Bambu Resort, Guatemala

While in Mazatenango, Guatemala we stayed at the Bambu Resort. The rooms were clean and spacious, the grounds were beautifully kept, the food was delicious, and the staff were very accommodating. I would definitely recommend staying there if you happen to be in the area. I’m including a few pictures of the grounds below.

 Aren’t the flowers on these trees amazing? They almost look like beaded jewelry!

Unfortunately I was in meetings the whole time so I didn’t have a chance to enjoy the pool area, but it looked quite nice. 

I was absolutely amazed by this flower on one of the trees. It was about the size of two of my hands put together, and it had beautiful purple and white coloring. I loved how this little flower was growing out of the base of this rather large tree.

Mazatenango

I am currently in a rural town called Mazatenango, about 4 hours west of Guatemala City. On our drive out we passed by several volcanos that I saw just as the cloud cover lifted.

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Can you see the top of the volcano poking out?

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Here are some close up shots.

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I’m not sure whether or not these volcanos are still active, but I did notice that the sugar cane grew really tall in that area. Apparently volcanic ash is quite fertile – maybe I can bring some back for our garden!

Guatemala City

We were supposed to leave Guatemala City early this morning to head to a smaller town about 4 hours drive away, but apparently there were some strikes going on and several of the roads were blocked, so we had a bit of extra time in the city. We decided to go to the craft market, and I was able to pick up a few souvenirs.

I quickly fell in love with these hand woven place mats. Many of the traditional Guatemalan pieces are very bright and colorful, but this color scheme fits our lifestyle much better.

My favorite find was this bright blue knit scarf. I specifically told one of my coworkers that I wasn’t allowed to buy any more scarves because I have so many at home, but I just couldn’t resist this one. It has a bit of elastic running down it so its stretchy! I want to try and recreate it when I get home.

Yes, I broke down and bought some baby booties. No, we aren’t expecting, but I just couldn’t resist their cuteness.

Tomorrow starts the three day workshop where we will be training almost 200 participants on HIV/AIDS and mobilizing their churches and communities to respond. Its going to be a busy few days!

{sorry for the picture quality – i’m using my iPhone instead of my camera on this trip}

Guatemala Bound

Sorry for the limited posts lately. I’ve been frantically trying to harvest green beans, freeze strawberries, finish laundry and get packed before hitting the road to Guatemala. Actually, I guess I’m hitting the air, but you get my drift.

I’m thankful that this only a 6 day trip, Guatemala is only a 2 hour time change, and my longest flight is less that 4 hours! I’ll take this kind of travel any day over Africa or Asia.

I’ll check back in from Guatemala City soon!

Dollar Days at Grandfather Mountain

My entire family spent all of last weekend together in the High Country. This is epic for several reasons: one of my sisters lives in Thailand, my brother just got back from Mexico, and my other sister was in the middle of exams. As all of the kids get older, its so much harder to find a time when everyone is available. 

Family weekend 2We took full advantage of April Dollar Days at Grandfather Mountain in Banner Elk, along with the rest of the high country, it seems. My sister Kathryn was definitely freaking out as we drove up the narrow winding road to the top of the mountain. 

Family weekend 1It was a most beautiful day to enjoy the sunshine and scenery. 

Family weekend 5

Family weekend 8I can't deny that I loved the zoo. We saw bears, otters, deer, and mountain lions. Speaking of mountain lions, did you know that they are the same thing as cougars, pumas, and panthers? I always thought they were different animals – turns out different regions just have different names for them. Who knew?

Family weekend 6My absolute favorite part of Grandfather Mountain was the sprinkle-covered marshmallow pop I found at the fudge shop. Sprinkles and marshmallows – two of my favorite things – why didn't I ever think to combine them before?! I love sprinkles so much that I used to get small cups full of them from the dessert bar at Cracker Barrel when I was a kid. Seriously. 

Everyone pretty much agreed that Grandfather Mountain was a fun family activity for $7, but we definitely wouldn't have paid the $105 full price to go ($15 per adult). That is a bit outrageous. I will clarify that in order to get the $1/person admission you have to have someone in the car with an ID from Mitchell, Avery, Watauga, Ashe, Alleghany, or Wilkes County. 

Next year Matt and I would like to go hiking on the profile trail during Dollar Days. 

March: In Like a Lion

I'd just like to point out that it was only a year ago today that I was making St. Patty's Day Cake Balls. That seems like eons ago. Now I wish I had made them again this year – they were so tasty and such a good hit at the office!

I'd also like to tell you that I've been quite busy the past few weeks. March has certainly roared in like a lion. I know that saying pertains to weather, but it seems like it also pertains to my life right now! Even though the daylight is now longer, I actually feel like my days are getting shorter! There is just not enough time to accomplish all that I want to.

Since I last checked in:

In an ideal world, I'd like to do a separate post on each of those things, but just in case I don't get around to it, at least they're on the record!

I'm leaving tomorrow for a two week trip to Asia. Part of it will be for work, but then I get to visit my sister Liz in Thailand! {Oh yea, I've also been packing the new freezer with good food for Matt to eat while I'm gone. Thats taken a bit of time lately!} So, next time you hear from me I'll be on the other side of the world. Literally. Where it was recently 104 degrees.

Enjoy the sunshine this weekend!

 

Cruising the Caribbean

We booked a last minute cruise for mid-January, and it was one of the best decisions we ever made. We went with Royal Caribbean on their ship Navigator of the Seas to western caribbean. We made stops in Cozumel, Mexico and the Grand Caymans. It was sunny and warm the entire time, and we thoroughly enjoyed our time. 

DSCN9580The boat was absolutely enormous – 14 decks plus decks below the surface for the crew and storage. There were basketball courts, ice skating rinks, and rock climbing walls. We were only on the 2nd deck, but we had a port window which made the whole experience that much better. 

DSCN9585We took a bike tour in Grand Cayman … it was about 7 miles, and we spend much of the time riding along the coast.

DSCN9592While on the bike tour we stopped at Cayman Turtle Farm. They had so many turtles – of all different ages and sizes. These are the oldest turtles – some weighing over 600 pounds! 

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DSCN9609We got to hold some of the smaller guys.

DSCN9611_editI think baby turtles are some of the cutest things. 

DSCN9632I was fairly intrigued with this flowering plant I found in the Caymans. 

DSCN9673In Cozumel we took a taxi to Mr. Sanchos beach and spent the day laying out, snorkeling, and eating delicious Mexican food. 

Photo 7Water as far as you can see … although I think that is Cuba in the distance. 

Photo 6We came back feeling refreshed and rejuvenated. 

My New Favorite Things

I had to do a little bit of traveling down to Florida this week, and it just so happened to be 80 degrees and sunny. I know, poor me!

Before I went down, Matt asked me what I was most looking forward to about the trip, and without hesitation I said knitting in the airports and planes! You see, I've been working on the Autumn Leaves Stole, by Jared at Brooklyn Tweed, who recently launched his new line of yarn called Shelter. I didn't actually know what a "stole" was when I first saw the pattern, but I bought it anyway because I was so in love with the leafy detail. Turns out, its just like a big scarf. Anyway, I'm not going to go into too much detail now because I want to leave some information for the final post, but let me just tell you that I can't put this down. My fingers are flying on the needles any chance I get. I'm not sure if its the pattern, or Quince and Company's Lark yarn that I'm using, but it is such a delight to knit. 

Photo4Sorry for the weird lighting – I'm going to blame it on the windows at the airport in Fort Myers.

I had a bit of free time on Wednesday evening, so of course I went shopping. I wouldn't really consider the "Boone Mall" a mall, so it is such a treat to be able to go shopping off the mountain. I think I spent at least an hour drooling over new kitchen items at Williams Sonoma.

But then I found a store that beckoned my name, even from outside. I had seen the name for the store – Trader Rick's – in the hotel guide (which, being the nerd, I always read!), but I wrote it off as being a knock-off Trader Joe's. Oh boy was I wrong. It was like a mini-anthropologie, personalized and particular. And oh so lovely. I wish I had more pictures to show you. I spent quite a while perusing and stumbled upon this amazing little purse.

Photo10I fell in love with it immediately. I wanted to buy it so badly, but I wasn't sure I could justify spending $58 on a new purse. So I picked it up, looked at it, put it down, walked away, and came back about 8 times. I'm sure the shopkeeper thought I as pretty strange.

Then I found this shea butter balm, and I bought it. To make myself feel better about not buying anything else, especially the purse.

Photo7Mistrel is made in France, and this particular product is made with 100% pure shea butter. They had several scents available, but my absolute favorite was the vanilla apricot. I have completely fallen in love with this as a lip balm. Every time I put it on, I push my lips out and up to my nose so I can smell it. So delightful! I was reading on their website, "The true test of any personal care product is its power to transform you." Let me tell you, I feel transformed.

So I left Trader Rick's, with shea butter in hand, walked about 50 feet down the mall, and turned right back around to go buy the purse. And oh I am so glad I did.

If you're interested in finding Trader Rick's next time you're in Florida, they are located at the Bell Tower Shops in Fort Myers and Periwinkle Place on Sanibel Island. You'll be so glad you visited!

Sunday Afternoon

October seems to be our month for “going.” Matt and I were both at Catalyst conference in Atlanta last week. We had friends in town staying with us this weekend. We have two out of town weddings the next two weekends before more friends come stay with us.

Before we know it, October will be over, so it seems fitting to spend a few hours drinking the best coffee on the east coast and reading at Espresso.

I have been reading Nelson Mandela’s biography “Long Walk To Freedom” for quite a while now. In fact, my receipt in the book says I checked it out August 9th! I’m only on page 158, and this book has a whopping 540 pages! So far it has mostly been about Mandela’s early political career, and I was hoping for a little more on his family and more about circumstances surrounding apartheid. It is definitely a detailed book though, so I’m hoping it will get into that as I keep reading.

Here’s to hoping I can finish it before it’s due back to the library. I think I have another 2 weeks.

Sunday Afternoon

Peacehaven Farm

This weekend we went to Peacehaven Community Farm's Harvest Celebration. Peacehaven is in Whitsett, NC, between Greensboro and Burlington.  

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According to their website, the vision of Peacehaven farm is to "be a community for people with intellectual and physical disabilities. The farm is located in the rolling hills of the Triad area of North Carolina, and will be a working farm that will provide a community within itself as well as invite others to the farm. It will not be a place of isolation, but one of destination for both those with disabilities and for the community at large." They eventually plan to have homes where residents can live and participate in farming activities, such as vegetable gardening and working with animal fibers. 

"Peacehaven Farm is inspired by the family members of the farm's leaders: Tim and Susan Elliott, and Buck Cochran. All are parents of children with special needs. They have experienced the joys, the heartaches, the quest to 'fix', and the awe and wonderment of having someone they love with intellectual disabilities become all they were meant to be. The Elliott's twin son had a brain hemorrhage shortly after birth. They wanted to ensure that not only was their son cared for, but that he was also in a learning and loving environment. They began looking at different opportunities for their son. Then they met Buck Cochran, a former associate pastor at the Elliott's church. Buck had long had an interest in people with disabilities and in the ministry of L'Arche communities. 'The L'Arche model pairs residents with assistants and it is in that space,' Cochran said, 'lives are transformed. The residents become our teachers and we all grow.' In the fall of 2007, the three began transforming a place called Peacehaven from a dream to a reality."

So, we went to the harvest celebration, hoping to learn a little bit more about the farm's activities. 

IMG_0135They had several goats in a petting area. 

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IMG_0161_editThey had some chickens on display. 

IMG_0140The farm is on a 90 acre plot of land, so we got a hayride tour of the property. 

IMG_0148This is Lake Maskintosh which backs up to their property. 

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IMG_0169I didn't get a whole lot of pictures of their garden area, mostly because it was a small area that they are still developing, and most of this season's crops had already been turned under, however I was intrigued by the Sudan Grass. Any ideas on what that might be? 

IMG_0121_editThey have 6 sheep on the property that they sheer in the spring. As of right now they don't have any specific plans for the wool, but I think they plan to start a fiber program next year. 

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IMG_0120_editThey barbecued two pigs from the property for dinner, and we ate sitting on hay bales.

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IMG_0100One of the coolest things they had was an old apple cider press. The apples get placed whole into the wooden bin on top. Then the crank gets pushed, and it smushes them up into a barrel underneath. 

IMG_0114_editThen another crank gets turned and it presses all of the cider out. For some reason, I was expecting the cider to be warm, but I don't know why. It was still delicious.  

IMG_0106_editThey even had a local potter demonstrating how to throw clay on the wheel. 

It was definitely a cool harvest celebration, and it was a great opportunity to learn what Peacehaven Farm is trying to do in their community.