My first home improvement project

Among the few furnishings provided in our new apartment was a dining table with 6 upholstered chairs. While the glass top table was nice, the condition of the seat cushions was sad as they were badly soiled and dirty.


It took several attempts but I finally found a good, name brand glue gun that worked so I could start my project.


I’ve never upholstered seat cushions before but was pleased with the huge improvement!



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Our new 2 bedroom apartment!

We first stayed in housing with our school but they only had room for us for 3 weeks, so with the help of our teachers, we would walk the streets close to school during class time and see if we could find an apartment to rent.

Around the corner from the school we saw this gate with a “for rent” sign.



Rony (Don’s teacher) got on his cell phone, called the number and made arrangements for us to see the apartment. Walking through the gate the next morning with our teachers and the land lady, this is the view we saw.


Our “apartamento” is the one in back on the second floor on the right.

After living for 10 months in Mexico City in a room that was 10′ x 12′, the apartment seemed huge! It came with minimal furniture but for us it was perfect.

Don and I bought two folding tables that we use as desks in the second bedroom. I bought some Mayan designed fabric as “table cloths” in a fabric store. I also purchased hand woven Mayan fabric pieces from a woman named Maria who comes to our school each week to sell her indigenous tapestries. These hang above our desks.



Not a lot of room for company, because we only have two chairs in our little living room (sala)! It’s tiny but cute.


Our kitchen is tiny, with a little “camp” sized cooktop hooked up to a propane tank out that side door to our little patio.


All apartments and homes have a patio of some sort for washing clothes and hanging them up to dry.  I use this a lot to hand wash clothes I don’t want going to the lavanderia.  There’s a translucent covering and it opens to a light shaft.


All in all, we love our new little casa!

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Easy democracy

A couple of weeks or so ago, over a period of a number of days, a super long line of people would patiently wait (some days in rain and drizzle) to do “something” in a little office just across the street from our apartment.

long-line-office-smallSo I snapped a picture out of curiosity.

Another day or so later, the line was really long so I snapped another picture.  The line that day kept going (to the left in the picture) and around the corner.  So this time, in my beginner Spanish, I walked up to the line and asked what was going on.

long-line-corner-smallI was told they were in line to register to vote.  Wow.  Unbelievable.  They were waiting to get into this little electoral office to sign up to vote.

electoral-office-smallI’ve since reflected we Americans would never tolerate standing for hours in line to register to vote.  We’ve got it easy.  We have multiple ways to register.  But then lots of us don’t vote.

We have easy democracy.  Maybe too easy.  I don’t know.  But I do know Guatemalans take their voting seriously.

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Outta gas!

Late this afternoon (Sunday), Leslie was cooking and the burner went out.  I was out so she called me and gave me the news.  No problem I thought, because everyone’s on small propane gas tanks and when they run out, you just call the little gas store in the neighborhood and they’ll bring a full tank around in 15-20 minutes or so.

But with my (still) limited español, I wasn’t ready to call so I just walked there – closed!

Hmm – but I’d also known about this other place in the back alley on the way to our lavandería (laundry) so I thought I’d check it out.


The door was open so I tentatively walked into the private courtyard and cried out “Hola” (hello or hi) a few times.  Ah – success!  I found a corner where  a number of tanks were sitting and in limited español explained my problem.  However, I also knew there are different tank nozzles and you’ve got to pick the correct gas distributor for your tank.  Didn’t know if these folks had the same type tank as mine, so I said I’d bring my tank over and they’d take a look at it.

Yes! They looked at my empty tank and said their tanks would fit with my little distributor valve back in the apartment, so I paid 110 quetzales (about $14) for 35 pounds of gas.  The full tank I knew would be about 50 pounds to carry back so Leslie came along with me to help carry it back a couple of blocks.

We’re somewhat curiosities here in town.  Even though Xela is a huge destination point for foreigners wanting to learn Spanish, we still get lots of looks (especially blondes like Leslie).  So two very much foreigners carrying a tank of gas through the local street drew interest!

Before we left the courtyard, I asked the young boy who brought out our new tank to take our picture.


Sandra, the woman from whom I bought the tank, and her kids loved looking at the picture so I asked if I could take theirs. Sure!  But who really loved looking at the “family portrait” were the two little kids!


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The irony of it all

I was in the busy food court of the Pradera mall the other day and, looking around, noticed only one vendor had a line.



Taco Bell.  Of all the places where you can eat ‘real’ “Mexican food” in town or at home, this is where the crowd lined up – for (American) “Mexican” food!


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