Guatemala - December 18 - 19

 A little tour around the Navas residence.  Leah and Sergioby (Ava called him that the whole time, and it sort of stuck) rent the basement apartment.  The upstairs was empty (that's where we slept), and there is another apartment behind the main one.  The van was our trusty rental.
 This is Phil, the Navas dog.
Of course, Ava took a liking to the dog, and the dog took a liking to her.
 For a puppy, Phil was great with the kids and all the excitement going on around him.
 Their apartment reminded Adam and I of our Guam apartment (cafeteria floors and all).  Isn't that the coolest table?!
 Sergioby and Leah hauled all these beds from his parents house and up the stairs, just so we could stay there one night.  So nice of them!
Highly dangerous and ineffective way they (some of the homes have water heaters, but majority use this method) heat the water.  Live electrical wires above the shower head.  Just remember to never reach up to adjust the shower head (a lesson you probably only have to learn once).

 Ava and Phil exploring the yard.  Gate to a secret garden (it really isn't, but looks like it could be). :)
 Metal door you have to open to drive down to the house.  Almost EVERY house has large walls surrounding it - even if it's not anything nice. Leah said the higher the walls the nicer the house, usually.  That was a bummer (Leah hates it too) for us who like to look at properties and architecture. 
 The kitchen. 
Sergio making omelets for us.
 A little soccer field around the corner from Leah's house.
 The kids convinced Leah that they really needed to chop down 3 of those giant leaves to take to her house.  She obliged.
 After breakfast we packed up and headed to Sergio's parents house.  This is the igloo that's next to the main house where guests stay (Leah and Sergio lived there for a few weeks).  This is what Leah and Sergio are building to sell (for employment) in Guatemala.  This one has a little kitchen, bathroom and main living area (big enough for bed and couch).  They are building some that have extensions, so they are multiple rooms. They're pretty cool.
 Sergio's playhouse when he was a little lad.  Look closely and you can see Noah peeking through the slats.
 That swing set probably hasn't been used since Sergio was little.  Grandma Navas was sweet and pushed the kids.  We only stayed for a few minutes to drop off Phil and then drove to Panajachel (Lake Atitlan).
View from the house in Pana. It was pretty hazy most of the time here.  Of course the day we were leaving it cleared out. Still a beautiful place.  3 volcanoes visible from the house.
The house we stayed at in Pana was awesome.  Casa Juana. It was actually 3 small houses.
This was the main house with the kitchen, living room and our bedroom.  Where Grant is standing (far right), was the stairs to the second casita (where Leah and Sergie stayed), and the stairs in the middle lead to the 3rd casita (where the kids slept).  Each casita had a bedroom and bathroom. 
The grounds were quite amazing.  There was a huge medicinal herb garden on the property.  You follow a trail and it takes you through beds and beds of different herbs.  There was also a little waterfall right outside and the kids played in that a ton.  The houses are located up a hill, so we had to park at the bottom and walk up (over 200 stairs) every time we needed to get to the car. We tried to keep the trips to a minimum. 

Lots of fruit trees on the property.

Most rental properties like these have caretakers that live on the property.  At this house the care takers were awesome.  They lived in a little house just below where we stayed.  Otilia, came after we left and washed our dishes, made our beds and we even had her make us dinner one night - I could get used to having a full time maid.  She made us Jocon, a Guatemalan chicken dinner. It was really good.
Fresh flowers from the yard.
The kids thought it was the coolest thing ever to have their own "house".  They played pretend house a lot, and if we wanted to visit, we had to knock.  They enforced a no-shoe policy whenever we visited.  They didn't think it was as cool come night time and they were up there alone.  Grant ended up sleeping on the floor in our room, and Adam had to lay by them until they fell asleep.

Sergio Sr. hooked us up with an acquaintance to take us on a boat tour around Lake Atitlan.

Fisherman in his little wooden canoe.  I would love one of those canoes - so cool looking.
Cool house on the top of that rock.  Same shape as the rock.
Sorry, not the greatest pictures.  The mountains are so green and pretty.  My camera lens would fog up whenever I took off the cap.  Also, sort of hazy this day.  I was actually really surprised that it wasn't that humid.  Comparable to California, maybe a touch more humid, but not by much.
The pictures don't do it justice, but it is an incredible lake.  Lake Atitlan is considered one of the most beautiful lake in the world.   This lake is supposedly the waters of Mormon. Most mormons claim they know where the waters of Mormon are, so who knows where it actually is.  Regardless, it's beautiful here.
The lake is surrounded by small villages, and each village is known for certain things (i.e. art, fabric, woven items, wooden handicrafts, etc.).  Many of the villages are only accessible by boat, or Lanchas (boat taxis).   Our first stop was the village of Santiago.  It is the largest indigenous village on Lake Atitlan (I hope my facts are right. Sergio will have to correct me if I'm wrong). 
Most of the people (at least most of the women - didn't see as many men in the traditional clothing) still dress in their traditional clothing.  The women wear these colorful wrap skirts with the big band waist belts and colorful blouses.  The men's outfits are equally cool, but didn't get a picture of them.
-This is the place we got your shirt, mom-

Chickens for sale at the market.

Obviously I found it fascinating how they carry and sale their poultry.
Mountains of avocados.

We didn't want to look flashy, so we packed very little and wore our dingiest clothes (OK, OK, my everyday wear, but I felt right at home with Leah :)).
Probably the oldest church I've ever been in - 1547.

They sure do like their gold inlay.
Everywhere you look in Guatemala you can see a volcano.  Totally not fact, but at least everywhere we went, we saw multiple volcanoes.  There are 22 volcanoes in Guatemala (I thought Sergio told me 30, but maybe I misheard him) and 7 are still active (according to Wikipedia).

SPC Guatemala :)

These are everywhere.  They are like just like Taxis.
I think the biggest difference I noticed was how there are little or no rules, regulations, social norms, etc.  You see little kids (like the little girl above) in places you would NEVER see a kid in the states.  The street she is laying in is a busy street with Tuk Tuk's buzzing by, and she isn't even fazed by it.  She's probably 4.  Actually Leah said, and we found this to be true too, that everyone there looks way younger than they really are.  It became a joke, and a game, to guess their ages.  We would guess this little girl was 16. :)  
Another example of the rules thing: when we were flying home my kids kept playing right by the door and desk where you board the plane.  I kept telling them to move, because they weren't supposed to play there, and the worker told me they were fine to play there, and didn't seem fazed by them being there.  The same thing happened in the states, flying to Guat, and they were reprimanded a few times and told to stand behind the line.  Multiple times I would go to tell the kids to stop, or you can't do that, only to realize that it was o'kay to do there.
I found it actually a bit liberating not having to worry about so many rules, but can also see how it can actually hinder your life as well.  Where can we live where there's a happy medium?!?!? 
This little girl was selling trinkets, and Adam got suckered.  Ava got a little bead bracelet (I think it was like 5 quetzales - about 75 cents). 
Little old man with chickens on his back.
Noah's souvenier was this little whistle thing.  All Grant wanted was junky American looking toys. :) 
The next village we stopped at was San Juan.  Obviously the water levels have risen. Ha. :)

This was a small village known for their natural dyed fabrics.
Most bathrooms here you have to pay to use.  Adam bought a soda so the kids could use the bathrooms.  I'm sure they have them here, but I never saw a can a soda, only soda in glasses.  If you need it to go, they simply dump it into a plastic bag and give you a straw. 

We saw a lady wrapping her yarn, and decided to stop in and look at her shop.   It was owned by this lady and her mom.  They grow the cotton at home.  They showed us how they pick out the seeds after it's picked, then they spin it into yarn, then they dye it (using plants and other natural things) or keep it the natural color, then they wrap it (to keep it from tangling) and then they weave it.  Amazing how much work goes into one scarf/table runner.
-This is where we got your table runner from, Squaggle-

Leah trying her hand at the spinning.

  These are the runners I bought for myself.  The brown one is the natural cotton grown at their house.  The blue one was dyed with some plant (can't remember the name).  I wanted to only buy things that were actually made by Guatemalans and authentic, so it was great to actually see them making them. 
This one Adam was suckered into.  Some lady was selling these late at night in Antigua and she had her two kids (one about 8 and the other was a baby strapped to her side) helping her sell them.
Noah chillin with his new hat and harmonica.  Ava and Noah both got those hats from the same shop we got the table runners.  That's pretty much all the souvenirs we got (Rachelle requested pictures of our purchases).  Grant was still determined to find a cheap car with wheels that turn. :)

Next stop was to a beach where we could swim. 

The kids needed to go to the bathroom really bad, so Adam found the closest restaurant and paid the fee to use their dirty, grimy, scary bathrooms.  This is about when I started wondering if my mom could ever travel to somewhere like Guatemala.   I like clean bathrooms as much as the next person, but when you're traveling (especially in a third world country) you don't expect to find those type of amenities.  A luxury I can do without in order to travel to amazing places like Guatemala. 

After the boat tour, we ate lunch in Pana and then went back to the house.  Otilia made us Jocon for dinner.


The Yoder's Five said...

What a vacation! I was reading your first post and getting all stressed about you missing your flight. I'm glad it worked out in the end, sheesh!

Ty * April said...

I want to come next time!!! Beauty can be found anywhere and it looks beautiful there. Plus a personal tour guide doesn't hurt. :) Love Love Love this.
(I'm glad you still blog. I should start again. hehehehe)

mammasweet said...

First of all, a picture tells a thousand words. So thanks for the million words, Summer. Your kids are going to remember and learn so much from seeing all of the life lived there. The bathrooms in Rome were cleaner, but we had to pay some maid person who stood there with her hand out. Question is, do you plan to go back with the kids?