Monthly Archive for March, 2014

A Short Summary of Our Week

Hello everyone!

The teammates of ASB Honduras have all made it safely home! We have tons and tons of stories to tell of our time in El Progreso, so be sure to ask us about it! To give you all a further glimpse, here is a quick video in summary:

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Once again, thank you OYE for having us! This experience was life-changing!

Guatemala: Day 7 – The Free Day!

Day 7:
The free day! We were given a selection of places to go and things to do for our free day and we chose to go to “The Lake”.  It was this huge, stunningly gorgeous lake 2 and a half hours away from San Miguel Escobar. It was surrounded by volcanos and mountains. The water was so clear! The lake was surrounded with wonderful foliage of all shapes, sizes and colors. The roads and sidewalks were again cobblestone. It was so beautiful I’d say it was paradise.  Ahhhh…

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We had a few different options of what we could do. The popular choice was to go zip-lining in the nature reserve on the edge of town. It was quite the nature reserve located within the mountains. So stunning. A foot long lizard even ran past my foot like it was nothing. While some of the group went zip-lining, Cassy, Sophie, Nikki and myself went kayaking in the lake. Jane joined us as well! It only cost us about $3.28/person/hour! It was picture-esk. Just paddling out to the middle of the bay of this massive lake we were in and just looking at everything. There were no words to be said or even to describe how beautiful, peaceful and serene this was. But! There was more to see!

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Back on land, the 5 of us went to this fantastic little outdoor cafe for lunch. It was beautiful AND delicious. Who could ask for more?

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About half way through, a van pulled up to the area and there was the zip-line crew! Well hey there guys, how was zip lining? They said it was fun. They did 8 different courses that went through the mountains and even past a waterfall. Their longest one lasted about 45 seconds. That’s a pretty long time to fly through trees! They said at the end they got to see some monkeys chow down on bananas! Whoa! The rest of our day at the lake was spent walking up and down their main road. It was filled with little shops and restaurants. Lots to see and take it. Such a pleasant day it was!

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Now, I personally get car sick real easy and the winding roads through the mountains, oof, not for me. So I stopped at a pharmacy before heading back to buy some benedryl to knock me out! When I asked for some, they sold it to me by the pill. I thought that was cool because then I didn’t have to buy a whole pack. I talked to Jane about it and she said that’s convenient however, that’s how all the medication is done there, even anti-biotics. So people don’t always get their proper dosage and prices can get weird as well. Another interesting thing I learned about their culture and another thing I find myself reflecting about my own culture. Thought I’d tell you all about that tidbit.

Needless to say I got in the van and the next thing I knew I woke up at a restaurant for dinner! Rad! We ate our final dinner in Guatemala at this really awesome crepe restaurant in Antigua. Crepes? In Guatemala? Yeah! And they were crazy good! Fresh made in a matter of minutes with both savory and sweet kinds. Mmm! And it was a pretty cool restaurant where you even had the option to eat on beanbag chairs out on a patio. Legit. After dinner we bid a fond farewell to Paula (an AGAIG gal who helped us translate at times) and Andy.

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Back at the house we had our final reflection in Guatemala. We reflected on how now that we’ve had this experience, what can we take from it? What can we start doing? What can we stop doing? What can we continue to do? Most of us said a lot of the same things. We’d like to start shopping locally more often, care about where our stuff comes from, use more sustainable resources in our lives and simplify. Wed like to stop complaining so much, taking things for granted and stressing out especially the little things because in the end it’s not that big of a deal and were all gonna be okay. We all seem to have taken a lot from this trip that maybe we didn’t think we would. I, for example, didn’t think I’d now start to put so much focus on where I buy things but now I totally am! Main St, USA here I come! Overall, we all got a great experience here in Guatemala.

Guatemala: Day 6 – A Day of Adventures

Day 6:
Today was our day of activities we chose to do through AGAIG. We decided on attending an artisans workshop where we learned some common artisan works such as iron sculpting, wood carving and jade jewelry making. Our other activity was a “Market Scavenger Hunt” where we split into two teams and ran through the giant market in Antigua to shop for food we’d later make into our dinner. Both activities were really fun and helped us identify and learn more about the culture.

So first was our Artisan’s workshop. I personally participated in the Jade jewelry making along with Kari, Nikki and Amber. Jane our tour hostess joined us as well!  We met our Artisan. His name was Francisco, a friendly elderly man who’s been working with jade for 44 years. Jade is a precious stone used by the Mayans of the Guatemalan area for all different things whether I was art or dental work. The kind of jade found in this area is called jadeite. It’s rare and found in very few places around the world. The other kind of jade you see in Asian cultures is called nephrite. We learned all this and so much more from Francisco though Jane translated most of it for us. We then all got to pick out our own little piece of jadeite to carve and polish into jewelry we wanted! It was so fun and so fascinating to see all the steps it takes to make such a beautiful and rare piece of jewelry.

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I don’t know nearly as much about the other workshops but I got a few descriptions. In the iron working, Taylor, Cassy and Mike carved gorgeous animal shaped garden decorations out of giant pieces of sheet metal. It involved a lot of muscle work, patience and rust colored hands but each piece turned out really fabulous.

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In the wood working workshop, they made serving trays. Sophie, Daniel and Carter carved the frames of their trays and then sanded them down. They then were able to pick a piece of traditional indigenous clothing to cut up and form as the center of their trays to then cover with glass. They looked really cool and perfect for serving coffee to future guests at their homes!

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Once that was all through, we at lunch at Roberto’s house. He was the wood working artisan. We had Pepian, the national dish of Guatemala! It was delicious. Fresh chicken in a slightly spicey and flavorful sauce with potatoes and rice. And of course tortillas. There are tortillas at just about every meal. All handmade from scratch. They’re incredible! But yes, Pepian. Mmm.

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It was then off to the market for our scavenger hunt! Now, I don’t know how to really explain this market to you. It’s kind of one of those you gotta see into believe it kinda things. It’s this large complex, indoors and outdoors, with insanely narrow hallways. Each person with a stand inside of this market had it jam packed with whatever they were selling. Each stand was rather small and dimly lit. Each vender was fighting for your attention to show you what they had or how much cheaper theirs was. It was intense and energetic! So exciting! Once you found what you needed you could barter the price down. Everything was just kind of our in the open whether it was clothes, fruit or even meat. The meat hung from hooks at the front of meat stands. You could go to one stand selling dried fish and the one next to it could be selling shoes. It was pure chaos and so much fun!

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Once we had all of our ingredients, we then spent an hour in the artisans market where it was again a lot of booths and stands of venders and artisans tying to sell you things but this was a little more relaxed, spaced out and mostly outdoors. This is where we bought some of our more touristy things for ourselves. We also could buy things from our artisans we worked with or those that work locally with  AGAIG. There was a little mini store set up at the AGAIG offices for us to look at things in. For example, I bought a bag made by Timoteo’s daughter! It was neat to be able to buy things like that that the people we worked with made or their family made.

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Once back at the house, some people showered, others went to check out Timoteo’s bio-digester. It’s a whole sustainable system he’s setting up where he has a tank for methane gas where he will collect manure from pigs he will raise on this piece of land. He then will put the manure in the tank and from there has the methane gas that he can take home for his stove. Once the manure is old, he will take it and make it a compost to use as fertilizer for his banana trees or other crops. He’s got a set up made of brick where he will have his own fish pond filled with tilapia. The tilapia will only cost him Q5 each (something like 70 cents) and once he grows the fish, he can turn around and sell them for Q15 each (about 2 dollars). The pig waste will also create algae in this pond which is what tilapia feed from. So for practically nothing, he can sell fish and make some nice profit all while utilizing other affordable and sustainable ways to live as well as maintain his crops. I’m sure it’s a bit of work putting all of it together and maintaining it, but it’s something simple that is so effective. That’s definitely something we can all take away from this trip: how simplicity can be so effective.

I did not go to the bio-digester because Nikki and I stayed at the house to make the evenings dinner! We made some killer nachos. They were a big hit and mighty delicious. All made with food we got at the market! We had a dessert of fried plantains which we were supposed to make with a side of hot chocolate but we ended up just melting the chocolate and covering the plantains in them. Mmm! Andy from AGAIG even came and joined us for our homemade meal!

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Welcome Back!

Bye, New York...

Bye, New York…

Hello, Milwaukee!

Hello, Milwaukee!

And then the bus ride from Milwaukee back to Oshkosh... almost there!

And then the bus ride from Milwaukee back to Oshkosh… almost there!

 

Never make your home in a place, make a home for yourself inside your own head. You’ll find what you need to furnish it – memory, friends you can trust, love of learning, and other such things. That way it will go with you wherever you journey. It has been a pleasure traveling with these young women, and cant wait to see what the future holds for us!

Megan, Jen, Jasmine, McKenzie, Rya, Katie, Emily, Hannah, and Brianna. ASB New York 2014!

Megan, Jen, Jasmine, McKenzie, Rya, Katie, Emily, Hannah, and Brianna.
ASB New York 2014!

Sette Giorni (Day Seven)

Our last full day in beautiful NYC and our first stop of the day was to the Brooklyn Bridge. The view from the bridge was incredible! Similar to a famous bridge in France, locks in all shapes & sizes lined the railings.

The Brooklyn Bridge.

The Brooklyn Bridge.

The group heading down the Brooklyn Bridge.

The group heading down the Brooklyn Bridge.

Many individuals leave locks or phrases on the Brooklyn Bridge. We felt it was another great opportunity to leave our mark as well.  ASB New York 2014: Fight AIDs. Love Life.

Many individuals leave locks or phrases on the Brooklyn Bridge. We felt it was another great opportunity to leave our mark as well.
ASB New York 2014: Fight AIDs. Love Life.

This was also our last day at GMHC  and to finish up our time there, we watched a documentary about the HIV/AIDS activist group Act Up! The documentary discussed  the struggles that plagued those living with HIV/AIDS in the years before much was known about the disease. After our time at GMHC, the group went to a local clinic and got tested, to experience what it would be like in the shoes of someone going through the worries and doubts of such test results.

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We also made a pit stop at the historical Stonewall Inn. The legendary Stonewall Inn is the birthplace of the modern Gay Rights movement.  On June 28th, 1969, the patrons of the Stonewall Inn fought back against what had become regular, tolerated, city sanctioned harassment by the police department.  For the first time in history members of the LGBT community refused to accept such oppression and stood up for themselves and, ultimately, the global LGBT community.  The Stonewall Inn, and the rebellion here, became the iconic flashpoint that sparked the long, uphill battle towards equality for all members of the Gay community.

The historical Stonewall Inn.

The historical Stonewall Inn.

Newspaper clippings in Stonewall concerning the unfortunate event.

Newspaper clippings in Stonewall concerning the unfortunate event.

For our final dinner as a group in New York we went to Carmine’s an Italian, family style restaurant.
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