1/20 Tecpán’s weekly market is filled with colorful textiles used for traje tipico, or indigenous dress. These particular ones are for corte, the long wrapped skirts that indigenous women wear.
2/20 A typical almuerzo, or lunch, in Tecpán complete with rice, guacamole, chimol (salsa), chorizos (sausages), and of course, tortillas. Tortillas are a staple and are eaten with every meal.
3/20 It’s not out of the ordinary to see a herd of cows making their way down the streets of Tecpán. The majority of tecpanecos make their living through agriculture and livestock.
4/20 My host mom, Doña Mercedes, prepares soup for lunch. She is a kind, humor-loving woman who learned how to prepare the BEST food from her own mother.
5/20 Madison (right) and I (left) dressed up in traje tipico for a department-wide mayoral meeting on economic development. Looking great, but not feeling too hot – thanks to the stellar combination of corset-like belts and stomach problems!
6/20 My host parents brought me to their neighbor’s quinceañera celebration. It’s customary for the birthday girl to put her face into a slice of cake before it’s served to the guests. Her delighted mother holds the plate.
7/20 Visiting a nearby farm with my co-worker from the Tecpán Municipal Women’s Office, Lucy. She always has a smile on her face.
8/20 Yeah, Mayan ruins! Standing at the entrance to the Jaguar Temple of Tikal, one of the largest archeological sites of pre-Colombian Mayan civilization. It was once the capital of one of the most powerful states in the Mayan world, reaching its peak between 200-900 AD with almost 90,000 inhabitants.
9/20 The infamous camioneta. These recycled American and Canadian school buses are the preferred form of public transportation across Guatemala, and yes, they can get very crowded.
10/20 It was quite surprising to me that Tecpán only has one paved road. The rest are cobblestone.
11/20 My host dad, Don Pedro, with his beloved cat, Kiara. He used to work for the Ministry of Agriculture and is now retired, but he remains an active member of the community. Everyone appreciates his sense of humor.
12/20 One of the most incredible foods Guatemala has to offer, the choco banano. Here I am enjoying one of these decadent chocolate-covered creations at Lago de Atitlan, a beautiful lake surrounded by volcanos that is only an hour and a half bus journey from Tecpán.
13/20 Here we are teaching an English class, which we offer twice a week to anyone free of charge. The majority of our students are children, but we also have some adult students who want to learn English so they can improve their job prospects.
14/20 We are giving a workshop on nutrition and hygiene to one of the women’s groups we meet with weekly.
16/20 We cook a lot with our women’s groups because they want to learn more meals they can prepare for their families and sell to supplement their family’s income. We had to be creative with this group because they didn’t have an oven when we first started working with them.
17/20 Doña Celia is the leader of one of the women’s groups we work with. She is one of the most hilarious, vivacious people I’ve ever met and inspires her fellow group members to be more outspoken.
18/20 It didn’t take long for me to become obsessed with this yellow car, which we pass a couple days a week on our way to our women’s group meetings. Guatemala is rife with gorgeous photo opps like this one.
9/20 Showing off the day’s harvest at Utz Samah, an NGO in Tecpán that teaches farmers sustainable greenhouse farming methods. I work there in the mornings to help harvest the tomatoes and cucumbers that sustain the organization’s operations.
20/20 The heart of local government in Tecpán and where I work, the Municipal Office. It takes on a completely different look at night, when the savory glares of food stands light up the side of the building.