Posted in Blog

Bliss~

Last week Haruka and I took a little vacation from our vacation, and ventured to Fuentes Georginas hot springs about five hours away by chicken bus. The local buses around here have taken on the moniker ‘chicken bus’ due to the fact that they tend to get packed with locals and all of their wares including chickens and anything else that may need transport from here to there. Interestingly, the Guatemalan postal system evaporated several months ago when it’s contract with a private delivery company ended. It seems that most Guatemalans were hardly affected by this as they rarely used the postal system, but instead use chicken buses to move goods from place to place. As a result, nobody other than foreign residents really seems to care about the dissolution of the postal system, and it appears likely that it won’t resurface anytime soon.

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Chicken buses provide a fascinating glimpse into local Guatemalan life, as we get to see a revolving door of different characters utilizing the bus to transport goods or commute to work or school. There is a constant flow of vendors, beggars and con artists getting on and off the buses to peddle snacks, drinks, trinkets or their stories in hopes of generating a little cash. The buses are constantly stopping en route to pick up folks who are flagging them down, and occasionally stopping for a spell in towns along the way. While the frequent stops may extend the length of our trip a bit, they give us front row seats to view fascinating street scenes, from kids playing games to hustlers working their angles to old friends meeting on the corner. And chicken buses also provide a very economical mode of travel. It cost us about $4 each to get within taxi distance of our destination…a  fraction of what a tourist shuttle would cost.

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These are refurbished, souped-up school buses from the states from days past. I think I remember that bus to Xela from the fifth grade. And the drivers seem to revel in driving them with confident abandon around curves with no guard rails on roads without lines.  If you pay too much attention to what’s happening on the road in front, You may lose hairs (if you’re a man). (If you’re a woman, you may grow hair (in weird places)). Either way, I prefer to tune into the various sights, smells and sounds inside the bus, and zone into the ever-changing viewscapes passing by…a carnival for the senses. At one point during the ride to Xela, as we were coasting down the backside of a mountain pass, I got that tingly spine feeling that lights up your whole body…you know the feeling…bliss, we’ll call it, for lack of a better word. That feeling that no matter what kind of lunacy is happening in the world, there are these simple moments that unfold to remind you how incredibly fortunate we are as humans to have this giant canvas to paint our experiences on. Now if we can all just realize that we’re all working on the same piece of art…

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Admittedly, these moments of bliss flow pretty easily, and often in rapid succession, within our current lifestyle. And indeed this is a prime reason why we shifted out of our deeply rooted life and into a more vagabond existence for a while. Certainly life on the farm provided an abundance of bliss moments, while traveling yields a completely different flavor of such moments. However, wherever I am and wherever you are, and whatever we may be doing, there’s always this interconnectedness that exists to perpetually bind everyone and everything together. And surely we all have our moments of separation from that web of connectivity, where life can feel rocky and rough, but it’s that ever present option that we all have to tap into that web that makes it possible for us to manifest that tingly spine sensation…bliss~

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Where do you find your bliss, friends?

Posted in Blog, Recipes

Traditional Mayan Cooking Course

While Jason is taking Spanish classes, I signed up for a five day cooking course where we get to cook a different Mayan dish everyday. Today we learned how to make Pepian, a traditional Mayan chicken stew. I had met Angela, the owner and Ines, my teacher, earlier last week when I signed up for the class. When I got there, they were preparing a fire in the outdoor kitchen set in a beautiful garden space. It is typical for Mayans to cook over an open fire.

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Angela setting the table.

Can you believe Ines is only 19 years old? She is very sweet and very patient for her age. She only speaks Spanish so Angela who is from Spain, is there to help translate what I don’t understand. I do find cooking to be a universal language just like music and most things you can understand by pointing and through demonstration. I appreciated the fact that the class was taught in Spanish so I could familiarize myself with the language.

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In the garden with Ines.

The three of us started by going over the ingredients of tomatoes, potatoes, tomatillos, 2 kinds of dried chile, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds and a type of squash they call guisquil pronounced wee-skill. They had already butchered the chicken and had it boiling over the fire. Thank god! We peeled and chopped the potatoes and guisquil and added it to the pot. Next we charred the chiles, tomatillos and tomatoes on a skillet over the open fire.

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Posted in Blog

The Flipside of the Same Coin

Put yourself in someone else’s shoes…The flipside of the same coin…The shoe is on the other foot. Pick your idiom. This is where we’re at these days. Where we were once the producers, we’re now the consumers. Where we were previously the teachers, we’re now the students, and I for one am loving being on this side of the coin.

Supermarkets don’t exist here on Lake Atitlan. This is the land of tiendas, small general stores that serve the basic needs of the immediate neighborhoods around them, and there are many dozens of them within walking distance of our bungalow. Each one has its own focus of goods and its own personality, and over the course of a week, we tend to visit ten or more different tiendas to get a little bit of this and a little bit of that.

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Opening of the Chrysalis

When Haruka and I made the emphatic decision six months ago to sell our farm and travel the world, we suspected that the process of literally uprooting ourselves from our thriving farm and community would be riddled with plenty of hurdles and maybe even a brick wall or two. Without going into all of the gory details, let’s just say that the hurdles got higher and the walls got stouter the deeper we plunged into that process. With just a few days left in North Carolina, and a lot of critical details still unresolved, our ability to function under pressure was being severely tested. At the peak of our stress tsunami, my good friend, David put it into perspective beautifully:

“Right now, you’re in this tiny, dark, sticky tunnel moving forward ever so slowly, but pretty soon you’re going to see some light. And you’ll jostle your way toward the light little by little, and the light will get bigger and brighter until finally the day will come when…POW…and you’ll fly out of that tunnel like a big, beautiful butterfly!”

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Posted in Blog

Farewell North Carolina

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Leaving a place you’ve called home for nearly a decade is never easy. Selling your homeplace, finding new homes for nine plus years of accumulated stuff and working out all of the other minute, but neccessary details can be positively mind-boggling.  But at the end of the day, things are things, stuff is stuff, and leaving it behind is not such a big deal once you get on the other side of the move. Actually, it feels quite liberating to whittle all of our possesions down to a load that easily fits into the back of a Subaru Outback.  It’s the beings with souls that are much more challenging to leave behind…our beautifully abundandant life-giving plot of land, our cats and the other fauna that lend sound, motion and energy to our farm, and of course, our expansive community of amazing friends!

I won’t even begin to point out all of those beautiful friends, as there are literally hundreds of them…you know who you are! But what I can say is that Haruka and I could’ve never pulled off what we did with Edible Earthscapes without the immense love and support that we’ve received from so many different angles, and I don’t say that in any sort of flippant way. The degree of gratitude we hold in our hearts for all of you being a part of our journey is something I could never adequately put into words. And speaking of journeys…As we stand here on the ledge of our next little chapter in this grand journey of life, we relish in the ability that modern technology gives us to take all of you with us. So even though we may not physically see many of you for a good, long while, we look forward to sharing our adventures with you. At the moment we’re enjoying some down time with family in Texas and preparing for our departure to Guatemala in a few days. Stay tuned friends!

Posted in Blog

Practice Makes Perfect

When I was growing up, I often joined my mom in the kitchen and helped her prepare meals. First it was just setting the table, then chopping, then sauteing, then deep-frying. I have always enjoyed making food. A few years ago, I decided it was time to learn how to fillet fish for sashimi and I went to my mom to ask her to teach me. She simply said, go get a fish and practice…I kinda chuckled that she wasn’t gonna give me a hands on workshop but I totally see her point, if you want to get better at cooking you must spend your time in the kitchen.

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