Growing up as a military brat, I have traveled all my life. I know, like most travelers, I know that there is nothing to fear about being in a strange place. Being used to foreign countries, I just get on airplanes and figure it out from there. I know so many people who have done so much more travel than me. ... but this is my story and it's not so bad.
I traveled through Africa in 2003. Including Tanzania, Kenya, and Nigeria.
I traveled to Guatemala and Honduras in 2005.
From 2007 to 2009 I moved to Seoul, Korea from Austin, Texas to teach in Korean schools. I needed a change in my life and this certainly fit the bill. Life was good... free apartment in a great part of Seoul, and I was able save money while living in the city. I traveled around on weekends and holidays to see the country when I could and find out what's there.
I moved to Moldova for a year in 2009 -2010. I'm still working on getting those blogs written.
I have volunteered in a Montessori school in Guatemala City every summer since 2012. I go back to Guatemala City every year after raising funds to bring badly needed classroom materials and teach the teachers for the school I volunteered for the past several years.

So I have arrived once again in Guatemala City to help the teachers teach in a 3-5 year old Montessori class in the area known as La Esperanza – The Hope. When I arrived, one large box full classroom materials was delayed in Houston and the people at the baggage counter said don’t worry we will deliver it tomorrow. I said, “Really? You’ll deliver it? The area is very bad.” They said that that was no problem and they would deliver it. I was amazed. When I got to UPAVIM of course they told me that there was no way it would be delivered directly to us because the police will stop them from coming down here. If the gangs see a delivery car, it would be stopped and robbed. So, we had to make arrangements ... read more
My welcome
Sunrise on Volcán Aguas
The contrast between natural beauty and tin shack

Differences in neighborhoods and mindsets This blog isn't really about my trek back to Guatemala with more stuff but about one of the teachers I work with at UPAVIM who came to visit me. About a year and a half ago, I bought a house and posted pictures of it online. As things go on Facebook, Dina saw the post and messaged me say how happy she was for me that I bought a home. I told her she was welcome to visit, but I doubted that would ever come to pass. When I arrived in Guatemala last summer some of the volunteers told me that for the previous six months Dina had been excitedly telling everyone that she was going to my house in the USA. We joked about how she would get there because ... read more
Dina's neighborhood
At the Miccosuki indian cultural village
Gambling time

So here I am sitting on the roof of the UPAVIM building, looking at the beautiful view of the volcanoes off in the distance, and eating a dinner of black beans, a roll, and fried plantains. I can hear several evangelical preachers around the neighborhood blaring their amplified sermons and songs. Ladies are in the street calling out the wares they are selling… “¡Aguacate!” (Avocados), “¡Elotes!” (roasted corn on the cob), “¡Tamales!” and so forth. There are dogs barking, roosters crowing, and children playing in the streets. The heavy base beat from music coming from nearby homes permeates the air. This is no longer exotic for me, but an atmosphere to drink in when I arrive. Ah, yes, I’m back in Guatemala! I’ve been treated very well here. This makes me think that the picture we ... read more
Most of the donations for Montessori II
Sra. Marisol is overjoyed to get a new spindle box.
The old spindle box

Last night, while I was in my little office, I heard gunshots. In my mind I told myself it was just the regular nightly firecrackers in the street. I heard a lot of commotion in the street and I told myself, "No, they are just celebrating something." But then I went upstairs to the volunteer’s quarters and the other volunteers asked me if I had heard the shots. They said they saw someone down the street get carried away in an ambulance and blood on the street. I've heard shots before, but I have been far enough away that I couldn't know what happened. I asked about it today and one of the teachers told me it was a 10-year-old boy who had been shot by gang members. He died in the hospital. He had 12-year-old ... read more
Career day
Career Day
Career Day

I am loving being here. It felt like coming home... only better. I arrived I Guatemala City and collected the boxes of donated materials I brought from baggage, and sailed through customs in 10 minutes with only one box opened and a "Welcome to Guatemala". Rolling the boxes outside, I was met by two women from UPAVIM who treated me like a princess. They took me by the bank to get my money changed and stopped to get a drink... I was VERY thirsty. I really didn't expect anyone to notice that I was coming back. I certainly didn't expect the royal treatment! Arriving at UPAVIM, there were lots of hugs and kisses and "¡Bienvenidos!". Last year, I really should have paid attention to those around me, because I didn't remember some of the ... read more
They told me I had to take a bite of the cake
...and the result...
Wonderful ladies of UPAVIM!

North America » United States » Texas » Austin June 18th 2013

I added a lot of people to my blog subscription list. If you are receiving this blog and do not want to get it, then feel free to unsubscribe. My feelings won't be hurt. So after planning and thinking about this trip for close to a year, it has finally come time to go. Last summer I went to Guatemala City to volunteer at UPAVIM Montessori Children's Center which is a Montessori pre-school in in the impoverished La Esperanza area on the south side of Guatemala City. The school is funded and supported by UPAVIM which is a women's ... read more

When I arrived in Guatemala, I was unsure what I would be doing here. I hoped to volunteer for UPAVIM – Unidas Para Vivir Major (United for a Better Life), which is a cooperative of 80 women who make fair trade Guatemalan crafts to sell to the US. They also have a soy dairy and bakery in which they sell low cost, high quality foods to the community. With these two industries they fund a medical clinic, a Montessori(ish) preschool, and an elementary school all in the same building. It’s a wonderful place. I wasn’t totally sure what I had to offer would even be needed. I only knew that I had seen pictures of UPAVIM Montessori, and being a trained Montessori teacher, I wanted to see it for myself. My second day here, I observed ... read more
Dressing frames that I made
Mi Casita Montessori Classroom
Constructive triangles

The last time I visited to Panajachel (2005), I only saw a tourist trap. Booth after booth with tourist kitsch for sale with jacked up prices line the streets. Many of the items are made in China. This time I stayed with my friend Maria who has a house in Panajachel, but also lives in Texas. We flew down to Guatemala together and she invited me to visit her in Pana. Maria is originally from Guatemala, and even in the States dresses in traditional Mayan clothing. This was a wonderful chance to see her on her own turf and I got to see Panajachel from Maria’s point of view and it totally changed my experience of the town. She has a nice house with a gorgeous garden and a breathtaking view from her roof. Just hanging ... read more
View from Maria's Roof
View from Maria's Roof
Maria and I out to eat

I want to see at least little of Guatemala while I’m here and I had the opportunity to stay with a friend in Panajachel. A guy I know told me I could go with him and he could show me how to get to the bus. He had a couple of meetings in towns along the way but said I could tag along. I decided that in order to not inconvenience him, I would check into a room at his hotel so we could go together early in the morning. Once I checked into the hotel, I found my friend who told me that I would slow him down on a hike up to a finca (farm) and that I would have to wait for him in the villages while he went to his meetings. Basically ... read more

I’ve been helping out in a class in a Montessori based kindergarten here at UPAVIM which has been an exciting experience for me. This is a school not unlike the school Maria Montessori started in the slums of Rome in 1906. There aren't many materials, but a great interest in improving the lives of children in a poor neighborhood. These teachers here have little Montessori training and not very many materials, but a hunger to learn. I am by no means a qualified Montessori trainer, but as a Montessori trained teacher I can pass on some of my knowledge and help present some materials. They seem so happy to get some new information and direction. I’m hoping that I can help point them in the right direction and lead them to information that will inspire them ... read more
The pink tower
The cylinder blocks

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