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   Nathan's Birthday and a New House
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Welcome back!!

    This time we would like to tell you the tale of our new house. Yes, we've just moved to a beautiful little place in Panorama. Panorama is a little town just outside of Antigua. It's a little farther from central park then we hoped for, but we could not resist the offer to move to this new place. You will soon find out why. (And even more in next update which is almost ready!)

    We had made plans to move out on Saturday, so we started packing on Wednesday, hoping to give ourselves time to have Friday night off. Wow, how much stuff can someone accumulate in one year!!! By Friday night we were done packing. It is incredible how many boxes we had. We still had a little firewood left, and did not think it made sense to transport that, so we enjoyed a nice fire and a movie. Surrounded by lots of boxes. In the next picture you can see all our stuff together.

 

    Luckily we had help moving. A good friend of ours, Juan Carlos, was so nice to offer the use of his truck. At first we did not think the truck was going to fit up the driveway of the old house, and in our mind we started forming disaster scenes of having to carry every box down stairs, and then 150 yards to the truck. Due to the ingenious driving style of Juan that was all avoided. As you can tell in the picture, at the gate he had about 1 inch to spare on each side. Pfffff. 

 

    Above you see the same truck in front of our new front door. (Compare to the old front door...) It is amazing that all of our stuff fit in that one truck. We did do two other trips with another friend's car, but that was more for the more sensitive possessions like plants and pictures. Thanks to all these people the actual move was done and over with in a good hour and a half. Our new place is only 12 minutes biking from the clinic, and the same distance form the old house. When I hopped in the truck with Juan, Nathan and Dominic (other friend) biked to the house. They beat us! Just to show us that we're really still living in Antigua.

    That Saturday night we ended up sleeping in our old place just for one more night, which meant that we had a whole lot less time organizing the big party the next day, for Nathan's birthday. Besides that, Nathan had to fill in a ditch on the other side of the freshly build wall between us and the neighbors that the construction guys had neglected to fill, and according to Flory (house owner) the neighbor himself would not fill either. So Nathan started to fill the ditch by filling buckets with dirt, heaving them up to the 3/4 story high platform and them dunking the dirt over the wall. Try that yourself one morning! 

    Even after that hard work, Sunday came anyway. We had invited some friends for a late lunch and introduction to our new home. But that was just a way of luring them to our house to celebrate Nathan's birthday! Nathan was assigned the role of BBQ expert, and I prepared the salads and other things. This was a little more trouble than normal, because when we arrived at the house that morning, we found that there was no water pressure. That means no water. After testing each tap we found that the lowest one on the property had a little stream coming out of it. Not quite convenient to have to go outside every single time you want to wash your hands or a knife or just need water. 

    But still, we had a very nice lunch. The car you see in the background is Flory's mom's. We have no key to it, but have permission to move it to another part of the property. (By know you must be wondering how big/small the place is, but you'll just have to be a little patient until next update... :) ) 

    

    After our "grown-up"-friends-with-kids had left, the others stayed behind a little. We moved the whole party upstairs to our rooftop-patio-to-be. We quickly found that the stack of bricks on the roof served as an excellent bar and Nathan as an even better bartender. 

    So we enjoyed the rest of the evening roasting marshmallows, eating cake, and watching a volcano explode during a superb sunset. (We can see all three "Antigua Volcanoes" from our rooftop!!)

Because Nathan really is a big kid, I had bought him a piņata as well (you probably remember the movie from last update). Unfortunately we did not have a chance to break it, but Nathan still got to have the insides: lots of fireworks! Oh, did he have fun!

  

   

Nathan's party was on Sunday, but his actual birthday on Monday, the 22nd (so grab you calendar or planner right now and write it down for next year!!). Unfortunately, the day didn't start out the right way for a birthday, as we had discovered that the blanket that we had been able to borrow from Flory was not exactly thick enough to keep us warm through the night, and because of that we were up around 6 o'clock. Then we figured we had a lot of work to do all over the property.  Lots of little things that need fixing. For instance, the kitchen had no furniture in it except for a sink with 8 inches of countertop and a stove. So Nathan was nice enough to fabricate an instant countertop out of concrete block and plywood. Also, because of lack of storage space he used a temporary not so sturdy shelve structure to build some super solid bookshelves. (Sandy, the clamps certainly came in handy!)

    

    

Even though there was plenty of projects to do in and around the house, Nathan had still offered to paint the church front wall together with some other volunteers. It ended up being a three day project: the first day we ran out of paint mid wall, the second day we gave the first half a second coat and the second half the first, and the third day was a big touch up. That was necessary because most of the other volunteers were from the boy's home associated with the church and ranged in age from 11-13. Great workers, just a little drippy. The church looks great now and was ready just in time for the Christmas Eve service! 

Between all of this, Nathan somehow found time to relax and read his birthday present: a book on how to paint miniatures. 

  

With the signing of the contract to live in this wonderful house came also the responsibility of taking care of Flory's animals. So now we are the proud owners (not really, but it sounds better than "caretaker") of two chickens, a rooster (who is really not too loud in the morning), two cats (who both of us are starting to like and one of them already slept on our bed one night, and is actually laying in my lap right now while typing and I have to endure a little teasing from Nathan for) and a duck. That duck is breeding about 12 eggs. Ducklings soon! We just finished putting up a little chicken wire around a separate area so that the ducklings will be safe in the future. We seem to have some kind of rat/dog/fox type animal hunting our property, because we've found a little hole dug underneath the chicken wire and a cracked egg. With the new wire this little beast should not be able to get in. That means we can buy some chicks soon!

 

That is about the list of animals we have now. We are planning on buying a dog soon, for both security and pleasure. That means that Nathan has finally won: I always wanted a medium size dog and he a big one. Despite of this I still love him a lot.

We also want to buy a lamb and fatten it for a big feast in the future. We're trying to get everything together for a lamb on the spit. Mjam.

One big thing that I forgot to mention was the lack of electricity for 3 days. On Christmas Eve when we were getting ready for church, the entire house blacked out. We expected that to be one of the routine black-outs we have here in Guatemala, but when we walked to church we realized that all the other houses appeared to have light.

The next day we found two cables disconnected in the main switchbox, but we could not understand how everything worked because some wires were going in weird directions. Two days after that (Christmas day is not the best day to find an electrician) we finally found somebody who was willing and able to come out. In 10 minutes he had found the problem and showed us how somebody had willfully sabotaged our system. Till this moment we don't understand what happened, especially since we had electricity for the first 3 days we lived on the property and we cannot think of anybody who would have come on the property to sabotage the electricity. When we solve this problem, we'll certainly let you know!! (If you look closely at the picture you will be able to see Nathan holding a little U-shaped piece of wire connecting the positive directly with the negative wire.)

The big problem with no electricity was that we could not work after 6 o'clock at night when it got to dark. So we had a big backup in unpacking. (And in working on this update for that matter.) Our living room still looks a little bit like this.

We had a very nice Christmas, even without electricity. The tradition here is that you eat tamales (a common Latin-American food) on Christmas Eve, and we did that with the entire church.
On Christmas Day we worked in the morning to help out some friends in a small restaurant. It had been a while since we'd waited tables. It was good fun, but also reminded us of why we had become chiropractors... After that we had a Christmas dinner over at the boy's home and later that night a Christmas party at the same friends' house as that morning. And during all these fun events we forgot our camera. You'll just have to come down here to know what a (Guatemalan) tamale looks like and how it tastes.

So even though this update reaches you a little later than planned, we would like to wish you a very happy new year and hope you had a wonderful christmas.

 

The rest of the pictures of the house I will save until we are a little bit more organized so you don't get the impression that we are just slobs.

Love you all!

Annette and Nathan