Archive for the 'Guatemala' Category

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Interesting Blurbs About Guatemala

Interesting Blurbs About Guatemala

-We’ve got to see a volcano erupt (smokes and ash only)

-They typically only have spoons out as their dinner utensil even if it’s something you wouldn’t normally eat with a spoon. also only bowls

-Coffee cups are tiny but pack a lotta punch

-Toilet paper has to go in the garbage NOT the toilet. That applies everywhere here.

-So many stray dogs.

-Electric shower heads to heat the shower. You run the risk of a small shock when turning on/off the shower.

-Houses are gated with large cinder block walls so no one can see inside. Once inside, there’s typically a courtyard surrounded by rooms.

-Frelan, one of the farmers, wore flip flops as we climbed the volcano.

-Typically, ice isn’t used in drinks.

-Elementary school is typically the most education people in this area get. Further schooling is far from town and costs a lot of money.

This one’s from Amber’s page of “facts”
-If you look like your passport picture, you probably need the trip.

Guatemala: Days 1 – 3

Hola from Guatemala!

Holy cow what an incredible last few days! Weve done so much it feels like weve been here for way longer than a few days. Now, where to start… there’s a lot to talk about so this will be a long one…

We left Oshkosh around 11:15pm on Friday night. Drove to O’Hare which we were able to reach by 2:30am. Hopped our 5:15am flight to Houston. Caught our next flight to Guatemala where we landed at 11:10am CA time! It was a shock how hot and humid it was. But it was so incredibly beautiful. Customs and all that fun stuff was a breeze… until we realized Sophie’s luggage never showed. Luckily they told us they’d be able to deliver it around 4pm.

We walked outside the doors and there in front of us were dozens and dozens of people all holding signs or looking for inbound loved ones behind a gate. It was loud and so many people that it was nearly overwhelming. After finding a man named Luis holding up a “OSHKOSH” sign, we were able to hit the road.

1948186_10152343600188126_90443813_n(Drive out of the terminal at the Guatemala airport)

We pulled out of the terminal to officially and finally set our eyes on Guatemala in person. Wow! Here we finally were! At this place we’ve been preparing for for months now. All around us were blue sky’s and green trees. There were bright colored buildings and the hustle and bustle of the Guatemala City traffic was intense! The smell of the city was that of fresh grass, summer haze and diesel fuel. The streets had a dusty dirtiness to them but it was an almost forgettable feature when compared to all the bright buildings with beautifully shaped bars over the windows. It was all so exciting! Once we were out of the city, we were able to see so much of Guatemala’s natural beauty as well as the smaller towns. We drove through Antigua  which was ancient and beautiful. Narrow streets of cobble stone in a city with such wonderful life and color. It was surrounded by mountains and valcanos. We then drove to the small side town of San Miguel Escobar which is where we arrived at As Green! On one side of the very narrow street is the As Green offices with the logo painted out front. Across the street was the house they put their service groups in. It’s big and gorgeous. I can’t even believe it!

10155461_10152343600363126_929976160_n(On the drive)

10013078_10152026642126918_803236409_n(The square in San Miguel Escobar)

Once settled into the house, which was absolutely stunning! Even has a rooftop balcony. Our hostess Jane showed us around the small town of San Miguel Escobar. I’ll post pictures of it. Later we went to dinner at one of the As Green farmers house. His name was Mercedes and spoke no Spanish! So we combined minds to communicate with him. It was fun and the food was incredible. Afterwords details get blurry. I’m pretty sure we were all in bed by 8.

1964926_739840162727820_987745615_n(From our rooftop)

1982283_10152343601228126_969090471_n(Handmade tortillas)


Day 2:
We woke up to the sunrise and our cook Amalia making breakfast. Delicious! Soon Jane came by to take us to Antigua for some sights of the area. Our van was late so we played a real intense round of Catchphrase. My team won obviously. We hit the city and it was gorgeous. There will be pictures to come. It had some ancient architecture as well as bright colored buildings and super cobblestone roads. It’s surrounded by mountains and volcanoes. Oh! it’s just wonderful!

First we hiked up to this hill that over looked the city. There was a cross upon it which was all very beautiful.

1545712_10153974574105175_6481439_n(Overlooking Antigua)

Next we walked to see some Mayan ruins! SO COOL! so peaceful and incredible.

(Some of the ruins)

(Entrance to the ruins)

We ate lunch at a very American-ized cafe. However we all mostly still ate off the Guatemala menu. As Mike says, “When in Rome, do as the Guatemalans do!” we exchanged cash afterwords and went through the market for some souvenirs.

(Don’t worry, they were smoothies)

It was back to the house were we did an incredibly interesting coffee activity. We learned all about the coffee process then followed by the economics of coffee. We learned how sadly little these farmers make in the grand scheme of it all. A jar of instant coffee is 2.35, right? Well farmers only make 4 cents of that. Holy wow, thats terrible. Here at As Green As It Gets, they make sure their farmers make 100% of the profit.  It’s a really great program they have working here that really benefits those that are truly sincere to their work.
After all this learning we went to dinner at another farmers home. Having all these meals with farmers has allowed us to really get to know the great people that work so hard for quality crop. It’s really neat.
We arrived back at the house and had a rooftop pow-wow to discuss how everyhings going. We ended the night with such a delightful game of Cards Against Humanity.

(The results of the coffee activity)

Day 3:
Today’s the coffee day! We left the house at about 9am to begin our hike up the side of Volcan Agua. It was steep and rocky and slippery with dirt but after over an hour and a half we made it! we were on the side of a volcano over 6000ft above sea level. Whoa! We picked coffee for an hour which was a lot of fun. The winners of the most coffee picked were Amber, Daniel, Kari and myself. We were rewarded with As Green As It Gets water bottles! They look super cool!

(Hiking up Volcan Agua)

(Kari and Timoteo enjoying some avocado picked along the trail)

After lunch at Timoteo’s (the farmer) house he led us through the rest of the coffee process. Everything from depulping the beans from the cherries through a bicycle mechanism…
1908259_10152343604283126_1015035869_n(Daniel de-pulps)

…to the fermenting process, the drying process, the roasting process…
10172779_10152343604358126_213854914_n(Coffee bean roasting on an open fire…)

…and then of purse the grinding/brewing/consuming!
1922050_739841686061001_729642054_n(Carter grinding beans)

It was a great experience to see what all goes into something like coffee. We then got to by some o Timoteo’s coffee! We bought coffee from our coffee farmer. Too cool!

Afterwards we hosed off and a couple of us went exploring through the town for some snacks at little corner stores. Andy from As Green stopped by to give us a run down of what As Green does and why it’s different from other coffee places. He explained more in-depth about the co-op and how the workers are paid. It’s really great to see such a business do what they can to get these hard working individuals the income they deserve.

Dinner tonight was at Gregorio’s house! He also only spoke Spanish. As we walked back from dinner we noticed all of these shrines of Jesus outside of people’s homes were put up. He explained to us that it’s a Monday night ritual during lent where families of the particular church in town pray together to their shrines of  Jesus  that were accompanied by candles and purple flowers. It’s a really interesting and new thing to learn about in this culture.

970684_10152114524101464_1338389316_n(The shrines outside of many homes along our walk home)

Well that leads us to now! Wow that’s lot! It took me a http access wifi but now that Ive got it I hope to make these more frequent (nightly?) so they’re not so long! I’ll also be includin words from other folks on the team and possibly some pictures. If not now then for sure when we get back.
Tomorrow it’s off to do some construction!
Until then,
KSFM -Nikki

Guatemala Leaves Tomorrow! (…technically)


Oh the excitement! We’re all just so thrilled to get this trip underway! We’ve been chatting a lot about what to bring, what not to bring, etc. We have an “ASB Guatemala” facebook group where we’ve been able to chat with each other. Some of our facebook posts to one another this week have been hilarious and really show our excitement! Here are some samples:

Cassy: “oh my god guys… if you have the chance, go onto Google Earth and looks at the photos around where we are going. you will instantly be 10x more excited!!!!!”

Mike: “FYI I have a while bunch of ear plugs. You don’t need to purchase any yourselves.” Apparently the nights are a bit loud.

Nikki K: “I’m ready!
Nikki's Socks

Nikki R: “Tell me if this is too weird/crazy of an idea: I’m gonna wear sweatpants on the bus/plane but with shorts on underneath so when we get to Guatemala, BAM shorts! Is that weird?”



So needless to say, we’re chatty and excited. And now, as promised, our itinerary!
Saturday, March 22nd:
Depart from O’Hare International (Chicago) @ 5:15am
Layover in Houston
Arrive in Guatemala City @ 11:08am
Get acquainted with humans, area, and stuff.

Sunday, March 23rd
See the sites of Antigua
Get knowledge on coffee

Monday, March 24th
Coffee farming!

Tuesday, March 25th
Construction day (helping build local buildings of sorts, details to come)

Wednesday, March 26th
Construction in the AM
Artisan workshop in the PM

Thursday, March 27th
Possible agricultural hike or more coffee farming in the AM
Market Scavenger Hunt in the PM

Friday, March 28th
Free day!

Saturday, March 29th
We say adios to Guatemala :(
Leave @ 12:08pm
Arrive at O’Hare @ 8:00pm

As you could imagine, many more details will come about all of these events as we do them. I am so excited to be able to tell our story of this trip to you all. So keep checking back all next week for possible updates. I’m gonna try my hardest to keep it frequent and filled with photographs and words from other team members.

Off we go!

One Week To Guatemala!

Hello again!

We are one week to our departure! AHHH!

Just a quick update on what we’ve been up to since the last post:
First things first, we have our final numbers from our Trivia Night Fundraiser that took place on February 22nd! We raised $2,540 towards our trips! Thank you so much to everyone who participated. This was huge for us! A big thank you to our fabulous sponsors Thrivent Financial, UW Credit Union, Belville & Associates and Associated Bank. Thank you, thank you, thank you!


We’ve had a couple meetings featuring some pretty special guests. Our first guest was Marc, a staff member here on campus who works with resident life. What’s this guy got to do with Guatemala? Well, he’s been going to Guatemala since the 90s! He told us all about what to expect, how beautiful and rich the culture is, how we’re gonna love it and inspired us to be ready for such an amazing experience. He emphasized how important it is for us to keep an open mind and be ready for everything. When it comes down to it, that’s the excitement of going to a different country especially one with such culture and history as Guatemala. He hyped us up for going, that’s for sure!

Our next guest was Brad. Brad works with sustainability right here at the UWO campus. He told us what the campus does to keep up with the “Three E’s” (economy, equality, ecology) of sustainability and how we could look for it in Guatemala. He made us think about we could bring back from Guatemala from the sustainability side.

Our third guest was Faith, an intern at Growing Oshkosh. Growing Oshkosh is Oshkosh’s own organic urban farm. It’s literally in the middle of the city. An organic, sustainable farm right in the middle of our city. How cool! It’s a real up and coming way to feed the community with fresh and super local foods. She talked to us about how they are trying to create more ways of sustainability right here in our own town. They’re a great program doing a whole lotta good for Oshkosh. And they take volunteers! (Like them on Facebook!

Amongst these things, we’ve been discussing what to pack and our itinerary. We’ve got quite the full itinerary that I’ll be able to share with you after our final meeting on Monday. It’s pretty exciting.



All of this has got us all CRAZY EXCITED! I asked our team a couple of questions:
1. How are you feeling about the trip?
2. Name one thing you’ve packed that’s got a story
3. What are you looking to bring back?

Cassy: “I am definitely excited but still nervous at the same time. Feeling a little bit of everything. I don’t think it has really hit me yet that we’re really going to Guatemala…
I haven’t REALLY started packing yet.
I have become a coffee drinker so I will bring back coffee but also memories and a new perspective to incorporate into my major (environmental studies).”

Carter: “I am stoked! I have started packing but it does not feel real that we are going to Guatemala in a week.
I have three pairs of sunglasses back just in case.
I will be bringing back plenty of coffee and I need to find worry dolls for a family member. Otherwise, all that I will be bringing back is a nice tan, a new perspective on what it means to be sustainable and an appreciation of a culture different than the one I am used to.”

Taylor: “I’m so excited to be traveling on my first international trip to somewhere warm with a GREAT group of people. Yet, I am nervous because of my irrational fear of customs.
Something that’s going to be in my suitcase are my contacts because my mom blessed me with terrible eyesight. I’d hate to miss any of the wonders of the world on this trip!
I’m looking to bring back countless memories and a sense of feel-good accomplishment.”

Amber: “I am extremely excited to go to Central America for a second time! I feel so lucky to be going and the great people I’m going with is even more exciting.
Something in my suitcase… definitely my allergy meds… you guys don’t need to see how scary I look without those haha!
I’m looking to bring back some great memories and a new understanding of a culture different from my own. I think understanding different cultures will play a huge role in my nursing career one day. And of course as much coffee as I can fit into my suitcase!”

Nikki K.: “I’m feeling like this is all coming up so quick! I haven’t really gotten the chance to be nervous yet. I’m super excited though.
I’m with Cassy on this one… I haven’t even thought about what I’m packing yet.
I plan to bring back coffee (of course) and maybe some other cool things for my mom/grandma/dad/sista.”

Sophie: “I’m super excited. I’ve been telling everyone I’ve come across how excited I am. I think all of UWO knows.
I’m bringing about a gajillion pairs of socks, nothing worse than wet feet. And my camera. Can’t wait to capture all the beautiful landscapes.
I will be bringing back coffee for everyone who donated to my trip. And hopefully some cultural shtuff to jazz up my bedroom.”

Daniel: “I’m really excited!!! I need to be somewhere warm where I don’t have to think about school and Guatemala is that place!
I’m bringing pepto, tums and some fancy prescription tummy meds. Such preparation.
I want to bring back lots of knowledge. And some coffee for my mom and girlfriend. And some cool little Guatemala things to remind me of the trip.”

Kari: “I can’t believe spring break is already here! I don’t feel prepared at all because I haven’t had any time to pack or think about packing. I’m a little nervous just because I don’t know what to expect and for our flights and traveling to all go smoothly. I am very excited though!
[I'm bringing] sunscreen and toilet paper!
My boyfriend’s sister’s name is Jade so I am definitely bringing her back some jade! Also, I have about 10 people that asked me to bring back coffee so I’ll be leaving room in my suitcase for that. I’m excited to bring back new memories from a great experience!”

Mike: “I’m prepared mentally… but that’s about it.
[I'm bringing] my foot roller… it makes my feet feel good after intense walking and work. It’s from my mom and goes with me on every trip I take.
I want to purchase a hammock! I saw too many last year to not get one this year.”

Me! (Nikki R.): I’m so excited! I’m really excited to get the experience started!
I am putting some SPF50 in my suitcase because I have had no sun exposure for the past 6 months and the sun hitting my skin will be a culture shock in itself!
I plan on bringing back something unique to the Guatemalan culture. I want to learn as much as I can about the culture in 6 days and want to bring back something that exemplifies and reminds me of what I learned.”


That’s what we’ve got for now! I’ll post one more time before we leave.
Until then,

Introducing ASB-Guatemala 2014!

Hello and Welcome!

My name is Nikki Raccio and I will be documenting the lives and adventures of the 2014 Guatemala ASB group! There’s a grand total of 10 of us heading to the small town of Ciudad Vieja just outside of Antigua. We are leaving bright and early Saturday, March 22nd and return again Saturday, March 29th. While there, we will be working on a coffee farm through the organization As Green As It Gets. Their goal is “to help those in poverty by enabling them to increase their income by engaging in well-paying economic activity”. It’s very exciting for all of us to learn just what coffee means for their economy and sustainability as we will be working personally with farmers and the coffee.  (learn more about AGAIG here: Oh, and did I mention this coffee farm is on the side of a volcano?! Yeah, pretty neat stuff!

We will also be assisting in some local construction for the great citizens of Ciudad Vieja. This means we’ll be getting down and dirty with cement, mortar and dirt while also constructing rebar and hauling brick all with our own two hands. How exciting! And I mean that genuinely!

We as a team have held a few meetings since November to discuss things such as the background of Guatemala, what trips experienced in the past, what we should expect and most importantly we’ve been reflecting on a multitude of things to think about before we leave. We’ve been reflecting on what we’re excited about, what we’re afraid of, what we think things will be like, what we hope to get out of this and what in our own lives can we compare/contrast/change from such an experience. These meetings have allowed us to get to know each other better as well as get pumped for our trip to Guatemala!


And now… introducing our wonderful team:

Student Leader: Cassy

A junior here, Cassy is majoring in environmental studies with a minor in geography. She says she’s most excited about seeing the coffee process and experiencing new things. We’re glad to have her as our student trip leader!



A sophomore and second time ASB-er, Taylor is majoring in interactive web design. She is most looking forward to flying on her first international trip and helping out the coffee farmers in a developing country.



Daniel is also a sophomore here at UWO, majoring in international studies. He says he is most excited to experience a new culture and eat “nummy” foods. “Nummy” being a direct quote from this goofball.


Nikki K.
Nikki K!

In her fourth year as a student, Nikki is an interactive web management major with a journalism minor. She’s most excited about experiencing a different culture. Two Nikki’s on one team, it’s pretty magical.



Amber is a junior and majoring in nursing. She’s most excited to experience a different culture and helping out those in need! It’s always a good thing to have a nurse on your team!



Also a junior, Carter is a journalism major here on campus. He is looking forward to traveling outside of the country and experiencing a different culture. His height and love for travel is what will keep us all together!



Kari is a senior majoring in human services with a minor in art. She is most looking forward to traveling to a new place, helping out the coffee farmers, seeing the process and going on adventures! She’s our planner of entertainment so I’m also excited to see what other adventures she has in store for us!



Sophomore majoring in geography with an emphasis in geospatial technologies, Sophie is super excited to chill on a volcano for a week, see the process of coffee production and learn about Guatemalan culture. She also has a habit of giving people adorable pet names so be on the look out for that as well.


Nikki R.
Nikki R!

That’s me! I’m a (super) senior here at UWO and majoring in Music Industry. I’m most excited to travel back to Central America and do some hard work. I’m excited to experience the culture but really do what I can with my being and bare hands to make a difference there and in my head and heart. Experience all that I can. And then tell it all to you great people, of course!


Advising Leader: Mike 

Back in the day, Mike was a communication major and has a Masters of Education. He’s most looking forward to reconnecting with his Guatemalan friends, climbing volcanoes, getting dirty, building things and hanging out with his 9 new best friends! Aw, ain’t that sweet. We’re lucky to have him as our leader!


That’s all I got for now, but as our trip gets closer and closer, you’ll be hearing a lot more from me!

Until then,
Nikki R.

September 2014
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