Wednesday, January 23, 2008


I am the proud parent of a new kitten! Xpint (pronounced Shpínt) is quite the devil child, not to mention an expensive addition to my Peace Corps budget. He enjoys climbing up my pant legs while simultaneously clawing my leg, dumping over the trash bin, chewing on electrical wires and my books, sitting on my face while I’m trying to sleep, and chasing all manner of things around the house. This is not to say Xpint does not have his benefits. He keeps me warm at night, he’s entertaining when he is not getting in to trouble, and, just yesterday, he killed his very first spider! I was getting used to killing my own bugs by letting them starve under mugs, but I am ecstatic that I won’t have to do that anymore.

Xpint in Mam, means manchas or pintado in Spanish, and stained or painted in English. I was toying with calling him Chewbaca because he makes the Chewbaca noise when he gets excited, but I decided since he is a Guatemalan cat he needs a Guatemalan name. Because I’m obsessed with my new baby, I’ve posted pictures of the adorable little devil below.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Juliana's Quinceanera

Why you should come visit me!

Christmas and Costa Rica

Thanksgiving... and the Death of Tonto


Kites decorate the electric wires in Cabricán like garlands down the stairs at Christmas. They hang there in deference to the dead.

Instead of celebrating Halloween like we do in the states, Guatemalans celebrate All Saints Day and the Day of the Dead on the first and second of every November. Being biased to my own culture, I much prefer Halloween, dressing up in goofy costumes and scarfing down candy. I suppose that the original purpose of the holiday has been lost in our consumerist culture. In Guatemala they spend the days cooking huge amounts of food which they bring out to the graveyards to offer to the dead. Family members clean off, repaint and decorate their relative’s graves. Graveyards in Guatemala are not filled with the creepy grey tombstones of the states, but a bonanza of brightly colored tombs.

These two days are also celebrated with huge kite flying festivals. Kids roam the streets with kites they’ve fashioned out of tissue paper. Most of them end up on the electric wires and I’ve heard quite a few stories of children getting electrocuted trying to get them down. In towns like Sumpango and Santiago in the department of Chimaltenango the kite flying festivals have become quite famous and large tourist attractions. Kites created out of bamboo and tissue paper and so large it takes eight or ten people to carry them are set loose in the skies. It’s amazing to see them go up; especially considering we PCVs could not even get a normal sized kite off the ground. It’s amusing to see them fall; as the massive kite plummets toward the earth people set off screaming and running trying to get out of its way. I imagine you could be quite seriously injured if you were actually hit by one. The towns also create even larger kites that actually do not fly but are dedicated to various social, environmental and other worthwhile causes. My favorite was one about global warming.

The kite flying is not limited to these two days, and has only recently begun to taper off. The kites, however, will probably remain up in the wires until the elements bring them down.