Back to Back Volcanoes

This view just cannot be beaten!

This view just cannot be beaten!

It’s been a busy week for me at work, and I consider myself very fortunate that the work I do often entails experiences like climbing a volcano, two days in a row, with coffee farmers. I’ll tell you this much: there’s no need to head to the gym on days when you’re hiking up a volcano! It’s exciting, it’s breathtaking, it’s rewarding, it’s exhausting and I hope it’s something that I never get tired of!

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Walking for Hilachas

Inside my current favorite cookie: oatmeal chocolate chip. Warm out of the oven, I was only able to stop myself after the third one.

Inside my current favorite cookie: oatmeal chocolate chip. Warm out of the oven, I was only able to stop myself after the third one.

The weekend just passed can be chalked up as another enjoyable, food-filled one here in Antigua, Guatemala. The highlight, without a doubt, was a home-cooked meal of a traditional Guatemalan dish – hilachas – by a native Guatemalan. Nothing elevates the enjoyment of my culinary experiences here more than a traditional meal in a private home: especially when it’s the home of good friends.

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Breaking the Record

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It’s now been more than three weeks since I arrived in Antigua, Guatemala, and that sets a record for me. The longest trip I’ve ever taken – in which I didn’t consider it a permanent move – was two-and-a-half weeks (also to Guatemala, back in 2011). It’s incredible how the three weeks have passed for me. It seems like much longer, in a completely good way. I feel settled, I have a routine, and I don’t feel like I’m on vacation. Unlike other trips here, I do “normal” things: I cook, I do laundry, I take a bus to work, I go grocery shopping. It still feels special to be here, and I appreciate it every day, but I also love the regularity that has come with it.

Some of the things I love:

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Doña Luisa’s Banana Bread

The cathedral looms over the Parque Central on a gorgeous Saturday morning.

The cathedral looms over the Parque Central on a gorgeous Saturday morning.

I was all set to write a more reflective post this weekend, evaluating what living – instead of visiting – here is like. But then, a whole slew of incredible food-related things happened and you’re only getting a taste (ha!) of the original post.

One of the things that are hard for me, as a baker, with living down here is the difficulty in finding things I need. Whether that’s real vanilla extract, brown sugar, parchment paper, yeast, good baking chocolate or a stand mixer, I’ve had to adapt. Now, there’s nothing wrong with adaptation. But recipes can be tricky beasts, and it’s hard to tell how to adapt when many of your ingredients and your tools have changed.

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Buttered Coffee

This week's first cookie effort was oatmeal cookies with some of the local Guatemalan granola mixed in. This, so far, is my favorite cookie I've made here.

This week’s first cookie effort was oatmeal cookies with some of the local Guatemalan granola mixed in. This, so far, is my favorite cookie I’ve made here.

Despite going nearly five days without posting, it’s not for lack of thoughts or experiences to share. It’s just been one of those weeks where time to seems to go by a bit faster than I am ready for. Today marks two weeks since I’ve been here, and a rhythm to my life is developing. From the security guard with the shotgun standing outside the jade store, who I greet with a “Buenos Dias” every morning, to my daily runs to get fresh tortillas for my weekday lunches in the office, I am becoming a creature of habit.

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