May Photo Contest Winner!

A big THANK YOU to everyone who participated in the photo contest this month. It’s always so much fun to see how our artisanmade products are worn and loved.

Check out some of the photos we received… and scroll down to see the winner!

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Adrienne at Ben Lomond, California.  Amazing Redwood trees!  Fantastic to see our Quetzal Backpack and Hummingbird Wrap in the forest.

 

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Adrienne with her Quetzal Backpack and her new Corte Wrap, having fun at a Fair Trade fair in California.

Clifts of Moher Jessica O'Neill

Jessica at the Cliffs of Moher, Ireland, with her Hummingbird Boots.  What an incredible view!

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This one was actually an Instagram feature by Erin Outdoors @erinoutdoors… but throwing it in here because it’s so purdy.  Photo by @shortstache

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Kelly showing off her complete outfit with a Quetzal Wrap in Palo de la Vida and Quetzal Backpack.

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Kelly requested an oversize matching wallet for her backpack… they look great together!

 

AND THE WINNER IS…… (drum roll please…)

Holley, who spent an entire day shooting these shots with her friend Maya wearing her Macaw Boots at the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens.  I especially love that it shows how much fun they had on this beautiful day.  The magic is definitely real in this shoot that Holley titled “Alice in the Jungle Book”.

 

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Thank you everyone for taking part, and congratulations to Holley – she’ll be getting a Macaw Wallet of her choice, either Brick or Forest.  Yay!!

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Up-close and personal: Kelly from Cardamom Collective

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Meet Kelly!

Ladies and gentlemen: we’d like to introduce you to our friend Kelly Moe-Rossetto, founder of Cardamom Collective.  Kakaw Designs and Cardamom Collective have been cooking up handmade collaborations together, and it has been so much fun!  We think she’s quite an incredible person, and we wanted to hear more about her story.  We’re sure you’ll like her as much as we do after this interview:

 
1.What inspired you to start Cardamom Collective?
Cardamom Collective was started via a Tumblr blog several years ago. I had finished graduate school for Art Education and International Education. I loved being back in school and spending time talking with people who cared about the same things I did, it felt so exciting to be engaging in the world  this way. In graduate school I studied a Swedish form of folk craft which is also an educational curriculum called slojd, and I fell in love with handcraft, experiential learning through understanding the process of things and appreciating really well made home goods and textiles; functional art.  At the same time, I had traveled quite a bit by this point and was really drawn to the crossover I saw in many cultures of motifs, flavors and traditions, so much of that was a result of the Silk Road and Spice Trails and I began to explore those. I  wasn’t sure which form this would all take until I went to India while working at Khazana Imported Arts and Textiles and stepped foot in the printing village I did my first run of hand printed scarves with. The moment I got there, I knew it was where Cardamom Collective would begin.

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2. Your products are wonderfully eclectic – gorgeous scarves, handmade paint kits, little pouches… We love it all! What’s next?

Thank you! It’s hard for me to narrow it down, I love trying everything! I’m currently  designing my own ikat weave which is in the process now, and I am very excited about that.  I’m  focusing on finding a way to bring textiles into peoples homes in purposeful and sustainable ways. There are many traditions of textile use around the world: Japan, India, Uzbekistan, Peru, Guatemala, and many other countries have special cloths they use for specific things in the home and their daily life. I love the idea of being able to incorporate small pieces of art  and ceremony into the day. I’m also looking forward to offering more travel essentials, pouches and children’s items!

 

3. Your Instagram feed is THE BEST.  How did you get so good at taking such beautiful photos? (Check out both @cardamomcollective and @moeroindigo)
 

Thank you for your kind words, I just love taking photos and have since  I was little. I used to take entire rolls of Kodak film of just the clouds in the sky!  There are so many incredible images and photographers out there, it’s part of what I like about social media, being able to experience how others see the world. One thing that I try and do is take photos when I see something that inspires me, even if I’m not sure why at the time. Maybe it’s a color combination or a play of textures. Another thing I try not to do is tinker too much. It’s not to say that I never arrange things artfully but I try not to obsess about catching an image, and make an effort to stay in the moment. If the light pours through the window in a special way or I’m excited about an element I hope to capture it,  but if it’s just not working or I find myself  “curating” too heavily, I just let it go. I think people end up responding to what really inspires you, and often times if  you are listening, looking and being present in the world, others seem to be having similar experiences and appreciate the photos that much more.

 

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One of many Kakaw & Cardamom collaborations – the pouch was designed by Kelly and hand-embroidered by Kakaw artisans in Guatemala using naturally-dyed thread.

 
We love our collaborations – Cardamom and Kakaw go great together!  We’ve made pendants and pouches  so far, and we look forward to working more with Kelly.  We’re also so excited that she will be carrying Kakaw goodies at fairs as part of Cardamom Collective.  Make sure to go say hi to Kelly this weekend in Minneapolis:
 

 


 

Sweet Thursday: Sweet Sarah

Our special lovely lady of the week, Sarah – pura chapina.
Sarah with her 6 pairs of Kakaw boots!  Not all for her, some were to share as Christmas gifts ;)

Sarah with her 6 pairs of Kakaw boots! Not all for her, some were to share as Christmas gifts 😉

1.  Where are you from?  (I always like to ask this question to people who have an interesting background, it’s a difficult one for me to answer myself so I find it interesting…)
My name is Sarah, and I was born in Guatemala to American parents originating from Mississippi and Arkansas. During my childhood we frequently visited our family in the US, but as the years passed Guatemala truly became our home. As a teenager I went to boarding school in the north eastern part of the US, and then attended college in Miami where I continued to live for a few years after graduating. I guess you could say I have influences of all kinds… some good ol’ southern roots, a bit of New Englander’s charm mixed with the rich Latin culture that I love so much. However, if I had to give you the short version I would say I am a proud Guatemalan.
Sarah and Quentin

Sarah and Quentin

2. The word out there is that you work with therapy dogs.  For those of us not really familiar with how animals can be helpful in therapy, could you tell us how that works and what your role is?
I do work with therapy dogs and I love my job! I work at Fundación Waybi/Bocalán Guatemala, a non-profit organization. Our mission it is to improve the quality of life of people, helping them lead happier, more independent lives through our therapy and education programs, as well as our assistance dog program.
Our programs include Animal Assisted Interventions (AAI), these consist of Animal Assisted Therapies (AAT), Animal Assisted Education (AAE) and Animal Assisted Activities (AAA). AAT is the participation of a trained animal within a therapeutic process which is directed by a health professional, and is designed to promote improvement in physical, social, emotional and/or cognitive functioning. AAE is the inclusion of a trained animal in an educational program working with set objectives and directed by an education profesional, it facilitates learning by generating positive emotions. AAAs are planned activities with animals that have purely recreational purposes. We also train assistance dogs, these dogs are placed with individuals ranging from people with physical disabilities to children with Autism.  I am a certified trainer and technician in AAIs and work alongside these health and education professionals.
Love!

Love!

3.  We saw this lovely photo of you on Facebook.  Just with that one shot we can see the calming effect animals can have on people, and the loving relationship that can develop between us (humans) and dogs.  So, who is this giant teddy-bear looking fluff ball?
I love this picture! This is Quentin, he is one of many dogs we have at Fundación Waybi/Bocalán Guatemala. Quentin lives and works with me, I am his handler and trainer. “A giant teddy-bear looking fluff ball” is a perfect description of him! I’ve had the privilege of working with Quentin in many wonderful projects, from AAT with children with Down Syndrome, Autism and Cerebral Palsy to a fantastic AAE program in which we work at a school helping children learn mathematics in a fun way, generating positive emotions.
Quentin working at school

Quentin working at school

Research shows that people who are in a positive emotional state will be open to a learning experience, make more positive judgments and give more favorable feedback than someone in a negative state. I can tell you from personal experience, it is difficult to be in a negative state around Quentin! There truly is an incredible bond that develops between human beings and dogs, and it is with this knowledge that we endeavor to create and implement successful programs in an effort to better the lives of people through these amazing animals. To learn more about the programs and what we do, please visit us at www.fundacionwaybi.org or facebook.com/bocalanguatemala. You can also find more information about our certification course in AAI, as well as many other educational courses throughout the year.

Guess which boots she had custom-made!  Not at all surprising that she chose the textile with DOGS..... you think she might like dogs a little bit?  :D  We do too!!!

Guess which boots she had custom-made! Not at all surprising that she chose the textile with DOGS….. you think she might like dogs a little bit? 😀 We do too!!!

 

Sweet Thursday: Sweet Apple

 Woohoo we’re back with our Sweet Thursday series!  This week meet this absolute sweetheart: Apple!  Or as we liked to call her when she was in Guatemala, Manzanita 🙂

You may recognize her big smile and stunning curls from our website – she was one of our models last year during her visit in Guatemala, and we LOVE the shots we got of her.  Take a look at our website to spot more of Apple!

Apple at the Lake

Beautiful Apple lounging at Lake Atitlán

1. What?  You’re named after a fruit?  What’s the story there?
Well, to make a long story short, my mother was expecting a son and therefore prepared herself with the perfect boy’s name, clothing, etc. When I was born, she realized she didn’t have a backup girl’s name. Luckily, that’s when my dad came into the delivery room with a large basket of apples – my mom’s favorite fruit. Voila, creativity at it’s best (at the last minute!)
2. You’re an international child.  How do you think your experiences with different cultures and countries have shaped you?
I am very grateful for my international background as it has helped me understand various foundations of knowledge, decode seemingly odd behaviors, and truly appreciate the variety of people around me. I am almost as equally grateful for the superhuman stomach that it has equipped me with.
Apple with Hummingbird Scarf

Apple with Hummingbird Scarf

 
3. What was it like to model for Kakaw Designs?  (We know you’re a professional model, you did great, of course!)
Modeling for Kakaw Designs was fun! Not so much because I thought I was unleashing some untapped talent, but because we had to shoot in one of the most gorgeous locations in Guatemala. It was a great experience with a good group of people and I would love to do it again, wherever in the world Kakaw Designs decides to go next. (*hint, hint*)
We love you, Apple!

We love you, Apple!

Apple, we love you, and yes, we’ll keep you in mind for more photos in the future! XOXO

Sweet Thursday: Sweet Gloria

Meet Gloria, our first Sweet Thursday gal in 2015!  She’s awesome because, well, she’s just the sweetest, silly, laid-back and adventurous girl around, but also we love that she is the first to be part of the Sweet Thursday series all the way from Europe.

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1. Where are you from?

My name is Gloria and I ́m from Spain. I live in Benicassim, a small town next to the beach. Living here is nice and quiet and the weather is warm most of the year.

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2. We know you’ve lived in the US too. What was that like?

I spent my junior year in Walnut Creek, a little town next to San Francisco. And I must admit it was one of the most enriching experiences of my life. I learned a lot about a culture and a lifestyle very different to mine and I had the chance to go to high school and meet very interesting people, many with whom I still maintain contact, which I love. It was such a unique experience, one which enabled me to grow and overcome obstacles, like English.  I never thought it would be possible for me to learn the language the way I did.

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3. Where is your next trip destination? You have lots of places to choose from around Europe, or do you want to go further away?

There are so many places that I’d love to travel t0.  In fact, my dream is to visit as many places and get to know as many cultures as possible, because I really believe that’s the best way to grow as a person.

But I do have one special place in mind that I’d like to make my next destination: Argentina.  I’ve dreamed of traveling there for years now, and I hope to be able to make that dream come true soon.

 Gloria

Sweet Thursday: Sweet Leah

This week’s treat: Leah from Roanoke, Virginia.
Leah and I met when she was in Guatemala earlier this year.  We got to talking, it didn’t take long for me to see how cool she was, with her knitting projects and riding horses (probably not at the same time).  Leah, you’re awesome and you look gorgeous in your Macaw Boots!Leah horse 2
 1. What brought you to Guatemala, and how was your experience?
I’ve been going to Guatemala for the past five years and spending time in a community in Chichicastenango. My college church at Florida State has been involved with a church there and its community. There is now a community center built there for the church and the residents and sometimes FSU students will stay there for a few months to hang out with the community and build up their spanish language skills. I have made some great relationships there and it was really cool bringing my husband for the first time and introducing him to some of the people who knew me before I was married.
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2. Where is your next dream destination, if you could go anywhere in the world?  Why?
I would love to go back to Rome. I thrive in places filled with history, that breathe life into our busy world by standing the test of time.
3. What makes you happy?
What makes me happy is being there for someone in a time of need. I am in school for Occupational Therapy, which is therapy for the upper body. This includes incidents that have impaired a persons ability to care for themselves or changed the way they  live/work/play, and get them to a place that they can function independently and live a full life. Our dog Bear is going to be trained as a therapy dog so that I can take him to work everyday and encourage patients in their therapy. Watching him bring joy to people makes me so happy and I can’t wait for him to help people during vulnerable times in their lives.
4. How do you rock your Macaw Boots?
Jeans, a leather jacket from Rome, and a cowl-wrap I made (similarly to the wrap Jennifer Lawrence wears in Catching Fire, it’s corny but it was a school project and it’s awesome!).
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Sweet Thursday: Sweet Sarah

This week’s beauty, inside and out: Sarah!
** Just a friendly reminder: 25% off  with code HappyHolidays2014 **Sarita
1. Where are you from?  (Is this a simple question or a rather complicated one to answer?)
It’s a tough question, haha! I was born and raised in Paris, France. When I was 13, my mom and I moved to the SF Bay Area, where she remarried shortly thereafter. I finished high school in the city and attended college at UC Davis. I’ve lived in Boston for five years now, but when people ask me where I’m from, I’ll often either give a short answer and say California, or give the longer version and recount this story. To me, Paris and the Bay Area are both my homes, but in different sentimental ways.
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2. So the word is that your dog is famous.  What’s this about??
HA! We rescued Remy a year ago from a non-profit organization called the Sato Project. Their mission is to rescue abandoned and hurt dogs from Puerto Rico who have been dumped on a beach called Dead Dog Beach. Animal cruelty is a big problem there. After we adopted Remy, a volunteer from the organization contacted me to say that they were looking for a cute pup to represent them in the catalog of an online dog supply store called “In the Company of Dogs.” They thought Remy would be great for this, so he went to get his picture taken with toys and ended up a model in their catalog. The photographers and catalog teams loved him so much that they made him Dog of The Month for April 2014. It was SO fun!
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3. When is the best time to wear your Kakaw boots in the Boston area?
Hands down, the best season for the short boots is the Fall – also the best season in New England. The temperatures are crisp but still comfortable, the weather is dry, the foliage turns all kinds of reds, browns, yellows and even purples. Parks in New England look like paintings! It’s the perfect time to wear the boots without worrying about the cold or humidity, not to mention that the textile color pairs beautifully with this scenic landscape.
 In pretty Autumn
4. How do you like to wear your boots? 
The boots can be paired with so many different outfits. I love corduroys, but they work with skinny jeans, as well as with skirts or tunics with leggings. They’re very fun and you can create many styles!
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Thanks, Sarah, for sending us these gorgeous shots of you, and answering our questions.  You look great!

Sweet Thursday: Sweet Holley

This week’s dose of Sweet Thursday!  

She’s one of the sweetest of all the sweets, we’d say, and a great friend.  Holley, you are amazing: always positive, incredibly dedicated, stunning of course, and as this interview shows, smart as hell.  Come back to Guatemala soon.  We miss you.

Dulce Holley

Dulce Holley

1. What is your favorite place in Guatemala?  Why?
I am a bit torn on whether or not to indulge information regarding my favorite place in Guatemala. 😉 On the one hand, I love the idea of sharing its splendor with others, but at the same time one of the things I love about it is that it remains mostly undiscovered, tranquil and pristine because there isn’t a load of foot traffic tromping through it. Unbeknownst to most of the sunbathers and swimmers at the El Pilar pools, there is a trail leading out the back of the park through a gorgeous and well-kept nature reserve that includes about 2km of hiking trail through flourishing country, dotted with strange mushrooms, vibrant flowers, and an incredible array of bird life. At the base of the trail is a hummingbird garden, where I used to love to sit with a couple of my girl friends and enjoy a picnic lunch while we marveled at the spectrum of bejeweled creatures whizzing around the feeders and hibiscus bushes. It’s an easy walk from the center of Antigua, and may be one of the few places where one can appreciate the remarkable, lush ecology of Guatemala as it must have once been before we came along – there’s no rumbling of chicken buses spewing diesel smoke, just birdsong and fresh air. A perfect escape. 
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2. So you’re a bird lover… so are we! (Have you noticed our collections are birds?) What’s your favorite bird?
Oh the names of your product lines had certainly not escaped my notice. 😉 I seem to have built up a bit of a reputation as a bird nerd around Antigua, haven’t I? Well, I suppose I am flattered. Something about birds – they occupy such a broad and vibrant pallet across the dazzling kaleidoscope of nature with their incredible array of sizes, shapes, colors, patterns, and voices. They are remarkable creatures; each with their own song to sing, and so lucky as to have the gift of flight! What I wouldn’t give to be able to sing and fly and wear such glorious, shimmering colors every day. Choosing a favorite is like having to pick a single star from the galaxy, but I do very much admire the albatross for the remarkable life it leads (hence the tattoo!). I think you and I got to talking about them, the largest flying bird in the world, and about how they dance! I see something of myself in their pattern of living: going away and off to sea on their own, traveling for months on end without ever seeing home or family – and yet, always finding their way back to the same place when the time comes, somehow knowing just when it is the right moment to return.
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3. We know you were doing some grassroots community work in rural Guatemala.  What was that like, as a young girl from the US?
Phew, well, life in rural Guatemala. As you figured, I could easily write a full essay on the myriad of experiences gleaned from living on my own up in the Cuchumatanes while doing development work, but I’ll try to condense it for you here. I will say that folks who come to Guatemala and just stick to the familiar tourist circuit – Antigua, Lago Atitlan, Semuc Champey, and Tikal – well, they barely scratch the surface of the multitude of complex, textured layers that comprise this country. Living for a year in a “typical” village up in Huehuetenango was incredible, challenging, formative, compelling, and enlightening. It was often truly difficult – feeling isolated, not just because of language barriers and my light skin, but coming from a background that contrasted so starkly with that of everyone around me. Even more challenging was feeling powerless in the face of some truly monstrous issues that constructed everyday reality: extreme poverty, hunger, environmental degradation, ignorance, gender discrimination and abuse, violence, and corruption. But, of course, that’s exactly why I was there. And that was the amazing part of it – everything I learned, the relationships I formed, the beautiful textures and colors and smells and sounds of la vida guatemalteca. I believe that we, as outsiders, can only be effective to a certain point in combating the multifaceted exigencies of poverty if we have never lived alongside it, no matter how noble our intentions or loving our hearts. And I am beyond grateful for the opportunity to have been there. While I still could never claim to truly empathize with what it is like to be sincerely impoverished, there were a number of little things – going days on end without electricity sometimes, having to wash clothes on a washboard, having to hike for miles to get to a village because there were no roads – that helped form a sympathetic mind-frame and context that kept my avidity for the work burning, and helped ensure that our projects were meaningful and our relationships deep. I learned that I was not as strong as I imagined myself to be, but that perhaps in admitting the gaps in my knowledge and character, I was better positioned to let the environment and people around me teach me what was truly needed, important, and purposeful. I will take that experience with me forward, ingrained into my perception of the world, and hopefully never fail to apply it to the work I do in the future. Perhaps that’s all a bit cheesy, but you’re catching me right in that post-landing reflective period! I also learned how to make some delicious black beans, to boot. 🙂
And yes, she's a goof ball!

And yes, she’s a goof ball!

Thanks for taking the time to write to us, Holley.  You look great in your Macaw Boots!

Sweet Thursday: Sweet Krystal

Krystal was so nice to take and send us these gorgeous photos all the way from DC with her Kakaw boots!  We think she’s pretty awesome for that, but that’s not the only reason.  Read on:

Sweet Krystal enjoying the cherry blossoms in DC

Sweet Krystal enjoying the cherry blossoms in Washington DC

1. Where are you from, and where do you live now?  

I hail from California but currently reside in DC as a Fellow at the US Environmental Protection Agency.

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2. Can you tell us about the day these stunning photos were taken?  
My boyfriend and I had a 6am date on a Thursday. It was spring and the notorious DC cherry blossoms were in bloom for only a week. We had a Nikon D3100 camera, coffee, and were ready to shoot some beautiful pictures. We thought we were clever but there were already quite a few of tourist and locals trying to capture the bloom. Every time we tried to take pictures there were three other people in the frame. But we were not deterred! It was a beautiful morning and we had at least a couple of hours before work! We walked along the Lincoln Memorial and Tidal Basin (which is located right next to the Jefferson Memorial) and voila! We found several spots of peace and quiet. But the real money shots were when we decided to leave and get a well deserved croissant for breakfast. On our walk we found beautiful spots reflecting the Washington Monument. It was a great morning and yes, it was a wonderful date.
What a sweet couple :)

What a sweet couple 🙂

 
3. We know you came to visit Guatemala a couple of times, do you have a favorite spot?
Guatemala is such an awesome place and I encourage everyone to take a walk through it. My favorite spot is two folds. The first is Earth Lodge which is a natural retreat located above Antigua and with views of Guatemala’s volcanos. And Santa Clara, a local bakery, with their delicious, if you could guess it…fresh baked croissant.
Thanks again, Krystal, for sharing the photos and stories!  Thank your boyfriend for us too 🙂  We hope you’ll come back to visit us in Guatemala again. 
And to all the sweet girls out there with Kakaw gear – we’d love to hear from you! hello@kakawdesigns.com

Sweet Thursday: Sweet Brianna

Round Three on the weekly series highlighting some of our most spectacular Kakaw gear owners.  It’s so fun to hear their stories, and Bri sure is not short of stories!

Bri and Berry

1. Where is home for you?
 Well if they say “home is where the heart is” than I would have to say my heart is split in 2. Part of my heart I left in my home town of Colorado Springs, Colorado. It’s like my little treasure box full of loved ones and good memories, plus the mountains make it a simply georgeous place to be. 

The other part of my heart I keep with me. His name is Aaron (husband) so where ever he is, home is too:) 

2. How long have you been in Antigua, and what do you do in town?
December marks my official 2 year anniversary in Antigua! I think I’ve been back to the States twice. I’m at the point where I am expecting people to come and visit me! 
My husband and I run a free cafe for the homeless. We opened about a year ago and it has been so much fun seeing it grow. The basic goal is to offer a safe place for the homeless and drug addicts to come so that we can help them get back on their feet. We host clinics, run clothing drives and work closely with rehabs in the city. All of this with a free cup of coffee. It’s a simple concept, but we hope to make a big impact. 
 
3. Could you share with us some of your favorite things about Guatemala, and some of the most difficult challenges you’ve encountered here?
 Oooooh. 
Favorite things: comida típica (including Pollo Compero!), the language, open markets and the ever changing expat community that is Antigua. La gente are funnier than I had expected and their loyalty in friendship is something that people in the States could learn from. 
Challenges: I know this sound funny, but I really miss the change of seasons; the snow especially. I also tend to be more introverted so the crowds and openly friendly culture can sometimes be overwhelming for me. Ooh and interstates….I miss interstates… 
Bri Coffee

Pondering life in Guatemala…

“I love you too”

Thank you so much for sharing, Bri!  You’re awesome and just inspiring to chat with.  And you look great in your Macaw Boots 🙂