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MDIHS Guatemala Semester, Spring 2013


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Wednesday was a travel day.  We gathered, as had become the custom, in the meeting space of el Proyecto Chico Mendes, casa de Armando y Claudia Lopez.  The only difference on this morning was that we had our backpacks overstuffed and ready to go.  

Walking down a dusty road, 30 lbs. of gear strapped on with durable nylon, I only needed a helmet with oxygen tube to complete the picture.  As had become the custom, we said our good mornings to the folks riding bicycles, men walking with feedsack shoulder bags carrying machetes, women in bright colored clothing.  Once again, though, we were shipping out.  
The small bus we had arrived in was waiting.  After many thanks and farewells to Armando, Claudia, Raoul, Angel, Manuel, Francisco, and others, we saddled up.  It was an instant change of gears.  Aboard the bus, some swapped stories of home stays, some stared out the windows, some slept.
We passed through Xela and eventually caught the Pan American highway. It was a big change from the dusty backroads of Pachaj, Cantel.  Despite the international highway moniker, though, people's homes still abut the road.  It's the main camino, too, where people walk and bike in the drainage shoulder or concrete meridian.
The Pan Am cants through impossible turns, climbing and descending mountains stepped with corn rows.  Occasional road side attractions pop up under tents on the shoulder--furniture, car parts, juice, zapattos.  At Xajaxac, we turned south on Rt. 1 and began our descent to Lake Attitlan.
The valleys became greener, and the dust lessened.  A patchwork of farms dotted the landscape below where the world fell away for 1,000'.  As we'd been hovering at around 8,000' for about a week, it felt good to descend into humid, denser air.
Finally, after crowded market towns with the ever present honks and chirps of Tut-tut taxis, the lake came into view.  While the volcanoes were obscured by fog, the lush hillsides with their weekend and summer homes provided sites of a far different Guatemala than what we had seen thus far.  
Rosario's house beside the lake, stepped into a steep descent, awaited.  Her chilles relenos and warm generosity awaited, too.  After her lunch and a short boat ride across the lake, we would enter yet another Guatemala.

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MDIHS Guatemala Semester, Spring 2013

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Travel Day Number Four

Keith Eaton,MDIHS Guatemala Semester, Spring 2013

Description

Wednesday was a travel day.  We gathered, as had become the custom, in the meeting space of el Proyecto Chico Mendes, casa de Armando y Claudia Lopez.  The only difference on this morning was that we had our backpacks overstuffed and ready to go.   Walking down a dusty road, 30 lbs. of gear strapped […]

Posted On

04/23/13

Author

Keith Eaton

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Mount Desert Island High School students and teachers just boarded a plane headed for Dallas. They'll arrive to Boston late tonight and get on a school bus there that will in fact be delivering them on time to go to school early Monday! Though instructors won't be joining them for our usual morning meeting, we're pretty certain there'll be one over breakfast. True to character, this exceptional group is tireless at coming together and putting their best step forward for the next challenge.

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MDIHS Guatemala Semester, Spring 2013

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On the plane, in the air

Instructors,MDIHS Guatemala Semester, Spring 2013

Description

Mount Desert Island High School students and teachers just boarded a plane headed for Dallas. They’ll arrive to Boston late tonight and get on a school bus there that will in fact be delivering them on time to go to school early Monday! Though instructors won’t be joining them for our usual morning meeting, we’re pretty […]

Posted On

04/21/13

Author

Instructors

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This is what happens when students and instructors spend too much time together in Guatemala. But there is nothing like some last night fun.

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MDIHS Guatemala Semester, Spring 2013

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twinning

Bailey Burr,MDIHS Guatemala Semester, Spring 2013

Description

This is what happens when students and instructors spend too much time together in Guatemala. But there is nothing like some last night fun.

Posted On

04/20/13

Author

Bailey Burr

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    [post_title] => Photos from Guatemala
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MDIHS Guatemala Semester, Spring 2013

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Photos from Guatemala

Elijah O'Connor,MDIHS Guatemala Semester, Spring 2013

Description

Posted On

04/19/13

Author

Elijah O'Connor

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    [post_title] => Photographs from Guatemala
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MDIHS Guatemala Semester, Spring 2013

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Photographs from Guatemala

Elijah O'Connor,MDIHS Guatemala Semester, Spring 2013

Description

Posted On

04/19/13

Author

Elijah O'Connor

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Thursday.  Lago Attitlan.  San Lucas.  A quick and jumpy pick-up ride away from our hotel, climbing and descending through thick forests of shade coffee and avocado, we arrived at el Instituto Meso Americano de Permacultura (PIMA).  Ronny, our host for the day, hopped out, calmly excited to introduce the MDIHS/Dragons crew to permaculture, Guatemala style.

As Meso America mostly signifies Mayan culture, in addition to the distinct geography and climate of the region, much of the focus was on Mayan agriculture.  Just as Ronny said, Can you imagine the world without tomatoes, squash and corn?  Most people who eat processed food have more corn in their bodies than Meso Americans, how is that?
Just as the Pan American highway is a vein linking the two larger land-masses of the Americas, and just as Central America is the spine, Meso America is the heart.  One of the world's seven most diverse bioregions, this beating heart of the Americas accounts for much of the life which exists in the Western Hemisphere.
As Ronny spoke, I could imagine the crushing weight of the last ice age closing in on, but not quite freezing over, this essential zone.  In that way, it has always been a seed bank, sowing the new life which would follow retreating ice.  Part of IMAP's current vision is to preserve and maintain the diversity of species, here, banking seeds and continuing the knowledge of the milpa: a balanced field of squash, beans and corn.
Genetically modified organisms and corporate strong arming may be the new Ice Age, but IMAP hopes to maintain kernels of practical knowledge for the future.  More than food security, they seek food sovereignty.  Eating in their open air dining facility, preparing for an afternoon of volunteer work, it is easy to see why.  Their land is a little slice of paradise in one of the most beautiful places on this earth.

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MDIHS Guatemala Semester, Spring 2013

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IMAP

Keith Eaton,MDIHS Guatemala Semester, Spring 2013

Description

Thursday.  Lago Attitlan.  San Lucas.  A quick and jumpy pick-up ride away from our hotel, climbing and descending through thick forests of shade coffee and avocado, we arrived at el Instituto Meso Americano de Permacultura (PIMA).  Ronny, our host for the day, hopped out, calmly excited to introduce the MDIHS/Dragons crew to permaculture, Guatemala style. […]

Posted On

04/19/13

Author

Keith Eaton

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Bought us some bananas,

Ate some sketchy carne,

 

Got some wrong directions,

Sitting in some parque,

 

Now we're watching some weird robot,

While being offered some strange jewlery,

 

A cloud of bees is coming,

Now we gotta go running!

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MDIHS Guatemala Semester, Spring 2013

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Scavenger Hunt

Riley Heist, Noah Davis, Rachael McMinimy,MDIHS Guatemala Semester, Spring 2013

Description

Bought us some bananas, Ate some sketchy carne,   Got some wrong directions, Sitting in some parque,   Now we’re watching some weird robot, While being offered some strange jewlery,   A cloud of bees is coming, Now we gotta go running!

Posted On

04/19/13

Author

Riley Heist, Noah Davis, Rachael McMinimy

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Wednesday was another travel day.  We gathered, as had become the custom, in the meeting space of el Proyecto Chico Mendez, casa de Armando y Claudia Lopez.  The only difference on this morning was that we had our backpacks overstuffed and ready to go.  

Walking down a dusty road, 30 lbs. of gear strapped on with durable nylon, I only needed a helmet with oxygen tube to complete the picture.  As had become the custom, we said our good mornings to the folks riding bicycles, men walking with feedsack shoulder bags carrying machetes, women in bright colored clothing.  Once again, though, we were shipping out.  
The small bus we had arrived in was waiting.  After many thanks and farewells to Armando, Claudia, Raoul, Angel, Manuel, Francisco, and others, we saddled up.  It was an instant change of gears.  Aboard the bus, some swapped stories of home stays, some stared out the windows, some slept.
We passed through Xela and eventually caught the Pan American highway. It was a big change from the dusty backroads of Pachaj, Cantel.  Despite the international highway moniker, though, people's homes still abut the road.  It's the main camino, too, where people walk and bike in the drainage shoulder or concrete meridian.
The Pan Am cants through impossible turns, climbing and descending mountains stepped with corn rows.  Occasional road side attractions pop up under tents on the shoulder--furniture, car parts, juice, zapattos.  At Xajaxac, we turned south on Rt. 1 and began our descent to Lake Attitlan.
The valleys became greener, and the dust lessened.  A patchwork of farms dotted the landscape below where the world fell away for 1,000'.  As we'd been hovering at around 8,000' for about a week, it felt good to descend into humid, denser air.
Finally, after crowded market towns with the ever present honks and chirps of Tut-tut taxis, the lake came into view.  While the volcanoes were obscured by fog, the lush hillsides with their weekend and summer homes provided sites of a far different Guatemala than what we had seen thus far.  
Rosario's house beside the lake, stepped into a steep descent, awaited.  Her chilles relenos and warm generosity awaited, too.  After her lunch and a short boat ride across the lake, we would enter yet another Guatemala.

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MDIHS Guatemala Semester, Spring 2013

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Travel Day # ?

Keith Eaton,MDIHS Guatemala Semester, Spring 2013

Description

Wednesday was another travel day.  We gathered, as had become the custom, in the meeting space of el Proyecto Chico Mendez, casa de Armando y Claudia Lopez.  The only difference on this morning was that we had our backpacks overstuffed and ready to go.   Walking down a dusty road, 30 lbs. of gear strapped […]

Posted On

04/19/13

Author

Keith Eaton

WP_Post Object
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    [post_author] => 30
    [post_date] => 2013-04-18 00:00:00
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A few nights ago,, while we were still in Pachaj, I was talking to my Host Brother while sitting in the living room of his house.  My Host Mom, Rebecca, walked in smiling and she began talking rather quickly.  I didn´t understand completely, however I picked up enough to realize that she thought my Spanish was really good (ha ha ha...) and she wanted me to go next door to translate for someone.  With the struggle I encountered daily with simple conversations in Spanish, you can imagine my overall shock when realizing my mom wanted ME to translate! 

I walked with my mom over to the house next door which is where I found two girls from Canada laying on beds looking very, very, lost.  I learned a few moments later that the father of the house I was standing in, was actually my mom´s thirtyfive year old son.  I sat with the Guatemalan family as well as the two girls from Canada for two hours translating back and forth.  The conversation started with basic needs, such as the location of the bathroom, and ended with in depth conversations revolving around their daily lives and who they all were as people.  I found it easier to translate from Spanish to English than from English to Spanish, but I knew that that would be the case before I started translating.  It was surprisingly fun and despite that fact that my Spanish is very choppy as well as far from perfect, the experience was priceless and that´s what counts. 

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MDIHS Guatemala Semester, Spring 2013

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Translation …

Riley Heist,MDIHS Guatemala Semester, Spring 2013

Description

A few nights ago,, while we were still in Pachaj, I was talking to my Host Brother while sitting in the living room of his house.  My Host Mom, Rebecca, walked in smiling and she began talking rather quickly.  I didn´t understand completely, however I picked up enough to realize that she thought my Spanish […]

Posted On

04/18/13

Author

Riley Heist

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    [post_date] => 2013-04-18 00:00:00
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I woke up on our last morning in Pachaj a little sad but a little grateful to be leaving. My host mom, Doña Vicki, heated up some water for me to wash, and didn´t mind my not eating breakfast, since I had been so incredibly ill the day before. My little sister, Mimi, disappeared shortly after I woke up and I didn´t see her again, but my little nephew, Angelito, the son of my older sister, was running around, occasionally looking into my room to roar at me.

 

 After my shower (which isn´t really a shower, it´s one big tub of hot water with a little pail to piur it over yourself), I had dressed and was packing the rest of my things, ready to finally leave Pachaj and see what is often called, at least by residents, the most beautiful lake in the world. I didn´t have much in common with my little sister or really anyone else in my host family; I had gifted Vicki with the pancake mix, the maple syrup, postcards, and a canvas bag, I gave a Spanish version of "Charlotte´s Web" to Mimi, but had given most of my little gifts, including the Pictureka! game, thegame of Jacks, coloring books and too many crayons, to my nephew, Angelito, and his mom.

 

I was about done packing, when Angelito, coaxed by his mom, came into my room with a white cloth. 

 

"Gracias para los crayones." he said, and presented me with the most beautiful, hand stitched embroidery I had ever seen. His mom smiled brightly at me as she told me to read it. It said:

 

Para: Mia

De: Angelito

 

Before, I had never really thought I had connected very well with my host family. Yes, we were acquaintances, I went there every night, they shared their food with me and laughed at my poor Spanish, and I gave them gifts in thanks.

 

But what they gave me was the greatest gift I could have ever gotten in return for anything I had presented them with. It´s worth more than all the maple syrup and pancake mix in the world.

 

 

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MDIHS Guatemala Semester, Spring 2013

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Memorable, Indeed

Mia Jeannotte,MDIHS Guatemala Semester, Spring 2013

Description

I woke up on our last morning in Pachaj a little sad but a little grateful to be leaving. My host mom, Doña Vicki, heated up some water for me to wash, and didn´t mind my not eating breakfast, since I had been so incredibly ill the day before. My little sister, Mimi, disappeared shortly […]

Posted On

04/18/13

Author

Mia Jeannotte

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