Monday, November 30, 2009
As you know from the last post, my luggage did not arrive in Atlanta from Cancun and there was sadness all around. I should have updated our blog with the news but getting reacquainted with American food has been a challenge. (Hmmm....is that a sign?). I have good news: when we arrived in Valdosta from Atlanta on the 24th, my bag appeared on the carousel! The team was very happy as was I. Thanks to all that expressed their concern.
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
We've had a bit of a tough time trying to get through all the security checkpoints and clearing customs twice each way. They are really interested in the amount of equipment we are carrying, and Jeff actually had to pay a computer tax in Cancun, because he was carrying two laptops. My portable printer has been another source of interest as well.
Right now, we are sitting in ATL waiting on the last leg of our flight to VLD. Cameron got home (he left us earlier in ATL, since he lives here and will be home for Thanksgiving.) It's been a long day... a long week... but very rewarding, to say the least.
Peten was absolutely incredible yesterday. It truly was a chance of a lifetime to tour some of the world's most intriguing ruins at Tikal Park. Here's a photo, just to give you a taste of what it was like:
We'll be continuing our work, for sure. There's lots to be done, reports to be written, and things to be shared with all. This is a great week, and we all are excited to see our family and friends. More later, I am sure.
Sunday, November 22, 2009
There remains much to be accomplished as we wind down this trip, but we will always remember the great people we have met and the camaraderie we have enjoyed. Each and every team member has discovered (and shared) hidden talents during this time.
This will be all for now, as our attendees for this afternoon's training sessions are beginning to arrive.
Tomorrow is MONDAY, FUN DAY!! Yay!! We will wake very early and load the bus at 5:15AM to head to Tikal. Hotel Gringo Perdido will pack us a lunch to take and we will enjoy exploring Tikal National park until around 2PM. After that we plan to take one last stroll through the village to do some shopping and have one last experience with these great people! After that we will have our normal night routine...sunset, dinner, star gazing and BED! Tuesday morning we fly out of Flores at 8:30 and return back to Valdosta at 9:43!!
We have all been very blessed to have been given this great opportunity! I know that we will all be leaving here with many great stories and aspirations of ways to continue helping the great people of El Remate. This will be our last blog until we reach the Atlanta airport Tuesday afternoon. Thank you to everyone for all of their support, we look forward to more amazing updates for you once we arrive in the states!
After a hard mornings work on the website and on Nikki and Scott’s presentations, Anne and Enrique invited us over for lunch. Lunch was amazing. We had a rice dish with chicken and chilies amongst other things. I am going to have to get the recipe. For dessert, Anne served us the “Ultimate Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich.” The outside tasted like a warm peanut butter cookie with big peanut chunks and inside there were two different kinds of jellies: watermelon and strawberry jelly. They were fantastic. After lunch, it was time to have some fun. Anne took us to a canopy tour about twenty minutes away and the ride was not easy because the road to the tour had thousands of potholes, so we had to swerve left and right to avoid them.
Once we got there, it was time to strap up. Because of my size, it took awhile to get me ready, and they needed about four extra carabineers to make sure everything was secure on me. Once everyone was strapped up, we walked up the swinging bridge and it was time for our adventure. Elmer and Earl were our guides and were definitely pros at the zip-line. This was definitely one of the highlight moments of the trip. Everyone had a great time and no one was afraid of heights. There were about 12 to 15 different zip-lines that were part of the course, and the majority was around 50 ft. high, but some were 75 ft, and a couple was a 100 ft. high in the canopy. Some of the lines our guides told us not use the break and not hold on. They called it “monkeying.” That was a lot of fun except for I hit some leaves and branches, and I almost hit my head on a tree and other things because of my size and length. Sometimes we would not make it all the way to the end of the zip-line so we would have to pull ourselves to the end. It was quite the workout, plus being at the top of the canopy was very smoldering and we were all sweating profusely. Nevertheless, we had a great time and I can’t wait to go zip-lining again soon. Our next escapade was to Ix – Lu. It is an old Mayan site that Anne showed us around, and we climbed to the top of an old pyramid that the Earth has reclaimed and now just looks like a big hill. Ms. Anne also found us some ancient pieces of Mayan clay pottery.
After looking at the Mayan ruins, we raced back to Gringo Perdido to catch a glimpse of the superb sunset. To get a better view I put my camera in a zip-lock bag and swam out to the floating pontoon boat right off the shoreline of Lake Petén. By the time I reached the boat I was out of breath because I could only swim with one hand to keep my camera dry and above water. Just in the nick of time, we were able to capture some perfect pictures of the sunset as it slowly sank into the horizon. Following our swim was dinner. It was delicious as usual. We started with a chicken broth and potato soup and a cabbage, carrot, and raisin coleslaw. The main course was two burritos with vegetables inside. I have grown very fond of the habenero hot sauce. I have been using it more liberally each meal we have. I guess it is somewhat of an acquired taste. For dessert, we had a bowl of succulent rice milk custard that tasted like Coldstone Sweet Cream Ice Cream.
The only thing left to do was some stargazing and talk with each other, and then it was lights out to get ready for Sunday.
Sunday started early with a 7:30 AM breakfast. We had hot bananas, granola cereal with milk, and a pair of eggs over easy with salsa and potatoes. The only thing necessary to add was some spicy habenero sauce. To work off our breakfast we decided to tour the Biotopo Cerro Cahui. It was kind of expensive at 40 Quetzals, but we went anyway. It was a very tough 2.5 miles hike with lots of hills. We were hot, sweaty, and tired, but all of us needed the exercise. After the hike, we took a dip in the pool, and then it was time to get ready for the presentations this afternoon. We are hoping to have a good turnout, and we believe it will be very beneficial to the locals.
As we were setting up the room for the presentation we forgot to bring the projector, so Anne and I had to run back by Gringo Perdido to pick it up. It was not a big deal because we came up to Project Ix-Canaan early enough in case something like that did happen.
Today will be our last day to use computers for e-mail and to work on the website. Tomorrow will be a fun day. We are going to see the world-famous Mayan Ruins of Tikal. It will be an early morning but the excitement should empower us to get out of the bed and on the road. That will be a day trip and we will be exhausted when we get back. Tuesday, we will have to say our goodbyes to this Guatemalan Paradise. We catch and early flight… knock on wood… we hope everything goes the way it is supposed to, and we will be able to see our loved ones Tuesday night.
Thanks to all who kept up with our blog and posted comments. We are in a pickle because we would love to stay longer to enjoy and explore all that Central America has to offer, but then also we all miss our families and can’t wait to spend Thanksgiving with them. This truly was a life changing experience, and all four of us will take so much away from we have learned and the new memories we have with each other in Guatemala. We were given the opportunity to work with the locals from Guatemala, and share our expertise on business and marketing. The ability to share our knowledge and expertise is why have all worked so hard to achieve a higher education. There is no greater gift we can give the locals here then to share with them our knowledge, and hopefully they can use and apply what we have taught them to change not only their lives but also the surrounding communities of Lake Petén for the better.
The group is suited up and ready to go!!
Nikki swinging on the zipline!
Cameron does the "monkey", as our guides, Earl and Elmer, called it.
It was very exhilarating and we all had a great time.
After the canopy tour, we went to a Mayan site called Ixlu. After that it was back to Hotel Gringo Perdido and a swim in Lago Peten Itza with the sunset. Then dinner, stars and bed.
Tomorrow we go to Tikal National Park. The bus leaves at 5:15 am so it will be early to bed for us tonight. This is our last opportunity to post until we reach the US. We hope all of you are enjoying our posts.
Saturday, November 21, 2009
Scott rebuilt Hotel Gringo Perdido's website, at least the skeleton, yesterday. That was a major accomplishment that we were looking forward to beginning. Today, Cameron and I will try to flesh out the rest of it as time permits.
We had a great lunch in the village of El Remate with an excellent view of the "cocrodillo". This land formation is where Hotel Gringo Perdido is located.
After lunch we walked through part of the village to deliver more seminar flyers. El Remate is very interesting. The people are very friendly and the children are so cute. They love to have their picture taken as you can see.
Our day ended with us traveling back to Hotel Gringo Perdido around 5 p.m. The sun starts setting about 5:30 and it is definitely dark by 6:30. Along the way we stopped to watch some children playing soccer and having fun as the day ended.
The sunset is truly magnificent and will take your breath away. These two visitors to Hotel Gringo Perdido are sharing the moment.
Friday, November 20, 2009
First light from the docks of El Gringo Perdido
Cameron & Nikki head out from Gringo Perdido to begin a long day
Some of the beautiful children that are being taught at Ix-Canaan
Last evening, I was privileged to host a strategic planning session for Hotel Gringo Perdido. Anne Lossing and Alphonse, the property manager, participated, and we brainstormed many ideas to improve the marketing efforts of the hotel. She gave us "carte-blanche" to make changes to the web site, so we are starting with a clean slate. It turns out that Cameron is proving to be an excellent copy-writer, so I'm excited to see how this unfolds for us. I'm also pleased by Jeff's photographic vision, and know that he has many images of the beautiful flora and fauna that surrounds us. Nikki is also visionary, in that she is constantly seeing many potential opportunities to make a difference in the future.
We've identified many potential tasks that need to be performed. While our primary goal is to work hard, learn, and help, we also want to have fun while we're at it! Anne is wonderfully entertaining us, with plans to do a canopy (zipline) tour, observe a Mayan fire ceremony, and tour Tikal National Park. Just remember that our primary goal is to work hard!
Thursday, November 19, 2009
We have made it here to Guatemala safely. Yesterday it was very tough
traveling... we had to take three airplanes just to get down here and
it took around thirteen hours. I had to get up about 4:00 AM and did
not get much sleep after that. Unfortunately, we had to go through
customs twice.... Once in Cancun.... and again when we arrived at
Once in Flores we were picked up by Humberto and driven to Hotel Gringo
Perdido. The ride took about 40 minutes, but it was really cool seeing
everything between the airport and hotel. The hotel is beautiful and
set in such a peaceful setting. It is located off the beaten path and
you have to travel on a bumpy road to get there but it is definitely
worth it. It is tucked away in such a pristine and well preserved area.
I would definitely recommend anyone to come here. The room is very
interesting. It has three walls and a door with an open wall looking
out to Lake Peten. In my room I have a huge king-sized bed and a little
twin. It kind of looks like a princesses room because of the way the
mosquito nets draped over the bed. It slept really well and I have a
fan so I was not too hot.
After settling in we met with Anne, the hotel manager that we will be
working with. We came out of our room just in time to see a beautiful
sunset. It was truly amazing and the thing is that everyday here at the
hotel you can see a beautiful sunset and sunrise. She gave us a tour of
the grounds and we were very impressed. Also, she showed us around the
new luxurious hotel that they are building next door. It is really
going to be something spectacular.
After our tour, we sat down for our delicious four-course meal. We
started with broccoli soup, followed by a cucumber dish. Our main
course was amazing with chicken, potatoes, carrots, etc... We finished
the night off with a delicious banana bread which might rival my
Nana's. The bananas were picked from around the hotel and were
delicious. To drink we had a delicious, sweet rice drink, which to me,
tasted like a Wendy's vanilla frosty for perspective.
Dinner was spectacular, but afterwards we went down to the dock to go
stargazing. Words cannot express the beauty of the sky. I have never
seen so many stars and with such great clarity. This area is so pure
and clean we must have been able to see a million stars.
This morning breakfast was as tasty as dinner. We started off with
watermelon and bananas... followed by eggs, potatoes, black beans, and
tomatoes. To drink we had a freshly squeezed pineapple juice.
Now we are caught up... Anne took us to Project Ix-Canaan where she
works with local villagers from everything from education to medicine.
I am looking forward to working here with the locals. This is truly
going to be an amazing trip. Until next time...
Hello all! We arrived at Hotel Gringo Perdido yesterday evening after a full day of travel. It was a very interesting trip, especially customs at the Flores, Guatemala entry. More about that later. Our flight from Cancun was in a small turboprop airplane. The cabin was unpressurized which meant we flew so that the ground was very visible the entire trip.
We toured the grounds of the hotel and it is very expansive and colorful. After a great meal, were treated to a view of the stars that I have never experienced. It was FANTASTIC! Then to bed.
This morning we had a great breakfast of eggs, tomatoes, black beans, whole wheat bread and a blended fresco of pineapple juice. We are going to tour Ix Canaan now. Cheers!
Our team has arrived in Guatemala...we got to Hotel Gringo Perdido last night around 4:45 PM local time. We enjoyed a tour of the hotel and land which was beautiful. We then enjoyed a great dinner, prepared hand made from the staff. It was great to view the water as we ate dinner and after we took a step out onto the deck to see all the beautiful stars. It is amazing!! You do not see the stars in Valdosta like you do in El Remate!! After a restful night for most we are currently at Project Ix-Canaan contacting our loved ones and preparing to tour Ix-Canaan and the amazing city!! We will keep you all informed as soon as possible!
The picture is one taken by Jeff as we toured the hotel land last night...BEAUTIFUL!!!
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Wow...too much left to do and not enough time. However, I guess I will make time. The malaria drug is taking a toll on me in the mornings...I feel really bad.
I have loose ends to tie up at work; my students have been so nice wishing me safe travels and such. They are a good group. My staff has been great putting up with my craziness as I get ready to depart.
I guess I will be up packing tonight, going over my checklist(s) (yes I have several!). I have no film for the video camera so I better get to Sam's Club soonest or I will be in BIG trouble!
Above is a photo of sunrise at Lake Peten Itza taken from the web. I will be posting my photos soon but I wanted everyone to have a look. I'll post again soon, probably in the morning.
Link to Hotel Gringo Perdido
In less than 24 hours, we'll be winging our way to El Gringo Perdido Ecological Inn, located in El Remate. Tomorrow will be an early day, with lots of waiting... and flying... and waiting some more. We'll try to update the blog as we travel, but please be patient.
Monday, November 16, 2009
Well, only 2 days left to clear up projects and finish packing for this trip. I am excited, a bit anxious and very ready to go. My teammates were fortunate in that they have been taking their malaria meds for the past several weeks. I started mine today...with predictable results. Now I know what they have been suffering thru.
Other than that, I believe things are going well. I believe we can accomplish much while we are in El Remate and build an ongoing relationship with everyone.
Sunday, November 15, 2009
Thursday, November 19th - Morning: Tour Gringo Perdido, village of El Remate, Project Ix-Canaan. Afternoon: Facilitate a strategive planning session with Anne Lossing (manager) and Eduardo Cofino (owner) of Gringo Perdido.
Friday, November 20th - Work on projects for Gringo Perdido as identified in strategic planning session.
Saturday, November 21st - Work on projects for Gringo Perdido and Project Ix-Canaan as time allows.
Sunday, November 22nd - Training programs: Using Microsoft Office Live to create a web page for your business (Nikki Mitchell) & Implementing a social media campaign to build your business (Scott Manley)
Monday, November 23rd - Tour Tikal National Park
Tuesday, November 24th - Depart Flores, Guatemala at 8:25 AM local time, fly to Cancun, Atlanta, and Valdosta at 9:43 PM local time.
Friday, November 13, 2009
There is much left to do. The team met Wednesday to review our progress on our individual assignments and to make a list of new questions. I think we are making progress.
I am looking forward to putting a lens on Lake Peten Itza and the opportunity to photograph El Remate, Hotel Gringo Perdido, the Biotopo Cerro Cahui Natural Reserve and of course Tikal, home of the ancient Mayan Civilization.
Thursday, November 12, 2009
Today, the team sat in on a strategic planning session with one of my small business clients where we spent 2.5 hours facilitating a discussion for the business owners to tell us what is important for them to be working on. The objective of these sessions is to elicit goals that the company would like to meet: for example, marketing, managerial, financial, or procedural goals. Once the goals have been sketched out, the next step is to begin formulating strategies to help in meeting the goals. Every strategy has a tactic and actions that must be developed, budgeted for, and assigned to a specific person or group of people. This is quite a tedious process, but is important to identify the most pressing needs of the company.
What is sometime most overwhelming for an entrepreneur is to realize they need to spend more time working ON their business than IN their business! For instance, an interior designer may really love to do design work, but hate paperwork and record-keeping. Unfortunately the necessary evils of being in business (record-keeping, customer relations, reporting and paying taxes, etc.) require that an entreprenuer either develop systems or hire someone to handle these tasks for them. It's not enough to be a great designer, you have to wear many hats... and to be successful, you have to wear them well!
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Sunday, November 8, 2009
Just a little bit about me:
Jeff Shipley has over 25 years of management experience in various industries, such as manufacturing, food service and wholesale/retail sales. Jeff holds degrees in Finance and Accounting as well as a Master of Business Administration. At the Langdale College of Business, his responsibilities include the four computer labs, all faculty and staff computers as well as all printers and other peripheral equipment. In addition, he provides audio/visual support to functions and activities that are held on the North Campus of Valdosta State University. After serving several years as a technical advisor to Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE), Jeff was named a Sam Walton Fellow and became one of the faculty advisors to the student organization. His areas of responsibility include advising the SIFE sponsored, student run business, Business Bites, event photography, video production and webpage maintenance. Jeff also serves as technical advisor to another student organization, Beta Alpha Psi, Mu Zeta Chapter. Jeff is a former volunteer with the Red Cross, Habitat for Humanity and served on the Board of Directors of the Valdosta/Lowndes County Humane Society as Treasurer.
Saturday, November 7, 2009
I am a senior Accounting and Finance major at Valdosta State University. I am originally from Valdosta and love the area. I have been involved in SIFE for three years now. I started out as the secretary and as the years have progresses so have my positions. My second year in the organization I was Programs Director and this year I am the President. SIFE is a great organization the gives students opportunities to reach out and help others as well as helping yourself.
I am really looking forward to out trip to Guatemala. I think it will be a very beneficial experience for the people of El Remate, in addition, to VSU SIFE and the SBDC. I know that the process has been very busy lately because our team has faced many unexpected challenges, however, I think that we have an amazing group of individuals heading up this project!
Friday, November 6, 2009
It may be helpful for those reading the blog to know a little bit about us... here is my "formal" biography:
Before joining the Small Business Development Center, Scott Manley gained extensive experience in the private sector. A former small business owner, he has experience in the fields of retail management, manufacturing, logistics, financial management, and sales management. He holds a Bachelor of Business Administration with emphasis in Management, as well as a Master of Business Administration, both from Valdosta State University. Mr. Manley serves on the Business Advisory Board of Valdosta State University’s Chapter of Students in Free Enterprise, and on the Economic Restructuring Committee for Valdosta’s Main Street program. He has also served as Chair of Section 1533 of the American Society for Quality, on the Board of Directors of the Quitman/Brooks County Chamber of Commerce, and as a founding member of the Small Business Committee of the Thomasville/Thomas County Chamber of Commerce. Mr. Manley is regionally and nationally recognized for his expertise in QuickBooks®, search marketing and optimization, and new product development. In 2006, Mr. Manley was awarded the ASBDC Distinguished Service Award by the Association of Small Business Development Centers, and in 2008, he was recognized as the Georgia SBDC Network's Consultant of the Year. In 2009, he was recognized as the Association of Small Business Development Center's "State Star."
Thursday, November 5, 2009
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
This project is led by Scott Manley, Assistant Director of the VSU SBDC and SIFE Business Advisory Board Member, along with Jeff Shipley, SIFE Faculty Advisor. Students participating include Cameron Hoopes, a junior marketing major, and Nikki Mitchell, a senior finance and accounting major and current VSU SIFE president.
Today, Wednesday 11/4, starts the last round of vaccinations. We've already been poked and prodded (several times!), but now must start our oral malaria and typhoid vaccinations. Our little group will depart Valdosta at 5:45 on Wednesday, November 18th. We'll fly to Atlanta, then to Cancun, and finally to Flores, Guatemala, where we will be escorted to Hotel Gringo Perdido outside the village of El Remate. We'll spend the next five days working with the Hotel Gringo Perdido and project Ix-Canaan before returning home on Tuesday, November 24th.