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Hello all!

This is Rachel here to catch you all up on what we have been doing the past day or so. Last night, as Marie was saying, we went to dinner at a restaurant called Nico’s. It was absolutely fantastic. I shared some delicious nachos with my table. We also all had a strawberry milk type beverage and burritos. I personally had a beef burrito. Even though we had a Spanish speaker at our table, we got lost in translation for awhile when asking for sour cream. (Apparently they call it crema?) After a great meal and some group chatting we headed back to the house.

When we got home we played games again as a group with many members from the group from Illinois that is also staying here. We played a hectic game called catch phrase and then another few rounds of Mafia. Several of our group members ended the night on the roof patio watching the orange moon and the stars. It was breathtaking.

We woke up this morning to a delicious breakfast of coffee, French toast, and bananas. It was wonderful, and many of us really needed the coffee pick me up.

We left a little after one to go to the Pepian workshop. Pepian is a traditional Guatemalan dish that is generally served for celebratory purposes. It includes a vegetable rice, vegetable sauce, and chicken. As Marie said yesterday, it all began with a live chicken.

The chicken part was definitely not as bad as I expected. She simply twisted the neck and sawed right through. I was envisioning a hatchet and a loud chop, but it was quite…. Peaceful? Then Maria Elena, our instructor, put the chicken (after it stopped twitching…) into a boiling pot of water briefly so it was easier to pluck. I personally did not pluck any of the chicken because I was a little under the weather this morning, but it looked very easy.

After that we continued learning how to make the Pepian dish. She showed us how to chop the vegetables, how to prepare the rice, and finally, how to make tortillas. It was MUCH harder than I thought it would be. We all ended up making them way, way too thick. The meal turned out fantastically despite our novice preparation.

After the workshop we headed back to the house for a little downtime before we headed out to some Artisan workshops. There were five people to each of the three Artisans workshops. We could do a Jade workshop, a wood working workshop, or a metal workshop. The jade workshop made necklaces, the metal workshop made wall hangers or candle holders, and the woodworking made serving trays.

Marie and I both participated in the metal workshop. We were able to pick out a design, either a butterfly, a lizard, or an owl. We first traced our stencil, and then cut it out using huge metal shears attached to the table. It was incredibly difficult. Then we added any detailing that was required for our designs. The hardest part for me was trying to punch holes through the metal. Our instructor was able to lunch through in one stroke off the hammer. It took me about thirty, if not more, strokes to get through the metal. My hands and wrists ached afterwards. But I definitely appreciate metal work much more now that I’ve seen it done.

After our workshop we had a group return late, but we passed the time by playing a sort of volleyball with some Guatemalan children. It was a blast and a great serendipitous occurrence.

Then we went to dinner at Andre’s house, another AGAIGN farmer. Incidentally, we had Pepian again. It was served a little differently, but it made sense that it was made because they were trying to celebrate the occasion of us being there. Even though we were grateful and the food was delicious, we are all starting to tire a little bit of chicken and rice.

After dinner we came home and reflected a bit on the differences between Oshkosh and Guatemala and their ways of living. The pace here is so much slower, and yet they work so much harder for the things they have. It’s hard not to feel guilty for how easy we have it back in the USA.

Tonight is a quieter night and we are all doing our own things. I think i am about to head up to the patio roof to take a look at the stars and relax for a bit.

Tomorrow we are going on an agricultural hike and in the afternoon we will be going on a market scavenger hunt and doing some shopping in Antigua. (So put in your requests now, hah!)

We are all still having a fantastic time. Some people are still trying to do some damage control on sun burns (not me!! …yet)

Hope everyone is enjoying the fresh snow!

Love from Guatemala,