Guatemala 2014

I am so grateful for this business. It has allowed me to travel and meet cyclists from all over the United States. I was able to purchase my Madsen back in 2012 with proceeds from bike hats. This past year was the best yet and here's what I did: I took my family to Guatemala for two weeks over winter break.

I first visited Guatemala on a summer studio to study bioclimatic architecture way back in 2003. We went all over the country for nearly six weeks and I've missed the smell of woodsmoke in the air and the taste of refried black beans for breakfast since then. So when a friend of mine asked if my family and I would like to travel with her and her two children over winter break to take Spanish classes in Guatemala I naturally jumped at the opportunity.

We flew in on a Sunday evening and hopped in a van to meet our host family in Antigua. For the next week (except Christmas Day) we walked over to our school for four hours of one-on-one Spanish class in the morning. My teacher Paola was a total taskmaster and a former architecture student to boot. She drilled two verb tenses into my brain in just four days. My son was happy to have someone to listen to him jabber in his Spanglish and play games with him for four hours each morning. Oh, and the school was set in a tropical paradise of a garden next to the ruins of a colonial church. Upon leaving Antigua Ana - the mom of our host family - exclaimed that I could understand nearly everything in Spanish but my speaking left a bit to be desired.... guess I will just have to go back.

Our intent for the second week was to stay in a village on the western shore of Lake Atitlan and take Spanish classes across the lake in one of the busier towns.  We sort of slacked and never made it to class but we did get plenty of practice in that week. The little hotel where we stayed had a lovely girl staying with the family who took care of the property who was fluent in Mayan (K'echi? There are over 30 dialects of the Mayan language.), Spanish and English and whom our children fell in love with instantly. We boated around the lake nearly every day which might have been the kid's favorite part of the trip besides tromping around with their new friend.

We were back in Antigua for one night before leaving for an overnight trip back to Chicago and lived it up at a hotel with pool in a gorgeously renovated Spanish colonial building.

My favorite part of the trip? It might have been the trip to the market in one of the small towns at the lake. Or the visit to the cooperative of women weavers that used natural dyes to color their yarn. Or swimming again in Lake Atitlan that seems to be just below the clouds. Or maybe it was sitting in the morning with a cup of coffee learning Spanish. Or eating refried beans for breakfast every day. Or seeing the parade on Christmas Eve and then sipping Margaritas at Frida's with Amos while Avery played outside on the cobblestone pedestrian street? Or spending time with a friend and her two children. Whatever moment it was thank you for purchasing my caps. I am so grateful.