Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Middle, Mundo, ´membering (re), memories

Hola from Quito! Last night, my mom and I went to her cousin Desi´s for dinner. I had never met her so it was fun to meet her, one of her sons and her friend Alex. We had a great time chatting together and just enjoying each other´s company. This morning Desi and Alex picked us up and we headed to the basilica to tour it and also went to a cathedral that is pretty much all made with 24kt gold.. everything is plated in gold and it´s beautiful. Then we went to the middle of the world!! Fun! I got to stand in the northern hemisphere and the southern hemisphere at the same time!

Still not feeling good but bought a bunch of different drugs today that are supposed to get rid of amoebas and parasites.. you can buy any drug you want here over the counter with no prescriptions, so that´s kind of nice and hopefully it will indeed help!

Today marks seven years since the day Leon died. It´s kind of crazy to think that seven years has already passed by. It was interesting being in Belize a couple weeks ago (can´t remember if I mentioned it in my blog or not.. so sorry if this is repeat), because the last family holiday we all took together was to Belize and i had let myself push aside the memories and when i saw some of the same places we had stayed at the last time, it brought back a flood of memories and it was so good. But ya, I miss him lots, especially today, just thinking back to the last time I saw him as he rode off on his bike and all the different emotions that accompany that. I´m a little homesick right now too so it´s hard not being home right now with everything combined. But to remember is good and that´s what I´ve done a bit of today so that has been good.

Tomorrow morning we get picked up at 5:50am for our flight to Galapagos Islands where we will board our sailboat for the next eight days. Hopefully I´ll be feeling better because currently the room feels like it´s spinning and I feel like I might fall over. Probably not good to have such feelings while swimming! haha.. Don´t think i´ll have internet access for the next week, but who knows, but wanted to write one last post before I went sailing away. Bye all! Miss you!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Inca, Insane, Idiotic

Hola from Machupicchu! We had a full day of exploring the ruins today and it was simply fantastic. The hour and a half train ride to get here was amazing with amazing views of the mountains. Then the 25 minute bus ride to the top was also beautiful with some amazing views. And even more amazing was the ruins themselves. Wow. I´m still in awe of how beautiful and advanced everything there is! I took some really cool pictures and loved every minute of walking around up there. Beautiful setting as well. Those Incas sure knew the good places to build their places of residency and their temples. I can´t imagine carrying all those rocks up the mountain though!

On the way down, we decided we should not take the 25 minute bus ride and walk down instead. heehee.. It was definitely worth it. there were shortcut walking trails through the mountain that had inca ruins along them so it was pretty cool and the views once again were breathtaking of the mountains. it was kind of cool to just be walking in the middle of the jungle. saw lots of lizards!

So now I¨m sore. We got back to the hotel and iw as so excited to take off my dirty sweaty clothes and to shower and put on my clean pjs. So cozy. Oops.. Too bad my mom accidentally put those and my comfortable flip flops in the bag that went back to Cusco for when we get there tomorrow. Haha.. So I have no clothes. I decided to put on the dirty pants and my sweatshirt which i didn´t wear today. Figured it was a better alternative to being naked. haha

Only 12 more days til I´m home! Loving it here but here are a few things I miss:
-my friends
-digesting food
-north american food
-brushing my teeth with tap water
-not living out of a suitcase

maybe a few more, but that´s just a few!! hee hee!! See ýou all later!

Friday, May 23, 2008

Pigs, Panting, Pictures

Yesterday we went to the coolest ruins-they were all built up on the side of a mountain. Only 200 steps to the top! Hence the panting. haha.. it´s harder when you´re at a much higher altitude as well! We went into a Peruvian family´s home and iwas surprised mainly by two things: there were about 20 guinea pigs running around the kitchen floor (i told my mom we should get some for our kitchen). It´s a delicacy here so they are domesticating nand raising them. My mom and i shared a guinea pig starter for dinner and as i ate it i couldn´t help but hear the sounds of the guinea pigs and remember them running around. hahaha.. but it still tasted good nonetheless! The other thing that was interesting was that on a shelf in their kitchen, they had the skulls of two of their dead ancestors. Yet another thing I told my mom would spice up our kitchen a little.. definitely interesting to see the rituals and the superstitions surrounding them.

Today we started the day by going to this little town called Chinchera. We saw how they make alpaca wool and they showed us how they die the wool using natural plants and such. Very interesting. Bought some mittens in case I get cold later on (highly unlikely). Then we checked out some ruins that are surrounded by high peaks with glaciers on top-beautiful!!

Afterwards we went to Moray, which is circular terraces going deep down into a valley. It was quite a hike do wn and once we got to the terraced part, we climbed down their version of stairs w hich is rocks jutting out the side of the wall.. kind of hard to explain, but definitely an interesting experience, especially for the wider and higher gaps bet ween the steps!

Our last stop was the salt mines. SO interesting! They make all these little pools where the water goes into and then the salt solidifies and comes to the top. I took some cool pictures (least they were cool on the digital screen). It´s just white squares all over the mountainside.

Tomorrow we board a train to take us to Machupicchu, the best of all Inca ruins, right on the top of the mountain-i´m super excited for it! We stay there fo r night and then on Monday we fly to Ecuador where we will be in Quito for aday and a half and see some relatives and then fly to the Galapagos Islands where we will board our sailboat! Probably won´t get internet access onthe sailboat, but you never know! Now Í´m off to go swimming in the frigid pool! Fun!! Miss you all and hope all is well at home!

P.S. Still sick.. haha.. just in case anyone was wondering. :)

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Ruins, Really, Run-down

Yesterday was really cool. We went to see a bunch of Inca ruins. Fascinating to think of how they must have built these amazing structures of stone and even cut the stone with who knows what kind of equipment! It´s a mystery. Really sad to see though how when the Spanish came they came and tried to destroy a lot of their places where they lived.

In the afternoon there was this crazy big procession. I guess there´s a huge Catholic holiday here today and so yesterday, they had the preparation celebrations. THey take all the statues of saints out of the churches, put them on big floats and carry them around in huge processions of people surrounded by marching brass bands and dancers in traditional clothing. Crazy amounts of people and hoardes of people there to watch. There were probably at least 20 huge statues they were carrying around. THey almost dropped one of them too.. haha.. there was a big gasp in the audience.. luckily it did not fall. Today is the actual holiday so i can´t imagine what the festivities will be like! We also went to see the church and the Temple of the Sun which was interesting and enlightening.

Today we head to the Sacred Valley for two nights where our hotel will have a pool!! funny that that´s what i´m excited for, but i really miss swimming so i will look forward to that tonight! Plus all the cool stuff we´ll see of course. Oh and I bought the coolest painting yesterday!! Fell in love with it actually. THe painter is famous and I got to meet him and take a picture with him. I will take pics of all my paintings when I get home and post them for you guys to see. Now I just need a house to hang them all in!!!

P.S. Does anyone besides Amy and Chrystal still read this blog?? Or is it just that no one comments? I´m just curious...

See you all later! Miss you!! Oh and still sick.. hahaha

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Peru, Planes, Pizza

Hola from Peru!!

Crazy to think that my three weeks in Guatemala are over-they flew by while at the same time it felt like I was there for months! haha.. Yesterday I flew to Miami where I met my mom and enjoyed a nice north american meal of pizza hut. haha. Then we flew down to Lima where we stayed for night.

This morning we flew to Cusco and while flying there, we got to fly over the Andes mountains. THey left me speechless in their grandeur and majesty. Wow. Can´t even begin to describe how beautiful that flight was. I didn´t have my camera to take pics out the window but hopefully on the flight back next week I´ll be able to snap a few!

We are staying in a hotel on top of a really steep hill in the middle of the Andes mountains. We are at 11, 000 ft elevation so the air is quite a bit thinner and it´s a little harder to make it up the hills! haha.. We always joked that Guatemala was the get in shape program, and it seems as though Peru will continue this goal!! haha..

We took a nice nap this afternoon after a night of 2 hours of sleep and another of 5 hours. Tonight we went to a cultural dance show with singing and lots of traditional outfits. It was pretty cool. Interesting to see the culture here in contrast to Guatemala.

I´m still sick and frustrated to no end with it, because I don´t know how to make it stop - argh! it´s building character though..t hat´s what i keep telling myself at least so that i can feel a bit better about it or something.

Anyway, i´m off to bed. i have a long day of touring Inca ruins tomorrow! FUN!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Sickness, Steinkamp, Sleep, Stomach, Sarcasm

Greetings from Guatemala for the last time my friends! Tomorrow I leave for Miami where I will meet my mom and then we fly together to Peru!! Yay! And we'll be in Peru for a bit, then Ecuador, then a seven day sailing trip through the Galapagos Islands! You can pray that i won't get robbed or anything in Peru... You can also pray that I would get better! The other night I was throwing up all night. It seems like things are on the up and up now but we will see! I'm just sick of being sick! It's frustrating.

Steinkamp is for Rob (his last name) who is in our group. It was his suggestion as to what I should add to my title with the S theme. Last night was the first night I slept through the entire night without being sick in the bathroom! Praise the Lord! :) Okay, enough about me not feeling good.. old news.

I have been discovering a love for all the ruins here in Antigua. They're partially destroyed by earthquakes and you get to walk around all the rubble and stuff. And the nicest place to go sit in Antigua is McDonalds.. hahahaha.. Okay maybe there's nicer, but honestly we found the nicest McDonalds I've ever been to in my life.. There's a courtyard with a fountain and plants everywhere and in the back you can see ruins. ahh.. nice place to just go and relax. Pretty fun.

Anyway, I'm off but wanted to say hello one last time from Guatemala. Not sure what internet access will be like but i'll try to update a bit while I'm on the next leg of my trip!

Friday, May 16, 2008

Coffee, Community, Cwiz, Convent

Yesterday morning we went to a tailor's house to see how things were happening and so that was pretty fun. The whole family is into different businesses and so it was neat to hear all about the different work that they are involved in. Then in the afternoon, Del, Hannah and I headed to Antigua and checked out some ruins. The ruins were of an old monastary that was destroyed by earthquake. It was really cool because you could walk all around the inside and there were just huge stones lying around that you could walk around and over. It was really fun to explore all the different rooms of the convent and to explore a bunch. Then we went to sit in McDonalds to enjoy the atmosphere.. Okay, so you might laugh at that, but it's actually the nicest McDonald's i've ever been in. They had a huge courtyard with gardens and a bit fountain and it really was beautiful and breathtaking. Really relaxing actually.

This morning we had a quiz.. and in case you guys are wondering about my mispelling of quiz in my title... I asked the people around me some words starting with C that i could put for my blog title and "cwiz" was what Ron (one of my profs) told me that I should put that and that's how you spell it. There you go-amazing things you can learn in university.

This morning we went to a coffee plantation and it was cool. We went to where the fields are and saw a coffee plant being planted.. we got to dig a hole too. Then we went to the farmer's house and watched all the different stages the coffee goes through-very labor intensive. Then we went into the kitchen and roasted the coffee over the fire. I got to help roast it! Then we ground it on a rock block. I got to help grind it too. Then we drank it and it was probably the best cup of coffee I have ever had! Yum! Now I smell like a big coffee bean.

And the lunch bell just rang, so I'm off! BYE!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Jade, June, Jaguar


Sorry I haven't updated in a while. This week has been great so far! On Monday we went to this local guy's home in a little village near Antigua where we learned how to make jade items. THis guy has been working with jade for over 50 years. He made a jade mask that was featured in National Geographic in September 1987 as a replica of an ancient Mayan burial mask. He goes into the mountains to find his jade and has made some pretty amazing stuff. The four of us started with slabs of jade, used a diamond cutter to cut it and then we shaved the corners off with a diamond sandpaper type thing. We molded the top as well to make it nice and rounded. THen we had to put it through ten different levels of sandpaper. It was crazy how much work goes into it! We spent about four hours on it! So now I will have a jade pendant for a necklace-it's beautiful! The family that lived there was so wonderful-they invited us in for tea and cookies and chatted with us in Spanish. All in all it was a fantastic day, probably one of my highlights of my trip so far.

Yesterday we spent the morning at a Macadamia nut farm and the owner of it was a bit of a nut himself but that mde the tour all the more interesting. In the afternoon we hung out in Antigua. A few of us went for a horse carriage ride around town which was fun. it was good to get a full view of the town and now I know the places I want to go explore more. THere's some really cool ruins I want to go check out. Actually in the morning we also went to an old convent which was super interesting.

TOday we spent the day in Guatemala City. We first went to the slums and walked around which was super eye opening and interesting. Then we went to the National Palace which was quite the contrast. Then we went to the Museum of Archaology which i didn't really enjoy, but i went through it quickly and then went and enjoyed the art gallery which had a lot of local Guatemalan art. Increasingly I'm gaining an appreciation for art and it's pretty fun.

Tonight we're going out for a fancy dinner and now I think I'm going to go take a nap!!

Oh, and for all of you who have had rain for the last little while, I'll appease your jealousy by letting you know that the rainy season just started here and right now it is pouring.. it's still really warm mind you, but ya.. hee hee..

Okay, have a great day friends!!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Antigua, awesome, amoebas

Hello from Antigua!! The historical city in Guatemala. We went for lunch in town today and it was great. I'm really excited to explore this city more. Lots of cool architecture and colors and stuff like that.

Today we went to a Spanish mega church in Guatemala City. It was interesting, because it was like a concert. There was a famous singer from Argentina there and he sang a bunch of songs and was really polished and they had this altar call and then everyone gave the new Christians bibles.. Then everyone in the church started waving their bibles in the air to the bible song that was being sung. it was pretty funny actually. many other things like that occured and i didn't understand half of it, but it made for an interesting two hours.

Fun times all around. Still sick and getting really frustrated with it. I just want to be comfortable again!! Maybe tomorrow!!

Anyway, i have internet access this week so hopefully i will post about all the uber exciting things i will do. For now i just feel like posting because i'm slightly restless and sweaty. Okay, bye friends!!!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Water, worms, Weather

Greetings from Lake Atlitlan! Since I haven´t had any pictures yet, i figured i would send you a picture of where i am right now. It´s amazing, the whole lake is surrounded by volcanoes and is absolutely spectacular. We took a boat ride to the other side this morning and the town was kind of dirty and smelly with poo all over the streets.. haha.. interesting to see but i was glad to leave at the same time.

I´ve been pretty sick for the past few days and haven´t eaten in 24 hours.. woot woot.. so i hope that goes away soon. I like to joke that i must have worms.. but I´m sure i don´t. but at least that way i can label it as something!

The weather here has been cooler which is a fantastic change from the sweltering heat! The other day we went caving which was super cool. There were a bunch of rivers in the cave and tons of cool formations. Was really neat to see.

Tomorrow we´re off to Antigua for the final leg of our trip. We will actually be in one place for a whole week. YAY!! So nice not to have to pack and unpack all my stuff over and over again! Then I will fly to Peru with my mom for the next portion of my summer adventures!! woot woot!

Hope you are all doing well and hopefully i will update sometime later this week!

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Beautiful, Belize, Banana, Bikes

hi all!! Feels like weeks since I last updated but things have been super busy here and we haven't had any internet access.. so I will try to update you a little bit on what has been going on, but I don't know if I'll remember it all. And sorry if this has typos, the computer keyboards are a bit different here!!

So for the rest of our time in Tactic, we visited some remote mountain villages (crazy drive up there), a coffee plantation, and made corn tortilla things for dinner with a local family. ONe day we went to some limestone swimming pools.. there's a river that runs underground but above on the limestone there are pools of water you can swim in. The drive there was stunning because it's all wilderness and when you're in the pools, you're surrounded by jungle. Another day we went into this crazy sinkhole that goes straight down into the ground and witches and stuff make sacrifices there. The missionary who was hosting us has been taking people down there for years to pray and worship and claim it for the Lord and it has been interesting to hear him talk about how the power of the witches sacrifices has been diminished over time.

Then we headed to Belize which was great. It has been eight years since I was there last and as we drove along the main highway, it was so weird to see places I had been last time.. brought back a flood of memories which was great and also reminded me a lot of my brother which was good, because they are memories I had put out of my mind.

We stayed one place inland for night which was absolutely beautiful. So great to be surrounded by nature and so forth. The next day we went swimming in National Blue Hole Park which was beautiful. I thought it was a place I remembered from last time, but there turns out to be two blue holes after all!! It was still a great place to go swimming! The next day we went to the coast which was great to walk around and talk to the local people. The next day (Sunday), we rented bikes and biked down to a place where we rented a golf cart (only three of us). We took the golf cart for a long ride along a river village which was great.. it was pretty funny when Nick went flying off the golf cart and onto the gravel road.. of course i made sure he was okay before i laughed at him... Then Katie, Emily and I biked for 12 km and went to a place along the river for lunch. That night we went to church which was fun! It was a Garifuna church which are the local people group who originally came from Africa-my favorite part was singing with all of them.

Then we headed to what has been one of my favorite parts of the trip.. We went back to Guatemala and went to Tikal which is the largest Mayan ruins in Central America. We stayed at a lodge in the middle of the park and went for a hike to the highest temple to watch the sunset over the jungle. Wow.. breathtaking. Then we walked back in the jungle in the middle of the dark which was kind of crazy because it was pitch black and you hear all the animals around you and watch all the glowing bugs flying around-it was kind of magical. At 9pm they turn the power off and the stars are amazing.. you're in the middle of the jungle with no lights around for miles and miles and miles. I could have stayed there for endless hours looking at the stars. This morning we woke at 4:30am to go watch the sunrise and it was amazing to be there in complete silence. Then we wandered around all the ruins for about three hours.. NO words to explain how incredible it was.

Now we are in Flores for night and tomorrow we are off to Coban. So far it has been an amazing trip and I am loving it. The heat is a bit much as I am constantly dripping sweat and am soaking wet.. fun times all around! One day it was 37 degrees. crazy.. i only got a bit of a burn on my arms but it seems to have turned into a tan already so that's good.

Our group is a lot of fun and we've formed a lot of inside jokes and stuff. I have been learning a lot culturally and have been thinking a lot about my worldview and culture in comparison. So all in all it's been great getting to know people better and to hang out with everyone and see some amazing sites!! sSuch a good experience. We've been able to talk to a lot of people from different people groups as well which has been very enlightening.

So this is me signing off for now.. we'll see when I get to update next! Hope all is well at home!! Miss you all!!