let’s talk

Written Monday, July 8


Today’s lunch: a perfectly ripe mango, a bowl of fresh pineapple, and pretzels dipped in peanut butter and then studded with chocolate chips. Coffee, too.


Jovita asked for money again. This time she wanted ten days worth of advance pay because her highschool son can’t pay his tuition fees. I said no. She left crying. I felt like crap off and on for the next few days, but then she showed up this morning and acted perfectly fine.

She did, however, have another request: could you please write me a letter of recommendation? I gladly, happily, joyfully wrote one heck of a beautiful letter because I’m all over helping people get better work. She says she’s going to continue with us, but who knows.

Really, who knows, because after Jovita left, another woman named Clara showed up at the door to see if I needed house help. Clara is married to Domingo, the head worker here at the ranch, and she has been working at another house on this property. Clara informed me that she heard Jovita say that today is her last day working for the gringa.

What makes everything all the more confusing is that this woman, Clara, used to be working for another home on this same ranch and then she quit, or got fired or something, and now Jovita is working there (or so say my children and the rest of the world), so are they just swapping places or what?

Do you find this as confusing as I do?


Really, I don’t hardly care about having house help at this point because tomorrow we leave for two weeks of buses, beaches, retreats, and vacations. We go to El Salvador and then Nicaragua and at the end of everything, we rent a truck (independence!) and zip up into the Nicaraguan mountains where we will spend a few days visiting the community where we lived for three years and had our first baby.

We are so excited to get out, explore, visit, and play. What we’re not so excited about is the bus rides, especially the 18-hour return trip. I’m trusting the bus company will play lots of R-rated movies for my children’s viewing pleasure. That’ll help pass the time.


Newsflash: getting visas renewed is a cross between falling off the Cliffs of Insanity and Groundhog Day. We have them now, though, so hallelujah.


I’m reading The Boy Who Harnessed The Wind. In the book, there is a horrific famine (redundancy alert!), and now I’m craving corn, the grain they so desperately wanted and needed but couldn’t get. I guess I’m in the right place to crave corn…

Also, the book has raised my standards for teenage awesomeness. I’m tempted to tell my son that he can’t get an iPod, a car, or a girlfriend until he does something amazing like build a windmill.


My older daughter turned twelve on Friday.

New: earrings, huipil, and one pound of bubble gum. 

Well, that’s when we celebrated it, anyway. We’ll be at the beach on her real birthday (poor kid), and I didn’t much want to lug her gifts and giant piñata across Central America. Plus, the ice cream cake with double-fake whipped cream (powdered milk with a powdered whipped cream mix) wouldn’t have fared very well.


I’m not taking my computer on the trip.  

Headband crown courtesy of my younger daughter.

The thought of not blogging for two-and-a-half weeks makes me
semi-panicked. I love to write! It’s how I think! It’s how I process!
It’s how I stay mentally (albeit, questionably) stable! I have a couple posts squirreled away—I’ll publish them if/when I get to an internet café.

The camera’s coming, though. Expect some epically long blog posts upon our return.



  • Rachelle

    Everyone's already said what I was going to say, but I'll say it anyway! Have fun and I will miss your posts. 😀

  • Jennifer Jo

    Re R-rated movies. Yes, sometimes. Thank goodness (most of) the children can't read the subtitles fast enough to catch the swear word translations, but as for the sex and violence, well…we're screwed.

    However, the only movie we've seen so far (and we're in El Salvador now, at the beach—BE JEALOUS) is First Dog, so no scarring so far.

  • Monica

    I just came across your blog, but I am trying to find out how and why you are in Chamelco? I lived there once, and it's making me cry seeing pictures of a town I love. It makes me wonder if you know people I know. I know all about what it's like to be a white girl in Q'eqchi' corte. I know what it's like to have people not trust me. And I know how the people feel about gringos and mission trips. Mostly, though, I know how much I love the Q'eqchi' people. I love them. I miss them. I wish I could be there right now. I hope you have a chance to visit Polochic more in depth. Chamelco has some of the best Q'eqchi' in Guatemala, and that's not my original opinion. Any educated Q'eqchi' person will tell you that. If you get the chance, I hope you can visit the Chulac region (on the way to El Estor).

  • the domestic fringe

    Happy Birthday to your daughter! That's a beautiful photo of her.

    Hope you enjoy your trip. We'll miss you.

    The whole hired help thing is quite the drama, isn't it? Who would have figured!

  • Camille

    Have a fabulous time away. I am sure there will be adventures and they will be entertainingly blogged about on your return. Have fun! 🙂 Hugs to you, Camille

  • Margo

    oh shucks. I'll miss you! I hate when bloggers go away in the summer! Enjoy yourselves. That photo of your girl is just about my favorite almost-teenager photo ever. Speaks volumes.

  • Anonymous

    I totally agree with the above comment and look forward to your "epically long" blog post AND beautiful pictures. The birthday picture of your daughter — earrings and bubble gum — is priceless. Have a great trip! (Hope you are kidding about the R rated movies??) ~Sherry

  • Unknown

    We will miss you. Your thoughtful and always intriguing posts are a lift out of my everyday ordinary world. Hope you have a great trip though, and it'll be great to see your pictures when you return. Safe travels!

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