Thursday, September 17, 2009

Independence Day

First off, we’d like to wish everyone a happy belated Guatemalan Independence Day! I’m sure you celebrated, right? We certainly did. The celebration was filled with parades, typical breakfast foods (including Joe’s first “real” Guatemalan coffee!), book purchases, and no work, of course. Independence Day was Tuesday, and el centro (the place we’re volunteering) followed the holiday with a little celebration for the kids and their families on Wednesday—gory details below.

El centro does a great job of teaching children with disabilities independent living skills. To incorporate this teaching and the celebration they held a fiesta for an entire morning. The fiesta wasn’t only for the children, but it included their parents and siblings. The morning included games (fishing, pin the tail on the donkey, knock the cup tower over, and a throwing target game). After games we celebrated the success with dancing. Everyone was out there shaking to marimba music. Joe was throwing kids into the air, and Juleen was twirling every kid she could. Clearly you’d need a huge feast of typical food after all of that work… Luckily, they came through. The children were working on waiting in line, ordering, paying, and receiving food while we enjoyed a sampler platter of Guatemalan food. See the pictures to begin to appreciate the fun that was had.

What is all of this typical food we are eating? Well, it’s muy rico (very rich), as they frequently say. A typical breakfast consists of eggs with a non-spicy salsa, refried black beans, and bread. While that is Guatemalan typical, on work days typical for us is a bowl of cereal. The big adjustment (for Joe) has been the lack of consistency in having coffee, especially considering Guatemala is one of the coffee producing capitals of the world. While instant coffee is most common, he has been able to savor the occasional “good” cup of coffee.

For lunch, we are ordering from a local restaurant. For about two dollars (or 16 qutezals), we have a plethora of food. Every lunch contains a drink called rosa de jamaica (a semi-sweet drink made from flower petals), tortillas, and rice. Beyond those staples we eat meat, meat, and more meat. (In fact, one of our weekend lunches featured a smorgasbord of meat options—chicken, different types of sausage, and steak. Quite a meal for former vegetarians!) The meat is frequently prepared in a soup or a salsa sauce. As you may have deduced, lunch is a huge meal. It is their biggest meal of the day.

Finally, dinner. Dinner consists of a small serving of a salad or fruit or yogurt. Nothing else. In all, fear not… we aren’t starving. The food is excellent though quite different.

Pictures included: one of a parade in Antigua on independence day, two of the fiesta at el centro, and one of a volcano as seen in Antigua (however, this same volcano can be seen from “our” front yard).


  1. Oh, No! Instant coffee! But I bet that it is good. :-)

    Keep things going guys! - H.

  2. Looks like you are having a great time! It's a good thing you started eating meat before you left ;) Happy travels!

  3. That post was from Paula and Brian...not sure why it's marked as Blog Test Run.