June 1-14, 2015

Day 13: Non-Rolando

Unique to this morning was the fact that we were all beginning to realize that our trip was coming to a quick close. For some of us, this has its bright sides, as the end of being homesick (or actually sick) was coming nearer. Besides that though, the fact that we’re out here in the most amazing place doing amazing things is so great to me; I could stay for so much longer! We all woke up to our own alarms around 7 or 8, and after some of us took more warm showers, we headed over to breakfast. We eat our meals in a different building, and breakfast was served on the front porch of it, overlooking the lake and the trees. All of us ate as many crepes with jam as we wanted, which was really luxurious compared to our usual one bowl of cereal or oatmeal at Mari’s. Either way, every meal we’ve been served here has basically been amazing.

After breakfast, we packed up all of our weekend bags and headed over to the boat dock. After we waited for our planned boat driver, Don Rolando, we were approached by a man who spoke in Spanish with Angelica. They talked quickly, and he confirmed with her that he was, in fact, Don Rolando. We all piled into the water taxi with our bags, but then we were herded back off of the boat almost instantly. As it turns out, this man was an imposter… Angelica had gotten in touch with the real Don Rolando on the phone, who said he would be sending one of his coworkers to drive us. It was a little stressful because not only had we been lied to, but we had also been running late and confused as to which dock was even our rendezvous point. In the end, we made it into Don Rolando’s friend’s boat, and crossed the lake to Panajachel. This, however, was not the end of our chaotic morning. Because of the time crunch, we took tuk-tuks to the Reserva Natural, where we were supposed to be ready to zipline at 11 AM. Three of our tuk-tuks, including Angelica and Jason, didn’t end up arriving at the same time as the rest of us. Those of us who were there on time signed our release waivers, and patiently sat around (Khoi found more ice cream; he has been buying it virtually every day). Eventually, our other half made it to the reserve. This was at 11:08, but we were still let in, and got right to ziplining.

The hike up was about 25 minutes, crossing rickety, hanging, wooden bridges over large streams (white water rafting material), and through the jungle where we encountered raccoon things and monkeys, which was really cool. Once we reached the top, we all waited in line as one after one of us got latched on and swept away. My favorite part of the ziplines was the fact that you brake yourself. You are given gloves with layers of thick leather, and you have to grab the line behind you and pull it down. I liked this factor because it was such a rush, even though the men at the end do have emergency brakes if necessary. We zigzagged down a total of 8 lines, and the view was spectacular (I recorded my high-speed travels and I’ll be posting a video somewhere, sometime soon!). After the zipline course, the final test for us all was a quick ropes course, which Andy, Khoi and Carter can all tell you about! The ropes course basically defeated the guys, but it was still super fun! Before we left, we visited a butterfly exhibit that was really cool. There were a lot of different types of butterflies, and it was open-air, so they just flew all around you.

We made our long journey back to Mari’s house, and arrived there around seven. We ate dinner, and talked the night away. Buenas noches!

Until next time, xoxo, Kylin Brown

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Day 12: Don't Pick Your Nose

This morning was an early one, as we got  up to go hike “la Nariz”, or "The Nose" in English. Our breakfast was a pleasant surprise as there were crepes, eggs, sausages, and strawberry jam awaiting us as we dined out on a deck overlooking the deep blue Lake Atitlan. We then proceeded to board a bus and make our way to la Nariz. Once we had made it to the foot of the mountain, we hiked through crops of corn as we gained altitude. We made it to la Nariz, overlooking the small city of San Juan, and enjoyed the view as some took selfies hanging off the edge and others ate lollipops. After we soaked in the view, we hiked back down the mountain, jumped back on our bus, and headed back to the bed and breakfast to eat lunch and take a nap. For the entire afternoon, we rested and got the chance to really take in our amazing view from our hotel (a series of bungalows), and some of us (all of the girls) got up to go to the market. We went to the small town of San Pedro, where some of us got virgin pina coladas and we all got to ride in more tuk-tuks!

We all returned in time for dinner, which was really good and let me just say, it included chicken! We ate in front of the gorgeous view, as we did at every meal, and then scattered to our bungalows. After some late nights and some early nights, we all have made our way to bed. Also, there are warm showers! I forgot what it was like to take one.

Until next time, xoxo, Kylin Brown

Mike’s bird of the Day: White Collared Swift

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Day Eleven: To Atitlan- "A Three Hour Tour"

Our work in the schools is finally complete as of today (Which is totally Friday)! Now time for some fun (not that we haven't been having fun)! Today we headed to Lake Atitlan, where we’ll stay for the weekend. After breakfast we all piled into a big van, and headed to Panajachel, a town on the coast of the lake. Motion sickness pills were handed out before- hand, so all of our stomachs were set and we hunkered down for a long car ride. The drive took about 3 and half hours, and was a crazy ride. The road went up, down, left and right, through farms, towns, mountains, and even around a town celebration. Nothing notable occurred during the drive, in fact many people just slept. The descent into Panajachel was quick and steep, and the view of the lake just kept getting better and better as we went, and soon we were at the shores of Lake Atitlan. From there we asked for Rolando, who the hotel staff recommended, and he took us across the lake. The boat ride was exhilarating; we soared across the water, passing mountains and volcanoes. However trouble began to brew when we docked and Angelica asked the men at the dock if they knew the hotel we were staying at, Hotel Chi-Ya. After many minutes of confusion she realized that not only had our driver taken us the the wrong town, Santiago, but that he probably wasn’t actually Rolando. We had him take us to San Juan, the town where our Hotel was, but ended up having to pay an extra 150 Quetzales for the gas. By the time we got the San Juan, we were very happy to get off the boat and be done with the whole mess.

Once in San Juan we all piled into Tuk-tuks and went to the hotel. Hotel Chi-Ya is a collection of rooms and bungalows on the point between the towns of San Juan and San Pablo. Each room holds two to three people and has a great view of the lake. We all got full sized beds, a very appreciated luxury. After a little down time we headed out to explore San Juan. Many of us did not feel our best today, however only a few people stayed behind due to sickness. In San Juan we explored the market a bit, it’s very similar to the one in Antigua expect for a few key details. Unlike in Antigua, some of the shops in San Juan are run by cooperatives of women who actually make all of the items they sell and directly receive the revenue from their goods. We all thought that was very cool and did our best to support the women; multiple bags were bought. After about an hour in the market, which was very small, we returned to the hotel in the back of a pickup truck. The truck we rode in is specialized for transporting people and had bars set up for passengers to hold on to. Everyone agreed that it was more fun than riding in a Tuc- tuc and it was even cheaper! Once we were back at the hotel it was dinner time. We didn’t know what to expect and were pleasantly surprised by delicious lasagna. Although it wasn’t quite as good as Mari’s cooking, it was nice to have a taste of home. After dinner everyone settled in for the night and we were all asleep early in our comfy beds.

Until next time, xoxo, your fave guate guest writer, Hannah Mummey

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Day 10: Fiesta Foreva

Today (pretend it’s Thursday), both of the schools we worked at graciously thanked us with celebrations for their new and improved computer labs. We first went to a sculpture park that’s actually the park of a five-star hotel in Antigua. We ventured up a ways in weird, open-air, canopied vans (as explained by Henry, who admits he has no idea what he’s talking about). Anyways, we were driven up in groups of six or seven, past a helipad and several artsy installations. Once at the main park, the first group went exploring with Bob (not Dora). There was a breathtaking church that hung off of the hillside and gazed out over Antigua. The landscaping was spectacular and Eliott was so excited by it that, while bounding down the wooden path by the water feature, he smashed his foot through a board. We quickly left the scene of the crime. The second group reported a wooden board being a little out of place, but we have no idea why… Besides that, there was an interesting sculpture of small men with spigots in a rather suggestive place; Khoi found this hilarious, and posed for pictures with them. After both groups reunited, we headed down the hill and wandered the beautiful 5-star hotel (which has macaws!), and then to McDonald’s. Unfortunately, a giant group of school kids made up the line at the counter, so we had to settle for Flurries at the McCafe or baked goods and soft drinks at a nearby bakery.

After eating, we headed over to Duenas, where we were greeted by all of the students and the school band, as well as the principal. He gave us a quick speech about the importance of our work there. Bob also spoke, telling the students to use the lab to further their education. After the speeches, the school band put on a rousing performance with plenty of bass drum. While the band played, we were presented with barbeque chicken and mashed potatoes. We didn’t stay for long, but there was enough time for Khoi to dance with the principal from Ciudad Vieja, and for all of us to see the impact of our work at the school. After goodbyes we headed to Miguel’s house, one of the students. His family bought us all dinner and we were singing karaoke and playing basketball all afternoon. The music was a mix between Guatemalan club music and Shakira. Miguel’s hoop was only 7 feet tall so dunking was aplenty. Eventually as dark was setting in we took a bus back to Antigua to settle down and pack our backs for our adventure to Lake Atitlan.

Until next time, xoxo, Gossip Girl… sorry I had to. *Henry and Kylin (the fastest blog writers around)

Mike’s Bird of the Day: White Hawk!

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Day 9: Midnight Munchies

Today (pretend it’s Wednesday), we went to the school in Dueñas. It was an early morning, and once again a select few had to get up about an hour earlier than everyone else. They went to the school with Bob, figured out what to do before the rest of us arrived, and showed us how to finish up the computer lab. We crimped the remaining cables, and switched out older monitors (basically TVs) for newer flat screen models. With the lab only needing a few finishing touches, it was off to the school in Ciudad Vieja by way of Chicken bus. Once we were all at the school, we had some time to kill before our charter bus arrived.

With all of our empty stomachs, we went out for pizza, which was amazing! After our quick snack, we drove half an hour or so outside of Antigua to a recreational park. There were fields for soccer and courts for volleyball and basketball, as well as a lot of open space to just relax outside. Inside the park, there were a lot of stray dogs, and while we sat down for lunch, some of us even witnessed a dog trying to high jump as well as I can (Kylin), but it only made it into a trash can, which was probably its actual goal, as it spent a good minute in there before springing out. After a couple of hours at the park, we were all pretty worn out, so we piled back into the bus, and headed home.

We said goodbye to our Guatemalan friends as they headed on home. Once we were back at Mari’s, a few of us went out to get some late night snacks with Jason, and one by one, we all went to bed after our long (last) day of work.

Until next time, xoxo, the bestest of friends, Henry and Kylin

Mike's Bird of the Day: Acorn Woodpecker!

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Day 8: Camino Seguro

Today we woke up to a great breakfast of fresh fruits and yogurt, but we weren’t all very hungry right away so we didn’t eat much. Breakfast was early today, at around seven, but we all realized what happens when you don’t eat enough breakfast later in the day, and we were all hungry. Today Bob wanted to show us the school that the most recent Guatemala trip set up previously. It’s called Camino Seguro, or Safe Passage, and it’s a really special place. Safe Passage is located in the heart of Guatemala City, and takes in students whose parents and families have worked at the city dump for generations. (I suggest Googling images of the Guatemala City Dump for a good idea of what it’s like).

Safe Passage has a preschool program, a middle to high school program, as well as a program for the often single parents of these children. Frances and Sally came to these schools a few years ago and set up the existing computer lab there. All of the kids there are so cute and the school offers them a half-day escape from the threatening city outside of the walls and the dump where they might’ve had to start working at after they were old enough. Safe Passage gives kids and parents an education that they wouldn’t have the advantage of receiving at a young age normally (due to the small, but significant prices of public schooling). The parents also get an education in order to have the ability to help their own children have opportunities for homework help and a better understanding of things they see every day (like the newspaper). The parents are so motivated to continue their education and stay ahead of where their family is in school, which I think is amazing. On the way there, we passed through a cemetery, and it was nothing like any cemetery I’ve ever seen in the US. The graves were mausoleums and they housed multiple coffins, often of the same family (depending on budgets). The cemetery was also right above the dump, and sadly, some mausoleums had begun to fall off of the growing cliffside into the trash. Also, there were hundreds of vultures flying over the dump, which we first saw above the cemetery. The entire sight was really shocking, and the whole day really opened our eyes to the extreme differences between our 1st world country and the capital and heart of this 3rd world country.

After visiting the three buildings that share the mission and vision of Safe Passage -- the pre-k through kindergarten, the middle to high school, and the building filled with mothers who have more passion for education than we could ever come to have ourselves -- we then continued to the jewelry store above the adult classrooms. As a work opportunity, the mothers at Safe Passage are taught how to make paper beads and recycled jewelry, and they make a lot more money selling their work than they ever might have scavenging through the city dump. Every thing Safe Passage does makes me want to volunteer there when I’m older, and definitely sponsor a child. Today was definitely a highlight of the trip.

Well, I’m pretty tired, and we’re almost up-to-date with the blog, so

Until next time (soon!) , xoxo -- Tired Kylin and Sleeping Jessica :)

Mike's Bird of the Day: Black Vulture


Day Seven: Crimp it, Crimp it Real Good

Today, about half of the group (the tech gods, apparently) woke up around 6 AM to head to the second school we've worked with here, San Miguel Dueñas. The other 8 of us stayed and "slept in" until 7:30 or so, and woke to a delightful surprise of panqueques. The usual breakfast has rotated between cereal with bread or oatmeal with bread, so whenever Mari whips out the pancakes we all get a lil excited. We left for the school and after the semi-long drive, we went straight to work on  the lab.

We set up the computers on Day Four, and the only work left to do on the lab was make sure all of the computers were connected to the internet router. The Early Morning Crew (Jessica, Andy, Henry, Zach, Elliot, and Bob) had already crimped a lot of wires by the time we all arrived, so once we got to work, it didn’t take long. Our partners from first school were there to help, too. We all crimped until we were pros, and got each cable connected to the computers and routers.

Once we got home, we had a delicious lunch at Mari’s, and then most of us took a short nap, while others went to the market once again. This is kind of the usual afternoon routine at this point. We eat lunch, shop for you, eat dinner, hang out, and go to sleep. So before we knew it, it was dinner. Our dinner tonight was rice, beans, and bread, which is very traditional, basic Guatemalan meal. The bread here is nothing like American bread; it is crunchy-ish on the outside, and chewy on the inside without being toasted, and the taste is a lot less sweet than at home.  The rice is also a little different than any I’ve had before, and it is soo good! It’s a mixture of white rice that’s not cooked in a rice cooker, and a small amount of little cooked vegetables. It almost tastes like fried rice. Anyways, we’re all really tired, and we might have gone out for ice cream once again.

Until next time, xoxo, your fave Guate Galz - Jessica and Kylin

Mike’s Bird of the Day: Blue Gray Tanager!

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Day Six: La Gran Familia

We all knew when we woke up that the day was going to be exhausting but nonetheless, literally breath-taking. Today, we took a hike up Pacaya--an active volcano out of the 37 total volcanoes  in Guatemala.  Bus riding has become so common in these past six days, we simply sleep through them now, especially this hour and a half long ride.

When we got to the entrance of the hike, we were greeted by tons of kids and teenagers who were super eager to have us rent sticks for 5 quetzales, or pay 100 quetzales for a horse ride up the mountain. Some of us opted for the horses while the rest powered up on foot. The first bit of the hike is quite steep and the men with horses follow you up, knowing that many people will change their mind after the first five minutes. The hike actually wasn’t too hard, and Bob claimed he could do it for breakfast. Our tour guides and horse guides  just called us “La Gran Familia”, meaning Big Family. :) When we finally reached the top (most of us drenched in sweat), the landscape was amazing. Those who had horses had to say goodbye to them or pay another hundred questzales, and we all took in the views. With smoke billowing out of the volcano, we roasted marshmallows over a crevice in the dried lava rocks, ate lunch and shopped in the “lava shop”. we then proceeded to hike our way down the volcano back down to our bus where most everyone fell asleep after a long day.

After the hike, the boys went to the market, while the girls stayed in to nap or chill -- at least at first. Dinner was served around 6 pm, and we were all really exhausted so today wasn’t too eventful!

Mike's bird of the day: the Cinnamon-Bellied Flower Piercer!

Until next time, xoxo, your fave Guate Galz - Jessica and Kylin


Day Five: MRSA

Today--giving that it was a Saturday, we didn't have to wake up very early. By that, I mean we woke up around 8 in the morning which most of us consider pretty early. After rolling out of bed, we sat down to breakfast and then began to get ready for a long day of fun. We had plans to go on an outing to a very affordable amusement park with our Guatemalan buddies, giving us a chance to bond with them without the pressure of doing work.  At 9 a chartered school bus picked us up outside Mari's and we then made our way to Ciudad Vieja to pick up our friends. A 40 minute bus ride followed that, filled with amazing views of the Guatemalan landscapes--lush green fields and desolate volcanoes. Some of us, especially Khoi and Carter, had many fun conversations with the Guatemalans on the bus ride, despite language barriers. Many topics were discussed, ranging from siblings to career goals.

Once we got to Los Aposentos, the park, there were many options including swimming, zip lining, boating and horseback riding. We all wanted to go experience different things, yet all ended up traveling in one big group to ride horses. There we rode horses, often led by trainers, up a small path and then back down for 5 Quetzales a ride; which is less than $1. Most of us had some experience horseback riding, but others weren't so great at handling a horse; for example Yonatan, who's horse returned because he didn't know how to make it turn in different directions.

Afterwards, most people went to the small lake in the park where we went on row boats and paddle boats. A few of the students and our own crew bought water guns on the sly. Once we were in the middle of the lake, everyone who had bought one started spraying us innocent people and all we could do was try and splash them from that far away. Nevertheless, we all had fun getting wet and splashing each other; except for an injured Niaya, who was deathly afraid of catching "A MRSA." She has talked about MRSA a few times on this trip, but we're pretty sure it's not a thing...in Guatemala at least. Whilst row boating, Niaya was legit yelling because Andy and Sally wouldn't turn the boat around to take her back to shore. Although this was very hilarious to all of us,  nothing was very funny to Niaya until she was sure Jason had caught A MRSA when he cut the bottom of his foot later in the day.

We had lunch after air drying for a couple of minutes. Mari had prepared us a lunch, but more than half of the group went to go eat at a restaurant; they spent a hecka long time waiting for some delicious food, much longer than it took us to eat our free lunches. After lunch we all went on the zip-line. Earlier in the day the park peeps told us it was 20 Quetzals when last week they told Bob that they charged 10. However, a bit of haggling did the trick and we only paid 25 Quetzals for every two riders. The zip-line went over the lake and was very enjoyable and we are now looking forward to zip-lining at Lake Atitlan even more. Andy did some dope flips on the zip-line, which was cray. He got in trouble for being too badas* and got yelled at in Spanish (which is pretty scary).

After that many of us decided to hit the pool. The water was kinda cold, but it was a refreshing change from the hot weather of Guatemala. The ever present frisbee made an appearance in the pool, with all the boys throwing it back and forth and even trying to catch it while jumping in; there were may failures on that front. Rough-housing was also a favorite with the boys; lots of people were pushed in by Elvis, Miguel and Antonio (three of the Guatemalans). After an hour of swimming it was time to go; we got out and dried off, then boarded the bus back to Antigua. Once we were home a few people collapsed into a catatonic state, including Jessica, the champion face planter of the trip. Although Zach is a close second. Everyone who was conscious fought for some shower time and then it was time for an early dinner.

Knowing that it was the 4th of July in the US, Mari prepared us a special dinner. After making a touching speech about how thankful she was that we were here together and working for the good of Guatemala rather than enjoying the festivities at home, she joyously pulled the string on a huge popper that showered us (Elliott and Zach) in confetti. Then we feasted.  She told us she had prepared "an American meal", which was almost like chili dogs. Hot dogs in the usual Guatemalan bread with yellow mayonnaise in between and a bowl of chili. So the meal was very close to being American, but without the usual ketchup/mustard combo.

Until next time,

xoxo, your fave Guate gaalz -Kylin, Jessica, Hannah, and Andy


Mike's Bird of the Day: The Bushy-Crested Jay

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Day Four: Prepare to be Amazed

Guest written by Andy and Hannah.

The troops were rallied a bit late this morning mostly due to the piercing sound of Yonatan's sleep talking and Carter's frequent moaning. Regardless, Mari prepared an incredible meal of French toast and fresh fruits that quickly made us ready to roll. We took our usual walk to the chicken bus - shout out to the sidewalks for keeping us off the streets. The bumpy bus took us to the school we've been working with in Ciudad Vieja and we met up with our Guatemalan homies. We ceremoniously gifted them TSC t-shirts and immediately went to complete today's task which was to move the old computers from Colegio Valle de Almolonga to a school in San Miguel Duenas.

With our partners, we loaded the heavy computers into the back of a car and took off on a bus to our destination. We had to stand this time and hold onto handrails, which proved to be a challenge. At one point, Jessica, quite the daredevil, took her hands off of the bar that was keeping her up and yelled "No hands!". Livin' la vida loca. When we arrived, another short walk took us to the school and we went to work setting all the computers up. The teamwork was amazing as we quickly finished almost the entire lab with time to spare. I was so proud of Trang when she and and her partner Jonathan we able to successfully set up one computer.

Having finished early, we waved goodbye to our friends for the day and then made our way back to Mari's house. Many kids chose to take a nap while some decided to play Banana-grams, Hannah's new favorite game. She dominated the competition, racking up zero wins but managing to spell out some words. The gloves came off when I constructed words like "exoskeleton" and "ethernet" - Frances was so impressed! Shortly after, everybody was woken up to enjoy Mari's lunch, except Zach. It took three buckets of water and several death threats from Elliot to wake him up. Just kidding! Lunch consisted of this beautiful soup with beans and beef along with rice, tortillas, and a peppered meat thing. It definitely hit the spot.

Hannah really wants to finish the second half of this blog now, so I better let her before she smashes my face into the keyboisrjgaio;qjwq3oi0rfjkwho;eafguehw.

That was a lie, I am in no ways violent. Anyways, after lunch everyone was soon sleepy again, a result of stuffing ourselves. However, most of us decided to go the market and see what deals we could scavenge. The reigning queen of haggling, Niaya, decided to stay behind today, and instead enjoyed a nice refreshing nap. Khoi took up the slack, seeming to buy something at every place we passed. He bought so much stuff he had to buy a duffle bag to carry it in. Many interesting items were bought, most probably not needed. Carter showed up with brass knuckles, a lighter, a knife and something we cannot name. Remind me not to mess with him.

Around 4:30 we all met back up and went to a restaurant that was showing the US vs. Guatemala game. It was a supposed "friendly game", but allegiances were shown among the crowd. One group even stood up when the US national anthem was played; how patriotic. Elliott, himself, was especially thrilled by the fighter planes that flew over the match. We only stayed for the first half, because Mari was making us dinner and we didn't want to spoil that, but the game was interesting. The one US goal that we witnessed was actually scored by a Guatemalan defender who was trying to head the ball to the goalie. Andy: "You had one job". Of us all, Henry probably enjoyed the game the most, as he IS a self- proclaimed soccer extraordinaire.

While most of the group walked back, I got to take a Tuc-tuc with Angelica. Tuc-tucs are small, three-wheeled "motor- tricycles"  that consist of a frame and cloth as doors. We could feel every bump of the cobblestone road. The fun was even extended, as we took a wrong turn and our driver had to pull a U- turn. Khoi and Yonatan's driver, who was following us, charged them double because of it. Most of us took refreshing showers after that and then sat down to yet another great meal. Thanks again Mari!

After that, things have been winding down, at least for me and Andy. Right now we are sitting on a couch, putting our blood, sweat and tears into being at least a little entertaining with this accursed blog that Kylin decided not to write. As we type away we can hear the screams and howls from the other room, as Bob face-times in the adjacent chair, raving about us. Tomorrow we are going to a water park sort of deal with our partners, so be excited for that. Hopefully someone gets a minor injury so that the next post will be more interesting. We can guarantee that it won't be written by us. Anyways, we're going to leave our self- induced isolation and join the festivities.

Love from Hannah and Andy (and the whole crew)

New feature (woohoo!!!):

Mike's bird of the day: the Rufouse-Collared Andean Sparrow (look it up!)

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Day 3: Sweaty Feets and Hot Seats

Today, we woke up a little less tired than the past couple of mornings, and we had a really filling breakfast with oatmeal and sweet bread. Today was pretty eventful, so in the morning we packed for the entire day. The temperature was about 78 degrees and, of course, Guatemala has about 80% humidity this time of year, so it's very warm.

So first, we took the bus to the school, where we met up with our partners again, and gave them less awkward hugs. Together, we worked on the computers today to complete the setup of the lab and to get them connected to the internet. Quite a few computers were off and on the connection every few minutes, and some others weren't connecting at all. We use a router program called RACHEL-Pi, which allows students to access a few select websites for educational purposes -- without any other form of WiFi. Rachel also has an entire database of encyclopedic sources for the students, so it's ideal for a school setting in a country like this. Connecting to the internet was quite the struggle, and its possible that we'll have to crimp our own cables for the ones not connecting. that will have to be another day though, because we ended up switching from Paint to Google Chrome's default "error loading page" dinosaur game (you could look it up, it's really fun). Then we went outside to take a break, where we found peacocks and fish, and Trang also saw a stray kitten (photos will be posted soon!). For the rest of our time at the school, we played around in the yard with a frisbee and a small soccer ball, and it was nice to get some down time. We would need the energy...

With our Guatemalan partners, we left la escuela by bus of course, which is our main form of transportation. The buses are very hot and crowded, but they're nice anyways, because we're always sweaty and the wind feels great! So next, we were to go on a short hike to Cerra de la Cruz, which is a scenic viewpoint with a huge cross (see photos) and a view of the entire city of Antigua. The hike consisted of never-ending stairs, and a lot of sweating kids, but the view at the end was definitely worth it. On the way home, we took our partners out for lunch at Cafe Sky, where we had nachos and drinks. The smoothies were huge!

For dinner tonight, we were thrown a fiesta! Mari made us a lot of amazing food, and celebrated our presence in her home. She is the kindest woman, and before dinner every night, we are told how glad she is that we are here. Of course, she speaks all Spanish, but Jessica always translates for everyone, which is really nice. Dinner was very talkative and fun and afterwards we all got to hang out and talk for a while.

Until next time, your fave Guaté Galz, Kylin and Jessica

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Day Two: Awkward Hugs

We woke up to the smell of syrup and panqueques. We were all tired, but nonetheless, excited for our first visit to the school. Breakfast was incredible, and we all were satisfied, some more than others. Soon after, Sally shoveled seven scrumptious syrup-soaked pancakes into her mouth, resulting in our first Guate-malady... in other words she may have gotten a little sick.To help her cope, our second adventure of the day was a roller coaster ride in a pimped out school bus. Chicken buses, as they are called, are crowded, and the back door might not always be closed, but they are quite the experience.

It took us about fifteen minutes to get to the school, where we were met by other students--some our age, others younger. We were clapped into the entrance and thanked for being there to help them with the computers and additional technology. After a few minutes, we were assigned partners, not many of who spoke English, but we all knew a bit of Spanish. We quickly went to work with our new friends, to unpack the bags and evaluate the damage. The good news was that most things were fine and we had enough working technology to sufficiently set up the lab. The bad news was that parts were broken off, some monitor screens were cracked, and a few RAM drives were stolen. Thanks again, American Airlines.

We easily set up the labs, working well with our new partners, and then took a break to walk to a nearby park. At the park we engaged in games and occasionally confusing chatter, but also shared many laughs with the students; mostly thanks to Khoi's antics. Shoutout to Khoi for knowing very little Spanish, but definitely making the most friends! After the break we organized the accounts on all computers, connected internet cables, and then played around on Google Maps. We showed them Garfield in all its Streetview pride and glory and other places in our beloved home city.

Today was a little different than it will be, as all of the students we will be teaching were away on mid-winter break; however we did hear that they should be back tomorrow and look forward to meeting them and continuing our work. We were (are) excited to teach them new skills and make new friends. We will continue to work with our partners every day at the school, and we are also going to a water park with them this weekend, so these friendships that started with an awkward hug and an "Hola" might end up being a very memorable part of our time here.

We left the school around noon, and took another chicken bus back to Antigua. Back at Mari's we were served yet another delicious lunch and then set out on a little field trip. We visited the town and looked at a LOT of boots in one section, and made our way back to the market afterwards. We're all becoming pro hagglers and some of us have been able negotiate prices down (over 100 quetzales down).

The rest of the evening has consisted of a lot of relaxing, and we're all almost caught up on our sleep! We just went out for ice cream for a little dessert, and the weather at night here is really nice. Now, we're all winding down and talking. There is a missionary staying in our house as well and he just told a great ghost story about the house we're staying in...

We'll all be fine, and
Until next time, yo fave Guate Gals ft. Hannah Mummey :)

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Day One: "Travel Alaska"

We all woke up Monday morning either ready to leave or ready to start packing or somewhere in between. Either way, we each felt the anxiety/excitement of traveling to an entirely new country. That bubble of excitement BURST when we were told by an American Airlines worker that our tubs, filled with monitors and computers for the Guatemalan students, were no longer fit for flying… As of nine days ago, totes were unfortunately banned and we were not made aware before hand. The check-in area of the airport became chaotic, as we all realized our entire mission was at risk, and we might have had to teach the students how to use computers… without computers. Our only option left was to buy $35 dollar bags (32 bags) and check those instead. Next time you think of flying with American Airlines, we suggest you consider flying with a kind airline like Alaska instead.

Nevertheless, the next fourteen hours of flying, which consisted of back pains, neck pains, and unsatisfied, half-awake slumbers--were all worth it when we saw the gates of the Guatemalan airport, knowing that despite the hassle, we had made it --with our computers! In the humid air, we were greeted by an anxious Bob. Two kind Guatemalan young men helped us put all of our luggage onto the back of a school bus, happy to help transport us out of the Guatemala City and into the small town of Antigua.

It took us two hours to reach Mary’s house on the bus. After an exhausting travel, it was nice to have been welcomed by someone that although had just met us, had invited us into her home and considered it to be our home as well. We were immediately sat down and given a plate of traditional Guatemalan food—a salad of cucumbers with a secret homemade recipe sauce by Mary, beef, and a side of rice with vegetables.

After lunch, we all decided to take a trip around Antigua, so we went to the bank, walking past colorful and beautiful markets and houses, along with venders offering us bracelets and instruments. After exchanging our American money, to quetzals we took a stroll to all of the small posts, buying souvenirs to take a little bit of our two week trip home with us. We had a long, eventful day, and after the visit to the market the day dwindled to a cozy close as we all arrived at the house, and one by one, made our way to bed. Of course, this was only mid-afternoon, but because of our sleepless travels, we are perfectly fine with having the rest of tonight to relax and get to know each other more as a team.

Until next time,
xoxo – your fave Guaté Galz, 2015