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Guatemala Nueva School
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    [post_date] => 2014-07-01 23:04:01
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    [post_content] => It was an average day in Pachaj. Was. We started off at our normal time, 8:00 A.M. We were following the same schedule, too. Wake up. Eat breakfast. Walk from our houses to Chico Mendez.

That day, we started off decorating the blobs of bread with flour, chocolate/chocolate powder, sesame seeds, and raisins. Then, we put them all in to cook in a charcoal oven.

After that, we were put the decorated bread dough in the oven. While waiting for the bread to cook, we were making final touches to our garden, flattening the sides of the beds so they could hold up better.

Afterwards, Caleb, Laela and I were sent to pick up plants from a nursery. We were sitting in the back of a pickup truck, the whole thing bouncing around on the cobblestone streets.

After we received our plants, we carried them back to the pickup, and hopped in ourselves. We then spent twenty or so minutes to get back to Chico Mendez, bouncing in the back of the pickup.

After the plants were safely housed at Chico Mendez, we got all of the bread out of the oven. They were arranged on large wooden boards, had newspaper put under and over them, and carried them into a dark room to cool. They smelled delicious.

When all the bread was transported to the bread room, we took a well-deserved trip to a hot springs. They formed naturally, however there were man-made pools that became progressively cooler as they moved downwards.

When we arrived back at Chico Mendez, to a delicious snack of hot chocolate and pan dulce (the sweet bread we made). We had made one hundred and thirty loaves. While we were eating the yummy bread, the kitten, which we had nicknamed Tiny, ate Laela—we have re-named the kitten Cerdo Grande.

And then there were two.
    [post_title] => 6/30 Baking Hot Springs
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6/30 Baking Hot Springs

Gus,Guatemala Nueva School

Description

It was an average day in Pachaj. Was. We started off at our normal time, 8:00 A.M. We were following the same schedule, too. Wake up. Eat breakfast. Walk from our houses to Chico Mendez. That day, we started off decorating the blobs of bread with flour, chocolate/chocolate powder, sesame seeds, and raisins. Then, we […]

Posted On

07/1/14

Author

Gus

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    [post_date] => 2014-07-01 21:43:43
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    [post_content] => Today, our second day in Pachaj, was full of bread making, and garden design. We arrived at Chico Mendez at 8:00, to discover six-dozen eggs, a giant 35-pound sack of flour, and a giant bowl for mixing. After cracking all of the seventy something eggs, and pouring in two cartons of milk, we whisked the eggs with our brothers (hemanos versus manos). Then we added yeast and continued whisking until all of the clumps were gone, at which point we covered up the dough to let it rise, and continued our work on the garden.

So far we had done most of the shaping, but for those with perfection issues (all Nuevans), it wasn’t finished. Today we had to correct the shape, and also smooth the tops of the beds. Once our perfectionist selves deemed that the garden could be called a garden, we decided that we had earned lunch.

For lunch we had pasta with a Bolognese sauce, and a spicy garlic sauce. This lunch was the necessary break we needed to recharge our batteries enough to return our thoughts to the bread.

In order to bake the bread we need to have tins to bake them in, so we spent a good amount of time cleaning an endless number of pans. Now we had to take these clean pans, and put a good amount of lard on each one. This lard was required so that the loaves wouldn’t stick.

After greasing we returned to our families for dinner and a small break. When we finished our individual dinners, we went to Chico Mendez to knead the now risen dough, and form the different loaves. We started with putting the dough that we had made into a giant trough, added flour, and attempted to declumpify it. The dough was then split into many different sections, to be baked the following morning. Unfortunately the warm, sweet dough attracted quite a few mosquitoes. We then retired back to our separate houses, for a good nights sleep.

And then there were three.

 
    [post_title] => 6/29 Bread Bonanza
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6/29 Bread Bonanza

Eliza, Laela, and Ghost of Julia ,Guatemala Nueva School

Description

Today, our second day in Pachaj, was full of bread making, and garden design. We arrived at Chico Mendez at 8:00, to discover six-dozen eggs, a giant 35-pound sack of flour, and a giant bowl for mixing. After cracking all of the seventy something eggs, and pouring in two cartons of milk, we whisked the […]

Posted On

07/1/14

Author

Eliza, Laela, and Ghost of Julia

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    [post_date] => 2014-06-29 17:59:53
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    [post_content] => Allow me to apologize in advance for the over-abundance of parenthetical statements. I have been reading Nick Hornby, and they are bleeding in uninvited.

Today was the first day in Pachaj (the J is pronounced like the throat-clearing ch of Semitic languages), the ultimate goal of our journey. We have all enjoyed touristing in Antigua (volcanoes, colonial architecture, and delicious food without leaving the comforts of Wifi and hot showers? What a deal!), and we have had very interesting learning experiences at IMAP (I encourage you to ask your child about the impact of the moon’s magnetic field on the ideal time to get a haircut). However, all of our acclimating and cultivating (of crops and character alike) was only ever meant as a prelude to the main event in Pachaj.

Pachaj is an agricultural town of perhaps 5,000 people (or so my homestay-brother estimates, but no one seems quite certain) surrounded by fields of corn and beans for as far as the eye can see. It is 2,000 meters above sea level, but most of the horizons are made of other, taller mountains. Thus, it is easy (if one is not trying to climb stairs or work the land) to forget how high up we really are. At the moment, it is also located at the feet of an angry rain god, but we are optimistic that this is not a permanent condition.

We awoke this morning in a sufficient hostel (please consider that English is the language with the largest active vocabulary in the world, with a wide variety of adjectives and superlatives; I chose sufficient) in Xela (Shay-lah), which is the second largest city in the country (250,000 people) and less than half an hour away from Pachaj. Xela is interesting for many reasons, including the fact that the relations between the Spanish-descended population and the Mayan population are a little healthier than elsewhere in the country. I speculate that this is partially the result of more favorable demographics, as the indigenous population is in the majority, which seems to be rare in an urban environment. The hostel, meanwhile, is interesting for no reasons.

At breakfast this morning, still in Xela, we were all sad to see Quentin leave. The fact that he left with his mother was somewhat encouraging, particularly after the chicken bus incident. Nonetheless, the bus is that much emptier, and the group feels somewhat depleted. So it goes!

After a short drive, we arrived at Pachaj, and quickly found ourselves meeting a group of similarly-aged Guatemalan students at “Proyecto Reforestacion Chico Mendez” where we will be working for the next several days. Chico Mendez, whom the reforestation project was named after, was an influential environmentalist from Brazil. On first inspection, what stands out about the interior of the building is the mural of Chico Mendez, the prominent environmentalist the project is named after, and El Che, as well as quotes from both. From Mendez, in translation, “I do not want flowers on my tomb, because I know they will cut them from the fields.” From Che, again in translation, “I fought with guns and bullets; you fight with your intelligence.” And a third, “They cut our branches, they cut our trunks, but they will never cut our roots” from Popol Vuh (from the Mayan creation myth). On closer inspection, the walls are full of photos of past participants, both Dragons and locals. Plants hang from the ceilings, and the grounds around the building are full of crops and trees and infrastructure, some of it built by past Dragons groups (composting toilets! You go, composting toilets). The project has existed for roughly two decades, and has already achieved a great deal.

Our contribution will be a garden designed using the principles of Permaculture that we learned at IMAP (well – some of them. Admittedly, we have not given the phase of the moon much consideration). Thus, as much as possible, it will be self-sustaining and require no artificial fertilizers or pesticides, and minimal human intervention. Where human intervention is required, the layout of the garden is designed to minimize the time and energy required. Nitrogen-fixing plants take the place of fertilizers, a diversity of plants act to repel one another’s predators, etc. Sometimes it sounds like the agricultural equivalent of corporate-speak (promote synergy!) but the people who know an awful lot more than me swear by it, and I’m inclined to trust them. The garden will, we hope, benefit the reforestation project for years to come.

After meeting some of the workers at the project and depositing our bags at our homes during the late morning, we ate a quick lunch and spent the afternoon working on the garden. Thus far, we have acquired tools and materials, cleared the worksite of trash and plants, oxygen-eighted the soil (you may ask your child about this as well), raked the soil to declump it, and copied our design from paper to soil by drawing lines of sawdust. We have begun digging out the pathways and raising the beds, but will have to see how much of it remains after tonight’s rain.

We are now returning to our homestay families for the night, where I suspect we will all produce a fountain of enjoyable faux pas before it is time for bed. Mine so far was mishearing “how many brothers do you have?” for “how many hands do you have?” (hermanos vs. manos). My perplexed response, “dos?” and a half-hearted wave of my hands produced hysterics around the table. I look forward to hearing the other students’ similar experiences in the morning.

And when we do get to bed, it will be well-deserved. Agriculture, it turns out, is much harder on the body than academia. It is peculiar to consider that the same industrialism whose unintended consequences we are here fighting is what enables us to view a week of manual labor as a life-affirming vacation in the first place. Once again… so it goes.

Also, following so soon after the rumors of Quentin’s tragic death, I am filled with sorrow as I report that Gus may have also died in childbirth earlier today. We warned him that “estoy embarrassado” did not mean, as he believed, that he was embarrassed, but in fact that he was pregnant. I imagine he recognized his mistake as soon as he saw his homestay family’s expressions of shock and confusion, but by then it was too late. Furthermore, the child dissolved into a cloud of butterflies and scattered to the winds. I realize this may seem like an improbable sequence of events to an audience of gringos, but I hope you will remember that magical realism is a product of its environment, and the fantastic can be quite ordinary in this region.

And then there were four.
    [post_title] => Parenthenticals in Pachaj
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Parenthenticals in Pachaj

Caleb Jones,Guatemala Nueva School

Description

Allow me to apologize in advance for the over-abundance of parenthetical statements. I have been reading Nick Hornby, and they are bleeding in uninvited. Today was the first day in Pachaj (the J is pronounced like the throat-clearing ch of Semitic languages), the ultimate goal of our journey. We have all enjoyed touristing in Antigua […]

Posted On

06/29/14

Author

Caleb Jones

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    [post_date] => 2014-06-28 22:11:14
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    [post_content] => Today we woke up again at IMAP and had pancakes with fresh fruit for breakfast. After eating our fill of watermelon, pineapple and papaya we got onto a pickup truck and headed for Ramiro’s property (one of the IMAP directors) to see how the community of Kichaya cultivate their land according to the principles of Maya Cosmovision and permaculture. We arrived at the community and took a short hike down into the river valley and hopped across river stones and a log bridge to arrive at Enrique’s land. The main crops harvested in Kichaya is watercress and tilapia. We got to feed the baby fish and see the different ponds for the tilapia of varying ages. After a quick tour, we got to go swimming! When we got out of the swimming pool, we ate a delicious watercress salad prepared with watercress from the land.

We continued our walk to Ramiro’s property and saw the plants he is growing and using as a model for the community to learn from. Afterwards the pickup truck met up with us and drove us to the gas station for ice cream. Then, back to IMAP for lunch. We did a brief reflection on the home stays after lunch and then replanted some of the yucca from yesterday and more sweet potato using a different method, one that we will likely be using in Pachaj. Then we relaxed for a little while until dinner, when we got to try chipoline, one of the plants we had planted yesterday, in some tamales. We talked some more about the home stays and our plans for tomorrow, and headed for bed.
    [post_title] => 6/26 Last Day at IMAP
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6/26 Last Day at IMAP

Bree,Guatemala Nueva School

Description

Today we woke up again at IMAP and had pancakes with fresh fruit for breakfast. After eating our fill of watermelon, pineapple and papaya we got onto a pickup truck and headed for Ramiro’s property (one of the IMAP directors) to see how the community of Kichaya cultivate their land according to the principles of […]

Posted On

06/28/14

Author

Bree

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    [post_date] => 2014-06-28 20:44:23
    [post_date_gmt] => 2014-06-29 02:44:23
    [post_content] => Today we started off by finishing our packing, eating breakfast and putting our bags onto the top of the van. We then got into the bed of a truck and drove to the home of one of the people from IMAP, Rony, to see how he uses permaculture in his own garden. While we were there, we saw some pineapple, small guava and other plants. We also saw some poultry, which helps complete the ecosystem and adds to biodiversity.

Afterwards we walked to a nursery and observed the plants there. On our way to lunch we stopped at a coffee warehouse where they were roasting coffee beans and we had the opportunity to try some roasted beans.

At lunch we had some chili rellenos and made some tortillas. We then had a long van ride (3 hours). The rumors that Quentin jumped out of the van and got run over by a chicken bus turned out to be false, when he reappeared in Xela for our salsa dancing class. During which time we all realized that we have no career in dancing.

Good night.
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6/27 Xela

Laela, Eliza, and Julia,Guatemala Nueva School

Description

Today we started off by finishing our packing, eating breakfast and putting our bags onto the top of the van. We then got into the bed of a truck and drove to the home of one of the people from IMAP, Rony, to see how he uses permaculture in his own garden. While we were […]

Posted On

06/28/14

Author

Laela, Eliza, and Julia

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    [post_content] => Today we woke up at IMAP to a sunny day and a home cooked breakfast. After eating, we began our work. We started our learning by discussing and drawing out the design of the garden. We dug some garden beds and learned how to plant some different types of plants that work together to improve the soil. We learned about making gardens with recycled material and how to maximize the space with vertical garden designs.

After we finished our explorations of vertical gardening it was about lunchtime. We headed up to the dining room for a delicious lunch, followed by a quick break. After the break, we had the opportunity to make our own garden in which we planted sweet potato, yucca, oregano and chia. We then had the opportunity to go to the lake, play some Frisbee or simply relax.

For dinner we had family style pasta, vegetables and sweet bread. We then looked at and discussed two pieces of art from the Bee Hive Collective about the globalization of Mesoamerica.
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Guatemala Nueva School

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6/25/14

Eliza & Julia,Guatemala Nueva School

Description

Today we woke up at IMAP to a sunny day and a home cooked breakfast. After eating, we began our work. We started our learning by discussing and drawing out the design of the garden. We dug some garden beds and learned how to plant some different types of plants that work together to improve […]

Posted On

06/27/14

Author

Eliza & Julia

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    [post_date] => 2014-06-27 12:55:49
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    [post_content] => Today was mostly travel. We drove from Antigua to IMAP but we had stops along the way to stretch and learn about culture.

Our first stop was “Cross on the Hill.” Our description would be exactly what the name suggests. Next was a gas station. Not very exciting. After that, we watched Mayan ceremonies.

When we arrived at IMAP, we had a lesson about the Mayan calendar. Afterwards, we had a tour of the place, then we had free time until dinner, then more time until bed.

 
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Guatemala Nueva School

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6/24/14

Gus,Guatemala Nueva School

Description

Today was mostly travel. We drove from Antigua to IMAP but we had stops along the way to stretch and learn about culture. Our first stop was “Cross on the Hill.” Our description would be exactly what the name suggests. Next was a gas station. Not very exciting. After that, we watched Mayan ceremonies. When […]

Posted On

06/27/14

Author

Gus

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    [post_content] => Today we started the day with a lovely breakfast of fruit, eggs, or crepes. We also picked up some bread for our lunch.

After breakfast we took a 1 1/2 hour drive to the magnificent Pacaya Volcano. It took about 1 1/2 hours to arrive at our lunch spot, with a few rests along the way. While lunch was being prepared the majority of us explored the old crater of the volcano and the various hot spots around.

After our explorations we found ourselves back at the picnic table, with a wonderful lunch waiting. We all enjoyed turkey-ham sandwiches and fought over the delicious mangoes. During lunch we seemed to have attracted a dog follower who started following us on the way down the volcano. We hiked down and along a ridge to an old volcano crater. Since there is still magma flowing underneath the ground you can feel heat radiating from the ground. From one vent in the ground the air was so hot that we roasted marshmallows. Since it rained during our hike the water evaporated on the hot rocks. We could see the hot spots from all of the steam coming up.

Poem of the day (written by Avery based on the dinner conversation):
Volcano fog
Followed by a dog
We'll sleep like a log
    [post_title] => Buenos noches from Guatemala
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Guatemala Nueva School

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Buenos noches from Guatemala

Julia Robbin,Guatemala Nueva School

Description

Today we started the day with a lovely breakfast of fruit, eggs, or crepes. We also picked up some bread for our lunch. After breakfast we took a 1 1/2 hour drive to the magnificent Pacaya Volcano. It took about 1 1/2 hours to arrive at our lunch spot, with a few rests along the […]

Posted On

06/24/14

Author

Julia Robbin

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    [post_content] => We had a great time exploring Antigua today and beginning to learn about the Guatemalan and Mayan cultures. In the morning we had a special guest, Campa, Juancho's ridiculously adorable puppy, and we headed off to a traditional breakfast of eggs and beans (for most of us) around 8. I confess that we were a little late only because Bree and I didn't realize our phones didn't change time zones and when we thought we were 45 minutes early we were in fact 15 minutes late. For the record, everyone else was on time. :)

We then spent the morning at the ruinas del convento de Santa Clara, the partially restored ruins of a picturesque Spanish convent built in 1699. We explored, played a few games, talked a bit about the trip, and spent some time in a room that is also a whispering gallery (both Bree and I even managed to restrain ourselves from delving into the math behind why a whispering gallery works).

After a yummy lunch (while yelling to be heard over the pounding rain that was nice enough to start right after we sat down), we visited the market to pick up some food for tomorrow, and then spent some time at the hotel doing jumping jacks, playing cards, and watching the thunderstorm. We then split up for a bit and one group walked around the town some more, picking up additional food from a grocery store, and others watched the fantastic (and a little heartbreaking) USA vs. Portugal soccer game.

We then went to dinner (Italian, of course), where we got to listen to (and watch) yet another thunderstorm, and then headed back to the hotel for the evening.

The big thing I learned today? In Guatemala, it seems to only rain during meal time. I haven't nailed down the science of this yet, but that leaves us something for tomorrow. Speaking of tomorrow and cool science, we're off to hike a volcano!
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Picture of the Week, Guatemala Nueva School

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Antigua

Avery Pickford,Picture of the Week, Guatemala Nueva School

Description

We had a great time exploring Antigua today and beginning to learn about the Guatemalan and Mayan cultures. In the morning we had a special guest, Campa, Juancho’s ridiculously adorable puppy, and we headed off to a traditional breakfast of eggs and beans (for most of us) around 8. I confess that we were a […]

Posted On

06/23/14

Author

Avery Pickford

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Safely Arrived and Settled in

Juan Salvador,Guatemala Nueva School

Description

The group has safely cleared customs and immigration and made the winding journey out of Guatemala City into the valley of Antigua, one of the most beautiful cities in all of Latin America. They are settled into their hotel and have enjoyed a delicious first meal together. Tomorrow the journey begins in earnest, and for […]

Posted On

06/21/14

Author

Juan Salvador

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