A Weekend in Antigua

I´ve been tagged by Are We There Yet, Mom? to do the A Weekend in Your City meme. It´s been fun, reading about everyone´s towns! Now, where I actually live, there isn´t much more than a few dirt roads and a couple of stores, so I thought I´d take you all to Antigua, instead! It´s only a five minute drive from my pueblo, so it´s still my city.

Here?s how it works. Pretend that you have out of town guests visiting your city for the very first time and you?re the tour guide. Where would you take them? What would you do? Then tag 5 other people so they can proudly show-off their hometown, too! Remember, you can only mention one thing in each category.

Ok, let´s get started. Welcome to Guatemala! (I´d recommend coming for real between Nov. and April, since that is the dry season . . . just a bit more enjoyable!)

Best Place to Eat: The street. I know, I know, not a good idea, right? But the truth is that some of the absolute best food I have eaten in Guatemala has been from a little street stand beside the smelly buses that head to the capital. The woman there sells pupusas (tortillas filled with cheese) and she is always careful to make me fresh, hot ones.

Best Shopping Mall: We don´t have malls in Antigua. It´s a pretty old fashioned town. What we do have are markets and if you were to come for the weekend, there is no WAY we´d miss the Artisan´s Market, THE place to go for pretty Guatemalan fabrics and items. I´d also take you through the veggie market because it is just too much fun. Here´s what we´d be checking out.

And some of the things you can buy in the Artisan´s Market . . .

Famous Landmark: Volcan Agua. I live on the side of this dormant volcano. Sorry, I have no photos of it without clouds!

Best Tourist Attraction: I would have to say the ruins. In the1700´s, a massive earthquake wiped Antigua out. It was the capital of Guatemala back then and was called Santiago. All the rich folk lived here in these massive great mansions with beautiful gardens and they had dozens of magnificent churches. I can only imagine the terror that night, when all those massive stone pillars came crashing down. After the quake, the capital was moved to the current location in Guatemala City and many of the houses were simply abandoned. Some were restored by squatters, others have been claimed for historic preservation. There´s nothing like hitting the ruins of San Francisco for an afternoon picnic and then wandering through the broken rooms. (I kinda cheated on this one, cuz there are a LOT of different ruins in Antigua!)

Entertaining the Kids: Dorian LOVES to hit the playground at Hotel Antigua. They have a pool there, too, but we have never been because it costs Q90 (about $12) to go in . . . although some people claim you can just hop in without paying. Our mother´s group used to meet there and the kids loved it, there is a big grassy area and swings and a climbing thingy. We haven´t been in ages, Dante wasn´t born the last time we went, but it is a great place to hang out with the kids, even if you aren´t staying there.

Breathtaking Views: Cerro de la Cruz. There are free tours accompanied by the Tourist Police twice a day, once in the morning and again in the afternoon. Going alone is possible, but not recommended, because of thieves. From Cerro de la Cruz, you can see all of Antigua and it provides some great photo opps. There are about a million stairs to climb to get there, though, so be prepared to sweat!

Popular Outdoor Activity: Just about everything is an outdoor activity here, even the houses have big open areas in the middle. Now, I could send you on a trip up an active volcano, but truthfully, it´s just a lot of sulphuric gas and sand, so I´m going with Papi Futbol. For this, you´d have to come back to my pueblo with me. Every night, during the papi season, the schoolyard is turned into a tournament. Teams from different towns come to play futbol (soccer to you Americans and Canadians  ) and the whole town turns out. Big floodlights are turned on and people bring snacks and buy soda in a bag from the little shop there. Sometimes they sell hot, greasy papas fritas (fries) with loads of mayonnaise, ketchup and hot sauce on them. A great time is had by all. During half-time, the little kids run out and kick balls around and the parents chat. It´s truly a community event . . . and it´s on every night during the season, with the exception of Sundays.

Well, that´s it, that´s all folks. I am going to tag the following five people:

13 Business I Have Tried

Today´s list isn´t quite so positive. But I have to admit that every business I have attempted has taught me something. Some of them failed dismally, others just broke even or I lost interest in them.

1. Lemonade/Cookie Stand. My sisters and I did this when we were fairly young. It was hot, thankless work, but we were thrilled to earn a bit of cash, although we had a terrible location . . . beside a highway!

2. Bakery. This one was an evolution of the lemonade stand. Our cookies sold better than lemonade, so we started selling them door to door and taking orders for bread, cakes, etc. It was short lived and didn´t work well.

3. Avon. Yes, I used to sell Avon. Unfortunately, I was a super shy teen, so I never got too far. I sold a couple of things, messed up on my math and ended up losing money and that was that.

4. Baby clothing. When I was 16, I made some very cute jumpsuits for babies and sold them in the local artisan´s market. In order to buy the fabric, I had a small loan from my father (who took the opportunity to have me do a proper business proposal). I sold enough jumpsuits over the summer to pay him back and not a penny more.

5. Creative Memories. I used to teach people how to scrapbook. It was a GREAT job, but since you have to order a certain amount each month, it ended up being too much for me. Plus, I was really bad at selling . . . still am, for that matter!

6. Teaching animation. My father and I studied 3D animation and I actually used to teach classes in it to people on our island who were interested. It was rather dull, I preferred to be animating myself, but it was money.

7. Seamstress. For a while, people would bring me their clothing to be altered. I would patch holes, sew hems and simple stuff like that. It didn´t pay much, but at the time I had no other real income, so it was a nice way to earn.

8. Jewelry. During the Christmas season, I would join my mom at craft fairs and I would sell beaded jewelry. It just was pocket money.

9. Chocolates. More Christmas craft fair stuff. Truffles were a big hit.

10. Video recording. This one started with my dad. I would help him with his music videos and we did a lot of recitals, plays and the like, too. It was fun and he eventually turned pretty much everything video over to me and stuck to music and editing. I plan to start that one up again at some point.

11. Store. My store here in Antigua was called Hodgepodge and that´s just what it was . . . crocheted baby items that a friend of mine made, sewn dresses, jewelry, painting, crocheted shawls, etc. Unfortunately, I never had enough product because I had a very short time to decide whether or not to grab the locale. It turned out to be a terrible location (once extremely popular) and I only lost money.

12. Hodgepodge revived. After the store failure, I taught English in a school. During this time, I was inspired by Avon to make a catalog for my Hodgepodge items. It was actually very successful considering how small it was. I had a team of about 5 women selling for me, but I was also quite pregnant with Dorian and in the end, I had to drop the catalog idea and stay home when he was born because of his medical problems.

13. Custom sewing. Again with the sewing! This was all here . . . I would do custom jobs, like curtains for a spa, cushions and sofa covers and once did some curtains for a chicken bus!

An Eternity of Tantrums

Irving took Dorian to school with him today. I was glad because our toddler stayed up until 10 pm last night! He just kept getting up and would not go to sleep. So this morning he was a bit on the grumpy side.

Irving tried to worm his way out of it, saying that it was raining too hard, but then it kind of stopped, so he lost his excuse. Since I have just 11 articles to go in order to have the money for my kitchen floor, I wasn´t backing down and off they went, Dorian with his bottle of soy milk and an extra diaper, Irving rather grumpy about the fact that he had to hold to his promise to take his son to work with him.

Fast forward one hour. I hear a familiar yelp outside and there they are, back already. When I asked why, the response was that Irving had forgotten to take out the garbage . . . but then he admitted that he just couldn´t handle Dorian´s tantrums in public! He told me, ?It seemed like an hour that sped by to you, but for me, it was an eternity!? Ahem, excuse me while I stifle incredulous laughter . . . . mmmffghghghg . . . . .

Um, what about the times when he is off on tour with the band and I have not one, but TWO screaming children to deal with? Or when he is off hanging out with his family and I am battling a toddler who refuses to allow a diaper change, even though his diaper is hanging off his butt and sagging to his ankles? And who is it that never gets a break from BOTH kids at the same time, who has to take the baby or the toddler when she does shopping because Papa can only deal with one at a time? An hour, my foot! Try 15,800 hours . . . that is approximately how many I have spent looking after children since Dorian was born, give or take an hour.

I guess that´s just the life of a mother. It should be interesting at the end of the month when I have to go to Mexico for 3 days to renew my visa in order to get a new passport. I am starting to wonder if all three boys will survive!

13 Creative Things I Enjoy Doing

This is my 13th Thursday Thirteen! How´s that for good luck. So, today I´m going to share 13 creative things that I love to do. Of course, I don´t have much time to do any of them anymore!

1. Painting. I like to do portraits in watercolor. I´m not terribly great at it yet, but it´s still fun.

2. Cross-stitch. I´ve only done little projects, but I would love to do a proper wall hanging. The problem is finding embroidery floss down here.

3. Crochet. One of my English students taught me how to crochet about 4 years ago, which is rather embarrassing because my mom is great at all things crafty and I never wanted to learn when she was willing to teach me! Oops. Anyway, when I was bartending days, I would crochet bags out of nylon thread and sell them to the clients. One guy bought nearly 100 to take back to the US with him and sell. It was a profitable gig!

4. Sculpture. My grandmother is super crafty and artistic and she used to take me to her pottery guild when I visited her. I did a bust of my baby sister that turned out very well, if I do say so myself, plus a whole bunch of tiny critters and people.

5. Pottery. Again, with my grandmother, she taught me to throw pots, which I was never terribly great at (ok, I had only 2 weeks ever to try it!), but I did get pretty good at turning out mugs and stuff by rolling and shaping the clay. I would love to have a kiln and try my hand at it again.

6. Woodworking. My dad has this incredible woodwork shop and he used to let us muck around in there. Unfortunately, I am not gifted in this area, but I have lots of fun trying! Again, something to get back into at some point.

7. Cooking. I´m not talking spaghetti and meatballs kind of cooking, but the elegant stuff you see on Top Chef. Love that! I used to cook for dinner parties for my parents. Six course meals and all that. Since I have no kitchen at the moment, that´s not something I do anymore.

8. Sewing. I definitely could use more practice in this area, but I have turned out some pretty decent stuff. In fact, at the age of 16, I made and sold baby jumpers and stuffed cats. A few years ago, I made and sold little dresses. Now, I have two boys and that´s the end of cute dresses around here!

9. Drawing. It´s been a while, but my parents still have a whole bunch of portraits that I drew in pencil. This was before my watercolor days . . . I didn´t start that until I moved down here.

10. Writing. Well, you all know that one.

11. Papercraft. Making cards, cutouts, etc. It´s fun and easy. One year, for Christmas, I filled our entire room (we only had one then) with paper snowflakes, hanging at different levels from the ceiling. It looked like a blizzard had hit.

12. Coloring. I love to get down with Dorian and just color in his coloring books.

13. Crafts. Most crafts are enjoyable, just making something with glue, googly eyes and felt is so enjoyable and fun!

Anyone Up For Some Guatemalan Goodies?

Are We There Yet Mom is hosting an Autumn Goody Swap and I´m participating. Basically, each person sends a package of yummy things to the next one on the list and everyone should have something delicious in the mail before Halloween.

Now, at the moment, I happen to be the last name on the list . . . but that can all change! If you are interested in participating, run over to the Swap and sign Mr. Linky right now. Guaranteed, you´ll get some great stuff, but if you are the next person in line, I´ll be sending out some delicious treats from Guatemala such as Candy Maiz, Morenitas and tons of other great stuff! So, you want to get in there fast. Oh, and when you sign up, don´t forget to mention in the comments that Expat Mom sent you!

Now, there are a few questions that were asked, so I´m going to answer those right here on my blog instead of in the comments on the swap post:

What do you like best about Fall?
Here in Guatemala, we don´t have fall, but back in Canada, I loved going for walks in the brisk chilly air and smelling the fallen leaves . . . I miss that musky odor and the crunch of dried leaves under my feet.

Do you have any family traditions for this time of year?
Not really. When I was little, we used to hang out in my mom´s garden, after the first frost, eating everything she hadn´t harvested already. That was fun, half-frozen peas, carrots dug fresh from the ground . . . yum!

What´s your favorite Halloween chocolate?
Wanna hear something interesting? We never celebrated Halloween in my family because my parents are Christians. We also weren´t allowed sugar items like chocolate, so I didn´t really get to try any until later on. I guess those mini Snickers would be on the list.

Halloween treat you don´t like?
Not sure. I´m a sucker for candy in general after my sugar-repressed childhood (FYI: As soon as I went off the healthy diet that my parents condoned, I got quite sick and thanks to sugar, my immune system has never been the same, so they did a very good job in that department).

The last question is about Halloween costumes, but since I´ve never celebrated Halloween, I´ve never had a costume. If I had, I probably would have been a vampire.

Ok, what are you waiting for? Pop over to Are We There Yet Mom and sign up for the Autumn Goodie Swap . . . and don´t forget to tell her that I sent you!