Showing posts from May, 2011

Nuestros Ahijados

Because I don’t start teaching my own English classes until next week, this week has been a sampling of all the different projects within Nuestros Ahijados.

Entrance to Nuestros Ahijados- it is really an oasis
Monday I went to Casa Jackson, the infant malnutrition clinic, for an afternoon shift. I don’t think I have ever handled babies before that I can remember, let alone malnourished Guatemalan babies. The first baby that I held was 2 months old and weighed 4.9 pounds. They are so fragile that at first I was really scared I would damage him somehow. Two hours later, I had that baby in my arms and I was bottlefeeding him as he gripped my finger. The parents of the children there are required to visit each week and talk with social workers and nutritionists. Sometimes when the babies are ready to go home, their parents might not be ready to take them back, and so they spend weeks at the clinic waiting. Maybe it was a good day when I visited, but a lot of the kids seemed genu…

Water: Clean, Dirty, Hot, Cold

I will start by saying this: don't drink tap water. Duh!

I discovered a new quirk about running water in our house: It is dependent on how much water is running in the house next door. If we wake up and can hear that they have the hose running into their imaginary above ground pool or whatever excuse they have for running their hose for hours, that means we can’t shower! If they are running their water, our sink upstairs doesn’t work at all, the sink/toilet downstairs have minimal water pressure, and nothing comes out of the showerhead.

We take clean, consistent water for granted in the U.S. If you wake up hungover here and the big water jug is empty, you can’t just fill up a glass of water from the sink. You can wait for water to boil and then cool it down in the fridge OR walk to the tienda on the corner and buy bottled water. When I am in Europe, I buy bottled water once a week and fill it up for free in various bathroom sinks for the next 7 days. Not even many locals would do …

Cost of Living

Antigua, where I am living, is the most expensive city in Guatemala. Thought I would share the prices of some things around here:

Manicure AND Pedicure

Almuerzo (Set lunch of chicken, rice, beans, tortillas, salsa, tamale, and lemonade)

Bus ride from the suburb where I live into downtown Antigua

Taxi ride home late at night

Two delicious pastries (One custard pie, one pineapple tart)

Heaping Taco from the taco stand down the street (one is enough for dinner!)

Oasis in a Slum

I want to tell everyone back home how awesome things are here, how I’m making tons of new friends, got invited to go to the lake this weekend and the Pacific coast next weekend, how my Spanish is coming back, and how I’m eating like a queen. Instead, I’m going to talk about the NGO I am volunteering with, Nuestros Ahijados because I am completely in love with the program.

One of my roommates is the director, which is how I got involved. My other roommate is the organization's photographer! This project helps so many different groups in the community that it is hard to know where to start. Besides the main complex in the San Felipe slum, called the Dreamer Center, there is an infant malnutrition clinic, homeless shelter, and vocational school and probably other programs I have not even heard of yet. The Dreamer Center is an abundance of happily shrieking little kids, smiling locals mixing with international volunteers, and the occasional big cuddly dog.

Boys reading in the school&…

Stupid Encounters

Old Man From California: Met this old guy at Kafka Café. I sat at the table next to him as he shouted at the waitress: What is the name of this song-o playing?!! He asked me where I was from, we started talking a little and he told me he has lived in Latin America for ten years. I asked if he was in Spanish classes and he said no, he never wanted to learn Spanish because THEN HE WOULD HAVE TO TALK TO THE LOCALS. Are you shitting me, dude?!! God forbid you have to talk to the people that live here! Way to make yourself look like a complete jackass. You’ve lived here for ten years and you still don’t know that a song is un cancion?

Tuk Tuk Driver Who Thinks I am an Ignorant Gringa: Gringa I may be, but I know that a tuk tuk ride from Nuestros Ahijados to La Merced is NOT fifteen quetzales. So there.

Salsa Dancing Partner Who Licked my Face: 'Nuff Said.

To be continued...

Arrival in Antigua

No trip ever goes smoothly. Seriously. This is why I was not surprised that I arrived in Antigua on a different day than I expected. I stayed with my aunt and uncle in Miami the night before I was supposed to fly out and was dropped off at the airport the next day. We boarded the plane to Houston and sat at the gate for a half hour before the pilot said there was a slight delay due to rain in Texas. Two and a half hours later, the plane was ready to go but by that point I had missed my connecting flight to Guatemala. The gate agent sent me to the ticketing counter who rebooked all my flights for the next day. Problem was, my luggage had flown on to Guatemala without me. I had to call my aunt who came back and picked me up at the airport and stayed with her for another night. Being unable to change clothes, shower, or brush my teeth, I arrived at the airport the next day super smelly and determined to leave the country.

Everything actually went ok after that, minus 5 minutes of being f…

Visa Nightmare.

I woke up this morning at 5:30 AM and got ready for the 3 hour drive to the Ecuadorian Consulate of Miami, convinced I was prepared and ready and had all the correct papers! I called yesterday to confirm, and they told me that if I arrived by 10 AM I should have my visa ready to go by 1 PM. Too easy, I suspected. After a smooth drive, I walked confidently into the Consulate with my papers. Right from the start, things went downhill. They started by informing me that they were closing at noon today for a holiday so my visa wouldn’t be processed today and I would have to return Monday. Another 6 hour round trip drive. The woman at the front desk handed me a list of required documents to obtain my visa which I noticed immediately did not match the list on their website. The only document I was missing from this new list was a printed out proof of round trip flights to and from Ecuador. No biggie, I thought, my school already purchased my flight there and my contract clearly states they wil…