging and worth reading.
  • Runaway Saint by Lisa Samson-Contemporary fiction novel about secrets and family
  • The Testament by John Grisham-Perhaps my favorite of Grisham's books.  It is the second time that I read it and it was just as good or better the second time around.
  • White Picket Fences by Susan Meissner-This is the second time I read this book that mixes history and the complexity of family in one story.
  • Sing for Me by Karen Halversen Schreck-An historical novel about race relations in the 1930's, it would be a good book for a book club to read and discuss.
  • Foreign to Familiar by Sarah A. Lanier-My only nonfiction book on the list, every adult should read it to better understand other people, especially those of cultures different than their own.
Any recommendations from your year of reading to share?

Friday, December 26, 2014

Christmas in Xela

My Christmas here in Guatemala was different than how I celebrate in the States.  I did go to the service at church on the evening of the 23rd.  We ate paches (a type of tamale), then the young people did a drama and the children sang some songs.  On the night of the 24th, the people eat supper LATE.  I went to supper at the home of some Guatemalans from church, and we ate at 10 PM.  (Some people eat at midnight).  We had roast turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, peas, and bread.  Then we sat around and talked and later ate dessert.  A little before midnight, we went over to the house of the brother-in-law and went on the roof (it is flat) to watch the fireworks.  The fireworks are purchased by individuals and are much grander than the ones people can buy in the US.  There were fireworks going off in all directions.  After that, the family I celebrated with took me home.  I slept late the next day, then hung out in Parque Central and had dinner at Pollo Campero.  It seemed like a good choice, as I could have a burrito and french fries.  Later I got an ice cream for dessert.  A good enough celebration of Christmas, but I do not plan to miss Christmas with my family again anytime soon.