Sunday, July 22, 2007

Lake Atitlan & Fairtrade

Que onda.

Right, so, all of the students have just returned from their "free weekend", a weekend allowing them to go wherever their wallets would permit them. Steph, Ash and I made our way to the love-r-ly Lake Atitlan. Beauty. One night in Panajachel, where we hit up the markets, a pizza joint and Crossroads Café (a must visit), and for our second night, seeing as one night in tourist-infested Pana was sufficient, we zoomed off in a boat to the less tourist-y haven called Santa Cruz. There we stayed in a private cabin at IslaVerde, a sweet enviro-friendly establishment. Good times all around. We had a few delightful swims in the deep turquoise clear, some quality snooze time, and quite a lot of laughter. Walking one of the paths bordering the lake today, we stopped in for nachos and freshly squeezed OJ at a cafe. That OJ was goooooood. Okay, so I'll let you in on the Fairtrade stuff. The o-so-exciting initiative that I gladly give energy to. Concept: tupperware parties? Mary-Kay? Let's find a host who will invite all her girlfriends over to allow some corporation to avoid the overhead of retail and make millions?????

Right. Fairtrade parties. This fall in a town near you. Abbotsford. Calgary. Winnipeg. Port Burwell. Toronto. You are formally invited to the first Fairtrade homeparty. And not just the ladies. This party is for everyone. I will be your host. We'll schedule it for sometime in November probably. Right, so, we've been finding local artisans/establishing local artisans to strut their handiwork in Canada. Handiwork will include: hammocks, textile skirts, textile bags, jewelry, Guatemalan coffee, leather items (TBA), ironwork (TBA), woodwork (TBA), and other goods.

Definition of Fairtrade: a fair wage for the product made. The beauty of it? These people, starting in the little Tizate, are being employed. A lot of them. Work is being given to them for a product that will sell in Canada. We're broadening the market. Global Shore will simply be the go-between guy, finding product, bringing it up to the parties. No profits for us. Voluntary hosts (previous students, comme moi), voluntary homes providing some gourmet appies (if you have a large pad, are able to cook, and would like this to be your contribution to the poor of Guatemala, do contact me) and, uh, yeah. People to come out, view the goods and drop some cash. Not just to feel good about helping someone yonder across the sea, but because the product is going to rock. And will be a fair price. And there are only good things to say about this. Here, you can own a beauty of a hammock like this one Ash is enjoying. Sí? So I've been involved, along with Robert and Julianna, in selecting product, finding more, thinking stuff up, giving my opinion on this and that, finding artisans, teaching artisans, talking with artisans. Sometime this week I'm going to try and make paper out of corn leaves. It makes good paper, I've seen it, and it makes for a sweet journal. Hopefully we can figure that one out, teach someone, and have that good to go for the fall.

Anyways. There you have it. Your role is to attend the party. Will keep you posted on those details, probably in the fall.

Ciao, Kat

Sunday, July 15, 2007


Hello Canada,

Big Hug, little hug, Big Kiss, little kiss from the mountains of El Tizate. It has been a wonderful first week and a half here in Guatemala. There was a surprising sense of home upon arrival to our small town and I have settled in nicely with my Spanish family. I’ve never had younger siblings before, so it is a delight to have Osman (11), Franky (7) and Cindy (5) around all the time. Cindy is a particular delight to me, and she provides joy to me on a daily basis. Thank God for Cindy. Here she is. On the right. I mean left. That's her cousin Christopher. Cute little chubs.

I live in what I’ve dubbed the “penthouse” out back, a room far too big for one person, but one that provides stellar privacy and enough room to home a hammock. I’ve only killed four resident arachnids, one enormous grasshopper and the family gave away the cat and we ate one of the roosters for dinner the other night, so the pesky night animals are diminishing in number. Our dog Lion (said with a Spanish accent) is friendly, the other two roosters comical and believe it or not, only today did I discover that we had a pet tortuga. Apparently the little turtle has been crawling around this whole time but I never realised it. The kids and I had fun today watching it swim in our pila out back.

It has been a full week and a half and it seems that we’ve been here a month already. Here's the team on the front bridge in town.
Our full schedule is in swing now, with 5 English classes running, an art school, a music school, construction, construction, construction for los muchachos, ministry nights in the evenings, and dabblings in a bakery initiative, work with disabled children AND….the two things that I am most heavily involved with are the vermicompost and FAIRTRADE!!!!! YA! Hit that cowbell one more time! We’ve had two 4x3x3 compost pits made, and tracked down some lombrises who are having the feast of their lives in the organics that we collect from our eight student homes. It is very exciting! Such a positive step in so many ways, but I won’t get into them over a blog entry. Ask me in the fall. In fact, I'll be your local vermicompost expert and will help you set up your own. Relatively inexpensive and easy to maintain. Even in a condo.

And for the Fairtrade stuff…well, that needs it’s own entry entirely. That was what I was so stoked about in my last post, but again, you’ll have to wait until I can write about it adequately. But it’s good. Trust me. You will want to be involved, oh yes, you will.

There is so much. What else. The nearby city of Antigua is just as beautiful as ever. Lovely lovely lovely. I've missed the crazed Chickenbus rides and am happy to ride them again. The bartering is still fun, even though I cheesed a vendor off the other day....whoops. My Spanish is doing alright, considering I spent the year trying to forget everything I had learned in order to focus on French. My two and a half hour spanish class Mon-Fri is good, and Cindy is a great teacher too.

Hmmm, I'll skip to what has been on my mind as of late. Team dynamics...interesting. I was reading in a book the other night about Jesus and the twelve and there was nothing in particular that was astounding about what I was reading, but for some reason I was impressed with the importance of that group, and guarding that unity and loving one another. For crying out loud, we're only twelve, it shouldn't be difficult, and yet at times it is. This brings me to my recent self-reflection on the many weaknesses and failures in my life. Wow, Jesus has a lot to make beautiful and Christ-like in me. I'm realizing there is a lot of pride in my life. And so I would covet your prayers. For a changed life. For Christ within me, and leading and loving through me. For humility. For finding approval in God and him alone.

That's a dismal note to end on and so....nope, I don't know any Spanish jokes. Although language differences always provide good humor, such as when I told my class, that yes, class was Monday, Eggs and Friday nights, instead of Thursdays because the words are similar. Bah.

love from Guatemala, Kat