This is the place for photos and reflections of my visits to Latin America beginning in 2012. Previous blogs are linked on the main pages of my photo collections on flickr. HAPPY TRAILS!

Sunday, July 22, 2012


For the 1st 2 weeks of this year's Guatemala adventures I led a group of Spanish language learners from the US, mostly teachers adding Spanish to improve their practice and gain university credit for immersion studies. Today marks the shift from Live & Learn language immersion to a focus on the Beca Project, though much of each day the last 2 weeks has brought me in touch with Beca students, families, and advisors. The Beca Project is a small (but growing!) scholarship and social aid nonprofit that my husband and I started in 2009; you can read more on the Beca Project website including about how we got started, who is involved, and our missions here in San Pedro. In addition to me, there will be 5 Beca sponsors in San Pedro for family visits, cultural experiences, and a big celebration on Saturday. So here is Day 1 of Beca week!

Early morning the lighting and sounds of Antigua as enjoyed on the roof top terrace charmed me.
Sharon Brink, Sue, and I headed to breakfast brunch at Fernando's and were joined by Kim from the language group and her husband Joe.
We walked south to Don Quijote Cruisers for our scheduled fat-tire bike tour of Antigua. Our guide was Luis (on the right, below), requested because of the great experience Mike and I had with him last year when we did a bike trip through outlying villages to a coffee finca. We stopped at some sights and paid for a closer look at Las Capuchinas. Maybe I'll find more energy later and add specific names to the rest of the photos below of beautiful churches and convents we visited. The tour lasted about 2 and a half hours and cost 200 quetzales, about $25 each.

 La Merced

 Las Capuchinas

I attempted this photo without regard to personal safety.

After the bike tour we headed back to Casa Cristina to meet up with Chris whose flight arrived while we were pedaling around town. We found a little hole-in-the-wall restaurant called La Cancha I had read about on the forum; it's apparently run by 2 old ladies and is tucked behind a tiny tienda (store). Even entering the store you'd never know it was there unless you asked. The pepian was delicious - 25 quetzales (about $3).

Chris got a massage and the rest of us did a loop through the artesan market.
A couple of random shots from the walk back home

Next we headed out toward Choco Museo for our scheduled lesson on chocolate making, passing this dog rocking a hat and shades and - strangely - a congregation of pitbulls near the Santa Catalina arch.

The chocolate class at Choco Museo was fabulous thanks in large part to our energic and creative teacher, Pablo. He took us through the natural and historical history of chocolate and motivated and rewarded us with chocolate for remembering the facts.

Then we had hands on lessons in the roasting, husking, and grinding of the chocolate and made and sampled tea from the husks, several types of chocolate drinks, and ultimate blended and molded our own chocolate candies. We'll return tomorrow to pick up the finished products. (Note to Mike: I put chili pepper and ginger root in some of yours.)

There were 10 of us, 5 in our group and an extended family group from Ohio with a daughter born in Guatemala. Turns out they know of the Beca Project and are heading to San Pedro to donate money the daughter earned at a garage sale to the Cooperativa's projects!

 While we were there, it rained so hard the street looked like a river.
By the time we headed out it was getting dark and the rain had diminished. We had a nice dinner at Cafe Condesa before heading home to Casa Cristina.

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