Otro Mundo Ausente

Changing the blog layout now... For those of you who happen accross my blog these days, you're in for something different from my Peace Corps doings. I'm back state-side in the UP, Michigan, finishing my master in volcanology. These days you'll hear about my doings post-PC, and occassionally some random thoughts I just need to get out there. Politics, conservation, persepctive, people who bug me.... whatever. I hope it doesn't fatigue you too much. best. -adam-

Sunday, October 14, 2007


So, I’ve got these ducks. Right? Well, they’re really not mine… but they come into my yard enough that it would be fair to claim that I’m entitled to decapitate one of them and make caldo de pato…or duck stew. Not like I’d get around to doing that, though. Caldo de pato isn’t the highest recommended dish there is around here.

Anyways, every morning that I wake up, and don’t go to work at the observatory, I’ll find them waddling around my backyard looking for water. Now, I have to sources of water that these little guys are looking for, and neither of them would be considered very…ideal, at least for myself. One of them is my pila. It’s my sink, drying rack, washing machine, and water depository. It drains right below itself via holes located in the two sinks on the side of the depository, and the water (carrying bits of food, dish soap, dirt, and soap for my clothes) washes down this little aqueduct lined by red bricks into this little pool (ditch) where the water soaks into the ground. The little suckers aprovechan (take advantage) to the max, Adam’s sweaty, soapy, foody water and all, all the way from the drain to the little ditch. Caldo anyone?

The other place these guys like to catch a dip is right next to my latrine. Wait, it’s not that bad, really. My latrine goes way down deep. But right next to it is this old poncho that the previous tenants left on the ground, and I’ve just been too lazy to throw it out. That, and throwing it away would just mean it would find its way to the local river. So, after it rains, the water puddles up in it, making a perfect little water hole. It’s always a little surprise to have this mara (gang) of ducklings show up next to me while I’m sitting on the, until recently, most comfortable seat that I’ve got. Part of their little water pond goes under the aluminum siding, so I get the say “Buenas Días” to their nosy little faces.

And they always travel around with their mother, following up back. I assume it’s their mother, because, if they’re Guatemalan ducks, which I am sure they are, it’s the mother who looks after the young ones. She keeps a good eye on her young, and I think she finally trusts me, allowing them to get close to me. Until one day when I change my mind and try to figure out how to make a nice caldo.
Later, I’ll have to tell you about these two chicks that like to try to sneak into my house.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Silence on the Mountain

If your interested in a little reading about Guatemala, read Silence on the Mountain, by Daniel Wilkinson. Its Non-fiction and talks about the history of Guatemala as this man, Daniel, goes around Western Guatemala, around where I live, trying to interview locals about the history, but people are very timid about talking with him because of the internal conflict that was going on at the time he was conducting these interviews.

It will really show you what has happened to parts of this country, and explains, maybe, why this country is the way it is. It also mentions my volcano quite a bit.

Frineds of Guatemala

Hi all.

It´s your trurn to help...

I´m looking for a little help getting my hands on some books down here for some kids. The problem is books down here run a little pricey (for me) to buy a bunch of them. The kids have an interest in reading, but they just don´t have to books, and neither do the schools. If anybody would like to help out, financially, there´s some info down towarsd the bottom about sending money.

In case your asking yourself about if it´s worthwhile, I´ll tell you that I tried it out with a couple books that I had bought. One was this old Alfred Hitchcock story about these kid detectives (I never knew he did this, either) and the other was another kids book. I let some kids, mainly abuot 10-14 borrow them and bring them back when they finished. A couple kids read the Hitchcock book in just 2 days. And the books always came back in the same condition they left in.

Anyways, I´m looking to getting around buying some more books that they may enjoy.

Example. I know this one kid wants to learn more about ancient Egypt....and he also is interested the Free Trade Agreement (Trato de Libre Comercio).

Since I´m now reading book 7 of Harry Potter (awesome, bu the way), I think the series would kickstart their imagination.

Anyways, you get the point. If you could spare a few bucks or so, that´d be awesome.

Just send me an email to let me know what´s coming. They money will be put into my PC account that I use down here.

oh, and its tax deductable....

Thanks a bunch.


Friends of Guatemala
P.O. Box 33018
Washington D.C. 20033

must be a check!!!

On the memo line of the check, donors should write "PCV Adam Blankenbicker - Cat. II"

Saturday, September 01, 2007

And history repeats itself...again

In 1902 a catastrophic disaster rocked Guatemala. And what did the government do about it? Notice anything similar with today´s administration and their POV back in the US and a looming disaster?

Open your eyes. It´s not just science. It´s happening right in front of you.

Saturday, August 11, 2007


Everybody is talking about Fuego-Fuego-Fuego.... what about Santiaguito???

Well, I´ll tell you. I think Fuego stole the last breath out of Santiagtuio for it´s own greedy purposes. Everybody is taking pictures of the spectacular eruption over in Chimultenango, while I keep thinking my little volcano has given it´s last breath.

So hurry up, Fuego, with your thrilling and inspiring spire of fire, and let the little guy back in the game.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Room for One More

I’ve developed a number of talents down here in Guatemala, the majority of which won’t be of any use to me when I return home. Chief among these unimpressive and, in the United States, illegal, abilities is probably my newly perfected (almost) ability to ride in the back of trucks, tractors, busses and vans.

I’ve ridden in them all: all shapes and sizes and with whatever accessories. The easiest of them all is the Guatemalan “camión”, the large, two-axel trucks which transport equipment, products and people. It is also my daily transport into the finca where I work. I wake up at 4:45 to catch it as it enters, usually at 5:30. In my morning ride there is always plenty of room to sit or stand, whichever I desire to do that morning. If I leave in the afternoon on the same vehicle with the same people, it’s usually the same situation. Recently, this ride has been replaced with a large pickup truck that has a cage with no back, which is where I now find myself. (Continue reading)

When I leave from the other finca, however, the story changes completely. Luckily, I’m usually one of the last to get on. This just means that I am not buried on the inside with everybody else breathing under the covered top which doesn’t allow for any ventilation. At the back end, though, it can be uncomfortable when it rains as the back is poorly covered.

Once in a while I find myself riding on some tractor. I’ll ride in the trailer or over one of the wheels or on the part where the trailer connects to the tractor (I forget what it’s called). The tractors give off quite a bit of smog which chokes a bit, but it’s just a short, fun ride.

There are basically two types of pickup trucks in Guatemala. Ones with a “cage” over the bed and ones without. The point of the cage is to keep people and cargo from falling out, and it really is like a cage: bars all around that reach up to my mid-chest but without a top. In a regular-size pickup, maybe some 25 people can fit inside, with a few more on the back holding onto the bars and standing on the lowered hatch. This is usually, and preferably, where I find myself when it becomes crowded. In Guatemala, there’s always room for one more.

The pickups with out cages are a little trickier. They require a lot of balance and, in some cases, teamwork, especially when there are some 12, 14, or more sitting back there. In one of my previous blogs I wrote about the teamwork required to leave safely. Everybody has to grab on to somebody, some part of a body, to keep from falling out. Recently I found myself sitting on top of one of 3 barrels in the bed of a pickup that were going to be filled with diesel. It was the only spot left because the inside was already filled and there were already 5 others in the back. So I took out my sheet of nylon (also used as a raincoat/umbrella/shower curtain/and any other waterproofing), placed it on top of the one barrel and enjoyed the ride.

Public transportation is another story. The infamous “Chicken Buses”, or camioñetas, aren’t difficult, but you can be squished by swarms of people, baggage, corn, and chickens. Sometimes the numerous passengers are welcome, especially on the curvy roads where the drivers do not bother using their brakes. The people act as support so as to not fall out of the seat and maybe as cushioning if there were to be an accident.

The micro-buses are almost the same as the camioñetas in that it’s public transportation that can fill up all the way. But, like I said, there’s always room for one more. I have sat everywhere in the micros that go to and from my little aldea. Front seat, backseat, all the way in the back and standing on the inside. I have also been everywhere on the outside. The most common is with the sliding door open and me, usually with others, holding onto the top rack or inside sliding track, standing on the foot rail. I have also been on the ladder that leads to the rack and on the rack itself. My favorite was probably when all of these positions were already taken. I looked and planned carefully as the micro was deciding it maybe couldn’t actually fit one more. So, I jumped up and sat on the sliding door’s open window, holding onto the rack and feet swinging happily all the way home.

In Guatemala, there is always room for one more.

Monday, June 04, 2007

We Got Wet


I hadn’t even begun living in my new house yet, and I’d already had just as many community experiences as in my old living situation. I have neighbors visiting and can hear human life around me that doesn’t include campo-calls (hollering in the distance) and tractors passing by.

Yesterday was a rather long day. In the morning I had to go into town (San Felipe) to print out some papers and buy a magdalena cake for a taller (workshop) with the local teachers about teamwork. After the taller, successful, though cut short due to another activity they had to go to and hadn’t told me about, I had to haul down to my new house two bunches of wood that am going to use to screen in my back porch. My shoulder is still sore and red.

The house was still dirty when I arrived, so I had to finish sweeping. I swept up two mountains of polvo (dust) and threw them in the back yard, with all the trash that was already back there and needs to be cleaned up eventually. Then the kids came over….

After sweeping it was still dusty, and dirty, so I had to mop the place down; floors, walls and ceiling. I had bought a hose and nozzle the previous day and was using that to hose wet the floor and the bucket to get to places I couldn’t reach with the hose. It seriously turned into a water war, something like you might find at a water park, the hose being the gun and the bucket being the bombs.

I tell you, if you ever think that cleaning is still a woman’s job in the developing world, just ask a bunch of boys to clean your house. We got everything good and wet. And clean, believe it or not. They would shoot each other with the hose, plaster their buddy with buckets of water and pull each other around on the floor by the feet thereby mopping up the dirt.

I had to manage all the chaos, however. Eventually we had to stop wetting the inside, so that it would eventually dry, and I could bring in my furniture and other goodies the next day.

I can tell you it’s going to be a chore to keep my house clean. The dirt comes in daily from the road outside and the ants bring it up from underneath the house. They will have to die soon.

I ate a pig's face


I had never knowingly eaten the meat from the face of a pig until today. And I tell you what, it wasn’t all that bad.

Last week I had gone over to my soon-to-be landlord’s house to talk about living in my soon-to-be house in Las Marías. His house is hidden by bushes and the front gate is a sheet of aluminum, held shut with a wire. Most of the house is outside, dirt floors mostly covered by more gray rusty sheets of aluminum. There are kids’ and men’s close out to dry, but no women’s. I don’t know whether I should ask about his wife. There is also an assortment of various items; a white birdcage with parakeets, a large plastic truck hanging from the ceiling, little toy figures from various cartoons and movies.

I arrive at the front gate and call out “Buenas Tardes” and a moment later his son comes to let me in. He leads me around the side of the house and I see Victor talking on his cell phone wearing his worn-out Adidas shorts and his plastic Guatemalan sandals, which are another common item here. Victor is extremely kind, about 5-7, skinny, and with a scarce mustache of long black hair. He asks to have a seat in his hammock while he finishes up on the phone. A moment later he pulls up a plastic chair and we chat about the house, my life and job, and his interests and occupation; he now has his own business of raising animals at his house. Before he used to be a promoter of events in town and actually met the previous Guatemalan president…you know, the guy that stole millions of dollars and is now hiding somewhere in Mexico. I saw the picture.

Victor is extremely proud of the animals he has: chickens, ducks, turtles, a cat, a dog, and two large pigs that maybe weigh about 100 kilograms each. When I came in, he was on the phone with a potential buyer of the pigs. One thousand two hundred was not enough for one of them he told me afterwards.

Today I show up to his house and once again I am asked to sit down, have a glass of fresco, and talk for a bit. We talk about my house a little; how the electricity doesn’t work, how I got the copies of the keys, how I had swept up the floor earlier today. He tells me he now has 6 small pigs (he finally sold the two large ones) and asks if I want to see. But he doesn’t show me the 6 new little piggies, he shows me to his kitchen, which is also outside and covered by an aluminum sheet like the rest of his house. Cooking in a black pot is this unrecognizable mass. He pulls it out and only now can I make it out as one half of a cooked pig’s head, cut down the middle. It has been cooking for a while, I notice, as the dark red skin has tightened and split in some places. I can clearly see where the eye was and I can make out the lower jaw, mainly identifiable by the teeth.

It doesn’t taste bad at all, really. I was preparing myself saying, “Well, here’s probably the first real questionable thing I’m about to eat down here.” Victor took a spoon and knife and managed to cut me off a small piece of pig face. It tastes like pork, of course. I am then handed the standard tortilla and wrap the harder part to chew inside of it to make it easier to take down. It wasn’t the taste, just that it was less chewable than the rest.

I leave his house with a smile. I’ve now got this pretty unique landlord and a piece of a pig’s face digesting in my stomach. I don’t think I could be more content.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

A Saturday Ride in a Pickup truck

It’s there. I’ve seen it; the ability to work together. Being here for almost one year now, I was becoming discouraged by the lack of teamwork, but the other day I was reminded once again that these people have an incredibly strong sense of community and working together.

Until the other day I hadn’t seen such closeness between people other than family. It was a Saturday, and a group of us were leaving from the finca. The only vehicle leaving was a white, double-cab pickup that the finca uses for transporting people, diesel, coffee and running other errands. The front and back passenger seats were taken out the previous day so that they could be refurnished; only the driver had a seat and in the bed of the truck we were seated six, to start.

In Guatemala, there are two classes of pickups; those with a cage on the back to hold more people, and those without. This pickup was one of those without, so we were all sitting around the edge of the bed, I had been one of the earlier to arrive to the pickup, so I took one of the privileged seats in the rear corner; privileged because I can control my balance better in the forward-backward direction as well as the left-right. The rear corners are also roped up in order to keep the hatch closed, so it also has a type of seat, albeit a little dirty.

The roads among the fincas are cobble stoned, windy and go up and down various hills. The entire trip is through macadamia trees, trees that at first glance are pines, and the aliso, a tree about forty meters high with a straight trunk colored green, brown, red and orange. I would say the trip is like a roller coaster when certain people are driving; ignoring bumps and taking a few turns maybe a little too fast.

As can be imagined, not everybody can take one of the privileged seats, so there are people sitting on the sides and the rear hatch, and these people may have difficulties around these turns and bumps. There are not enough places for hands, so one has to hold on to their neighbor; the arm, leg, shoulder or belt. Whatever works.

Along the way we picked up some 4 more people, also looking for hand-holds to keep from falling out. I had two hands on my right leg, and when we made turns to the left I could feel both of them pulling at me, and I felt is was my responsibility to keep my leg stiff, preventing it from being pulled to the right so that my new friends had a secure hold. And so it went, left turns I was a support to those on my right, as were the others on the opposite side support when we made right turns.

Until we all got off the pickup, we were working together, even if they had not realized it. I realized it immediately, however; it is not often I have a woman my age and an older man grabbing my right thigh at the same time. This trip is not something that would happen where I am from, mainly because it would be illegal. Here, you take what you can get, and there is never not enough room for one more.

Monday, January 29, 2007

My address down here

Some of you have been asking about my address, so I will now make it public knowledge.

C/O Peace Corps Director
8 Calle 6-55, Zona 9
Ciudad de Guatemala, 01009


Tuesday, January 16, 2007

My Map

if you could afford to spend 1 more minute here, could you put your pin on my map. the link is to the right. thanks.


Kicking Off the New Year

Well, Happy New Year to all. I know it has been a while, but I’m still here; alive and well. I hope you are all doing well…as well.

So 2007 has arrived and the winds have changed directions; literally. The winds have changed directions and again the ash from Santiaguito is falling on my newly washed clothes and dishes. I guess that is appropriate, however, as in the figurative sense my task down here has taken a change of course, or maybe it is better to say that I will be doing new and different things.

New Years

I took in the new year asleep; something I haven’t done since I was maybe 5 years old. On New Years Eve, I woke up around 4:15 because we were leaving at 5:00 to go to a soccer tournament in the department of San Marcos. It was a 4-team tournament, here called a “quadrangular”. We were the first team to arrive at the field, in the middle of another coffee finca (the only reason I was disappointed was because I thought I would have the day away from the flesh-eating black flies), just as beautiful than my home in El Faro with a great view towards to Pacific coast, looking through the valleys over the cafetal, or coffee plants. Beautiful.

In short, we won our first game 5-2, or so. I actually scored the first goal. I was just standing some 5 meters in front of our opponents’ goal, unguarded, and the ball came deflected to me and a simple tap put the balón in the back of an open goal. Score.

We lost the second game 5-4. But as the first win had put us in the finals, we finished in 2nd place over all. We put our 1m tall trophy in the back of our pickup and after the 4 hour trip home, standing all the way, we arrived back home at 8. I ate pasta with margarine and cajun-seasoning (the only food I had for the past 2 days and a further 2 more) and then I went to bed. Exhausted.

Visiting Scientists

They were supposed to arrive to the observatory on the 3rd. Unfortunately there were problems with customs and the first wave of scientists didn’t arrive until 5 o’clock in the afternoon on the 4th. They are 3, driven down from Xela by a Guatemalan who works at one of the hydroelectric plants; (I have no idea how he got involved in this). One of them is Matt, who will be here until the very end of the project. The other 2 are staying just for a night to see the observatory and compare equipment. They are a German and an Englishman who works in Mexico.

The next wave of scientists comes in on the 5th, among them a friend I knew while I was still in Houghton. Mari is now working on her PhD in volcanic gases and remote sensing. So we now have 3 cameras recording the volcanic activity: 1 regular video camera, an experimental UV camera, and an infrared radiometer (it measures heat radiance). And of course we all have our own digital cameras.

Another group arrives on the 6th. They are seismologists, and they are carrying a ton of equipment. Well, maybe not quite a ton, but a lot. Seismometers, computers, car batteries, gear, the works. I think we now have 9 people staying at the observatory. There are only 7 beds, so two are sleeping outside in tents. Oh, and on the 8th, 2 more students arrive. Again, they are also sleeping outside in tents. Mari and I make dinner for everybody and we make just the right amount. A lot of veggies, chicken, chow mein noodles and chicken. And, of course, since this is Guatemala, tortillas. I think we had 11 for dinner.

This is a very comprehensive study being done down here, but in two groups. One group is the infrared and UV cameras doing their stuff; Team “Heat and Gas” I will call them. The other team, for now, is “Team Other”. They consist of seismology, infrasonics, and Doppler radar.

More to come later…

It feels good to write again, to tell you all what I’ve been up to. So, if it would please you, why not send me a little story about what’s happened to you recently. I’d love to read a little about how you’re all doing. Anyways, have a good one.

Best Wishes


Monday, November 13, 2006

Sorry for the delay...

Well, since schools out, there´s actually a number of projects I´m trying to work on. They kind piled up on me real fast and now I think I might be in over my head.

1. I´m working with the municipality (kind of like a county in the US) in developing a regional wide Emergency Plan for disasters. I don´t think anyone else in PC-Guatemala has done this before, so I´m going at it from scratch, working with the Muni, CONRED and INSIVUMEH. It´s a lot of contacting people and comunication, both of which are limited to me...so, we´ll see how
this works. It´s going to be my main project for the rest of the time down here.

2. That doesn´t mean I won´t be working with the schools; Next year I will be organizing workshops or tallers in spanish (the double "ll" is like in "tortilla") for teachers, along with another school in the area, and some students who are studying to become teachers. Also will be doing some school projects...maybe like a school garden, painting a world map, composting, making ¨no litter¨signs...

3. Work with INSIVUMEH is tough. We don´t have much to work with. But John (also from MTU) and I are planning a workshop for the observers that might include my advisor coming down from MTU also. So we´ll see how that comes along. We are working with USAID and their Disaster Assistence Department for funding.

4. The other school I´m working with is in an aldea called Las Marias. It´s the little town you have ot go trhough to get to the fincas. The community group of leaders, called a COCODE in the aldeas, are working on a project for the aldea that includes applying for a USAID grant. They came up with the idea of a recreation center with a pool where people will have to pay to use (like Q2, or 27 cents...). My APCD (more or less my boss in PC) said it´s ok so now we can go ahead with the next step. What´s good about this is that it´s the community that does most of the work, so they´ll know how to apply for future funding. I just facilitate and guide and
provide info.

So those are my major projects. I only lack 2 things to be able to do them more efficiently....better communication and better transportation....

The coffee harvest, or cosecha, has begun. They are working round the clock. It´s pretty neat to watch the process. They´re calling me ¨peluche¨a lot cause they´re always working, and when I´m around, I´m not. Most of my work can´t be done while I´m in site...which is a little
contradictory...but I guess that´s how it works in PC in areas so rural.

This blog was originally an email home a few weeks ago, so it may be missing my patented sense of humor and all. But if you have any ?s, just send me an email, and I'll be glad to respond...however long it takes me to get around to it...

So, have a good one, folks. Thanks for checking up on me.


Thursday, September 07, 2006

So, what´s happening with Adam these days?

Well, I guess it´s been some 2 months now since my last real entry. Sorry to keep you all in suspense, though I´m not about to say I´m sure you´ve been dieing to hear about me. Things are pretty cool in Guatemala. The rainy season started up again after the Canìcula (dry period during the rainy season). So I guess this part of the season is the más fuerte, so we´ll see what`s up to happen. The bridge is almost finished…just in time to possibly be wiped out again. (Last year during Stan, there was a landslide that settled on the bridge causing it to collapse). Let´s hope for the best, because I´m a little tired of taking the desvio (detour) in a cramped, unpadded micro-bus.

The Education Situation…

So, at one of the schools, the entire staff was replaced, meaning there´s one new teacher there. She´s the wife of the administrator and already has a number of years of experience, so she´s a little more organized in the school. Can´t really do too much with her this year since the school year is almost over.

The school in El Faro is going real smooth. The kids are good and the teacher is interested. The only tough part is that when we have a class lecture, it´s a little tough to have all 43 or so of them paying attention….what can you really expect though? So I´ve taken to using a friend´s (Jonathan) suggestion where I´ll draw a circle on the board and tel the kids if they´re not listening, they´ll have to come up to the board and put their nose in the circle until I say they can sit down. So far…so good.

I´ve begun working with a third school now out in Las Marias, the town where the entrance to the fincas is. Bigger. Much bigger. 14 teachers, 418 or so students. We´re just preparing for the next school year where the work will be more structured with workshops and more formal meetings. Not like with the small, private schools where I´m doing a large part of the class work. So, I´ll now have a good mix of working with teachers and with students.

My most successful lessons have been the water cycle and the food chain / food pyramid. The water cycle included a short lecture that included condensation of clouds, precipitation, transpiration and evaporation. The activity was all 40-some of the kids making 2 teams, one team being transpiration, and the other evaporation. So they had to evaporate (or transpire?) water from one bucket to another (the clouds) using cups that they passed down the line. Wet and fun.

We did the food pyramid (not bread, fats, proteins and sugars) in the smaller school, but was still just as fun. First a short lecture about carnivores, producers, omnivores, decomposers and all that. Then we made a pyramid with about 10 kids in the first class and only 6 in the second. The first class in the morning was all into it, but they´re pretty hyper in the first place, which was great. I was a little concerned about the afternoon class because they are basically the extreme opposite. But to my pleasurable surprise they were into it too. Of course there is one girl in the afternoon class that still doesn´t want to do anything…but some day we`ll fix that….

The coffee place…

El Faro is getting ready for the harvest, or cosecha. I can´t wait; as if there aren´t enough black flies eating me up. But yeah, I`m really looking forward to seeing how this is all done, though I do hear they don´t play soccer for some 2 months because there´s so much work to do. I don´t think I can say coffee is a big part of my life, but a lot of you know how much coffee I drink. So it´ll be cool to watch this. I was actually thinking it´s a neat experience that I can kinda give back to people who have made my mornings back in the US so enjoyable with a nice, hot cup of joe.

El Volcàn

Like always, Santiaguito is just hanging out, doin its own thing. Explosions reach up to 1500m above the crater, but luckily I saw a larger one that I think got up to 1700m, so that was pretty cool. I´ve been hiking up close to the crater, but not that close, and have seen a couple explosions almost looking straight up. So that was pretty cool, too. The observers have told me that the activity is going to bore me eventually; so I just have to keep changing my point of view I believe. But I´m still liking the occasional pyroclastic flow, however small and the avalanches which may or may not represent new lava flows. Yes, Santiaguito has lava flows too... not just the all-famous Pacaya.

I got a new machete a few weeks ago. When you get a new one, you have to really get into sharpening it, with a good file and both hands, grinding it pretty good. I´m still not done yet, so I´m told. I cut myself a couple times sharpening it so far. I have a feeling I´m really gonna hurt myself. I hope PC has enough band-aids and gauze pads for me.

So, life is good, although a little too slow at some points. I´m trying to get some projects going and trying to get some funding too for the observatory. Still lacking a little with the Spanish, but that´s a daily process. Playing soccer and the banjo. Doing some good reading Speaking of which…I have 2 more books that I recommend to you all. Both were recommended to me. Rain of Gold is a story about 2 Mexican families in the first half of the 1900´s that come to the US to leave the Mexican revolution and how the youngest kids in each family meet each other and fall in love…yada-yada-yada. But it was really good. Funny, and depressing, and full of unique experiences. For to like a book about love is saying something, eh?

The other book is called Naked, by David Sedaris. This is just a funny story about this guy and his experiences. There is no order; he jumps from childhood to after university to high school and all over again. He´s got a unique style and all. I like his perspective. Definitely not politically correct, and I thank him for it.

So, take care. Thanks for stopping by. Hope your lives are treating you well, wherever you may be…state, country, continent.

I´m done now.

Peace out.


Friday, July 21, 2006


I have a confession to make...

Some of the pics on flickr are not mine. My friend Jonathon got this new camera which takes incredible pics. Mine is my more than 3 yr. old baby that still fits in my pocket. I´ll get around to marking his pics when I find a faster computer. So, if you want to get me a present...maybe now you´ve an idea. It could also help with my research on Santiaguito if I don´t get outside support for certain things....who knows though.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Hey guys

Well, another month has passed, and I´m not quite sure yet if I should say ¨I´ve done a lot of really neat stuff¨ or if I should say ¨Things have been pretty regular around here¨. OK, why can´t I say both? Things have been pretty normal here I think, and I´ve done some neat stuff since my last entry.

The Schools…Las Escuelas

I´ve been going regularly to each school once a week, the El Faro school sometimes 2 or more since it´s right there. Been doing some environmental activities such as having students adopt árboles (trees) that they will take care of and keep a journal about, we´ve drawn a number of pictures of animals, plants and volcanoes and planted some…well, plants. The teacher in El Faro is pretty pilas (smart and clever); she´s already done recycled art before I came here and seems to be a great teacher in general. Part of the program is to certify schools ¨Environmental¨ and El Faro is pretty much there.

The other school is on top of things too. The teacher there is in her first year teaching and she is also attending classes herself to become a higher certified teacher. Anywhos, the schools are on their way to success. Hahh-raay for school…

El Faro…The Lighthouse

If you´re interested in knowing a bit more about the finca here, an article was just published in an American magazine about the owner here and basically why it´s so great. It also makes me think higher of Starbucks. Obviously the article is only going to put everything in good light, but ´tis true as far as I can see. Oh yeah, the magazine is called ¨Inc.¨ It´s the June 2006 issue, page 55. The cover says ¨How to get a bargain.¨ The only falsehood is that the landscape picture isn´t the finca I don´t think.

So far, I´ve cooked 3 times for the women who work at Recursos Humanos (Human Resources). Pizza, Chow-mein, and Fried rice. So far I´ve only received positive remarks. I´ve also taught the kids of one of my co-workers how to make pizza. We´re gonna do it a few more times so that it sticks. It´s good to know he knows that learning is a process, not an event.

The one thing that´s bugging me the most here, literally, are the bugs. Not just any bugs, but these moscos are eating me alive. And they´re only getting worse as the harvest is coming up…which actually isn´t till September, so I´ve some 2 months for them to get worse until they are in their prime in August I´m speculating. So, I´m debating on whether I should try to work on this immunity (I´m told it´s a toxin I will build a resistance to) or if I should just wear repellent every day. I´m leaning towards the immunity and anti-toxins because that sounds cooler.

Santiaguito…Little Santiago

He´s doing his thing. Just chillin. We haven´t had any lahars lately, which is a bit disappointing. Actually the activity has been low in general, which kind of makes me wonder sometimes what I´m doing here. But there are enough issues within INSIVUMEH that need to be worked out that I hope to accomplish. I´ve seen some pretty cool little eruptions, which we call explosions as to not give the wrong impression. There are always explosions reaching from 100 towards 1500 meters, but an eruption is something bigger and something to really worry about. So yeah, anyways, I´ve seen some pretty cool explosions due to the sun´s position, other clouds, wind directions, etc. There are always small avalanches and occasionally a small pyroclastic flow. Really though, I´m hoping things really step up a notch. Not in some ic way that will kill thousands and cause millions of Quetzales in damage…but cause I like volcanoes and all their power. C´mon Little Santiago….show me the money.

Life…La Vida

Life is good really. Yeah, things are slow. I think I need to do a lot of I-net research and email, but too bad it´s such a pain to get to San Felipe on a continuous basis. But I´m reading quite a bit. We get Newsweek international and PC has a great book system. I´m reading Tom Robbins right now. Really good author. Different perspective. The book is Skinny Legs and All. It´s vulgar, funny, and makes some really good points about…life. I recommend it.

Pues, I hope you all had a great 4th of July. We had fun here, though we celebrated on the 1st. The marines stationed here hosted our party at their big-ass house in the capital. Good guys.

OK, time to leave. Have an awesome day and toss me a note if you wish. Take care.


Sunday, June 04, 2006

So, it´s been a while…

I´ve been in site now for almost 2 months (June 10), and so far I´ve experienced some pretty cool things…and some pretty not so cool things too. But in all, I´m alive and well.

The volcano.

Let´s start here as it´s the most unique thing about my site. It´s active, but you already know that. Everyday when I wake up I´m looking out the window to see what´s happened. If I´m up before the sun, and lucky, sometimes I´ll see the incandescence of an explosion, or before I got to bed too. In the past week I´ve felt a few small sismos (or earthquakes), but local. There have been a few lahars here, but I´ve missed them because I was out of site, or waiting at the entrance to the fincas because the transportation is so…nonexistent. I´m hoping to catch one soon…

Another volcano.

Volcán Pacaya is in an eruptive stage right now, spewing out aa-aa and pa-hoe-hoe lava (same composition; different transport mechanics). So, being a volcanologist in training, and a current “employee” of INSIVUMEH, we (John Lyons and Gustavo (real employee of INSIVUMEH) and a couple other non-INSIVUMEH-related folk) went to check out the flows. Awesome. We got up nice and close to take samples of the stuff with our highly sophisticated lava-sampling equipment (metal broom stick; one end like a pole the other in the shape of a “T” to hold the mop (these details are important later, trust me)). Wicked hot, but fun. There was also this Italian documentary crew, or something, there doing a bit on Pacaya, and they wanted to talk to Gustavo about Pacaya and volcanoes in Guatemala. So we met up with them and they asked about out equipment, which we answered was our highly sophisticated lava-sampling equipment. We told the face (some Italian who knew nothing about volcanoes, less the earth) that we stuck the one end into the lava to pull the stuff out. “And what´s this end for?” she asked, pointing to the end shaped like a “T”. We told her it was for mopping a floor. Dumb Italian s. Otherwise we didn´t find these folk too amiable.

Campo life.

I´ve been getting to know the people here pretty well. Everyone is generally really nice and interested in me, and almost everyone tells me to be careful walking around out side the finca because of the ladrons (robbers). I´m getting close to the people who work in the offices of both fincas, El Faro, and Patzulin. I´m also spending a lot of time talking with the women who work in human resources, just talking, although there is still a lot of Spanish I don´t understand, or they just talk too fast sometimes. The kids on the finca call me Adams or gringo if they´re younger and I get Adam too if I´m lucky. I´m playing soccer with the campesinos (labourers) when I can and I´ve taught some women how to make pizza. I´m on a good relation with everyone, except the occasional bolo or baracho (drunk) that I encounter. They don´t sell beer or anything in the finca, so it´s not a problem really in the finca. I´ve only had to deal with 2 or 3, but I really just try to dodge their spit, and not look at them or listen to them. At the town where the entrance to the fincas is (Las Marias) I ran into one of these bolos, at 7:30am none the less, and just tried to book it. What bugs me most about these folk isn´t just that they are oblivious to what they´re doing, but they are completely incomprehendible(?) and expect me, or us, to understand completely what they are saying. Otherwise though, I really like the people here.

Last week the activity I did with the kids in school was a charla about gorwing population and where we live, and how much space there is for us, nature, and agriculture. I did a dynamic to begin where everybody had their own sheet of news paper. Plenty of space. Then I started to take away paper from them so they had to move to another sheet and share with somebody else. I did this until there was only 1 sheet and all 20-or-so of them were almost fighting to get on that paper. In class I showed them the difference between a new world (untouched sheet of newspaper) and their final world that they were fighting to be on. Quite a difference. Almost real life, huh?

Life is good. Tranquilo we say here. The volcano is doing its thing, I´m doing mine, (and yes, I´m working too…), and everything is basically just going along.

Talk to you guys later---


Sunday, April 23, 2006

So, this is my short story...

Ok, so afer about 2 weeks of not seeing a computer (pretty relaxing, but also frustrating since I^ve been wondering what^s been passing me by), I haver found a place in San Felipe that works for me. Quaint, on a 2nd story, over looking the park this morning (which will no doubt be half convered in trash of all shapes and sizes by the afternoon) with classical music playing in the background.

Anyways, so far so good. My finca is superrequete-tranquilo. Get this, during Semana Santa, the holiest of holy weeks here, basically 96% of the people WENT HOME. Well, I guess that means they went to see their relatives and all, but I was always told that they went home somewhere by the other folks who stuck around. So, Easter was quite.

Did a couple hikes during that week closer to the volcano, spot about 2km from the crater. For reference, the observatory is about 6.5km. But it was really sweet. You really get a good view of the explosions, avalanches and gas exhalations. Worth the 1.5-2 hour hikes. We left the obsv. around 5 each time. Another day we went into one of the rivers, Nima I, where on March 25 there was a sizable lahar. So we took some measurements, waiting for the next one to come and knock down a few wall and all. During the rainy season, I am told, they occurr all the time. I hope to be a lahar expert, and they say all I need is one rainy season, and maybe another Stan.

The schools will be working with are small. There are 2 schools, each having one teacher and multiple grades. The school in Finca Patzulin has 9 students in the am, and 9 in the pm. Last Friday we took a class field trip around the finca (macadamia) and now I know where a mineral water spring is. Rather tasty.

More to come on schools later when I actually to real work...

So, all is well. I^m just chillin right now, waiting to go back to El Faro, where I^ll finally be playing some fútbol this afternoon. I^ll be playing in sneakers since my kleats (tacos) are in the Guate-office right now. Whatever.

In conclusion, things are very low key and tranquilo. My only beef with this place is that since I live right near the volcano, there have been several instances where after doing the dishes or my laundry, I come back to find they are dirty again... due to the ash clouds that come south, over the obsv. and fincas.

Well then. Best wishes to everybody, hope you didn^t miss me since I^ve been gone. I^ll get back again when things get more interesting.


Thursday, March 30, 2006


Site Visit

So, last week we met our counterparts (compañeros de trabajo) at the training center and had some good ol' meetings and all that. On Tuesday we were supposed to go to our sites, but to some emergency, my counterpart (he's actually one of my surpervisors), being one of the volcanologists for INSIVUMEH had to go to a meeting in Antigua to talk about the threats Volcán de Fuego could pose to bomberos who would be working on the fires on the near by Volcán Acatenango. So I went with him to the meeting, which wasn't too bad, though in the end I missed about a day and a half visiting my site. Oh well.

Wednesday, I waited at the center for the call he was going to give me around 11:00, which I got at 11:20 (not too bad) telling me he would be there at 12:00. He got in around 12:45. So, due to more changes he dropped me off at a bus stop and I had to go to my site solo and meet my counterparts. Well, I made it just at late dusk. It was raining hard, and because it was a little late, we had to take a different route in. So, hanging out the sliding door of an overpacked mini-bus in the rain for 25 or so minutes we made it to a traffic jam. OK, by now I was in the van. But eventually we made it to the main gates of my site. It's private land so there's a wall and gaurds and stuff. We waited for a pickup to bring us to the site. To get there from the gates, it was about a 20 min ride on all cobblestone road. Cool. I couldn't see anything at my site cause there were pratically no lights and very dark by now. On the way up to the observatory (my new home) we could see the incandesence of Santiaguito.

Thursday I got to meet the owner of the land, a teacher (at the 2 fincas I'm at to start, each has 1 school and 1 teacher), the other was away, a couple supervisors and some cool people. A very mellow place, but there is somewhat of an inter-finca fútbol league. Most of my work will be at the observatory training the observors and working to get up to date technology up there to monitor the volcano better and do the other stuff INSIVUMEH does better.

So there's not too much to say yet, I have a lot more exploring to do, but I can also say that I didn't need that day I missed to get to know my site. But I'm going to have to get to know San Felipe a bit.

Anyways, I'm off.


Saturday, March 18, 2006

What's new...

So, another month ha pasado and I've learned quite a few more things.


The first weekend after we got back from our first field based training we did something called an eco-camp with a volunteer already at site around Volcán Pacaya. So we actually started friday with a hike up the volcano to the crater itself. Awesome. We started hiking through the woods and we came out into the opening and saw the dome. It took us another 30 to hike up the final stage. A pain in the ass because the slopes were basically as far from stable as possible without falling. Anyways, we got towards the top and gas was coming out from cracks and fumeroles so sometimes it was hard to breath because of the sulfur and extremely humid air. We walked right up to the crater rim and looked down, inhaling even more fumes, but occasionally we saw some balls of lava shooting up past us. We couldn't se the actual pool of magma, but this was pretty cool. We did hear the volcano rumbling and feel it shaking a bit, which was a little freaky, but at the same time, I was in awe. It's also another place where I can say that I have hacked.

Anyways, the eco-camp. It was 16 trainees from Environmental Ed. and Eco-tourism (and trainees) and some 20+ kids aged 12-15. We had a clean water theme, but we did a lot of other tuff like trust falls, captura la bandera, eating competitions and 3legged soccer (my partner was awesome at soccer; he scored and had an assist). We also had a campfire, "scarey" stories, chilli and music. The plan was to go to bed at 9/9:30, but the boys didn't go to sleep all night, with was a little frustrating, but for almost all of them this was the first time any of them had done any of this, so we let it go, and in the morning they still had tons of energy when we did a scavenger hunt arond their town, which took a couple hours. It was really fun to play with the kids and all, but by the end we were all completely exhausted.

Field Based Training #2-

FBT2 was up in Alta Verapaz. We started in Cobán where basically we only went to a place where they make candles from wax extraced from these tiny seeds. This is good because it provides the families in the backwoods with income from harvesting the wax instead of cutting down the forest for lumber, so if you see these candles, buy them..... And from there went to Lanquín to give a taller (workshop) to soon-to-be teachers. My partner, Erin, and I had to give the same charla (lesson) 4 times, which was pretty tiring. It was good though. Our topic was the Ciclo de Aprendizaje Participativo (Participatory Learning Cycle). The next day we went to a school in town to teach about recycled art and play a game like capture the flag, but with a load of trash on both sides instead of one flag. Good in theory, bad in practice, probably because not only did we have to explain it in Spanish to the teachers, but the teachers had to explain it to the kids in one of the 22 Mayan languages here. So with the second group we just said whatever team could collect the most trash around the schol would win. This was the first school I've been to yet that didn't have floors. It was all hard dirt, and not half of the kids had shoes. Different, but cool. I would've taken some pics, but the other trainees all had their cameras out too.

Later we went to Samuc Champe (?) to swim in the natural pools there. It's all limestone/karst there so there's disappearing rivers, and some pretty cool waterfalls. Got to jmp off some short cliffs too which was fun. A nice hangout.

In Chisec we hung out with a youth group and showed them possible ways to generate income for the group. They're like an out-door adventure racing group/team. So we showed them recycled paper, wovent mats from old newspaper and composting with worms. Who knows yet if it will stick. Also in Chisec we went tubing down this pretty neat river with the group. The entire river was linded with the limestone cliffs, and a short rapid towards the end. We would have gone through caves, like eco-tourism, but they had all the tour guides wrapped up in some 3 hour taller they were presenting....whatever.

The trip was awesome. We got to meet more volunteers and got to see what kind of pojects they were doing and secondary projects as well. I'm definately looking forward to getting around to the volunteer thing.

My site-

This past week (13-17 of March) we were all anxious because this was the week to find out our sites. Some people could not stop talking about it, and it got a bit annoying, but whatever. Everyone seems to be pleased with where they're going, be it in the Verapazes, in the East or in the West. The way our trainers set it up to tell us was that they made a big map on the yard, about 20X20 ft. and they blindfolded all of us. Individually they walked us around the map and placed us in our location. We could move our hands around to see who was "near" us, but we couldn't talk and when they told us to, we finally took our blindfolds off. Everyone was like "wow, you're over there" or "Where am I?" It was pretty funny. Afterwards, we went into a room to finally talk about where we are and all that god stuff.

So where am I going? Wouldn't you like to know? Do I want to tell you? Well, I kind of had an idea the whole time I was here, but was never sure because of security issues and all that god stuff. Very well, my site is called Aldea El Faro, El Palmar, Quetzaltengango (Place of the Quetzal, the national bird). This is where the observatory for Valcán Satiaguito is located, some 8km from the crater. Ya, you could say I'm pretty pumped. I'm kinda out in the middle of nowhere though, living with some 250 other people. Yeah, 2,5,0. There are no more 0's attached. So, we'll see how that goes. Next week is our site visit, so I'll check it out some more then.

So, that's the new story with me. I hope all is going with you all, wherever you may be, CT, IA, CA, FL, MA, other countries, or wherever. Take care.

Tengan un buen día.


Sunday, February 19, 2006

I'm Still Alive

So, after about a month, I'm back in the hot seat with some updates. I'll label them so you can pick and chose from what sounds interesting...

PCV Visit (w/ John Lyons)

Must've been about a little over 2 weeks ago when I went to visit John Lyons at his site near Volcán de Fuego. I left early on a Thursday morning and arrived at the bus stop around 6:10 am. As I was waiting another man showed up, a little older and familiar with the Peace Corps in our town. We talked for a little and while waiting for the bus, a pickup came and he got in and asked if I was going to Antigua (which I was to meet John). So, what else to do besides hop in for the ride. There were probably 4 of us in the bed and we only made one more stop on the way, to pick up some 4 more guys. Now, a camioneta from Milpas Altas to Antigua is about 15-20min. I think we did it in 10-12. In all I saved 50 centabos (about 8 cents).

It was cool to meet up with John. Hadn't seen him since he left Houghton in April, 2005. We hopped on a bus, then another, and arrived in another Santa Lucía. This one had a pretty big market where we bought our fruit and veggies for the weekend. John's town is so small that there is only one bus that leaves his town at 5:00am and leaves from Santa Lucía at 11:00. So when we got there we just left our stuff on the bus for the older guys to keep a watch on and we went about our business for some 2 hours.

We got to another town below his and after lunch taught English for 3 hours. He had to leave mid-class) to talk to Bill (our advisor) so I was in charge. Thanks, John. It was about a 30 min walk at about 30 degrees up hill to his town, made longer due to talking to some of his friends on the way.

His view of Fuego is awesome. When the eruption is large enough, you can hear and feel the shock waves. One morning we were woken up around 5 to see the top 1/4 of the volcano covered in inrradesence. Then there was another eruption 2 minutes later where we saw red fly about 1km in the air. Awesome.

We met up with Bill and one day we went to this place to see where a lahar had been born. There was a pyroclastic flow a few years ago, and Stan had rained so hard it eroded this massive canyon. So, being big fans of rocks, we started throwing some at these big boulders just waiting to fall down. My arm hurt so bad the next morning.

First Field Based Training

This past week we went to Lago de Atitlán. We had lectures about waste management and starting an organization legally. You can imagine how much fun that was, but it was informative. There were so many little landslides from Stan there. A lot of roads were being rebuilt, especially coming down the mountains into town; these roads and hills were so steep is was hard to imagine they were there in the first place. But we saw houses and raods destroyed by these deslaves. Tip for the future: Don't build houses (or at all) in valleys or on steep hills. But I'm sure you all knew that.

We also met a couple super-volunteers and visited their schools. One of them extened for a 3rd year and as a side project is working in a special education class, teaching kids how to cook and all. Really sweet.

We had to take a ferry across the lake, which was actually pretty cool, though we had to leave to hotel at 5:45 the first time. The second time we left at 1:00, so we could enjoy the sun on the roof of the boat and the warmth. It gets pretty chilly down here in the mountains.

When we returned on Wed. to where we spent the first night, we all ahd to prepare our first presentation for the next day, about deslaves (landslides), actually, to one of the schools in town. I had 2nd grade. It was a lot of work preparing what to do, but when we did it, it went so smoothly. I started my class by us being a storm, making the sounds of wind, rain, thunder, etc., which was pretty fun. Then I read them this story about a town who sold their trees and when a storm came it was basically destroyed and had them draw pictures about what to do before, during and after a storm/deslave. We finished with a song a taught them. Yes, I sang to them. Our trainer here taught us the song, so I passed it along. They really digged it which was great. I think the whole thing took a little over an hour. We were actually "graded" on these and I was told I did pretty well. Infact, every body had a good presentation.

Our last night we went to this place called Corazón del Bosque, where we had a culture night because there were volunteers from Australia (!!!) and Costa Rica too. So a bunch a kids danced for us, some awesome musicians from all over, the Aussies did a song for Veggemite(?) and us Americans tried a bit out too. Later we finally had dinner and a camp fire. Some of us slept in a tent, a little cold, but bearable(?). All in all, an awesome week.

Now it's back to training and normal stuff. Hope everything is going sweel with all you all. Keep in touch-


Friday, January 20, 2006

Going Strong

Well, Monday we went to Lake Amatitlán and saw the envio problems there...trash from all the roads in the area flows there so the eutrifiction rate has increased so that they expect the lake to become a swamp in 20-25 yrs, intead of a few hundred...and al the runoff from farm causes the algae groth to cover the rntire shore, and not to mention the lake is part of the watershed of Gaute (capital). Kinda depressing, but that's part of what I'm here for....

Ok, got to go to class.... later..

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Guate is Great

Guatemala is awesome. I can see why some other blogs I've read were so long; there's so much to talk about.

Orientation in DC was fun. Everybody was able connect really quick so it made the 2 days fly by. We had to leave the hotel at 4am the day we left for Guate, which made the day very long, but when we got here it was pretty cool. From the training center we can see Volcan de Agua and Fuego. Spanish lessons aren't too overwhelming yet, and there's a ot of other stuff to talk about, like health and safety, culture and some b.s. too.

I love the familia I am staying with. There are 4 kids, and the youngest has already drawn me pictures of Piglet and SpongeBob. We've played kickball in the streets at night with a bunch of neighbothood kids with some interesting rules that I have yet to understand and there are dogs everywhere. Mi madre cooks all of my meals and the eldest son, who turns 15 on Jan. 15, brings my lunch to me at the training center. The 2 middle age kids are fun too, they loved the kickball also.

Don't want to bore you with too much writing, I'll leave it gonig piece by piece, some things won't change too much. Keep in touch-

Sunday, January 08, 2006

and....I'm off

Well, first let me say thanks. Those of you who put in the effort to send a little contribution to Beth's project really made my day. I always knew I had great friends and relatives and you all just proved me right. It looks great, so many thanks to Beth as well.

Anyways, enough with the sappy stuff. I'm off in less than 18 hours for DC, and I don't know when I'll be able to wirte another entry. I'll be there for two nights, and on the morning after the second night I leave the hotel for Guatemala (I'll be calling it Guate mainly from now on....[Gwa-tay]). I'll live for 3 months doing language, cultural, technical, etc. training and then I'll be assigned to a community doing my actual assignment. Should be pretty cool.

I'll be updating my blog when I can and be posting pics too. I'll be doing my part, so I want to know what you are all up to as well. Leave a note or something, make a mark on the map, send an email...or packages that'll probably take a month to get to me maybe. I'll give an address later.

I won't go on any longer, but thanks for being awesome. See you all soon.

Take care. Love you all.


Sunday, January 01, 2006

Happy New Year

Happy New Year, everybody. The family here is doing great and so are the friends, and I wish everybody the same for the upcoming year.

Only a little more than a week till I leave for DC and then to Guatemala.... Things are coming along poco a poco, but everything will be set by the 9th. I'm gonna miss all of you, especially Beth (who has always wanted me to mention her here). But I'll be thinking of everybody while I'm away. Anyways, there isn't much interesting to mention now; just wanted to say hello.


Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Flight Booked

Hi fans-

I've booked my flight to staging. It's in Washington D.C. from Jan. 09 to Jan. 11. On the early of the 11th I fly to Gautemala. Everyday it becomes more and mroe official. It's pretty exciting. Anyways.... Happy Holidays--

Friday, December 09, 2005

Dec. 9, 2005 - The verdict is in and...

...I'm going to Guate. I leave Jan. 9, 2006 for orientation and training is 1/12 - 4/6. I am going down with Environmental Conservation and Income generation, although they asked for me specifically for disaster awareness, and it looks as though my job title is Environmental Educator. Pretty nifty, eh? Despite only having 1 month before I leave and having to had make my decision in only few days, at the end of the semester....I am excited, and looking forward to joining the other fabulous PC volunteers out there.

But I've got so much to do now with classes ending, saying my farewells, and organizing all my other work at MTU on top of this PC paper work. Well, I better get crackin'. Catch you all later--

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Dec. 7, 2005 PC Update

Well, again, things are turning around. After direct requests from Guate and another from the Guate desk in DC, I have been requested to go to Guatemala. The main problem is that I would leave in early January, only a month away. So I have to decide if that is OK. It looks like a perfect fit, but with the short time period, I am caught off gaurd. Mainly because I already bought my discount Bohemia season pass at Downwind.... Actually not, but I'll let you know in a couple days what my final decision is.... Love you all. Wish me luck-

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Too bad we weren't closer for this one

Wish we were still at that lodge when this one went off. Though it would be great to be playing futbol while an eruption was going. I think this plume reached 4km above the crater itself. Posted by Picasa

Ya Baby!

While we were there, Popo erupted. In fact about 45 min earlier we were another km closer than I am here, which I think is about 4km from where the plume is. Ya, we were excited. Pretty sweet, eh?Posted by Picasa

Danger Ahead

Danger Ahead. Yep, only those with permission from the Mexican govt. can go past this sign. We did. A whole coach bus of us. Ya, being scientist is great.... You can kind of see Popo behind the trees there.Posted by Picasa

Field Trip with Popo

This is our group out on field trip. OK, the volcano is actually called Popocatepetl. We got to see a bunch of volcanic deposits, but we got closer to the volcano, and that was a lot cooler....Posted by Picasa

Day of the Dead

Last day we were in Mexico, we visited the main open area where all organizations make Day of the Dead scenes. Some were huge. This one was cool, esp. with the mosaic library behind . Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Grandpa's 90th Birthday

The Grandpas. John's (left) 90th is in Dec. Dick is my Dad's dad. I hadn't seen so much family at once in years. Plus Beth got to meet everybody. She did pretty well. Better than I would have done, for sure. The last time these two were together like this could have been at my parents wedding, but I'm not sure.Posted by Picasa

Monday, October 10, 2005

Updates Keep Coming...

Things might be happening. I have recieved word that my services have been requested down South, but a heck of a lot further North than I had last heard. Those 'canes that had gone through Central America must have sent sparks flying cause I guess now geo-hazards are now considered bad things by more people than just who they affect. Can't say too much now, but as the news comes in, you'll all know very soon afterwards...


Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Peace Corps Update

Man oh man.... Now, I've heard "don't let Peace Corps ruin your Peace Corps experience" before, but now I know where it comes from. Apparently my placement officer has been trying to contact me but the only contact info she had was my home phone number back in CT. So after I guess 3 weeks, my mom finally was able to understand a message she left on the machine and told me to call her. We had our peace corps talk and all, and at the end she wanted to make sure she had my other info staight. So she double checked on on my home address here in Houghton...and then she had the balls to ask "...and your email is still ablankenbicker@hotmail?" Am I missing something here..?

Anyways, so now I have a job at the greenhouse getting experience for work in forestry and agriculture that I can put to use in Latin America. Maybe like Essa? We'll see. I'll let ya'll know when I get an actual invitation. Ciao for now.


Monday, July 25, 2005


mmm... loving the homewrecker at the Gay bar
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