Archive for February, 2008


The people and the dogs in this country harbor a mutual suspicion and fear. As a result of this uneasy relationship, Guatemalan dogs fall into two personality types: Apprehensive and obsequious or apprehensive and ferocious. But Dokkie (probably spelled “Doggie,” but pronounced more like “Tukkie”) is brazen and affectionate, a surprising gem! She’s a little […]

field based training

FBT is a week-long excursion. Thirteen of us including the training director, an active volunteer, and a Spanish instructor crammed ourselves into a little Peace Corps van and set out to see the country. Chilasco, Baja Verapaz is a community of wooden houses and dirt roads. Traveling there means winding steeply up the mountains and […]

la finca Azotea

The fruit is small and red. The seeds possess chemical protection against insects. The trees were born in Ethiopia, but thrive at this altitude. And in this country, they mean money. The red pulp is separated by blasts of water, the naked seeds are fermented for two days in concrete vats. Now they’re spread golden […]

el idioma

But the truth is, my acquisition of the language is far from fluid. Immersion isn’t enough, it requires study(!) To make matters worse, there’s competition in my very house. Baby Mario, the parrot, and myself are all simultaneously struggling to compact the library of Spanish lexicon into a brain-sized snack we can nibble down and […]

milpas altas

It’s more than the subtitle of my town. The milpas are the cornstalks. They’re pretty alta, at least twelve feet high and indispensable to the people. During my first week, Don Rodrigo leaned across the dinner table to say, “Hombres de maĆ­z” as he flexed an arm to prove that the hot stack of corn […]