April 28, 2014

X is for Xela

Xela  is pronounced like Shay-la. It is also known as Quetzaltenango and is one of the big cities in Guatemala. Here is a little bit of what Xela is like:

Chicken in a basket. Women carry these baskets on their heads all over Guatemala.

Yes, Walmart does exist here. 

Emree and Aunt Allie having fun riding up and down the escalators.

Fast Food strikes again. Didn't think we'd be so excited to see a McDonald's.

One of the many food carts all over town.

View of Xela

One of our favorite parts about vistiting Xela was visiting the LDS Temple. It's such a beautiful and peaceful place to be.


Emree photo bombed a branch that was visiting the temple for a family sealing. They were so excited to have Emree join them on that exciting day. Some of the people even wanted individual pictures with her. The Guatemalan people sure do love gringo babies. :) 

Just enjoying being together.

Karen trying to be cool like her son Forrest. 

A mural that some people are doing by hand.



Coca-Cola is pretty big here. Everyone drinks it. They even converted me to it. :) 

I love the little things people sell in the boxes they carry around town. I especially love the flowers and treats. 


It was so fun visiting the city of Xela. I love living in such a beautiful country where we can explore all the beauty that it has to offer.

April 26, 2014

W is for Walking

The main transportation in Pana is your feet. You could take a tuk tuk or a bus, but the easiest and cheapest way to get around is by walking.  Walking is one of my favorite things to do and not only that it's a healthy way to get around. When people come to Panjachel and stay for a while, they find that within a few months the pounds start shedding off.  Why is this? Part of it is your diet. There really isn't much processed food here so you are eating more fruits and vegetables. Your portion sizes are considerably smaller as well, but one of the biggest reasons people drop the weight is by walking.

Walking has helped me in so many ways in my life.  It's a great stress reliever for me and is a nice way to get away for just a minute to be on my own.  I often go on walks to find a peaceful place to just sit and think.

It also is great exercise. Something about getting out there and moving helps you to feel better about yourself and about life.  I find that the days I don't walk I am much more cranky and irritated than the days that I go out and do something.

I love walking. It's one of the easiest things you can do to improve your health physically as well as mentally. If you are thinking of taking a trip to Panajachel, enjoy your experience here by walking through town and seeing the sights. :)

April 25, 2014

V is for Vivir

Vivir is to live in Spanish. Sometimes life throws you curve balls when you least expect it. It's a journey full of hardships and trials, but also fun adventures.  Moving to Guatemala was one of those curve balls that was thrown at us. It wasn't easy picking up and leaving everything we knew behind and packing only 2 large suitcases and 2 carryon's as our only belongings, but it's been a ride that we have absolutely loved despite the struggles we have faced. 

We've met incredible people, we are learning more and more Spanish everyday, I've learned to do laundry by hand and we've learned to just do with what we have and enjoy the simple things in life. There are so many more things that we've learned through our journey through life that has helped us grow. It's been an amazing ride so far. Even though the lord threw us a curve ball in coming to Guatemala, it's been one of the best experiences that I've ever had in my life!

April 24, 2014

U is for Unique

Like any culture, there is something unique about the people in Guatemala. One of the things that makes them unique to me is how laid back and kind they are. 

Every Sunday when we go to church our daughter Emree is hyped up with energy. She's running all over the place and sometimes it's just not worth chasing her up and down the small isles.  The people don't mind her running around the room, because they recognize her energy and enjoy watching and playing with her throughout the meetings. 

I think it is so great that they don't mind helping you out in the middle of the meeting. Some of the ladies have even rushed out with us to help calm Emree down when she is throwing a temper tantrum. I love that I don't feel so embarrassed to have my child screaming her guts out. Back in Utah, I would do everything I could to make we didn't draw much attention to ourselves. You don't see too many people helping you take care of your child in the middle of the meeting there.

Another unique thing I've found is that they don't mind doing the same thing day after day.  I get bored if I don't have something new to do or somewhere to go each day. They usually establish their routine and it stays that way throughout their life.  The sad thing is sometimes there isn't much progression in learning or growing when you do the same thing day after day.

There are so many things that make these people so unique and I love watching and learning from these wonderful people. 

April 23, 2014

T is for Travis

Travis is my best friend. I wouldn't be the person I am today if it wasn't for him. We've had many trials in the 2 1/2 years we've been married, but through it all we've stuck it out and we've grown from all the experiences that we've had.

Travis is a good man with a good heart. He is strong, he is dedicated and he is the hardest worker I know.  While we've been here in Guatemala, Travis has worked almost every day since we got here (except Sundays of course) working almost 60 hours a week. He's not your average worker.  He goes above and beyond what is asked of him and makes sure the job gets done.  Through all the sweat and aching muscles, not once has Travis complained. He just keeps going with a smile on his face enjoying every moment he has to be here.

Not only does he work hard, but he is a wonderful husband and father.  He comes home and he helps me with the household chores, makes dinner for us sometimes and he makes sure that he gets his daddy daughter time with Emree. He has so much love for us and we are so blessed!

Travis is a wonderful man who is so kind and loving. He is a great example to me.  He is a friend to all and is always focused on helping others in anyway that he can. He is very faithful to the Gospel and loves his Savior with all of his heart.

I love Travis more then anything and I am so grateful to have him in my life!

April 22, 2014

S is for Semana Santa

Semana Santa is the Holy week in Guatemala. It's a week where there is a lot of parties, concerts, shops and food all week long as well as celebrations of Christ.
For "Good Friday" The Mayans created some beautiful artwork all along the streets that they did by hand, either in the early hours of the morning, late morning or afternoon.  They also had sacrifices laid out with a decorated table and baskets of bread and other things.
They also had processions going in Panajachel as well as in nearby towns.  We took a trip to Sololá that day and were able to see one of these processions.

Semana Santa was a fun week. It's one of the biggest holidays in Guatemala. I'm so glad I was able t be here to be a part of the celebrations. It was really neat to see what these wonderful people do to celebrate Easter and Christ.

This is a float that the people are carrying that shows Christ carrying a cross.

Sand Art all done by hand on the Roads.

April 21, 2014

R is for Restaurants

All over Panajachel there are restaurants and stands selling delicious food.  Here are some of the foods we have come to love while living here:


Tortilla's, Lot's and Lot's of Tortilla's :)

Pollo Campero THE fast food Restaurant of Guatemala



April 19, 2014

Q is for Quetzales

Instead of dollars we use Quetzales. For every dollar you have somewhere around 7.50 Q's or Quetzales.  If you are living or visiting Guatemala and make American wages everything here is so cheap. You can get fruit and vegetables for half the price you would get in America.  Other household items are a little more expensive, but not nearly as high as it is in the states. 

One of our favorites things to do with our extra change is to set it aside and use it at the tienda's when we want a little treat such as a Pepsi for Q3.  It's the best and always gives us something to look forward to. :)

April 18, 2014

P is for Power Lines

Sometimes I'm amazed at how well the power stays on here.  If you look at the power lines they are a mess of wires going every which way.  The other night a tree fell on the power lines and our power was out for quite a while and when the power goes out there is a chance that it won't come back on for a week or so. But so far we have been blessed and our power usually comes back on within an hour or so. When that tree fell on the power lines that was probably the longest we've had it go out. It didn't come back on till the next day, but they did get the power up and running again so that was good.  They may not have the greatest organization when it comes to their electricity, but at least they know what they are doing for the most part. ;)

April 17, 2014

O is for Originality

If there is anything I've learned it's that there is no originality in Pana. If one person has an idea then everyone else uses that same idea for their businesses.  If a person comes out with the idea of handing out flyers for their restaurant, everyone else will follow. If someone decides to sell odds and ends on the side of the streets, everyone else will follow.  It doesn't matter the idea or who came up with it, there really isn't any originality.  

We had the idea of selling hot dogs over Easter weekend, well guess what happened. The word leaked out and now as far as I know there are a few other people who have decided to do the very same thing.  Like I said no originality. If you need any food product, hygiene item, etc. You will find that almost every tienda will have the exact same items no matter where you go, you just have to take your pick. 

There's not much competition in Pana. There isn't much thought to what could be next big thing. They usually stick with what they've always done. It's so funny to me to watch sometimes.  I love the people, but they sure do lack originality.  :) 

April 16, 2014

N is for Nature Reserve

Just outside of Panajachel, there is a Nature Reserve. When my brother-in-law Billy came into town a few weeks ago, we went and checked it out. It was a nice little hike and very green and beautiful. It felt like we were in a movie, like one of those scripture movies. 

 We crossed maybe a dozen rickety bridges that were made out of chain link fence with some wires and wood spread evenly alongside the fence to walk on.  I'm use to bridges where the floor of the bridge has the wood pretty close together so you don't have to worry about your feet slipping through...with these ones your feet were barely big enough to cross without worry.  I still had to keep my eyes down just to be safe. 

Along the way, we came upon a Monkey. He was so fun to watch. We were hoping to run into some of his family, but at least he decided to give us a little show that day. 

He's a cute little fella.

The trail we decided to take also had a beautiful waterfall.  This was also where we realized that we had gone the opposite direction then we were suppose to. That's just how we do it I guess. ;)  

We had a fun time walking around the Nature Reserve and seeing more of the beauty that Guatemala has to offer! 

Billy getting ready to swing on a vine. ;) 

April 15, 2014

M is for Mercado

The Mercado is where you get all your fresh fruits and vegetables.  It's crowded with people everyday of the week.  Aside from fruits and veggies you can also find all kinds of different odds and ends.  They sell pots, pans, wood, clothing, shoes, blankets, pillows, you name it and you could probably find it there.

One of my favorite things to get at the Mercado are these vegetable bags. They are little bags of veggies already cut and ready to cook with.  They are only Q 1 and work well with almost any dish.  It's nice when you want something quick and easy, especially when you are lacking in kitchen supplies.

The Mercado is the place to go if you want something for a decent price. It's the mall of Guatemala and is always an adventure. 

April 14, 2014

L is for Laundry

One of the skills that I have been working on while I'm here is doing Laundry... by hand.  It's definitely not as easy as it seems, but for me it's a skill I think is worth having.  These Guatemalan women work so hard and watching them I couldn't help, but want to do something more.  I'm learning everyday how to better my technique at washing clothes, but if anything, the best part of doing laundry is doing it with my daughter Emree.  She loves helping me with the clothes and we have fun everyday doing it!

April 12, 2014

K is for Keeping it Clean

Just like any where in the world it's important to keep things clean, but it is especially important in a third world country namely in Guatemala.  There is dirt flying all over the place, because of the 3 volcano's around Lake Atitlan.  You have to make sure you are consistently sweeping your floors otherwise you will get dirt everywhere. 

We learned that it is very important not only to wash your dishes, but to dry them as well.  The water is so bad that if you let your dishes air dry there is a possibility that you could get sick.  It is also important that you sanitize your fruits and vegetables otherwise this could also make you sick.

If you need help cleaning which isn't necessary, but is always nice, you can hire someone to come and clean for you. Our friend Alicia is one of the best for cleaning. She knows the in's and out's of how to clean, eat and other helpful tips in living in Guatemala. 

When you first take a look at Guatemala you would think that there aren't really any standards for cleaning and in some places yes that is true, but in other places like Panajachel, most of the homes and shops are pretty good at Keeping it clean. :)

April 11, 2014

J is for Juice: Orange Juice

One of my favorite things about Guatemala are all the little stands of food off to the sides of the road.  They are so good!  Every morning when your walking down the street you will find stands where they are selling freshly squeezed orange juice. The smell of it just gets you every time you walk by.  You can't help, but want to stop. They put it in a little baggie and give you a straw to drink with.  Morning time is my favorite time to walk around Panajachel, because all the yummy breakfast food you will find. :)


April 10, 2014

I is for Iglesia

Iglesia is a word for church in Spanish.  There are churches all over Panajachel. Services go throughout the week. The people here are very dedicated to their churches.  Dago (the handyman for the hotel) is very faithful to his church.  We had a nice conversation one day about our churches. I told him me and my whole family are all LDS and he said "Muy Bien, Muy Importanto" (very good, very important). He goes to a small church that meets about 4 times a week often times from about 6pm to 10pm and serves with the young men. I am very impressed by his diligence to his church. You can see in his countenance how much he loves Christ and loves God and his family. 

Our Church is about a 30 minute walk from our home.  It's a nice walk on Sunday mornings.  Sometimes going to church can be hard since we are still learning the language.  It takes a lot of brain power sometimes to switch from English to Spanish, but we understand more and more everyday and every week.  Even though we may not understand everything that is being said, there is a very special spirit about the members.  They are very faithful and do all they can to make sure we feel included. They go out of their way to make sure we understand the announcements and will go out and print us directions if needed. 

I feel blessed to be in a place with so many wonderful people some of whom are very faithful to their Iglesias's.  It's really neat to see and be a part of.  I learn so much from the people in our church and from friends of others faiths.

April 9, 2014

H is for Hotel Casa Colonial

The main reason we decided to come out to Guatemala was to help finish and open my brother-in-laws Hotel, Casa Colonial.  It's been a busy few months, but it is all finally coming together.  It's a beautiful hotel and has a very relaxing environment. It's been fun being part of the process and watching it all come together.  If you ever plan on coming for a visit in Panajachel, Casa Colonial is one hotel you will love. :)