1000 Word Wednesdays – April 2nd 2014

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El Pollo

Count Cluckula

Here we have El Pollo (the chicken). If you are not interested in the lifestyles and hobbies of el pollo, I suggest you leave right now! Otherwise stick around for 1000 words or less about this particular chicken.

Our story starts at our neighborhood in Puerto Barrios. Our house sits within concrete walls, but even that was not enough to stop the terror lurking within.
Ants! Ants everywhere! I’m not talking about little, ole black ants; Oh no, these are jungle ants. Their bodies grow to about half an inch and they are mean! They were invading the land, completely destroying any vegetation in their way to strengthen their underground empire, and their next target was our home. The war had been waging many months before we moved down here, but now it was time to take action. *Cue Braveheart music and throw a sword in the air*

Our battle started with setting up a RAID perimeter and securing entry points. We held back a vast majority of the onslaught, but we were still losing the war. We needed to turn the tide but how?

One day, we came home from work to see our forces had recruited some new allies. Los Pollos had joined our cause and aimed to turn the tide! The Guatemalan and Americans all rejoiced in their respective languages – Cheers of “Yeeeeiiii” “Haaaaayyyy” and “All right you damn ants, this ends today!” rang through the battlefield.

Los pollos forces were few, but what they lacked in numbers they made up for with ferocity on the battlefield. Lead by their fearless leader “Count Cluckula” (pictured above), the Elite Coup Group ravaged the ants marching through the lands towards our base. Relentlessly clawing at the ground while stabbing the enemy with their razor shape beaks and pin-point accuracy, the colony had meant their match. Soon the Elite Coup Group had staged a counter-offensive! Pushing the opponent back towards their home base. It was only a matter of time before this war would end.

Everything seemed promising and the invading ant armies were in disarray! But just as the tides had turned in our favor, tragedy would once again throw this war off balance. The Elite Coup Group suffered great loss within the same day – “The Bride of Clucky” and “Count Cluckula” had been slain on the battlefield. There was little time to grieve their lose because the ants had already launched a wave of attacks against our home base.

I wish I could tell you this story has a happy ending, but that is not the case. The ants overran our base and there was nothing we could do to stop them. They controlled a small part of the kitchen and we set up boarders to prevent them from taking more of our land. Tensions ran high, but for the time being, things seemed to be at peace.

We had a memorial service for our fallen comrades and the great leader “Count Cluckula”. Here are some of the memoirs from his own personal diary and recollections regarding the Barrios Ant War of 2013:

June 26th: “Bawk! What is the meaning of life? Why are we created to harm one another?”
“Why is the sky blue?”
June 27th: “There are so many ants here. Food.”
June 28th: “War. What is it good for? Ants.”
June 29th: “It’s the weekend. What day is it?”
“I’m going to take a nap on the roof”
July 1st: “My legs hurt, I fell off the roof”
“Oh look, ants. Food.”
July 4th: “Loud noises. Fireworks. I’m going to dig in this garbage”
July 10th: “I should do more chicken things”
Today’s Goals: Do chicken things
July 15th: “Shiny things on the ground, how you glisten in the sun. You are not food. Oh shiny thing, you look delicious. Shiny thing is not food. Oh look, a shiny thing!”
July 26th: “As I live the last days of my life, I wonder about life. Why are there so many ants here. I’m hungry”
July 30th: “One my last day of life. This war will never end. What is our purpose here? I’m a chicken.”

When Count Cluckula wasn’t fending off the jungles ants, he enjoyed many hobbies, including:

  • Eating
  • Walking
  • Digging in the dirt
  • Roosting
  • Falling off the roof
  • Digging in garbage
  • Digging a roost
  • Clawing at concrete like he was trying to dig
  • Doing chicken things
  • Being a chicken
  • Pondering life
  • Forgetting things he had pondered because he’s a chicken

Count Cluckula, we will never forget the great deeds you do for us in those few months. You will be missed.

(Not exactly 1000 words but if you enjoyed this story please like, reblog, or stop by every Wednesday for a new story inspired by a real picture. If you would like to play along, leave a comment with you own story and the tag “1000 Word Wednesdays” in the comments below. I would love to come read it! Have a great day! See category “1000 Word Wednesdays” roll over for full details)

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Visual Spanish Lesson: La Calle, El Callejón, La Avenida

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Since there is no street view La Antigua, I thought we might take a little adventure through the streets (calles), alleys (callejónes)and avenues (avenidas).

Here is a fine looking street! Let's begin here! Welcome to Antigua, Guatemala Street View!

Here is a fine looking calle (street)! Let’s begin here! Welcome to Antigua, Guatemala Street View!

Adelante y derecha! (Forward and right)

Adelante y derecha! (Forward and right)

 

Traveling down "Valle de Santiago" street.

Traveling down “Valle de Santiago” (Valley of Saint James)

After reaching the intersection, we take a left onto "Callejón del Burrito"

After reaching the intersection, we take a left onto “Callejón del Burrito”

Traveling down "Callejón del Burrito"

Traveling down “Callejón del Burrito”. Slightly ahead and to the right is a store I call “Window Tienda”, because they sell things through their window.

Just so you know, "Callejón del Burrito" means "Burrito Alley". Quite possibly my favorite street in all of Guatemala.

“Callejón del Burrito” means “Burrito Alley”. Quite possibly my favorite street in all of Guatemala.

I arrive at a three way intersection. Do I take the blue path or the red path? *Cue 8-bit Nintendo music*

I arrive at a three way intersection. Do I take the blue path or the red path? *Cue 8-bit Nintendo music*

Down the red path (to the right) we have the Forbidden Volcano Aqua

Down the red path (to the right) we have the Forbidden Volcano Aqua

Down the blue path (to the left) we have the peaceful village

Down the blue path (to the left) we have the peaceful village

I make a pit stop at the shady tienda before continuing on my journey. They sell freshly made tortillas!

I make a pit stop at the shaday tienda before continuing on my journey. They sell freshly made tortillas!

Continuing down the blue path, on a street called "San Luquitas"

Continuing down the blue path, on a street called “San Luquitas”

Holy Week is coming soon, so stores and buildings are being decorated with purple banners

Holy Week is coming soon, so stores and buildings are being decorated with purple banners

I arrive to another 3 way intersection. Do I go left...

I arrive to another 3 way intersection. Do I go left…

... or right?

… or right?

I decided to continue on the road to the right. This is also a popular road for chicken buses as the bus station is nearby

I decided to continue on the road to the right. This is also a popular road for chicken buses as the bus station is nearby

The road ahead looking promising

The road ahead looking promising

There is a park and church ahead to the right! I have almost arrived

There is a park and church ahead to the right! I have almost arrived

Success! Upon reaching the 3 way intersection, I can travel left into the beautiful city of Antigua

Success! Upon reaching the 3 way intersection, I can travel left into the beautiful city of Antigua

Once you reach this road with a median, you are near the outskirts of central Antigua. Unfortunately I didn’t walk along any avenues (Avenidas) to complete the visual Spanish lesson, but both words are pretty similar so it’s not too difficult to remember! A quick review:

The Street – La Calle

Little Lucas Street

Little Lucas Street

The Alley – El Callejón

Burrito Alley!

Burrito Alley!

The Avenue – La Avenida

(Sorry, picture coming soon)

Join us next time as we trace our route to the popular Parque Central!

Que tenga un buen día! (Have a great day!)

Sunday Forest Funday!

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Fun in the rain forest!

When we started working in Puerto Barrios, we tried to take two days off a week. The days were random, so long as we go our 40 (or more) hours in a week. Since Sunday was always a slow day for us, we would take advantage of that by reliving an old tradition that started in Brookings: SUNDAY FUNDAY

Of course, being in Guatemala, Sunday Funday was a little different. We had some more options to explore and one of my favorite activities was going to the rain forest with the family! Being that it is Sunday today, what better way to celebrate than by revisiting some Sunday Forest Fundays from the past!

Getting to the rain forest wasn’t actually too difficult. The family (Erick and Glenda, with their children Fernanda, Eduardo, Rose, and the baby Rachel) would have us all jump in the bed of the pickup and we would be on our way! This was one of my favorite parts about living down here; you can ride around in the bed of a pickup and no one cares. Even the police do it!

I’ve traced a rough route (google maps wouldn’t let me get directions off the roads) we took to reach the rain forest. We would leave Puerto Barrios and enter the neighboring town of Santo Thomas. After a quick jaunt through Santo Thomas, we would be traveling down a gravel road through the mountainside.

Check out the map from our house to the rain forest

L to R: Glenda, Erick, Rose, baby Rachel, Fernanda

L to R: Glenda, Erick, Rose, baby Rachel, Fernanda

Then we just had to find a public spot or you could go to an actual rain forest reserve site, but it cost Q80 (about 10 dollars) verses the other spots that charged Q5 (about 60 cents) for parking. There were some private spots near houses or tiendas that would charge – hold your breathe – Q3 (38 cents) per person.

Leaving Santo Thomas and off into the rain forest

Leaving Santo Thomas and off into the rain forest

The big ole friendly coconut tree.

The big ole friendly coconut tree.

Winding through the mountains

Winding through the mountains

Getting closer to the waterfalls

Getting closer to the waterfalls

We favored a particular spot that had some people around but wasn’t overly crowded.

Hola gentes!

Hola gentes!

Our favorite spot

Our favorite spot

There are tons and tons of waterfalls running down the mountain, which created some nice spots that were deep enough to dive in. I called this spot the “Fallen Tree Pool”.

 

A whole lot of waterfalls

A whole lot of waterfalls

A nice little pool that was about 8-10 feet deep. Perfect for jumps or taking a quick shower under the waterfall.

A nice little pool that was about 8-10 feet deep. Perfect for jumps or taking a quick shower under the waterfall.

Aside from all the animals and critters you would see, the children loved to take turns playing in the water as well!

Lining up

Lining up

And in we go!

And in we go!

Aside from all the fun to be had at the rain forest, I was partly responsible for a traumatizing experience in Eduardo’s life. From the picture above, you can see the children lining up to jump in the water. As you moved closer to the fallen tree, the water would get much deeper. I was playing around with Eduardo, not knowing he couldn’t swim, and threw him in the deeper end of the pool. Luckily his sister was standing next to him and quickly pulled him up while giving me a scornful look. I felt terrible about it, but we later turned it into a joke. If the kids would misbehave or cause trouble, I would say “Don’t make me take you to the rain forest!” or “Do we need to take a trip to the rain forest?”

Poor guy didn't want to get into the water, but I think he forgave me later in the day. Sorry Eduardo!

Poor guy didn’t want to get into the water anymore, but I think he forgave me later in the day. Sorry Eduardo!

 

So maybe this isn’t your typical Sunday Funday, but it was something I always looked forward to after working all week. The scenery was absolutely beautiful and I always felt refreshed after swimming around in the water. Considering it was so hot and humid most of the time, the cool, crisp water felt great! Plus there was a little bread shop we would stop at in Santo Thomas. They had some delicious pastries and coffee cake. Great after a long day of adventuring in the rain forest.