Saturday, November 23, 2013

Antigua and San Miguel Escobar: Monday, December 15

I never got a chance to finish this blog post almost five years ago! So here it is, with what I can remember.

We started the morning out with an early walk to the town square and a delicious breakfast at Cafe Condesa.

We took a tuk-tuk to the nearby town of San Miguel Escobar to go on a coffee tour with As Green As It Gets.

We saw where they grew the coffee.

And how they processed it.

We saw their textile side business, and I bought a coffee bag shoulder bag.

We saw more of where and how they grow the coffee.

And roast it...

Michael made a large purchase of coffee.

Then we were driven back to Antigua in the back of a truck. We saw town sights on our way back.

Wow, that view coming back into Antigua!

That afternoon, we ventured into the market and had a very local lunch.

Then it was time to get ready to pack up and head home.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Support girls' and women's education in the developing world

Looking for a great little holiday gift and a way to support some worthy charities?

Check out my new fundraiser:

Gonna Make a Change Candles

I have designed four hand-poured soy candles in unique tins that are perfect for holiday gift-giving!

One hundred percent of the net proceeds are donated to Mayan Families and Central Asia Institute.

Check out the website for more info!

Sunday, May 30, 2010

URGENT UPDATE: Disaster in Guatemala

Hi all, I know you have not heard from me in a long time. I have been so busy with being a new mom that I have not had time to update Gonna Make a Change in a while.

However, I did want to leave this note quickly.

Guatemala has seen several horrific natural disasters in the past week: a volcano erruption, earthquakes, and now Hurricane Agatha. The places that Michael and I traveled to have been hit very, very hard.

People who were struggling to survive have now lost everything.

If you have read and enjoyed my account of our trip to Guatemala, I ask you to please consider donating any amount to Mayan Families, the grassroots non-profit that Michael and I support there.

Here is an update for now from the orgaization:

Sharon has lost her back bathroom and storage area into the river. We have evacuated her house and the office. The rest of the office is still intact but we are concerned the building foundations have been compromised.

We will need to rent office space ASAP, as we will be inundated immediately with requests for help from desperate people who have lost their homes and possessions.

All the Mayan Families staff are safe, however a few have lost their homes and others are in danger of losing theirs.

There are many people in emergency shelters, lots of people have lost everything.

There is desperate need for food and shelter. Any financial help no matter how small which will help feed and shelter people would be greatly appreciated.

You may remember young Glendy who works for Mayan Families, who lost her mother last year has now lost her home as well. She and her 5 brothers are now homeless.

Mayan Families needs your support more than ever, as our offices have been damaged and are not functional.

Please, if you were considering donating this our hour of Need!!

Please send donations via general fund, so we can get our new office operational as soon as possible.

Thank you for your prayers and support.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Belated Mother's Day picture

I got a photo from Mayan Families this week of the Mother's Day basket we sent to the Cumpar family.

Look at how much baby Antonio (the mother's baby) has grown! And Candelaria is looking more mature, herself.

Unfortunately, I have not had much time to devote to Guatemala this year, since we are expecting our first child and just moved from the city to a house in the suburbs.

But it is something I plan to go back to once we get settled into our new lives.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

New blog!

I am pleased to announce the launch of my new blog, Gonna Make a Change - Motherhood at

Please check it out in the coming days and let me know what you think!

I will be including pictures, updates, what I'm reading, a list of my favorite pregnancy/childbirth/parenting blogs, some cool widgets, and more. Let me know if you have anything I should add!

Also, I would be extremely honored if you could add me to the blogs you follow. :-)

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Finally blogging again

It's been quite a month since my last post. We had to put our dog, Othello, down after his cognitive degeneration progessed. I had started to write a tribute to him that I was going to post here, but I didn't have a chance to finish it. I will at some point.

Thankfully, there have been a lot of positive things keeping us occupied.

For one, I am now 23 weeks pregnant. Three weeks ago, Michael and I found that we are having a boy. I am now very much showing, as you can see above. And last week I finally started feeling kicks! Now I feel them quite often. It turns out the placenta has been in the front, so it was acting as a cushion, preventing me from feeling movement sooner.

We are also getting ready to move out to the suburbs, if all goes as planned. While we love our cozy condo in Jersey City, it isn't where we want to raise kids. Both of us have been longing for a big backyard, and hopefully we will have one come mid-June. Fingers crossed till the closing, though!

I am trying to decide what I want to do about blogging. My life is in the process of changing immensely, and I will not be able to pursue one of the main themes of this blog -- adventure philanthropy/voluntourism -- for the time being. I do intend to pick it back up once our child/children is/are here and a bit older. However, right now, the adventure I'm about to embark on is that of becoming a parent, and I need to give that my full attention.

So, I am wondering whether I should continue this blog but with a different focus, or if I should put this blog on hold and start a new one. I do want to keep writing and taking pictures and sharing stories with you, my readers. If you have any thoughts or suggestions, please let me know!

Thank you again for reading! I still have some travel tales I haven't yet blogged, so whatever happens, I will be posting some new stories of my past journeys when I get a chance. As I have said so many times before, stay tuned....

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Quick Guatemala Update

Here's a picture of the Cumpar kids with their Easter/Semana Santa basket. Looks a lot healthier than last year's basket!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Back to the real world!

Hi all, I'm sorry for the lag in communication! Things got crazy again with work, and then Michael and I took a much-needed vacation this past week to the Caribbean.

Our destination was the island of St Martin/Sint Maarten, which has both a French and a Dutch side, hence the two different names. We were on a bareboat yacht charter, which means that we rented a sailboat for a week, and Michael captained it. The crew was myself and two of our couple friends, Miles and Sarah and Kelly and Letham.

The boat was our floating hotel and our means of getting from place to place. In the end, we visited both sides of the island, the country/island of Anguilla and of St Barths.

Michael and I originally got together as the indirect result of a charter he organized for New Year's 2006 in the British Virgin Islands. This was our first time back on a boat together...and most likely our last major trip before the birth of our child. So it had lots of special significance.

Here are some of my favorite photos from our time there:

Local restaurant in Marigot, St Martin. Supposedly, our fave traveler, Anthony Bourdain, had eaten here and recommended it.

Palm Sunday procession in Marigot, St Martin.

The procession continues down the hill.

Marigot bay

A taste of the turquoise water yet to come on the trip.

View from a patisserie in Marigot.

Closer look at the architecture and boats.

Sunset in Grand Case, St Martin -- looking towards the ocean

And looking in towards the bay

Gorgeous views until it got completely dark

And then the lights...

Boat life

Michael taking a break on deck

Michael as captain

An unexpected sign in Orient Bay, St Martin

Me in Orient Bay

Little bird and bananas at a restaurant in Ille Pinel, St Martin. Early morning, before all the people arrived.

Peace and quiet before the crowds arrive

Dinghy dock and cafe in St Barths

Michael in St Barths, mega yachts behind him

Anglican church in St Barths

Michael and I on the deck of our boat

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Santiago de Atitlan to Antigua: Sunday, December 14

Dear Readers, Thank you so much for all of your well wishes on our pregnancy! I can't wait to blog all about it.

But I feel like there is some unfinished business to take care of before I move on to this exciting new stage: I have to finish the story of our December trip to Guatemala. I still haven't shown you some of the most beautiful scenes I saw during our travels. And there still are some stories to tell. So let me begin wrapping this up...

The following morning, we had breakfast in the lodge and, sadly, got ready to leave. This was such a relaxing place, and the physical beauty of the area was just astounding. I made sure to take some last pictures.

From our table in the lodge, we looked out onto the road to see people passing on foot, tuk-tuk, and in the backs of pickups.

I was glad I finally got a shot of the pickup means of transport that is so common around here.

I took a walk down to the Posada's lakefront property.

The scenes were just so majestically beautiful, the clouds just hovering over the mountains.

I wished we had time to stay for another dip in the pool.

Or to take a canoe around the lake...we hadn't had time for that.

The fishermen looked so peaceful and meditative in their solo boats.

Ahh, we will have to come back.

I took a last look at the lounge chairs and the little sauna hut.

And then one more time back to the lodge.

I decided to try shooting a video on my way up the path to our room, as I tried to catch my breath, due to the elevation.

We packed up, and our taxi was waiting to take us to Antigua.

We drove around Lake Atitlan, and we caught a glimpse of CFCA's Guatemala facility. When we were just about to leave the lake behind, we got this panoramic vista. It was too good to pass up -- we asked the driver to stop, so we could take some more pictures.

After that, we drove through unbelievably beautiful and little inhabited country to get to the main road. We traveled up and down steep inclines and saw meadows and streams. There was no real place to pull over and stop, and it was just a two-lane road, so I have no pictures of this part of our journey.

But I will never forget the beauty on that gloriously sunny day.

Slowly, we made our way to more and more populated areas and then to a small city, where a busy market was taking place. We started seeing signs for Antigua. And then we were back in the city that had marked the conclusion of our trip last April, as well.

Last time, we had had dinner at Casa Santo Domingo, an amazing hotel and museum that is a former convent. This time, in honor of our anniversary, we decided to splurge and get a room at the hotel. It still was a relative bargain, especially compared with the States.

Here's a tour of our room:

The Postcards from Antigua Guatemala I posted in January include pictures from that Sunday, as we walked around.

Here are two other photos from that afternoon:

The gate, ready to go from 2008 to 2009.

A beautiful courtyard from a small hotel where we stopped to check email.

That night, we thoroughly enjoyed the hot tubs and big pool in one of the hotel's courtyards and then had a gourmet meal by candlelight in the restaurant. Heaven!