September 11, 2012

State side bliss

Returning from my two week vacation in California proved to be extremely difficult. More so than I could have ever expected. Spending time with loved ones, enjoying the warm sunny weather and indulging in fine food, wine, and lifelong friends was how I chose to spend most of my days.
Triple desert at Beau Bo in Ocean Beach

One of the nicest things about San Diego is the array of accessibility to whatever it is you want to do, see or eat. In two weeks I saw one of my new favorite artists at the Birch, went stand up paddle boarding, practiced yoga a top mt. helix, went rock climbing, ate delicious, delicious foods, enjoyed air conditioning, got a hair cut, went to a mall, and drove a car- all very exciting things that aren't so common in Guatemala!

La Jolla Cove 
I had almost forgotten how nice it is to have the ability to go to the store at any given moment for any little thing one might desire. Here in Guatemala it is quite the contrary. The supermarket is a 2.5 hour bus ride away and  the local market only comes around on Thursday and Saturday. It isn't a huge problem but lots of planning is needed in order to have a decent array of cooking ingredients for the week. Forgot the butter? Too bad. Here you just can't run to the store. Plus, they only sell margarine.
So. As much as I wish I could recreate the edamame dumplings with truffle oil and gluten free mushroom pizza from True Food Kitchen, it simply won't be possible to find ingredients and make those delicacies. Plus, some things are best left to the masters. (if you haven't been to True Food Kitchen, I highly recommend it!)
But there were two simple things I really enjoyed: iced espresso with almond milk and spicy red pepper hummus. Simple, and always available at most grocers in the states, but never to be found in Guatemala. On my arrival back I decided that those simple things I enjoy from home need to be here with me in Guatemala. With a little creativity and adaptive kitchen skills, I am pleased to say that homemade almond milk and spicy red pepper hummus are now in my fridge.

Within the first 24 hours of being back in Guatemala I felt the wrath and the beauty of living in a developing country even more so than before. The first thing was the landslide that occurred outside my town that they had been trying to clear for a few days. The normal travel time of 2.5 hours to the nearest city had turned into 6. 

Deforestation is the main cause of most landslides
The beauty of it was that I met a very nice young lady as we trekked through the muddy forest to get across the landslide. The lack of communication in Guatemala can be very difficult, especially for a foreigner. This day specifically was a challenge because no one knew where or when the buses were going to pick us up. Whether we needed to stay on the far end of the landslide or cross over and walk 2 miles to the river. We ended up walking the two miles only to find that the bus was on its way back to where we had just come from. Frustrating as it was I was glad to share that experience with other locals and not feel like the only one who was out of the loop.
My destination was Xela, the second largest city in Guatemala. I had been convinced by friends to climb a volcano the following morning. Santa Maria proved to be one of the best and stupidest decisions I've ever made. I had just gotten off the plane and not 24 hours later would I be climbing the second tallest volcano in Central America at 3 in the morning with only 3 hours of sleep! I have no idea what made me to agree to do this, but I did. We began at 3:50 am on a hike that was deemed to take a maximum of 4 hours to reach the summit. 2 hours into the hike, in complete darkness, we were lost. 3 hours in, we had almost made it to the peak but we knew we needed to be on the other side of the mountain. Long story short we added an extra 2 hours to our hike just trying to get back on the trail. It turned into a 10 hour hike in total including one personal, 5 minute, emotional breakdown. The lack of sleep, stress of traveling and whirlwind of emotions I felt after leaving the states all hit me like a wall in the midst of ascending this seemingly unconquerable volcano.
Matt, Casey, Yo, George, Kelly, Kim and James at the base of the volcano. 3am Saturday morning.

I had a nice support team who helped me reach the top and it was amazing to see the views at 12 thousand feet. After taking a look around I completely passed out on top of a rock. Best 20 minute nap ever!
A view from half way up

12, 375 ft up

sunrise off the beaten path

Yoga atop a mountain in Guatemala... missing mt. helix and thinking of you, Rose!
So now that I am back in my town and recharged from my vacation I have a lot of things to look forward to. Projects are starting and my last year in Peace Corp seems like its going to be filled with good people and wonderful experiences not to mention loads of hard yet very fulfilling work.
A huge thanks goes out to each and everyone of you for all your support!

1 comment:

  1. Sasha, I hope you get this (you know me and computer). I am so very proud of you and you are an excellent writer-maybe you should write a book about this adventure.
    Love you and can hardly wait to see my favorite niece again.