A mix of super specific volunteer needs (mushroom marketing specialist), and new work from home freedom allowed C and I to visit Guatemala for three weeks in May. Three weeks is ALOT of time to spend in one place on holiday which gave us time to find great food, visit several different towns and participate in all of Guatemala’s best activities for locals and tourists. We spent the bulk of our time in Lake Atilan but also visited Antigua, Tikal, Flores and Guatemala City. I will share a separate post on the other cities we visited but Lake Atilan became our little region so after eating out ALOT, hopping on pick up trucks and becoming experts at Lancha navigation here are top picks not to miss when visiting Lake Atilan. Continue reading “Visiting Guatemala: Best Restaurants & Hotels in Panajachel, Lake Atilan & Flores”
*written while sitting by the fire in mid April listening to Sunday Sport on our only entertainment center, the one station radio.
Not that I am complaining! (maybe a little bit) One of my favorite things since moving is that there always things to do during the day, planting , cooking, reading, working (and someone to do everything with) and I don’t really miss having the TV on all of the time. Luckily to the internet, our laptops and some benefactors giving us their Netflix, Amazon Prime, Sky Player etc. passwords we are able to keep us up to date with our favorite shows as not to completely remove ourselves from modern life.
Another thing about new farm life that I am completely loving is being in one place for more than a week. Back home months would go by where I would not be in the same place for more than a week between Philly and Baltimore, work trips, friend trips and trips to Ireland it was exhausting. I say this now when we are about to leave for Guatemala for three weeks but I feel very settled and starting to feel very at home here. Excellent progress!
After a long weekend of farm work, Monday and Tuesday were designated house work days (by me). Mainly needed so I could have an excuse to sleep in and stay home.
Huge milestone of the day was my attempt to be home-y and bake banana nut bread. We had a morning drop-in from family right as the bread was going in the oven. Great success, in my head. I was unfortunately caught having left the stove on from melting the butter but at least there is definite Bonus, the bread turned out amazing. Recipe here: Avoca Banana Nut Bread. I used scales, grams and everything!
Luckily the house was the cleanest it has been since my arrival due to an entire house mopping, vacuuming and scrubbing yesterday. How different my days are now cleaning an old cottage and hanging laundry out on a line.
Second huge milestone of the day was my visit in to town to the bank and the shop where I knew not one, but two people! A girl from the Pilates class that I attended in the local community hall and someone from the football team!
Our (Because MY driving lessons are going very slowly we are an OUR whenever driving is needed) quick trip to the show was to purchase sandwich making ingredients for the Football team’s post training sandwich dinner. Orange slices and Gatorade do not seem to suffice here. The FOUR loaves of bread had to be slathered with butter before filled with our free-range egg salad, organic roast chicken (home roasted!) or tuna (Aldi’s finest cans) and placed on a tray to be delivered to the match.
Sandwiches and footballer have left, dishes are done and the immersion (??) heater is heating up my shower. Five minutes? Twenty minutes? until the shower is ready. Not too sure. There is a timer but baby steps to learning how that works. I will definitely be appreciating my unplanned hot showers during my visit back home in June. Until then very much enjoying farm and cottage activities.
Well I definitely have not done any actual work before in my life because I have never been as exhausted as I was this Saturday after a day of onion planting.
My first job ever was at the pick-your-own fruit and vegetable farm down the street that I remember very clearly as being the most difficult, awful job ever. Well my aptitude for farming has not improved in the decade of office jobs since. My first two weeks here in Ireland have been sprinkled with teaser farm jobs like feeding the cattle and repairing fences. Nothing prepared me for an entire day of onion planting followed by an entire day of stone removing.
Friday night was spent watching my third GAA match of the week down by the water in Rostellen in East Cork. For a random GAA pitch in a small town the view was amazing and a nice reminder of how cool it is that my regular life is in such a spectacular place now. The long drive and late night game (win!!) was rewarded with fish and chips to split on the way home to fuel us for the next day’s onion planting. (yum)
Onion planting, however, was not the beginning. Saturday morning we woke up at the crack of dawn ( 8 AM) to prepare for the farmers market where C’s family sells meat, jam, cordials etc. We rushed over to the house in our market clothes and a to go coffee (the entire coffee machine unplugged) to start making the sausage rolls and filling the car with inventory. I was in charge of measuring out the meat mixture into grams (blog post to come on learning an entirely new weight, temperature and distance system UGH). We arrived slightly late and quickly set up our stall before spending the first thirty minutes of the market purchasing treats from the other stalls. We came home with some unpasteurized milk and yogurt (still debating actually trying this), spinach, purple broccoli, fresh seedy bread, apples and the absolute best gluten free brownie I have ever tasted (the only gluten free brownie I have ever tasted). Next time I am getting a pan of brownies (maybe not at 2.50 a brownie, but definitely two).
After about 90 minutes of market work we were relieved of our duties and requested home to begin the onion planting. I thought we could just sprinkle some seeds on the ground and be done. Not the case. the ground had to be rotavated and de-stoned and then the little baby onions were placed very specifically a few inches apart and just about covered in ground along straight metal rods that we pulled from the metal pile. A great feeling of satisfaction after the first complete row quickly followed by the dread of seeing how many more rows needed to be completed. The rest of the day was spent carefully avoiding stepping my borrowed wellington boots on the planted onions and placing new onions in their rows. When onions were finished there was more tractor work so I would sporadically move rocks from the soil to the bucket to look like I was helping with the work. We finished the day just before dark and went home for a poorly planned lamb curry to cook. I slept right through dinner. Well I woke up for dinner and then went back to sleep and thought I might never wake up.
Bright and early the next day we woke up and returned to the farm for potato planting and continued stone removal! Unfortunately the machine for making the potato ridges(??) broke pretty quickly so we (they) prepared some more ground for the corn planting and planted some pea plans along the electric fence. I escaped during the tractor work to take Loppy dog on a walk to the river in order to avoid more stone picking up. Potato planting postponed for some time this week! In the middle of the day we were invited for a little field trip to the farm down the road to see the baby calves! Wow they were so so so so cute. The cutest little baby animals. They didn’t have teeth so they would just suck on your hand.
Such a difference a few weeks makes. Now spending my time with baby calves.
Sunday night was spent with family eating lots of Japanese food at Cork’s best (maybe only?) Japanese restaurant Miyazaki and watching Netflix’s “13 Reasons Why” (I am hooked can’t say the same for my TV watching partner. Might have to switch to a day time solitary watched show during tractor time).
Look out for planting progress and pig preparation! Very exciting!
Starting the day crying because I miss my coffee machine so much has continued with a lot of unnecessary and unprovoked crying about American things I miss. These are not the things I should be crying about missing like family and friends, instead I am crying about coffee, nachos, brick oven pizza and a comfy couch. At least I have started to make a list of things to do during my June visit so no time will be wasted.
One week in I have completely run out of ideas of things to cook for dinner. We have chicken thighs to cook in the fridge and I cried because I could not think of anything to make with them and I don’t want to make anything with them. Today is a day full of melodrama!
We are semi dog watching the best dog. He has cheered me up substantially by placing his very large head on my lap, the closest thing I have had to a Chihuahua lap cuddle in weeks.
I have enjoyed a few new animal “firsts” this week. It is taking me a little bit of time to get used to all of the different animals but I am learning and loving (some of them)!
Cattle: After winter in their cattle barn (which I have learned is to keep them safe and warm during rainy, dark winter) it was time for the cattle to be released into their first field of the season! Cows are so slow and gentle this would be no problem, right? wrong! After spending the morning fixing and checking the electric fence (C did this, I hid in the tractor) it was time to free the cattle. They went nuts! Bucking out of their barn, getting tangled in the fence and running so fast away from their barn to the far corner of the just repaired fence. A few minutes later the fence is secured and the cattle are roaming around, checking their borders and meeting new cattle friends. (No photos taken during this as I had to pretend to look like a serious cattle mover).
Cats: There are four cats roaming around the house. Two cats I hate and two cats are very cute and sweet and love to be brushed with a broom. The whole outdoorsness of the cats scares me the most. They are so wild and their claws are so sharp! One cat loves coming in the house and stalks the back door waiting for me to be too slow so she can come in and sit on the chair by the fire like a luxurious cat queen. Even when I push her out with the broom and digs her claws into the floor trying to stay. Her determination usually wins. Yesterday, Baby cat brought a nice big mouse present into the house for me. Luckily Loppy dog came over and vacuumed the mouse up from the cat like a little snack. Disgusting!
Pig countdown has started and chickens have been promised so I better start getting used to these animals living in our cottage with us.
One week down here in Ireland! After spending the the last year visiting every few weeks it is such a nice feeling to not be dealing with a ticking clock before I have to get back on a plane. If I want to remain jetlagged a week after I arriving I can sleep until noon and not worry!
Well not really. Last week when sleeping in the middle of the day I was caught. I woke up very frazzled, sweaty and covering myself in blankets. I think I caught a small break for being sick since a thermometer and some medicine was sent home to me later in the day. At least I quickly learned we have different visitors in the house throughout the day. Today I was just out of the shower when we had a visitor I went and hid in my closet. Getting used to it slowly! Definitely waking up tomorrow before ten am.
Spring is coming quickly so lots of farm jobs will come with the sun. Pigs will be picked up this week, cattle will be moved and all of the vegetables will have to be planted keeping everyone busy busy busy. So we made the most of this nice mix of spring weather without spring jobs and went on a long walk around Donerarile Park with his family. The park was packed! We finished the day with a Sunday roast lamb with his family and a few hours escape to kick footballs at the GAA pitch.
Now that I am feeling better hopefully this week will be a bit more ambitious and maybe a list of things can be done.. or at least written.
After an extremely tearful goodbye to family it could only look up after checking in at Dulles Airport for my move to Ireland. Thank goodness it did.. for a few hours anyway. My thousands of business miles on American Airlines allowed me access to the fancy fancy British Airways lounge for my pre-flight waiting.
A bit hesitant that they would actually let me in wearing my yoga pants and hoodies followed my hesitancy on what I was allowed to do in the lounge I soon learned it is the most wonderful place in the world. Even though I was severely under dressed (why are people wearing suits on an overnight flight) Free drinks! Free food! Free wifi! I had some snacks and champagne and watched old Pretty Little Liars episodes (the only thing keeping me from crying the preceding days) and all of a sudden the once very full lounge was empty and I was late for my flight. Continue reading “Arrived, sick, excited and jet lagged”