Sunday, November 30, 2008

Spanish Word of the Day

Friday, November 28, 2008

infierno, noun

We’ve already come across el cielo, meaning heaven. Its opposite is el infierno, hell.

Hitler se está calcinando en el infierno.
Hitler is burning in hell.

Apart from its literal meaning, you can use it metaphorically. Translating what Jean-Paul Sartre wrote in French:

El infierno son los otros.
Hell is other people.

Infierno can also be used to refer to somewhere which is very hot. There is a proverb about the weather in Madrid, Spain, which goes:

Nueve meses de invierno y tres de infierno.
Nine months of winter and three of hell. Spanish Word of the Day

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Advanced Diver Magazine explores Lake Atitlan

Beautiful video of Lake Atitlan on YouTube by:

September 09, 2008
Advanced Diver Magazine explores Guatemala's Lake Atitlan
Category: Travel & Events
Tags: Advanced Diver Magazine Curt Bowen Lake Atitlan Guatemala

Great blog with nice photos, good stories and references to staying around Lake Atitlan in Feb & March 2008:

The Lost Iguana - PADI Dives & backpacker's hotel

The Lost Iguana / "La Iguana Perdida" in Santa Cruz, Lake Atitlan, with PADI Dives & backpacker's hotel. A great time to be had by all. Can't wait to get there!

Note: see some concerns (posted in 2003) about water quality and visibility, from the Thorn Tree Travel Forum ⁄ Departure Lounge ⁄ Americas
Scuba diving at Lake Atitlan

Belize & Honduras are recommended for scuba diving, although dives and PADI dive refresher courses are offered at the Iguana Perdida (Lost Iguana) on Lake Atitlan. So that's what I will do! Both!

See videos and more at the Scuba Channel, scuba diving web tv. Video of Lake Atitlan, Guatemala cleanup 9/2008:

Cayaya Birding

"The greatest bliss of all enjoyments of life, which mostly educates the capabilities of human beings, and which creates a new vivid world in them, is traveling."
Alexander von Humboldt (1769-1859)

Birds of Guatemala
Photo of the Month
Nov'08 Cayaya Birding offers specialized birdwatching tours, led by Knut Eisermann and Claudia Avendaño, authors of the recently published Annotated Checklist of the Birds of Guatemala. Bird Guatemala with CAYAYA BIRDING
New Release, available at:
Cayaya Birding Store
Buteo Books, US
nhbs, UK
Lynx Edicions, Spain
Christ Media Natur, D
Asesoría, Capacitación, Publicidad Guatemala is an attractive birding destination with more than 720 bird species and a high diversity of ecosystems. This web site was launched in June 2003 and provides information on birding sites, photo galleries, and general information about land and people.


[Research] [Portfolio] [Webdesign] [Contact]

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Hotel Reserva Natural Atitlán

Reserva Natural Atitlán

Hotel Reserva Natural Atitlán

See a Slide Show of the Reserva Natural Atitlán

Hotel Reserva Natural Atitlán

Visit the only Hotel / Nature Reserve in the Lake Atitlan basin

Reserva Natural Atitlán

About Us:
Experience the extraordinary spectacle of Lake Atitlán at the only functioning Nature Reserve in the entire lake basin. The cataclysmic origins and long history of human occupation of this natural wonder is explained at the park Visitors Center, located on the grounds of the historic Hacienda de San Buenaventura.

Experience the extraordinary spectacle of Lake Atitlán at the only functioning Nature Reserve in the entire lake basin. The cataclysmic origins and long history of human occupation of this natural wonder is explained at the park Visitors Center, located on the grounds of the historic Hacienda de San Buenaventura.

It's beautiful oak forests, dappled creeks and coffee groves tell their own stories as one walks along shaded nature trails and crosses hanging bridges. Afterwards, a quiet swim in the crystal clear waters at our private beach will leave you totally refreshed and rejuvenated. Finish off your day with a sound nights sleep in one of the beautiful new hotel rooms... and you'll know what a joy life in the Guatemalan Highlands really can be!

For the more adventurous, the campground facilities include bathrooms with hot showers, a restaurant and areas for campfires.

Facilities & Services:
The Nature Reserve has:
• a Visitors Center with information on the natural and social history of the Lake Basin, a restaurant and bathrooms.
• nature trails with signs for self-guided walks.
• an enclosed butterfly preserve with a breeding laboratory including examples of eggs, caterpillars and chrysalis, with information on the importance of butterflies and their relationships with the plants and animals around them.
• a collection of orchids which can be found in the Butterfly Preserve and on the nature trails, with nearly 50 of the more than 900 species native to Guatemala.
• a bird refuge
• marvelous "open" enclosures for monkeys, coatimundi, raccoons and other wildlife, with an observation deck for watching the birds and animals in their natural settings.
• an open air café set in the coffee groves.
• a private beach with clear waters and magnificent views.
• safe camping grounds with services (bathrooms with hot showers).

Reserva Natural AtitlánThe new Hotel at the Reserve has:
• two new rooms of unique architectural design for a maximum of 6 people each.
They are spacious, elegant, and have large decks with views over the lower part of the Nature Reserve.

Our rates for single/double room are $55.00 during the week and $65.00 during the weekend (Saturday night).

Adult entrance fees to the Nature Reserve are $ 5.00 and children pay $2.50

Campers pay $14.00 for two days one night at the park. Tents for rent are $4.50 a night per person.

Of Special Note:
As the first and only private park and nature reserve at the lake, the Atitlan Nature Reserve offers its visitors a unique experience and educational perspective on the lake basin, and is absolutely the best place to start your visit. From the butterflies to the monkeys to the enchanting waterfall and bridges, this is a must see for any visitor to the highlands of Guatemala.

How to find us:
From Guatemala City, take the Pan-American Highway C-1, West to the Highlands for approx. 2 hours. Just past Los Encuentros (the turn off to Chichicastenango) about 5 minutes, turn left for approx. 15 minutes to Sololá. Continue approx. 10 minutes to Panajachel.
From “Pana” it’s only 10 minutes away walking - a kilometer or 3/4 of a mile. Take the road to Sololá and after the first climb take a left down the valley of San Buenaventura. Follow the road and signs for 800 meters. You can take a taxi from Panajachel (Q10).

Contact: Reserva Natural Atitlán
* Phone
+502 7762 2565
* Website

Hotel Atitlan, Lake Atitlan, Guatemala

An Exaggeration of Nature on the Shores of a Miracle
Hotel Atitlan

About Us:
Atitlan Hotel, among Guatemala's elite cadre of fine hotels, is situated in picturesque Panajachel, Solola. This location is the heart of Lake Atitlan's most ethnically authentic peoples, yet conveniently accessible to the most fashionable part of the Riviera.

The Hotel Atitlan was designed as a home away from home for the most discriminating traveler. This precious gem is intimate and user-friendly, elegant in a classically understated way.

To complete its serene ambiance, The Hotel Atitlan offers a wide range of service. Guatemala most attentive staff, extraordinary cuisine, and without doubt among the most dramatic and appealing natural surroundings in the world.

Facilities & Services:
The Atitlan Nature Reserve
A short walk from the hotel is the Atitlan Nature Reserve,. It has a Butterfly reserve, herb gardens, suspension bridges, spider monkeys wild in the trees, a wonder visitor center and an exciting new Zip-Line. (more)

Antigua Guatemala Daily Photo

Archive for July, 2006, Antigua is a romantic town

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Non Profit Organizations around Lake Atitlan

A great website with a lot of info, which lists a few of the myriad of non profit organizations around Lake Atitlan:

Non Profit Organizations

Pura Vida
To promote environmental consciousness among the indigenous villages of Guatemala, in order to curb the contamination of air, soil and water, promote healthier living conditions, and preserve the beauty of the land.
La Cambalacha
La Cambalacha is a cultural project that operates as a permanent creativity workshop for the... Instruction, exhibition, production and exchange of the different forms of creative expression...
The mission of Calacirya Foundation is to assist in bettering the lives of impoverished indigenous people while promoting greater understanding between peoples of different cultures.
Luna Kaqchiquel
Our objective is to motivate women to elevate socially so they can be equal with men; trying, with time, to create a social awareness that will bring them to hold relevant roles within the community.
Foundation for Balance and Harmony
We are working in the Guatemalan School System to enhance the learning abilities of the students through Kinesiology and Brain Gym.
Foundation for Balance and Harmony
Metaphysical Crystal Shop selling Healing Crystals at Discount Prices, including Tumbled Stones, Rocks & Minerals, Amethyst, Rose Quartz, Clear Quartz, Merkaba Crystals, Vogel Wands, & more.
Globally Minded Works

Globally Minded Works, Inc. is a social enterprise, committed to strengthening communities in Guatemala one person, one child at a time. We are a forward thinking social enterprise committed to global economic change through education, economic and social development.

Clinica Naturista
CLINICAS MAYA provides the full scope of healthcare and education that moves the community towards developing a broad range of healthcare and educational services.


Primeros Pasos

At Primeros Pasos, we work hand in hand to offer quality and affordable healthcare and health education to the underserved communities of the Palajunoj valley just outside of Quetzaltenango, a small city in the Western Highlands of Guatemala.

Graphic Design

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The water might have amoebas

Posted by Andrea Coravos on 2008-06-11

All twelve of the DukeEngage students in Guatemala climbed on to a camioneta, a Guatemalan Chicken Bus. Parents who read the Lonely Planet Guide to Guatemala told us that we should never set foot on one of these things, and yet on our first day in the country, we were squished together riding to a small village named Magdalena.

A Chicken Bus is like a reformed school bus that most of us used in elementary school, except that it is decked out with Latin music and people store their live chickens on the shelves above the seats. Locals bring all kinds of stuff onto this bus. In fact, just yesterday one of the DukeEngagers sat next to a man with a machete.

In the U.S., we generally sit at maximum two people per seat, and no one stands in the aisle. Guatemalans have no such concept of personal space-people sit together with at least three people per seat and there is no room in the aisle. It is a great place for pick-pocketing, because people are literally packed like sardines. Imagine how uncomfortable the bus is when everyone is soaking wet from Guatemalan tropical storms.

We each spent our first night with our homestay family, and the next morning we road the Chicken Bus back into work. I live with the Batista family, apparently one of the most prominent village families. My host mother, Doña Raquel is from a family of 10 children and my host father is one of six. And another one of the DukeEngagers met the Batista grandfather, who claims to have 53 grandchildren.

I am the only DukeEngager who did not know Spanish seven days ago, and that first night with my host family, none of whom speak English, was spent with a dictionary and lots of hand signals. I spent most of my time smiling and nodding.

Miscommunication is common. I learned yesterday that for the past week I have been saying "Yo tengo veinte anos," which literally means "I have twenty assholes," instead of the correct "Yo tengo veinte años," which translates to "I am twenty years old."

Our first two weeks in the program are spent studying Spanish in Antigua, Guatemala, living with homestays and preparing for our fieldwork. We are members of Soluciones Comunitarias, a nonprofit company whose mission is to encourage a socially responsible business climate in Guatemala.

The program leaders use the famous Chinese proverb to describe the program: "Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime." Traditional "relief" and international aid can be compared to "giving of fish," whereas "teaching someone to fish" is "development" assistance.

Deciding when to use development and went to use relief can be a tough call. For instance, places devastated by Hurricane Katrina needed relief, and many rural environments in Guatemala need development.

Soluciones Comunitarias focuses primarily on development and trains local entrepreneurs to sell products that many people in the U.S. take for granted. The five main products sold by the entrepreneurs are water purifiers, reading glasses, vegetable seed, energy efficient light bulbs and wood stoves. In many villages, people have no access to these products, and the market opportunity is vast.

As Duke Engagers, we have a unique opportunity to be a combined student and consultant. We are learning the cultural differences, making mistakes in Spanish, and riding the Chicken Bus. We are also acquainted with some effective business practices and can provide labor for their projects.

Considering that I have already consumed an entire bottle of Pepto-Bismol in six days, perhaps I can start by introducing some of these products to my village. Food washed in the local water can carry amoebas and stomach-upsetting bacteria.

A water purifier would be a healthy addition to the households in Magdalena.

Tagged: antigua, guatemala, language, mistakes

Antigua, Guatemala, language, mistakes, Duke Engagers, chicken bus, amoebas, Magdalena,

Duke University - Abroad View Foundation Sponsor

Why Duke University Supports The Abroad View Foundation

  • Duke is pleased to be one of the founding Sponsors of the Abroad View Foundation and considers Study Abroad to be a major part of its campus internationalization.

Duke University

The Duke Philosophy of Internationalization:

In 2004 Duke University was selected as one of the first five recipients of the Senator Paul Simon Award for Campus Internationalization by NAFSA: Association of International Educators. The Duke philosophy of internationalization is that every aspect of Duke should be international in concept and character.

Internationalization is not seen as a specific or discrete set of activities or units, but as an integral part of Duke's effort to become a world-class institution in all its endeavors, and thereby to better serve the world of which it is a part. A section of the 2007 Duke strategic plan, Making a Difference notes that: "the internationalization of the region (the Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill area) echoes ever increasing globalization in many other areas, and global challenges now have consequences for our daily lives in ways we never before imagined. Engagement in these local and global communities provides exceptional opportunities for teaching and learning and for connecting knowledge to real world problems. Duke, therefore, gives high priority to reaching beyond its campus and to strengthening local, regional, and international partnerships."

In many respects Duke already represents a model of the internationalized research university. Almost fifty percent of Duke undergraduates study abroad. Foreign language and international courses are a requirement of Duke's core curriculum and 18 languages are taught on campus including Persian, Turkish and Arabic. One third of Duke's graduate and professional students are international. Duke has six federally-funded Title VI international centers and foreign area studies centers, at the top of the rankings for private research universities. More than 400 international post-doctoral fellows carry out research at Duke every year. All of Duke's professional schools are also engaged in international activities. Duke faculty and graduate students work in partnership with over 300 institutions worldwide. Duke has international alumni clubs in 41 countries throughout the world.

Enhancing the Study Abroad Experience and Curriculum Integration Effort:

While facilitating quality study abroad experiences remains the chief mission of the Office of Study Abroad (OSA) (, OSA, together with the Vice Provost of Undergraduate Education and Dean of Trinity College, initiated a Curriculum Integration effort in 2004 that continues as an on-going effort to enhance the undergraduate study abroad experience. By establishing departmental liaisons between the OSA and academic departments on campus we are working to link study abroad more closely to the Duke curriculum so that students view their study abroad experience as an integral component of their four year academic plan at Duke rather than something unrelated to this plan.

The OSA has established $25,000 in funding for summer research fellowships to plan and conduct summer projects inspired by and based on academic study abroad experiences. Priority is given to students whose projects will serve as a foundation for a senior distinction project in their majors. More information about this effort may be found at:

DukeEngage and Duke Global Health Institute:

Two major new initiatives at Duke highlight the innovative and interdisciplinary approach to internationalization at Duke.

Firstly, DukeEngage: In one of the most ambitious efforts of its kind in U.S. higher education, Duke University announced in February 2007 that it had committed an initial amount of $30 million to provide funding and faculty support to all undergraduates who want to apply their classroom learning to addressing societal issues at home and abroad for a summer or a semester. In addition to tackling real-world problems, the students will develop the valuable skills and self-knowledge that result from an immersive service experience. During the summer of 2007 DukeEngage launched seven pilot programs with over 80 Duke students participating. Of the seven programs, five were international; in Yemen, the Ukraine, Kenya (2) and India.

The second example is the new Duke Global Health Institute (DGHI), launched in 2007. The Duke Global Health Institute works to reduce health disparities both in the local Durham community and worldwide. Recognizing that many global health problems stem from economic, social, environmental, political and health care inequalities, the Duke Global Health Institute brings together interdisciplinary teams from schools and departments throughout the University to work with partners to solve highly complex health problems and to train the next generation of global health scholars.

DGHI will develop an undergraduate major in global health, work with the Duke Career Center to offer undergraduate global health career counseling, establish masters and doctoral programs in global health, add a third-year global health track for medical students and promote campus activism, advocacy and service. In research, DGHI will assist current Duke projects in global health and develop a focused portfolio of new research initiatives on priority topics such as HIV/AIDS and other emerging infections, obesity, environmental health and the interrelationship of gender health and poverty.

DGHI's goal is to make Duke "the" destination for scholars and practitioners in global health, as well as the producer of the next generation of global health experts and leaders. DGHI’s service efforts will show Duke's commitment to providing practical and sustainable solutions to global health problems. DGHI’s website can be found at

The richness of the all international aspects of Duke University can be found at Duke’s Global Gateway website:

Duke University Articles

Volunteer on Duke's Dime - Duke University, Guatemala

Volunteer on Duke's Dime

By Carolyn Beeler
This article was printed in Abroad View magazine fall 2007

Beginning in the summer of 2008, every undergraduate at Duke University will have the opportunity to participate in a summer or semester-long immersive service experience in the United States or abroad, funded completely by Duke. The new program, called DukeEngage, provides $30 million toward supporting
undergraduate civic engagement projects. The money will also help establish the Duke Center for Civic Engagement (DCCE), an umbrella organization to coordinate civic engagement and service-learning programs on campus.

DukeEngage will provide full funding and staff support for participants to learn about contemporary social
issues. Students will have the flexibility to work with a variety of different organizations, including nonprofit and nongovernmental agencies, in addressing poverty, housing, and education, among other issues.

Students may use funds to participate in programs coordinated through Duke or they may initiate their own proposals and earn funding by writing grant proposals. The $30-million endowment comes from equal
contributions from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and The Duke Endowment, a private foundation serving North Carolina and South Carolina.

Eric Mlyn, incoming director of the DCCE, estimates that half the students taking advantage of DukeEngage will volunteer abroad. HIV/AIDS relief work in India and Tanzania and volunteer positions at a Kenyan school for young women are some of the program’s international opportunities currently in development.

Mlyn is also looking to include programs that tie experiences at home to volunteering abroad. For example, Duke students might work with Guatemalan immigrants in the area around the university in Durham, N.C., then travel to Guatemala to teach English as a second language. Mlyn says the program’s emphasis on engagement and service learning “fits in beautifully” with the University’s greater mission of using knowledge in service to society.

“We give our students superb academic training, but we also want them to become active citizens and creative problem-solvers, using their education to make a real-world difference,” Duke President Richard Brodhead says in a press release. “Duke has always placed a special emphasis on using knowledge for the greater social good.”

Social awareness and service have a strong presence on campus, as more than 80 percent of students actively volunteer. “Duke students are already doing this—now we have the money to do it fully,” Mlyn says. He says student response to DukeEngage has been overwhelming. “The demand is there, now the question is building programs to meet the demand.” Program directors hope that by 2012 a quarter of
the student body will participate in the program.

Panajachel, Lake Atitlan, Guatemala

Panajachel, Lake Atitlan, Guatemala
View of Lake Atitlan and volcano from my apartment balcony in Panajachel. Taken by Catherine Todd June 2008.