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!

Saturday, October 31, 2015


I had a fun, eventful week. Monday through Friday Mynor and I hosted ice cream fiestas for the Beca Project students and some of their family members, 13-14 families per evening. It was a fun way to get to see all of the kids and to share Ti Wachooch and the rooftop terrace. I'm including just a few sample photos here and will eventually upload all the photos from these events onto my Flickr photo site.

Not everyone showed up at once - there are 7 or 8 families in each of these photos.

It also gave Mynor a chance to speak with them individually about grades, needs, and future plans - many of the kids are graduationg from Basico (like 9th grade) and are selecting a Diversificado program (like a combination high school/trade school) or are graduating from a Diversificado program and continuing into university.

As it got dark we moved inside.

After the ice cream and time to talk we took turns in the 'photo booth' which was a really engaging, hilarious way to get to know people better.

I'm wearing (in addition to the sparkles) a traditional San Pedrano-style huipil, a lovely gift.

Friday morning Mynor, Griselda (another Cooperativa School director) and I attended the Basico graduation at the Luisa y Benjamin Paul School. We had 11 students graduating - I was simply bursting with pride but had nothing on the parents and grandparents, most of whom were unable to attend school to this level.

Here is Maria Concepción (the girl on the right), preparing to enter.

Ana Petronila in purple, Diego David in the middle with striped tie

After introductions and speeches, each student was called up to receive congratulations and a diploma.



Then they were each called up again to walk through the flags and pose for pictures with family members. If you're wondering if all of this took many hours, the answer is 'yes'. And if you're wondering if loud orchestrations of love themes from 70s movies played loudly the whole time, the answer is also 'yes'. 

Paulina (with Mynor and his iPad)

Vicenta; the girl with the flag on the right is Beca student Rosa Maria (younger students with the best grades get that honor)

Lucia Adamari


Francisco Adolfo

Mynor, Griselda and I with 8 of the kids

After the graduation I walked down the finca road with Vicenta's mom to their home for a delicious celebration lunch of traditional San Pedrano food - chicken soup with guisquil (a type of squash), cabbage, and rice and tamalitos. In order to honor multiple invitations, Mynor and Griselda ate lunch with the family of Maria Concepción and Cooperativa directors Luis and Antonio joined me at Vicenta's.

Next I dashed back to Ti Wachooch (thanks for the ride on your motorcycle, Luis!), changed my clothes, and headed to the dock for the quickest Panajachel visit on record: 3 tuktuk rides and 2 boat crossings in less than an hour and a half - just enough time to (finally!) obtain my lost luggage, picked up at the airport in Guatemala City and left at a tour agency in Panajachel by our favorite driver, Alfredo Garcia.

The last of the ice cream fiestas was that evening and then it was time to gear up for Todos Santos and Día de los Muertos. Next post!

You can find the complete photo collection for this trip HERE.

Happy trails!

Sunday, October 25, 2015


I'm in Guatemala and have my wits about me enough to send out this 1st trip update - my circuitous trip south and 1st full day in San Pedro. I'll be in San Pedro La Laguna on gorgeous Lake Atitlán for 3 weeks this trip and Mike will join me for the last week. Then we'll fly to the north of Guatemala for a few days of Maya site hopping with a beloved archaeologist and then head west into Belize, finishing with part of a week on Caye Caulker, a laid back island just off the coast.

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Evening trip up the Columbia River gorge - a beautiful reminder of how blessed we are to travel and then to come home to this place.

Another fantastic art collection at 'best in the US' PDX

A perfect itinerary booked using airmiles was soured a few months ago when the airline saw fit to change my initial flight, giving me a midnight departure and a 12 hour layover in Dallas. A little research found that signing up for an American Express card (1st year free of fee) and paying $50 at the door could buy me a relative resort day in their Centurion Lounge with chase lounges for napping, gourmet buffets, comfy seating and a chair massage.

It was a splurge but worth every dime, especially when my flight was delayed and the layover became 16 hours. Travel tip: sign up for real time text messages about flight status. When I received notice that our flight was cancelled due to foul weather in Dallas I had a 30 second jump on the rest of the crowd at the gate; being near the 1st in line for rerouting meant I was able to arrive in Guatemala the next morning after a brief (<3 hours of sleep!) stopover in Mexico City.

Benito Juarez Internat'l Airport in Mexico City at 2am

Waiting for the airport shuttle in the Holiday Inn lobby at 5:45am (booked online as I waited to board my flight with tips from Mexico City locals heading home)

I'm still waiting on a checked bag of gifts and household items but at least it's in the hands of a trusted driver now. Another travel trip: try to fly carryon only and even if you don't, carry on a change of clothes and needed medicine and toiletries.

I generally fly into Guatemala in the evening and was delighted to recognize Lake Atitlán and its ring of volcanos from the air.

The aforementioned trusted driver, Alfredo Garcia, met me at the airport and dropped me in Panajachel. I enjoyed the conversation and scenery along the way. I took this photo of a stingray bike (retro here, too, called 'Californianas' - for Mike since we both tore around on them as kids

and this photo of brick makers because it was fascinating to watch.

I caught the next lancha across the lake from Panajachel to San Pedro La Laguna.

That's Ti Wachooch to the right of the red roof on the left edge of the photo - 3 dark eyes and a tower.

After hello hugs with Mynor, Josefa, and family, my top priority - after an overnight flight the 1st night followed by a 3 hour hotel stay the 2nd night - was sleep. After a wonderful nap I enjoyed a friendly, delicious dinner at the Cooperativa School with a large extended family group of Mynor's cousins, followed by more delicious sleep.

Note to Mariah and Greg: Definitely qualified as a Meat Fiesta.

Next morning - Sunday October 25th - I rose with the sun to beautiful views and headed to the park and the market to fill my eyes with color and buy food for breakfast. There are markets for produce and meat every day in San Pedro but Sunday's is the largest.

I enjoyed bumping into people I know (like Beca Project student Maria Cecilia with her mom and uncharacteristically serious little brother)

and shopped until the 20 quetzales (about $2.60) I had in my pocket was gone. The result:

After breakfast Mynor and I headed out on his motorcycle to present an invitation to party on our rooftop to each of the Beca Project families.

The motorcycle is a huge blessing but we still had to walk much of the time through varied and interesting terrain.

Lucia Adamari

Jesus Briyit

Diego Edwin and family

Ana Maria and family

It took about 4 hours to visit 65 families (a new world record!) and we were rewarded with a lovely Josefa-created lunch for our accomplishment.

I spent the rest of the day settling into our little Ti Wachooch and enjoying the afternoon and evening scenery before heading to bed.

You can find the complete photo collection for this trip HERE.

Happy Trails!