in which i join a gym and get a haircut

I had been past the Antigua Gym a few times on my way home from the grocery store, but never stepped inside. Knowing that my mom and I both like yoga I thought we should see if they offered yoga classes. Not only did they offer yoga classes, but they also offer pilates, abs, and spinning and have lots of great equipment. We signed up for a week pass.

I’ve been to the gym four times now and love it. The exercise is helping me sleep better at night and generally improves my life. I love the feeling of accomplishment after a good workout. My favorite thing to do is ride the bike. They blast music that really gets you pumped. The one downside to the gym is that it’s not air-conditioned, but every once in a while a strong cool breeze will blow through and it feels wonderful. The main part of the gym is in a building with a circus tent roof. Along the sides are rooms with various equipment. It’s really quite cool.

The girl at the front desk, Jessica, has the most amazing haircut. I told her how much I loved it and asked for the name of her stylist. Now that my Spanish is a good deal better- I can speak in complete sentences and actually understand most of the things people say to me- I thought what the hell, I’ll get my haircut. I’ve never had a haircut in a foreign country, but I figured at worst it’ll eventually grow out. So I leaped.

With Jessica’s directions - near vino y queso, it looks like it’s closed but just knock on the door - I tracked down the salon. It’s located behind a big wooden door quite close to my house. You have to know what you’re looking for, you don’t just stumble upon it. It’s kind of like my favorite/only stylist at home, Kellie Walsh’s place - Barbarella. It makes you feel like you’re in on a local secret. I knocked on the door and to my luck, the stylist had time to fit me in.

Luckily her English was really good, so it wasn’t too scary. Unfortunately my hair is only 1/3 as thick as Jessica’s so the cut didn’t look the same on me, but I’m still happy with it. And for the first time since I was a little girl I have bangs. Now all I need is my hairdryer and I’m set.


in which i get the most decadent massage

The garden where I got my massage

After I learned that my step-dad was going motorcycling around Greece, I suggested to my mom that she come down and hang out with me here in Guatemala. She took me up on the offer and arrived last Wednesday. The first few days together we walked around the city, shared lunches, and went to the markets. She signed up for Spanish classes at my school and had her first class last Friday. I love that I have adventurous parents.

When Sunday rolled around, we were ready for a wellness day. I haven’t been sleeping very well here - a combination of a hard mattress, the absence of daylight savings time, and mariachi music and fireworks in the middle of the night - and was hoping to get a massage to work out some of the kinks. That morning my mom happened upon the most decadent spa experience. Over coffee at Lonely Planet’s “Best Coffee” in Antigua she saw that the owner was laying out spent coffee grounds on a tray to dry. Curious, she asked him what they were for. He told her that next door they used them for a massage. Intrigued she booked one for both of us that afternoon.

The coffee and chocolate massage was 2 hours long and cost $50. My mom went first and then it was my turn. After completely undressing and laying down on the massage table, the masseuse took hot coffee grounds and rubbed them all over my body. They are a great exfoliator/moisturizer and smell amazing. When she was finished she stepped out of the room. I looked in the mirror and got to see what I would look like with coffee colored skin- oh to be tan. I got into the shower and washed off the coffee. I laid back down and she returned with hot liquid chocolate. Using the chocolate as a moisturizer she massaged it into my skin. It felt phenomenal and smelled delicious- I think my stomach even growled at one point. After she was finished she again stepped out of the room and I washed off the chocolate. My skin was literally glowing and I felt incredibly relaxed. What an amazing experience. If you’re ever in Antigua be sure to book your own decadent coffee and chocolate massage with Maricarmen at the Posado La Merced Antigua, 7a Avienda Norte 43, ph.502.7832.3197.

The next day I found a massage table on amazon and shipped it to my boyfriend as an early anniversary present. It arrived yesterday. We’re instituting a weekly massage morning at our house. I can’t wait to give and experience another coffee and chocolate massage!

The garden at Posado la Merced


Guerilla Knitting Help

Hi Worldknit Knitters,

I’m doing the Aspen Farmers Market this summer and I was wondering if you guys could help me. I want to draw attention to my booth by doing a guerilla knitting project, but with all of the stuff I’m making I don’t have time to make the strips of knitting I need for my guerilla knitting idea; I’d like to cover a bike in knitting.

I’m sure like me, you guys have cheap acrylic yarn lying around in your stash. I was wondering if any of you would be willing to knit and donate strips of knitting that I’d sew together on the bike. If it gets any press I’ll provide your name as someone who helped to make the guerilla knitting possible.

The strips can be any color/design (except lace) and should be 4” wide x 3-5” long. If you are interested in participating you can respond to this post or e-mail me worldknits@me.com. I can pick up the strips at knit nights or arrange other pickup. Also if it’s easier you can mail them to me (e-mail me to arrange). I’m leaving for Aspen on June 30.

Thanks for your help!




My absolute favorite type of knitwear is the cowl. Cowls are so elegant and versatile. They can be dressed up or dressed down. They can be ultra-drapey with lace or more structured with cables. They can be worn any time of the year, whether summer or winter, spring or fall. And draped around your neck they can add a splash of color and texture to your outfit.

When you wear one they usually elicit the response- “Wow, that’s gorgeous- where’d you get it?” And because they aren’t often offered in retail stores, you get to say, "It was handknit by an indie designer"- unless of course you’re a knitter and can say, "I made it."

Last year I discovered Araucania Itata Multi at Webs. I love the combination of colors and the soft loftiness of the wool, silk, and bamboo blend. I bought it in every color I could find and intended on using it to make shawls, but when I brought it with me to Guatemala, the yarn took on a different form - Link, a chunky cabled cowl.

As I looked at my stash of Araucania Itata multi I thought, “If I double up the yarn this would make the most beautiful winter cowl.” I love cables and I knew the ultra chunky knotted cable would look amazing with the variegated yarn. The double cable border is subtle enough to not detract from the main feature- the knots. And set against reverse stockinette stitch, the cables seem to jump off of the cowl (something not seen as well in machine knit apparel).

I hope you love Link as much as I do. You’ll see me wearing mine around town this winter.

Get Link, the pattern - Get Link, handknit by me, an indie designer


Solomente en el Presente

Imagine if you only lived in the present with no words for past or future. What would your life look like? There would be no should haves, could haves, would haves. No I’m going to, planning to, need to. I can’t think of anything more freeing.

I came to Guatemala trying to escape my past and figure out my future, but here in Guatemala I’m living totally in the present. You see, in espanol I can only speak in the present tense. I can think of few moments in my life when I’ve been one hundred percent totally in the moment, free of worries, cares, and concerns. Totally unencumbered.

A few years back I went to Niagara Falls for a knitting conference. While I was there I visited the falls and they were magnificent. Standing on the hurricane deck alone, with the water rushing over me, I laughed and screamed. All I could think about and feel was the powerful water falling on my head and shoulders. My concerns about life were washed away by the waterfall. It was a profound moment for me, the first time I think I was really aware of being totally in the present.

Maybe one day when my Spanish is better I’ll have a future and a past, but for now I’m enjoying living in the moment.

In 140 words or less what would your life look like if you only lived in the present. Use #nopastfuture.


El Dia de las Madres (Mother's Day) Guatemala Edition

Today is Mother’s Day in Guatemala. I can’t think of a better way to celebrate women who are known to get very few hours of sleep than to wake them (and presumably the baby they just put back down after a 3am feeding) by blasting mariachi music and setting off fireworks at 4:15 am. And in case the first loop around town didn’t do it, the “welcoming committee” circled the town until 6:30 am setting off fireworks constantly while additionally blasting music over the loud speaker attached to their pickup truck.

Maybe it’s a cultural thing, but sounding like I’m in a war zone doesn’t start a celebration on the right foot for me. I’m pretty sure that on any given morning somewhere in town fireworks are going off, you see they aren’t just used for Mother’s Day, but birthdays, Easter, Christmas, .... And the fireworks they’re using are not the pretty ones that explode into beautiful showers of colors in the sky, no these are the fireworks that are solely used to make noise- Pop, Pop, Pop, Pop, BANG!!!!!!

You’ll have to forgive me for my harsh tone. I’m not too happy about the sleep I missed last night (and the night before that). As I write this, it’s now 9:45, more fireworks are going off. Grrrrrrr.


the things you take with you

Packing for my trip to Guatemala, I started to realize I was packing ridiculous stuff. In my bag I have a box of kleenex, a box of Ritz crackers, iced tea drink mix, all six seasons and two movies of Sex in the City, seven books, a month’s supply of m&ms, and an amount of yarn not humanly possible to knit through in the next month. The yarn is understandable- I’m pretty sure all knitters overestimate their knitting productivity, and seriously, what if I was left without a project.
When I looked at the spare contacts I had packed I thought, “four spares are not enough, I better pack an extra box.” The silliness of this is that I have never had an instance in the 16 years that I’ve been wearing contacts that four contacts have ever failed on me in a month. Than comes the medicine- what if I get a headache, what if I get diarrhea, what if I get pink eye, what if I get... I must admit I’m already making a mental list of the things I’ll leave in Guatemala, not only to lighten my load, but also to make room for the cool things I hope to find while I’m there.
I’m going to Guatemala under the guise of solidifying the Spanish I learned in high school and college, but really I’m looking for an escape from my old life in Fredericksburg and a fresh start when I get home. I’ve dreamed for a while what it’ll be like to be with myself- oh, to be anonymous. I hope to bury things in Guatemala and to give up the ghost. I might not be totally free when I return but I’m aiming for as close to it as possible. I’m sad to be leaving behind my boyfriend and my cats, whom I love dearly and will miss while I’m gone. With all of the international travel that I’ve done this is my very first time out of the country on my own. I’m excited and nervous, but I know that I can do it. So I’m jumping.
As ridiculous as the things I brought with me seem (including carrying my pillow all the way from Virginia to Guatemala), when I unpacked it became apparent how these items will make me more comfortable here. They are all a reminder of what I get to come home to, esp. the photos that the man I love snuck into my bag.
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