Friday, June 25, 2010

UPDATE!!

So I know it is disappointing but I am leaving on Sunday and I have not finished posting all of my blogs!!! But I am excited to go home because I will have fast internet and all my post will be included by Wednesday night at the latest!!!!!

I had such a great time and I cannot believe time went by so fast!!!

Thanks to everyone who supported me and helped me achieve my goal of coming here I had a great time and I learned so much not just about the country, the culture, but I also learned about myself and grew a lot on a personal level.

I know that I will never forget my experience here!!1

Thank You,

Ana Laura

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

La Procesion en Antigua

Thursday, June 3, 2010

In Antigua, religion is very important to many people, I feel like more so than in the United States. I say this because I know a lot of people who believe in God but do not attend mass, but here in Antigua many people close down their business on Sunday, or close early and the day is dedicated to God. In addition many people attend mass on Sunday and there are 5 different times in which people can go to mass. I really enjoy mass because it is in Spanish and it is easier for me to understand what is going on on since I have always heard mass in Spanish. I wish that Pacific, had a mass in Spanish because for some people like myself mass is easier and better in Spanish. I guess this must sound weird since the word of the Lord is the same in any language, but I have always heard it in Spanish and so it is familiar and also all of the different prayers and the responses and songs I know them in Spanish and not English. And finally to me everything, all the syllables and the songs, the prayers everything sounds better in Spanish, which is probably because when I was growing up it all was in Spanish.

The Cathedral by el Parque Central

On Thursday the Catedral by the Parque Central had what is called a Procesion, which is an organized religious parade in which the people involved travel from the Cathedral all around Antigua and then back to the Cathedral. During this time the priest carries smething that is kinda smoky with him and this symbolizes the body of Christ in a way. The steps leading up to the Cathedral were decorated with flowers and the little long things that come from Pine Trees.
At the bottom of the steps was a decorated afombra, or carpet that was made from different colored sawdust.
In addition the children dressed up as Angels and stood outside of the cathdral and when the Prcesion passed by they would throw flower petals or colored tissue paper on the ground.
In addition at the end of everything there was a band that played religious songs and followed the Procesion.

For this event the Parque Cetral was filled with many people and many vendors as well especially food vendors. n Guatemala the traditional plate for festivities is Pepian (i don't know how to describe this other than delicious) and tayuyos (tamales made with beans). So that day for Lunch our family made Pepian and I bought the tayuyos, as a compromise because they were not supposed to have Pepian then because the Merced's Procesion is when they have Pepian.
There was a lot of people present for the Procesion

The Priest is in the Center and there is a lot of people following him out of the Cathedral

All the poeple who came to accompany the Procesion


I also learned about a tradition between boyfriends and girlfriends, which is called El Intercambio, the exchange. During this time there are people who sell doves and little monkeys that have special messages and so the boy buys his girlfriend a dove and she buys him a monkey and then they exchange. Danny and I participated in this and I gave him a Monkey and he got me a Monkey too, because some people say the boy gets the monkey for the girl and she gets a dove for him which is all much too confusing! But it was great to be able to participate in a tradition like this.
The Dove & Monkey that is exchanged between couples

San Felipe & Nuestros Ahijados

Wednesday, June 2, 2010
School is going great so far my teacher, Aurora and I take the afternoons for fieldtrips!! I love it!!! Because I get to learn more about Guatemala and the culture! Today we headed of to El Proyecto Nuestros Ahijados, this is the place where we are supposed to volunteer.

Before we headed off she had me write some questions down to interview the people about the project and what not this reminded me of my HS Days when I was in Mr. Bott's journalism class and I remembered how much I liked it. I think I might actually consider a career in journalism, a great Professor (Dr. Maria Garcia-Sheets), once told me I should not limit myself to being a lawyer, and its true there are so many other things I am good at and with journalism I can be a voice for the people.

When we got to Nuestros Ahijados it was very difficult to get someone to sit for an interview because they were very busy, it was a bit frustrating but also understandable since a lot of their volunteers were in Ciudad Vieja helping with the cleaning of the city that got destroyed by the storm. So what I did learn about the project was that it is a Dream Center for Malnourished Children but this is something I knew before visiting the place. In end there was no tour available and no one to interview so my teacher and I walked around the center and talked to a couple of kids.
In the entrance of the project there is an altar for La Virgen Maria

Some of the children at the project

The trashcans in the projects are like different animals

One of the buildings of the projects

There are a lot of trees and plants in the project

Some of the plants looked like animals

The roofs have tiles and one of them had part of my name!

There was a playground for the children, my favorite was the seesaw

Tree house/slide was a great hit with this little boy

One of the little fountains, in the shape of an elephant

One of the cute little children who was very welcoming, She loved Aurora

She also loved taking pictures, and wanted one with me!

After we visited Nuestros Ahijados my teacher decided that it was better if we went to see the Catedral in San Felipe. It was a big building with more of a Gothic look, according to my teacher. I have never been into architecture, so I have no idea. The cathedral had a variety of different altars, but my favorite was the one for La Virgen Maria. We stayed there for a long time and in the mean time April's teacher stayed for a while to pray, and then we all just chatted. We were in the cathedral for such a long time that we lost track of time and then we realized that we had to go back to school because it was almost four thirty.

La Catedral en San Felipe

Cross in front of the Catedral

Inside La Catedral

One of the altars

The Main Altar in La Catedral

La Virgen Maria has her own altar in La Catedral, it was my favorite

After leaving the cathedral Aurora and I talked about how important religion is to many people in Guatemala. Because we were running late and we were all a little exhausted from the walking so we took a chicken bus back to Antigua. Which by the way for those people who do not know what a chicken but it is a School Bus from the States that has been spray painted or painted over in bright colors. The one we were riding on our way to Antigua said North Carolina on it, and when I asked the driver he said that is where it came from, North Carolina so that was very cool. Thinking of how the buses were sent here made me think of all the things I no longer use at home and how I could send them here and people would find use for them. I think I may do that when I get home go through all of my stuff and send to my host family and teacher things that I no longer use but that are still good.

Friday, June 18, 2010

La Azotea, is a museum not a roof!!!

La Azotea is this museum that has 3 museums on one site. We had a tour of the Coffee Museum and one of the Music/Indigenous way of life museum.

Our group was split into two groups and then we went on the two tours. We first started with the coffee museum.
Coffee is a big part of Guatemala and they are actually No. 3 in the world in the best quality of Coffee. Our tour guide was this very young guy, oh yeah it was very cool that our teachers came along.

So our tour started with an explanation of what coffee was and how Guatemala was involved with Coffee. The tour guide explained where coffee came from and how it was orignally founded when a farmer found that his goats were eating this plant that made them crazy because it wouldn't let them sleep. I also secretly think this is how the theory of vampires evolved people had caffeine and so they could not sleep and were then called people of the night and it just evolved, just a theory.

We then moved to the second stage which explained in more detail Guatemala's involvement and also how they are number 7 in the world for production of Coffee but yet they are ranked NO.3 in the world in quality of coffee. And Believe me coffee here tastes soo much better than the packaged things we get in the states. I think its because here it is very fresh even in restaurants and cafes!!

The next stage of our tour was the tour guide explaining and showing us the different stages that coffee goes through. He first started by showing us the life of coffee beans which starts in 5 different stages of the plants.


I really like the different models they had of people working on coffee farms/plantation that explained all of the different steps. There was also this cool map of Guatemala that pinpointed all of the different locations were coffee is grown.

So the museum I think is owned by this family that came to Guatemala a long time ago, and they also have a coffee farm right on the property. The picture above shows the owners of the farm fro beginning to end.

What they do there is that they grow coffee and then roast it and make it so it is delicious and you can buy it. They export to a couple of different places as well. I really like the photograph above, I don't know what the machine is but that guy was really friendly and the machine was really clean. I think that it has to do something with preparing the coffee because we were in a place were we were allowed to sample some coffee and even chocolate. The chocolate was really good, Danny did not like the coffee and I didn't try it because too much caffeine gives me hives.

After having some free samples we went on a tour of where they grow the coffee and other things, my teacher and I laged behind to take a picture. She picked up that stick in her hand and playfully threatened me with it saying if I didn't pay attention she was going to discipline me like in the old days and then I said NO and we started playing around. It was such a fun experience because rarely do you get to fool around with you professors like that.

During the tour we came across a well and I fell in, well actually I jumped in and freaked some people out because they thought it was deep and full of water but it wasn't. I could actually stand up and it was only up to my stomach but the Abuelito (Anthony's Teacher) and I pretended I had fallen in and he was rescuing me by pulling me out everyone thought it was a hoot.

After the tour we all headed to the gift shop were we got sample coffee again. Anthony peer pressured Danny into trying it, he was skeptical about it but he tried it anyway, I don't think he likes it but I don't really know.

After some time we headed over to the next part of the tour which was the Music tour. Out tour guide was this really nice woman who was enthusiastic. I liked her tour best out of the two. She started the tour by talking to us about the different things that Mayan people used as instruments, such as ocean shells, you know like the ones you put your ear against and you can hear the ocean waves.
Turtle Shells & Animal Horns

Animal Skeleton

Animal Skin

She also talked to us about how turtle shells could be used as drums it was quite interesting. In order to make a drum you used the shell of a turtle and the horn of an animal as it is pictured above. In addition like the pictures about animals skeletons and their skin was also used for the making of musical instruments. The instruments were then used in a time of war or for entertainment and such.
One of the last instruments she talked about was the Marimba which I believe is Guatemala's official music instrument. In Antigua during the weekends there are many people who go to the park or by the arch and they play the marimba.

Our tour guide also talked about the how there was traditional dances that required especial outfits like the ones pictured above. She said Guatemala was full of tradition and that these dances were important to a lot of Guatemalans if not all. This also opened the ay for her to start talking about the tradition of indigenous people and the ways in which they made money and the way they lived their life.

Painting of Maximon

Simulation of people worshiping Maximon

Maximon was also present in La Azotea because he has a big role in the culture. What I know about Maximon is that he is half saint half devil, but some say he is neither he is just a lawyer, he intercedes for them.

Woman Weaving (San Antonio)

Simulation of a traditional Mayan Wedding

Woman selling beans and such

After Maximon we also learned about the lifestyle of many indigenous people and their traditions, customs, beliefs, and way of life. Many of the people make money by selling things they grow in their farm and others do so by weaving and making little crafts.

All in all the experience at the Azotea was great. I learned a lot about the culture and about music and even coffee. I thought the place was beautiful and the people were extremely friendly. If you are ever in Antigua you need to visit this place!!!

OH PS Tomorrow we go to TIKAL!!!!!!