Going through my drafts today, I discovered this gem that never got published. It’s well over a year and a half old now, so I’ve added a few notes:
Another few chapters of our adventures in Guatemala.
Have you ever wondered what happens to clothes that don’t sell at Goodwill? They get shipped south! There are stores on virtually every corner here called “Pacas.” They get leftover thrift clothes and other items from the states and sell them here. We have truly appreciated this as the younger two kids have outgrown almost everything we brought with us from the States last year, and although they did have thrift stores (“Ropa Americana”) in Costa Rica, they could still be rather pricey. Here, depending on the store, prices can range from 1 Q ($.13) to 75 Q ($10). This past week they came in especially handy as we are in need of some warmer clothes. I brought no long-sleeve shirts for me and very few for the kids. Not sure that we’ll be buying the snowpants or boots that I keep seeing, though the kids would sure love if we did need them. [Still very thankful for these as we have replaced more than just the younger two’s clothes (now the middle two!). They were/are a great place for maternity and baby clothes too! Occasionally, I even find some nice curtains or other things to decorate with.]
We have met a handful of other missionary families around Carcha and Coban and have been blessed by our times with them–and the chance to speak English outside our family. An older couple has supplied us with some puzzles and English magazines, which were quickly devoured. Another family, with a son about Esther’s age lives near a nice park and so we have enjoyed some outings with them there. One family lives in the country–a Guatemalan husband and American wife with a 2 year old daughter. They own a nice finca (farm) outside Coban and have been here about four years. The kids love to visit there. They have a wonderful time running around and enjoying nature and animals (turkeys, chickens, rabbits, dogs, goats, chicks). Ted has learned a lot about the area and farming practices from Antonio. This family tries to do a lot organically and help their local community as much as possible. We all (except Esther who rode most of it) got a wonderful workout one afternoon as we hiked around their various fields. It is amazing the places they plant their crops. What I would call a straight drop-off, they climb up and down and plant coffee plants on…and then later again to harvest them by hand! We took a shortcut home through the jungle and were climbing up muddy inclines that I didn’t think we’d ever make it up. I’m amazed we brought home as little mud as we did on our clothes! The area is also called Siguanja because of the many “siguanjas” they have–places where there is just a hole in the ground, some deeper and wider than others. Many have weeds that have grown across the tops so you don’t notice them, or they look shallower than they are. They taught us to throw a rock in first to see how long it takes to hit bottom; they can be very dangerous. [Par for the course in missionary life, some of these families have now left Guatemala, though we have also met a couple others. Life here is constant transition.]
If legends are to be believed, chocolate was first discovered in Guatemala. That said, there is surprisingly little of it around, in my opinion. 🙂 However, we found raw cacoa beans in the market and brought some home to do some experimenting. Ted put on his coffee-roasting hat and pulled out the handy coffee-roaster (aka popcorn popper) that we found at our neighborhood Paca, and roasted up a batch. We soon discovered that the process of making cocoa beans edible is not near as easy as the process of making coffee beans drinkable! However, we have enjoyed the testing, and Ted has re-wired the popcorn popper to make it work even more efficiently at its new purpose. I’m fairly certain there will continue to be more efforts in this regard. If nothing else, it makes the house smell amazing (unlike roasting coffee beans, which I have relegated as being an outdoor activity). [We haven’t done as much of this as I thought we would, mostly because the post-roasting process is a bit tedious. It’s almost worth it just for the smell though. 🙂 ]