Guatemalan Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • 2 1/4 cups flour
    • purchased at a grocery store with a wandering armed guard
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 over ripe banana
    • Purchased a week ago from the lady at the market that sold me a dozen for about a dollar
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup butter or margarine
    • I am so against using margarine, but it is the cheapest and most accessible option for me right now. Butter is triple the price and I have to walk about a mile to get it. Not suitable for late night cookie needs.
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp baking soda
    • That I had to purchase at the pharmacy where they keep it behind the counter and take your name down to purchase. Wonder why…
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup peanuts minced
    • Because peanut butter is expensive, and I can found a pound of peanuts for about a dollar
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
    • Taken from the two pounds I also bought at the pharmacy. They’re more like chips pretending to be chocolate, because the real thing was the equivalent of $10.

Combine sugars, butter, banana, vanilla, egg and salt. Then add flour and baking soda slowly. Finally, add chocolate chips and peanuts. Grease a sheet and place cute little balls of dough on there. Stick it in your oven a temp that feels right. There’s no numbers on my oven, and watch them. If they get fluffy and stay fluffy, you’ve done it right. If they fall flat, you probably did something wrong, but who knows really?

Eat cookies until you feel satisfaction. I suggest no more than three.

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By the River

“Why are there flowers by the water,” I ask even though I know the answer. I asked her the same thing two years ago. Sometimes it’s just nice to hear the words twice. People put the bouquets next to the river to thank god for the water, to ask for rain, and in remembrance of loved ones passed. “All of the agriculture depends on this,” she says after explaining one more time and gesturing to the turquoise blue water pooling in between and running over moss covered rock. I can see steps reminiscent of the ones I’ve seen at the ruinas peaking out of the shinny slime, and I imagine Mayan people washing their clothes, gathering, and playing here centuries before just as they are now. Bright colors of huipils and soda bottles reflect off the clear water as I watch a man jump off a rock into the cold water. I consider doing the same.

While I drove up the dirt road to Rio Blanca with my two friends, I allowed my eyes to momentarily wander to admire the beautiful fields separated by aqueducts carrying water from the rivers inward, irrigating fields of white cloth covered tomatoes, garlic, onion, radish, and more. I haven’t seen rain since I left the United States. The curling leaves on the lemon trees in my backyard beg for it, and I could use a cleansing rinse myself. I studied sustainable agriculture in college, but this type of irrigation is by necessity not trying to spare resources for later. The beauty of theories in practice successfully as they’ve been working for years and years carries my mind to Berea and back quickly to avoid a motorcycle in my path.

Aguacatan’s rivers allowed me to pretend I was at Norris Dam, and it’s mountains brought back visions of Colorado in the summer time. I’m not missing the US, though. Just the people I love there. Maybe it’s the weekend jaunts, coffee dates, or community, but I’m feeling accustomed to my new life right about now.

(1 month & 1 week)

Market

Bees crawl in and out of clear plastic wrapping stealing bits of sugar from tough pastries. I consider purchasing them anyway due to their donut-like resemblance, but I move on remembering the disappointment I found in my last visit. I purchase potatoes and carrots at the door to the stalls before stepping over a small cage of brightly colored chicks and pushing through a crowd of people selling everything from underwear to plastic bags to ask about the blackberries that are calling my name across the street.

“5 a pound,” says the woman as she sees me eying their juicy flesh. A truck honks and I end up almost sitting in the blackberries. Other people are pressed up against walls to allow the truck to pass through the crowded street. After it passes, I nod and pay the lady for the blackberries, because I’m already a bit winded from arguing about broccoli and garlic, and I need to try to find the ladies selling bread before they leave. I didn’t find them though, and I settle for buying tortillas on the way home knowing I’ll be back tomorrow anyway.

A Month Gone

I left my Tennessee home just over a month ago. My late morning drive to Knoxville to work as a cook turned into a early morning walk to school to spend a long day teaching English. My nights out with friends turned into studying, reading, writing, and planning. My idea of a good time changed from drinking and playing card games to sharing coffee or a meal with someone new.

A new friend invited me to her home last weekend to share a meal. During the hours I spent there, she shared with me a delicious meal, freshly roasted coffee, and the story of how she transitioned from Ethiopia to the US to Guatemala. She sent me home with gifts and a very warm heart, but our discussion left me with a sense of purpose.

Beyou said that in our teenage years we are allowed to be a bit reckless and on an undetermined path meandering about, but by 20 years old or so, we should be looking to focus and setting objectives for our lives. She added that my time here in Guatemala is the perfect opportunity to focus on this.

Earlier this week, my boss and friend here at Ixtatan Foundation gave me a set of objectives for the semester. One of them was to improve my Spanish. Although I learn a little bit more everyday, my Spanish is still far from proficient, and tackling this language in ten months with busy days seems like an overwhelming task at the moment.

So, now after having spent the same amount of time here in Huehuetenango as I did during my first visit in 2015, I am considering spending next year here as well. I am constantly reminded of the fact that I am a foreigner, which is humbling. Teaching, although tiring, is incredibly fulfilling. I constantly feel slightly uncomfortable. Some call it masochism, I call it push for growth. I have grown and changed so much this month that even after being robbed (and the constant fear of it happening again), I’m thankful to be here, and I hope that my learning and gratitude multiply 9 fold in the coming months.

For now, I have made no concrete decisions. I walk around town everyday with as confident a face as an unsure gringa can have and a tiny knife in my pocket. In the evening, after returning home, I do what work I can before going to bed while I listen to the students upstairs speaking Chuj, crickets chirping outside, and a band practicing across the street. Life is busy here, and I am content.