we grow great by dreams

I’ve started dreaming again.

When I’m living and sleeping at home or at school, I never remember my dreams. I can’t remember when this started, but something about being in a familiar place (or maybe the constant sleep deprivation?) makes me not remember. When I was in Nicaragua two years ago, though, I remembered my dreams almost every night. Ever since I landed in Guatemala, I’ve been dreaming vivid dreams and remembering them in the morning.

I forgot how amazing dreams are! They provide such funny, bizarre, comforting, occasionally scary or disturbing glimpses into my subconscious.
Plus, they often include appearances from people I miss!

I wouldn’t usually call myself a dreamer– though I did just realize that the scrap of paper I have stashed in my planner, which I used to write down important phone numbers, is actually a page torn out of my “Stuff White People Like” daily calendar. Apparently, according to Friday, July 23, white people like Following Their Dreams. By SWPL logic, maybe I am a dreamer, but I generally think of myself as a practical person. An acquaintance recently asked me, “What’s your dream?” I didn’t know what to say. “Um… I’m living it,” I told him. Which is true! But after this dream year, I don’t know. My only ideas so far have been limited by logistical considerations. But this year is an incredible opportunity for me to let go of practicality, let go of logistics, and live like a dreamer.

Stuff White People Like, I guess you’ve defined my life again.

Anyway, to sum up the last two and a half weeks, here’s  a BEST-OF LIST:

Best dressed: Maria, and the other women of Quiejel

Here’s Maria. I visited this village with Lucia and Mirna for a workshop on determining product costs and was blown away by their amazing hand-woven designs– every woman’s huipil is unique. I’m thinking of trying to spend a week or two there in late October to learn how to weave their brocada patterns. Mirna with other Quiejel ladies:

Honorable mention (best effort?)


Dancers and band members in the Dia de  Independencia parade on September 15th.

Best walk: around Santiago Atitlán


Last Saturday in Santiago, I spent most of the day walking: through the market and the parque central,  into the church (built in 1584, it was a place of refuge for local indigenous people during the civil war), losing myself down winding callejones, finally descending through plots of banana trees, corn and beans to the peaceful water’s edge.

I ended up at the half-submerged lakeside park-turned-swimming-pool, where the season’s heavy rain and high water levels made lots of kids happy.

Cutest kids


These kids distracted me the whole time I was in Quiejel. Adorable.

Best sunset (tie)

Walking home over the bridge one night, with the orange streetlight glow mingling and purple clouds over the volcanoes. Also this:

Best newly honed skill


I am becoming an excellent fryer of plantains. Just look at that
beautiful caramelization!

Most surprising source of entertainment: The Cycle Messenger World Championships

I admit that when the bike messengers first arrived in town I was  mostly amused by the abundant elaborate messenger bags, brightly  colored bikes, and silly little hats. But watching them tearing around  the cobblestone streets of Panajachel during their four-hour final race was pretty impressive. Chaos at the start:

Best snack: Churros

Churros (terrible picture, sorry) from the temporary stands set up for the Independence Day festivities. They’re probably the closest thing to Minnesota State Fair mini donuts I’ll find in Guate.

Best market haul


My week’s worth of groceries at the Pana Sunday market for 82 quetzales- just over  $10!! It yielded a delicious chao mein stir fry that has kept me well fed for a couple days.  (Chao mein is a big thing here… Globalization. What a  strange phenomenon.)

Most eagerly anticipated event (three way tie)
1. Beginning my volunteer project in Xeabaj II tomorrow!!

2. Starting weaving lessons on Saturday!!! At the weaving center in San Antonio Palopó:

Quitapenas (worry dolls)

Additional source of excitement about weaving lessons: Vivian has great taste in pets…

3. Playing pickup ultimate on Sunday in Antigua!!!

Best decision: Connecting with Oxlajuj B’atz’

Reto, which means challenge, was one of the first new vocabulary words I learned when I started work with Oxlajuj B’atz’. There are endless challenges in fighting the cycles of dependency and oppression that Mayan women face. Despite numerous setbacks caused by the whims of the weather and the inherent frustrations of doing NGO work in remote communities, I’m so happy I decided to stick around.

Every Tuesday when the full staff of six women meets, and every time I go to a community workshop, I’m impressed by the foresight, commitment to democratic organization, and dedication of the OB staff. They don’t take any shortcuts, thoughtfully analyze every obstacle, and are so conscientious of the ever-present  goal of fostering independence and self-sufficency in the artisan groups.  Their thoughtfulness and passion are visible in their pedagogy, the way that they treat the women and each other. And on top of that they have gone out of their way to welcome  and accomodate me. Amazing.

Adios, and thanks as always for reading.

(I promise I’ll work on asking other people to take pictures of me. If
I don’t start soon I’m going to end up with a year’s worth of photos
of me taken awkwardly at arm’s length.)

Advertisements

3 responses to “we grow great by dreams

  1. love traveling along with you, madeline!! thanks for sharing with us.

  2. Madeline, it’s fun to hear that you’re dreaming. Your list of “greatest” things provides a wonderful picture of all that you’re experiencing. The colorful huipiles can almost replace the vivid colors of fall in Minnesota! Be well.

  3. You are so cool. I love your photos, and loved talking to you tonight. Talk to you in 20 days!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s