Wednesday, June 30, 2010

A very busy day!

(Cameron Writing)
Today is an exciting day for us. We have already been to the large open air market in Antigua. It was our first experience in the market (which was marked by going in the wrong direction because we forgot our map). We ended up walking all the way out of Antigua before we figured out we were not close to the market and called on a Tuk-Tuk to take us. (The Tuk-Tuk was a very interesting experience that I may explain in more detail later)

We didn't buy much at the market this time. In fact, we bought some toilet paper (we were out) and some pirated DVD's which we had the guy test for us and they all looked legit.

Right now we are heading to Las Palmas to meet the current team from Agua Viva for lunch. We're excited to meet some of the people we'll be working with. After lunch, we're going on a little field trip with CSA. (I haven't been on a field trip since my senior year of high school!) Jessie and I, along with our teachers are going to a macadamia nut farm just outside of the city. I've been told that it's a really neat place and that they use a face lotion created from the nuts and give you a face massage. It should be interesting.

We are also planning to visit a local Christian Cafe and attend the wednesday night service which is in english.

That's it for now but we'll try to update later this evening and let you know how everything went.

Also, send up a prayer for the Haiti team from Hillview that left this morning. We know God's going to use them. (Although I think we did lose half of our readership!)


Chuck Norris is currently suing NBC

He claims that Law & Order are trademarked names for his right and left fists.


(Cameron Writing)
Ok... so yesterday my teacher was telling me about another student she has taught several times. He is from Texas and wears a large sombrero (aka cowboy hat) and muy grande botas (very large boots) She told me how he reminded her of Chuck Norris which she watches on cable at her house. I could help it and I asked her if she had ever heard of "bromas de Chuck Norris". She hadn't so I shared a few I could remember. She didn't really get them but laughed at me anyway. I told her they were very popular in the States and told her she should ask her cowboy friend about them. She also said the cowboy always talked about how much he loved Bush and McCain and hated Obama. I couldn't help but chuckle.

Monday, June 28, 2010

It's raining.

(Cameron Writing)
So Hurricane Alex made a pass near Guatemala and it is dumping a lot of rain here. It poured all last night and it has continued a steady rain all through the day as well. We had a change in schedule this week and we're now taking classes from 1-5 in the afternoon. We just finished a few minutes ago and thought we should probably write now because we might not brave the elements later this evening.

Class went very well for me today. I surprised my teacher with my knowledge of nearly all the "new" verbs she was teaching me. At one point she stopped and looked at me with this funny look and said, "You know all of these verbs... why do you never use them?" All I could say is, "I don't know." I guess some of those spanish classes did stick up there in my brain but I just need some more tools to make it usable. I'm getting those tools here.

My teacher, Lilly, also told me a very interesting story today. She lives in a small village near Antigua named San Pedro (meaning Saint Peter). Tomorrow, June 29th, is San Pedro day and her town has a huge party. She was describing the party and she told me that her dad makes a special drink for which he is famous. (So famous, in fact, that a Guatemala City TV station came and did a story on him about a month ago) The drink that he makes features several different fruits which are combined in a large vase of sorts and left to "age" for 2 to 3 weeks. When it is ready it is served very cold. Lilly said that it was delicious and contained just a little bit of alcohol. She also said that she thinks it might actually be illegal. (Kind of sounds like a type of moonshine operation to me) In fact, the mayor of Antigua put up signs in her town warning people not to make the drink for the festival. (It was a little late considering it has to be made 2 weeks prior) She said the drink has a bad name and hesitated to tell me but she finally did... it's called "ChiCha". I haven't a clue what that means so if somebody out there knows then please let me know.

(Jessie Writing)
I don't have anything exciting to write about like Cameron did so let me just say... Que te vaya bien!

This is a picture of a shop along the street we walk everyday. It's a neat sight with the many colors. Cameron wants the coffee bag (although I tell him I'm not sure it's very masculine..) and I have my eye on a few as well. We haven't done too much shopping yet, but it's always fun to look!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

This 'n That

Hello! I know it's been a few days since our last post so we thought we would update you again.

(Jessie Writing)
I FOUND IT. The perfect dessert, that is. It is a tartletta de limon from a place we frequent- Cafe Barista. I realize that this is not a traditional Guatemalan dessert or really anything special.. except for the fact that Cafe Barista has perfected the lemon tart. The lemon filling is a perfectly divine combination of sweet and sour and is the perfect consistency. The crust is flaky and the perfect buttery flavor. And the meringue on top is the best I've ever had. Not too sticky like a marshmallow, but stands at just the right height and is browned on the top. I've had this little slice of heaven 3 times now, and I'm pretty sure by the end of our time in Antigua I will be a "usual" at the Cafe Barista. I may also weigh 20 extra pounds.. but who cares when you experience something this good, right?! I'd love to make this when we get back. I'm thinking the Barefoot Contessa may have a good recipe. Seems up her alley. (I've eaten my lemon tart too quickly for Cameron to get a picture, but the next time I have one I'll take a picture so you can see it!)

Speaking of food, Cameron and I went to a wonderful restaurant last night that came highly recommended by his teacher. The place is called Queso y Vino (Cheese and Wine). It was beautiful! We went around dusk so the colors of the sunset and the atmosphere were simply breathtaking. Cameron got a personal pizza and I got a pasta. We both had sodas and it was all SO good! Cameron said it was the best pizza he's ever had... and if you know Cameron you know that's a big deal! The best part is that we got it all for about 146 Quetzalas- that's about $18! Pretty good deal! We definitely plan to go back!

Sorry I get a little carried away when I find good food... anyway.

We finished our first week at school pretty strong. Cameron and I are both very happy with how far we've gotten in just 5 days. I'm looking forward to continuing next week and I expect to be testing into the next book (Grade B) by the end of next week. I suspect Cameron will be moving up at the same time.

(Cameron Writing)
Ummm.... actually I'm not sure that I'll be progressing in the the Grade B book next week. Jessie and her teacher seem to be moving a little bit faster than I am. I still feel very good about the progress I've made. I feel like if the natives speak slowly enough to me that I can understand most of what they say. I've tried to start conversations during meals with Carlos and I've enjoyed hearing his perspective on things. Today we discussed the current president of Guatemala and the many problems plaguing the country's politics. Carlos is not a fan of the current president (neither is my teacher) and he is worried because the president's wife is planning to run for president next year. (side note: the president can only serve one 4 year term in Guatemala, which it seems to me, make the president even less accountable to the people)

Moving on, Jessie and I have both been able to do a lot of reading when we aren't studying spanish or exploring Antigua. We've both finished two books already and are started on the 3rd for each of us.

Sorry it's been a couple of days since our last update. We've kind of settled into a pretty regular schedule with school and haven't had a whole lot of exciting things to write about. Although one exciting thing did happen a couple of days ago with Jessie slipped and fell as she was getting out of our shower. She grabbed anything and everything on her way down and tore both the shower curtains and break the toilet seat. I've fixed most of it but I need to get some super glue to fix the toilet seat. She's ok now... just paranoid when climbing out of the shower.

We will include a picture that a tourists took of both of us. (Donna this is for you!)

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


(Cameron Writing)

Hey guys! Today was day 3 for us at the Christian Span
ish Academy. I think it's going very well and I'm certainly learning a lot. Matt, Jessie, and I held a long conversation with Livia (our host mother) today over lunch. She told us all about why she liked the Brazil and Argentina soccer teams in the World Cup and all about her family which is very large. She has children living in Guatemala, Mexico, LA, Boston, and New York. Right now, we are sitting in a cafe near the central park and Jessie is working on her homework (I should be doing the same). I'll post a couple of pictures we took today.
(Jessie Writing)
Today was my best day at school so far. I can tell the information is really sticking! There were several exercises that we did in the work book that I completed without hardly any help from my teacher! I felt it was the sign of fast learning!

Today after class I showed my teacher Agua Viva's website and told her a little more about it. I don't know if I mentioned before, but my teacher actually lives in Chimaltenango, where Agua Viva is located. She had never heard of it, so she was eager to see some pictures and perhaps directions on how to get there.

She doesn't speak much English to me and I've wondered just how much she actually knows. She mentioned to me today when we were talking about A.V. that if we had time maybe I could teach her some English and she could continue to teach me Spanish. I see the beginnings of a friendship here :) She is very interested in customs and phrases from the United States, so whenever I can, I tell her what we say or do and she seems to love learning new things. Actually today we were talking about professions and the Spanish word for barber is barbero. I told her that in Kentucky, Barbaro is known to be a famous horse that won the Kentucky Derby! She laughed and laughed at the thought of a horse being named, "Barber."

Cameron went a little picture crazy today because he didn't take any yesterday, so here is one of his more artsy shots. He is very proud of it...

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Las clases de espanol...

Well day 2 of class is over for us and we are learning a ton! We both like our teachers and have enjoyed the one-on-one instruction very much. It is definitely the way to go when learning another language, that's for sure!

(Jessie Writing)
My teacher's name is Mirna and she is very sweet. She has 5 sons and when I told her about Cameron's family she smiled and I could tell she loved that. She doesn't speak hardly any English to me.. even when explaining things. However, I think this has been good for me because it makes me constantly keep up with the vocabulary she uses and I think I'm learning much quicker because of it. I can tell I am going to learn a lot here and I hope that after
3 weeks I will have a lot to show for it! Mirna asked me if I wanted a lot of homework, a little homework, or no homework at all! I told her that she was not like the teachers in the U.S.- they assign homework based on what they want to assign! I told her that I wanted a good amount of homework though because I know that I definitely need to practice outside of class or I'm not going to learn a thing. Mostly right now I'm working on vocabulary though... so it's just a lot of memorization. All is going really well though, and I'm excited to learn more every day!

(Cameron Writing)
For the first time in all my years of trying to learn spanish I am actually enjoying it. I have already learned more in two days here than I did in two semesters at BSU. I am thinking in spanish (which I think is a good sign). I am getting tired though as four straight hours of thinking and talking in spanish wear me out. I think I'll go back and work on homework and take a nap this afternoon. I'll try to take some more pictures this afternoon as well and have those for you later tonight or tomorrow.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Parque Central

The cultural center for Antigua is a placed called Parque Central or Central Park. It is a fun place and there are always people doing all sorts of things. Jessie and I have spent some time there the past few days just watching people and enjoying the beautiful weather.
There are a few stories we want to tell you about our time in Central Park. First of all, there are many vendors of all types. Yesterday, a little boy that couldn't have been more than 5 or 6 asked if he could shine my white tennis shoes. I said no gracias and he looked disgusted. As he walked away he muttered to me, "Your shoes a dirrrrty" in English. I couldn't help but chuckle.
Today, a woman selling necklaces began talking with us. Most sellers simply shove the necklace in your face and ask you if you want to buy one. She, however, asked us where we were from, our names, and how long we would be staying in Antigua. She was very nice and it gave me a chance to hold a conversation with a native speaker. I was actually very proud of how well I was able to communicate with her. She made her pitch and kept lowering the price. I finally told her, "No compro la hoy." (I'm not buying today).
Just a few minutes after the woman left, a little boy that looked about 4 years old came over and tried to sell Jessie a sash. We told him we weren't buying but he made it very difficult for Jessie to say no. He just looked so cute and sad. However, we didn't buy from him, maybe another day.

There are also some very funny sights from the park. I'll include the one I enjoyed the most. It needs a good caption so if you can think of one then please tell us in the comment section. (We love reading your comments so keep 'em coming!)

We love our Fathers!

Happy Father's Day to our wonderful dads...

From Cameron:
I just wanted to let you know how much I love, respect, and appreciate you. You have been the best Dad anyone could ask for. I hope when I have my own children that I can be the type of father to them that you have been to the brothers and me. I wish I could spend this day with you but I'm kinda far away so I hope this note will do. I miss you and look forward to seeing you when I get back home.


From Jessie:

Isn't it funny that Em and I called you that before either one of us knew any Spanish? Haha.. anyway I just wanted to tell you how much I love you and am proud to be your daughter. I know that without your love and guidance my life would be so totally different. I would probably not know the Lord as intently or rely on him as much as I do if it had not been for your example. I can say with confidence that I certainly would not be taking this leap of faith and leaving the safety and comfort of our home had it not been for your example to teach me how to trust Him with everything. I am forever grateful for that, Dad. I always know where to look when I'm needing guidance. Together with Mom you taught me to pray, read the Word, and talk it out no matter what the issue. I smile thinking of all those times- even though I wasn't smiling about it then. I hope this Father's Day finds you well and that maybe you got to pick the restaurant for after church! If I know you it was probably Shanghai or El Nopal! I love you so much Padre, thanks for helping shape me into the person I am.


Domingo (Sunday)

(Jessie Writing)
Because it's Sunday there are no meals served by our host family... so that allowed us to get out today and try the cuisine in the restaurants! We actually got a head start last night by coming to a place called Rainbow Cafe for dessert after dinner at home. We split a chocolate brownie and ice cream and it was divine. There was some live music so we stayed for awhile and played cards and relaxed. At one point, Cameron and I looked at each other and said how cool it was.. sitting in a cafe in Antigua, listening to live music, all in a place that could be from a scene in the movies. We feel so blessed to be getting this opportunity to travel and learn in this environment.

This mid-morning we went to another cafe for brunch. Cameron had a ham and cheese omelette and a strawberry smoothie. I had a panini with ham, cheese, arugula, and sun-dried tomatoes (are you jealous?? You should be!) I also had a wild berry smoothie. Needless to say, we enjoyed our brunch!

(Cameron Writing)
Right now we're watching Brazil vs. Ivory Coast in some World Cup action. I (Cameron) am hoping to stop by a sports bar this afternoon to watch some of the final round of the US Open.

I think it's safe to say that we're both very ready to start classes. We've enjoyed being in the city with no real schedule for the past few days but we're ready for the classes to take up some of our time.

We both wish we could be in two places at one right now. Jessie and I have been to a week of church camp every year since we met. (Actually, I figured it up and I haven't missed a summer since I was 5.) The Hillview group, along with several other churches are collaborating on the jr. high week which begins today. I can't help but think about the cool things that are going to go on during the week. I'm sure the Lord is going to use the week to change some lives. We wish all of the people going the very best time!!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Day 2- Exploration!

Hola! (See, we really are learning some Spanish! lol)

Yesterday we explored Antigua all morning. It really is a beautiful city and it is small enough that we can walk nearly everywhere we want to go in no more than 20 to 30 minutes. Let me tell you a little history about Antigua. Antigua was founded in 1543 when Guatemalan authorities decided to relocate the capital. Antigua served as the capital for the Spanish colony of Guatemala for nearly 200 years. Two large earthquakes devastated Antigua during the 1700's, the first in 1717 and the second in 1773. Following the second earthquake authorities decided to move the capital from Antigua to where present day Guatemala City stands.

There are several beautiful buildings and cathedrals around the city and we will post pictures so you can see them.

As far as our experiences since we last posted yesterday, after exploring during the morning we got unpacked and rested during the afternoon. We spent the evening after dinner relaxing in our room and playing cards (Jessie kicked my butt in rummy).
I did figure out the shower this morning. I ended up with about a minute of warm (or at least not cold) water. It was more than enough time for my to wash my stink off! We've spent most of the morning thus far exploring more of the city. We are heading to the bank in a few minutes to take care of some financial business.

Friday, June 18, 2010

We're Here!!!!


Right now I (Jessie) am sitting at a table with Cameron and we have just filled out all of our information and even taken a Spanish placement test for Christian Spanish Academy (CSA)! Our driver picked us up at the airport no problem last night and it was about a 45 minute commute to our host family's home. We got in to our room (2 twin beds, a desk, a chair, and a tiny bathroom) around 10pm local time (midnight back home). Our host parents are Lydia and Carlos and they are SO sweet. There is one other person staying there too. His name is Matt and we met him this morning. He is from Tucson, Arizona and is super nice. He is a graduate student at Arizona University studying hydrology... I told him he and Emily would get along great probably! (Hydrology is the study of water in it's natural state or something like that.. above ground, under ground, etc. Also he said he does physics sort of stuff too- aka Smarty McSmart Pants) He has been here since Monday and is staying about as long as we are so he helped us find the school and has been our tour guide of sorts as well. It is lovely to have someone speaking English in the house, because our host family does not. It is good for us though, we will learn quickly I'm sure!

Anyway, we start classes on Monday and I am really excited about it. Just sitting in this building I can see lots of people working one-on-one with instructors and they are of all ages.. so that makes me feel better about not knowing much!

Oh yeah.. this morning we had the BEST breakfast prepared by Lydia. Two eggs cooked over medium with salsa on top, fried bananas, the most delicious-tasting beans I'd ever tasted with 3 tortilla chips stuck on top, and the most delicious coffee I've ever had (with one spoonful of sugar that I believe is 300 times better than our sugar at home lol). I think I'm going to like Guatemalan cooking :)

Jessie did a pretty good job of covering everything but I'll make mention of a couple of things. First of all, we were both awakened around 3 AM local time by our entire room shaking from a minor earthquake. It didn't cause any damage but it did wake us up and give us a little excitement. Also, I decided to take a shower this morning and I'm still not sure exactly how it works. It looks like a water heater is attached to the down spout but I tried to turn it on and the water didn't get any warmer. I didn't really mind the cold shower though, it was refreshing. The temperature is great, right now it is in the low 70's.

We will be sure to keep everyone updated.

I think we're going to spend the rest of the day checking out Antigua!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

We're on our way!

Jessie and I are heading to Chicago today as we embark on our journey to Guatemala. We will try to update everyone via this blog during our stay there. We are flying out of Chicago tomorrow at noon. We have a 3 hour layover in Dallas before our flight to Guatemala City. We will arrive in Guatemala City at 8:15 Thursday evening when we will be picked up by a driver and driven to the Christian Spanish Academy in Antigua. We should be able to update everyone along the way. Please keep us in your prayers as we travel and try to acclimate with Guatemala.

Much love,

Cameron & Jessie