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It’s been a great, relaxing two weeks – a big contrast from the long, hardworking weeks of summer, that kicked off as soon as I arrived in country a few months ago. Here’s a quick update of what I’ve been up to:

DSCF0368I guess you could say my vacation started even before the SECorps programs completely wrapped up, with a quick day trip to Monterrico with my co-workers and our G4 students. Monterrico is a small beach town on Guatemala’s pacific coast, just a few hours away from Antigua, known for its black volcanic sand, endangered sea turtles, and rough, warm waves. It was a perfect way to wrap up the summer – swimming in the waves, lying on the sand, and enjoying some delicious micheladas (a very popular Guatemalan drink, made of tomato juice, spices, and beer – sort of like a Guatemalan bloody mary) and super fresh ceviche.

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Anna, Bo, Jorge and I at Monterrico. Missing Holley (wrapping up her student group in Huehue) and Krystal (helping with a business program in Nicaragua)

Once the G4 program wrapped up a few days later, my friend from the states arrived for a visit, starting with a short “stay-cation” in Pana. Because of my travel schedule this summer, it was so nice to have some time to just explore the lake and relax in my beautiful home, without the pressures of work. We went EVERYWHERE – we sipped wine and ate delicious cheese at one of my favorite lakeside spots in San Juan, Vinos y Queso, lunched at the hippie restaurant Zoola in San Pedro, shopped for ceramics in San Antonio, stumbled upon the beginnings of the feria in Solola, and hung out at Club Ven Aca’s infinity pool in Jaibailito. Okay, so I’ll admit it – at least when I’m around the lake, I’m definitely not roughing it too much. But I’m not complaining…

After an overnight in Antigua (which has started to feel like my second home, after spending so much time there this summer!), the real vacation began – goodbye rainy Guatemala, hello sunny, beachy Belize! We chose to stay in San Pedro, a lively but relaxed town on Ambergris Caye (the largest of Belize’s many islands). Our cabana at Ramon’s Village hotel was right on the beach, and we were about a two minute walk from town – making it so convenient to wander around to sample all kinds of delicious seafood, from ceviche to sea scallops to lobster pupusas and quesadillas.

The highlight of the trip was a snorkel excursion to Hol Chan Marine Reserve and Shark Ray Alley – probably some of the best snorkeling I’ve ever done. We saw huge sea turtles, sting rays, and giant sharks…all while swimming in crystal clear, perfectly warm Caribbean waters. The rest of our time was spent at the pool and the beach, kayaking, and exploring the cute town – by foot and by golf cart (the only from of transportation allowed on the island).

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But now – time to get back to the “real world” (or whatever the “real world” equivalent is for someone who works for an awesome social enterprise in beautiful rural Guatemala…it doesn’t always feel like real life). I’m looking forward to the shift in pace and in independence that my job is going to offer from now on. Really, other than working with Juana in the Solola SolCom Centro on Tuesdays and Fridays, it’s going to be up to me to plan my projects and work schedule, which I’m really looking forward to. I have about two weeks to dig in before my first monthly staff meeting – where all of our Guatemalan and American staff gets together in Antigua to talk about monthly progress and sales goals. As always, my to do list is expansive – in addition to my Microconsignment work (working in the office, helping with campaigns, strategizing towards meetings our regional sales goals), I’ll also be working with the Lema’ cooperative and one of my SECorps students to develop custom woven tote bags for her sorority, working with Michelle and Alli to manage wholesale orders for Juana’s cooperative, Sanik, helping my friend Alyssa with her ethical fashion export company, Hiptipico, working with Ramona and Reyna (who I used to work with at Thirteen Threads) on their rug-hooking project, and continuing with my own personal research, reading, and investigations into both Guatemalan’s culture and history and the greater contexts of international development.

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