Wednesday, February 24, 2010






Feliz Compleanos! We celebrated La Cambalachas 7th birthday on Friday with a guest musician from the city coming to help celebrate. Using a make-shift altar from one of the flat stones in the garden everyone brought gifts to offer and lit candles to mark the day. What an accomplishment, delighted to be part of this occasion and know that this organisation that celebrates the arts with local youths will flourish even more in time to come. 7 cakes helps the celebration!

Friday, February 12, 2010

A daily taste...!

According to the Mayan calendar posted near this computer today is NO´J KumkÚ ´Wayeb´ or the 12th February (but the new year starts on the 22nd Feb…I´ll have to find out more about that!). I woke up at seven am today to find that the San Pedro Volcano that casts a remarkably imposing view (a mere 3020 metres elevation) had disappeared in the haze of the morning. I crave some of the delicious fresh fruit that is in abundance here, pineapple, melon, bananas (and mini bananas!), watermelon, papaya. I head down from the grounds of La Cambalacha on the rocky dirt track into ´town´ for some yoga to start me off today. San Marcos La Laguna is one of the most beautiful spots there is to visit on the lake here and as many people come for a time of relaxation there is a constant source of places to do yoga! My flexibility can definitely do with much improvement but it is a great way to start my day! I came back up the hill to see that the mountain that we are on is starting to clear up and I know it is going to be another warm one.

Luckily here on the grounds we have plenty of coverage from the heat of the day from the bamboo and corrugated plastic roofs and many tropical trees. So the youth group that come here four times a week is usually split up into different groups JAIH and JAI according to age and experience and suitability to the activities.
They arrive here at 8am either from here in San Marcos or on a pick-up or tuc-tuc from San Pablo the next town over and start off with some chores, everyone has their designated area to look after-sweeping and clearing areas and putting all the organic waste in its proper area for dumping. There is a very organized area for all recycling that is maintained on a daily basis; paper, plastic, cans are ordered into different sections.
Charlie is our onsite botanist and tree-lover (amongst many of his expertise) and he shares his knowledge on maintaining a good garden with all the youngsters-the herb garden is used for nearly every meal and the avocado tree that grows over my room has avocados the size of a small child´s head but they let out an alarmingly loud thump everytime one falls that you would swear you were under attack! I can spot some banana trees, papayas and trees with beautiful flowers that attract hummingbirds throughout the day.
Classes throughout the day include warm-up activities, dance, theater and social awareness, gymnastics, acrobatics, arts and crafts, guitar and drumming. We have constantly changing different workshops from people of all walks of life. Today the poet Rosa Chavez is doing a workshop on Mayan culture with the whole group and I can hear many laughs from them as they do different activities.

Lunch is massive and soo tasty here made with the talent of Angela who uses every pot and pan in the kitchen and loves to taste it all with her fingers as she goes. We have also noticed that whether she is cooking for one or for 100 there is the same catastrophic pile-up of crockery, vegetables and their remains, boiling pots and containers of sauces and chilies scattered around the kitchen!

I have just finished a cuppa organic coffee (that I ground down this morn in a grinder that looks similar to one you would make to squeeze out sausages!). We have a younger group coming this afternoon that I must prepare for. They come twice a week and have energy to burn! My organisational skills are being tested here but they are very talented with their hands---lanterns are the way to go today!
video



Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Traditional wear! Yvonne, Aisling, Nora, Sean and Eoghan-looking lovely at our intercultural dayand the teenagers practising for their Inclusion orientated performance in the dance studio-they came up with ideas through exercises and using their own experiences and talents.



Saturday, January 9, 2010

Day 6 in the La Cambalacha house!

This is the wonderful Gabi in her performance workshop with Sean, Isaac, Steve and Ali
 Yvonne's birthday! After weeks of learning "diecisiete" (17)she finally had her "compleanos"(birthday) here surprised by not one but two cakes made deliciously by Nora (cake cutter in this pic) and Ronan(eyes closed in delight)! Robert watches on waiting intently for a piece while Steve, Jennifer, Isaac and Yvonne dig in!

This is our first workshop day lead by the oh so energetic Lore! We designed envelopes that we can put notes into for each other. I was surprised by the level of depth and sincerity the local teenagers have in describing their designs and their hopes to learn from and share with us! 

Today we had a 3 and a half hour treck up the mountains. After 'muchos' suncream slapped on and water bottles galore stored in bags and we headed off in the beautiful sunshine at 8.30 in the morning! With 17 strong and an adventurous doggie we took up a great pace, with a stop for smoothies and incredible views. Some nice steep hills and rocky paths kept us on our toes as we met many locals carrying huge bags of chopped up firewood along this endless path! After a delicious local lunch in Santa Cruz we grabbed a lancha (boat) back to our current home in San Marcos.  Spirits are high especially as our two very patient bag-less members finally got their luggage -only 4 days after the initial proposed time! Jennifer said she hugged her bag for 10 minutes and Steve said he is gona wear all his clothes!

Most imaginative fact of the day was won by Sean;
He dreamt he was a bowl of cornflakes!......surrounded by some hungry folk!

I shall post again soon 
xx

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

WE are HERE!!

It was some journey getting here but so worth it. 
Flew from Cork to Amsterdam at 6am Sunday morning (after no sleep the night before -everyone all excited and hoping we all packed the necessities in as little space as possible) then onto Panama (which I must try find some fotos from some of our teenagers). The views as we approached the city were just incredible-soo much greenery and fields and surrounded by seemingly endless mountains and then sooo many skyscrapers on the waters edge! Then onto Guatemala with a brief stop-off in Nicaragua-only two luggage bags didnt make it (while one extra one did!..long story but we miss you Theresa!) 


Finally we are here in the wonderful La Cambalacha up in the hills overlooking the volcanic mountains that surround Lake Atitlan.  It feels like paradise in the jungle here. It is a very different world! But the teenagers are embracing it and laughing all the way-what a great bunch to be sharing this experience with! 

There have been so many games that they/we play in our free time and co-ordinated as part of workshops-their energy is contagious-I havent played Donkey, Stop the Bus (which we used to call scategories in primary school) and Ludo for yonkers years-what a laugh! 

We all have our chores which help us learn about the running of such an important place that LA CAmbalacha is -recycling is used first hand again almost immediately for example; plastic bottles are stuffed to make the insides of walls! There is also an organic toilet that I wont go into too much detail....

The people here are ridiculously friendly-everytime you pass someone they greet and smile. The pace of life is much slower here-another brief example-we planned lunch in a beautiful restaurant overlooking The Lake days in advance and still waited a good while before it came out-(someone ordered food before the group of 16 of us sat down we all ate and were leaving when his meal was being served!) But soo worth it-possible the tastiest burrito I've ever had.

We have an amazing cook here in La Cambalacha -Anjela (An-kh-ala) who has been spoiling us, my Christmas gluttony has been replaced with fresh fruit!!!!! homemade bread, huevos, frijoles, tortillas, lots of different types of chilies! jams, coffeee!!! 

Ok soooo much has happened that this feels like just a brief lowdown so far I will be posting again soon as long as we don't have internet problems etc!

xxx
Hasta luego