Karen Jones Gowen and her rocking theme of life in Guatemala!
Your theme was living in Guatemala – which you do! What prompted you to select that theme?
We had recently moved and at the time, it was the most interesting topic I could think of! It also gave me an opportunity to take lots of photos with a purpose.
Which letter and topic was your favorite?
Probably "W" for women, because I find the Mayan women so fascinating. They work extremely hard, are quiet and family-centered, and they dress simply and modestly in their native clothing that has particular meaning to them. I admire the women I see around me in this community a great deal and I could have done an entire month on just that theme. Maybe I will!
Which letter was the most difficult?
I don't think there was a difficult letter because I had so much to say about my new environment there were usually numerous topics for each day. The hardest thing was narrowing it down to just one! Even X was easy because many items in the Mayan language begin with X-- it has the "sh" sound-- and we'd just been to visit the city of Xela.
What would surprise people the most about Guatemala?
There are a lot of misconceptions in the U.S. about it, I think, and one of the most common is that it's a dangerous place with crime and bandits everywhere. I'm sure there are places you wouldn't want to go alone at night in the cities, but so far I've found a feeling a safety and neighborhood in the town of Panajachel, where we live. People watch out for each other and children, families, everyone are out on the streets day and night. I feel safe everywhere I go.
What was the biggest adjustment when you moved there?
Termites in the house! Apparently termites are part of living in Guatemala and they are everywhere outdoors, often finding a home inside as well. Our rented home has wood beams in the ceiling and I quickly learned the habits of these invaders. Finally, we moved out for a couple months while parts of the ceiling were being replaced, and although it's still a problem, it's not as bad. (I can't believe I'm even saying "not as bad." Guess I've adjusted a little!)
What is a tuk tuk?
It's a little car/scooter that holds 2 or 3 people plus the driver and functions as a taxi. For a small fee, they will drive you anywhere in town. And they are everywhere on the roads so it's easy to flag one down.
What’s the most unusual vegetable in Guatemala? And have you encountered anything you won’t eat?
So far I've been sticking to the ones I can recognize, like onions, carrots, squash and peppers. I used to like chicharones, or in English "pork rinds"-- they were a snack I enjoyed occasionally in the U.S., but the way they prepare them in Guatemala is a lot different. The first time I tasted them was the last. My dog loves them though!
Have you thought of a theme for next year’s Challenge?
I haven't yet decided, but it will somehow be themed around Guatemala. People really seem to enjoy learning about it and seeing the photos, and it helps me to appreciate the beautiful and interesting land where I now live.
Co-host Ninja Captain Alex J. Cavanaugh is the author of Amazon Best-sellers CassaStar, CassaFire, and CassaStorm, and his blog can be found HERE