Friday, May 15, 2015

Congratulations on completing 50 hours of Spanish!


Visiting a Family of Mayan Weavers

An impromptu service project.

After visiting a Mayan family of weavers, we were on our way back to the buses when we saw a 75 year old Mayan women caring cinder blocks for her house down a long set of steep steps.  She was barefoot and using a rope contraption attached to her head to move the heavy cement blocks in groups of three.  We decided that a group of 17 could help her do the job quicker.  We all pitched in and helped her bring the cinder cone blocks down the hillside.  Her smile speaks volumes.


15 de Mayo: Blog from Trevor Sparks.

Hola amigos! It’s our last day here in Guatemala, and I am sad to leave. It is my birthday, which has given me a very interesting insight into the culture of Guatemala. We had a piñata in the town park, and I was surprised to see the amount of Guatemalan home-skillets who appeared to participate. The piñata was a Mickey Mouse, my favorite TV show character (they didn’t have Walter White at the Piñata store, so Mickey Mouse had to do). Mi amigo, Andy Klauber, hooked me up with a nice cake from Xela Pan. We are about to eat the cake now, so I’m afraid I have to go. 

I love you mom and dad!


15 de Mayo: Blog from Justin Ferland.

Justin Ferland
-May 15, 2015

HELLO!!!!! Oh my gosh, the trip is almost over….! I am having trouble believing it. Today we took our final test, and we presented the projects that we worked on with our teachers. We then went to the park, and celebrated Trevor’s birthday, by hitting a piñata, and eating some cake. For the rest of the day we are going to relax, walk around Xela, and enjoy our last moments here.  But I would really like to talk about what we did yesterday. This one is for you Grandma.

So yesterday we drove about an hour into the mountains, to a fairly remote set of houses. The people who lived in the houses were traditional Mayan weavers. We walked in and we started talking to “Don Luis”, and “Dona Thelma”, who were the fifth generation of weavers in that house. Then they showed us how they make weavings. From sheering the wool, to spinning it into thread, to dyeing it, then to fitting it on the loom, and finally weaving a blanket, or a rug, or whatever. The weavers use only natural dies that they can find in their little property of land or in a farmers market. To dye the yarn, they first choose which color they will use, and pick the object that makes that color. 

Aliso (A type of tree bark that grows locally) - Brown/Cinnamon/Dark brown
Sauce (A local tree berry) - Light/dark purple
Lena Amarilla (Yellow Stick - Different tree bark) - Yellow
Chalice (A local leaf that grows on the ground) - Green
Cohinia (A local insect that lives in the mountains) - Pink and red
Añil (A rock that is found around and near Xela) - Blue

*They are able to mix different dies to make different shades and colors. To start the dyeing process they mix in fire pit ashes and calcium hydroxide (local rock) into the water to keep the color in the yarn from fading.

To actually color the yarn, they grind up the object that creates the color.  The ground up color along with the yarn is put into a barrel full of the cold water that was mixed with ashes and cal. They let it soak for eight days before boiling the yarn for an additional day.  And now they have colored yarn! Once dried in the sun, they set up the loom, and start weaving. Once the piece is completed, they will sell it at local markets, or in stores if they accept it. 
They told us that five sheep equaled one jacket, and ten sheep equaled one rug.
To make a living off of this the whole family, including the kids work all day, everyday. The kids work half days, and study for school half days. It was a really fun experience, and everyone was very friendly.

See everyone on Sunday!

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

13 de Mayo. Blog from Ellie

I cannot believe that we only have two full days left! Time flies here, and I’m dreading our departure date! The amount that I’ve been able to learn with no background in Spanish is ridiculous, and I don’t want it to end. I’ve grown close to the people in my family as well as my teacher. Xela is a such a beautiful place. Our days here are packed full of new and exciting experiences, each one bringing a new sense of wonder! The feeling of speaking and understanding a new language is indescribably magnificent. I’m thoroughly enjoying getting to know my own Guatemalan family. Each night I end up losing myself in conversation with my “brother.” It becomes easy to talk for hours and hours. As each of us grows more and more adjusted to the culture and routine here, we become a part of the community. It feels natural to speak in Spanish, and I continuously forget to return to english. The language is becoming a part of me, and I think I speak for all of us when I say that this is one of the best feelings to experience. There is so much to take in and experience that I could stay for another week, at least. Of course, the food, the climate, and the sights are all amazing here, but I have really found a great appreciation for the Spanish language!


The cemetery for Mother Day!

Pictures of the cemetery during Mothers Day.  Thousands and thousands of people came to the cemetery on Mothers day to pay their respects to their ancestors and loved ones who have passed away.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

12 de Mayo. Blog from Donovan Cash.

On Sunday the class went on a hike up a mountain to go watch a lava dome erupt. We started at the top of a village that was right up against the mountain and from there we hiked for two hours. The first half of the hike went up a steep incline while the second half was a little more laid back with flat parts and small uphill inclines. During the hike we stopped to take small breaks and talk about the indigenous plant life and birds. When we got to the top of the mountain we sat down at this little viewing area and ate lunch and talked about the hike. When we got to the top it was a little disappointing because we had to get up 5:30 am and we started hiking at 6:10 am to get to the top and look out at a bunch of fog. When we got to the bottom of the mountain we walked to the town bus stop and took the public bus back to Xela. Once we got back we had lunch with our families wished them happy mothers day with some flowers and had some free time.

Watershed signing off.