Guatemalan Driving School

Another full day of surprises and challenges or rather surprising challenges. Before leaving the project at Malacatan on Saturday, I was asked to translate a conversation between the American volunteers, Janet and Dennis, the board members of the Guatemalan association which will actually run and own the project and the project manager from the NGO that is buying the land and constructing the buildings. A little complicated.

It seems, through lack of communication or something that the property just became smaller. No legal description was included in the offer to purchase, only the total amount of land, so now the volunteers found out that the one boundary is somewhere between 6 and 30 feet closer from where they were originally shown it was. Opps. The conversation went relatively well and three of the Guatemalan Board, and Dennis set off to actually measure the boundary to find out if it is 6 or perhaps 30 feet in from hedge that borders the property. This type of omission of accurate information does occur here and I do hope they are able to resolve their differing positions.

Fortunately Corrina, Jaz and I had a deadline to hit the road for our trip back to Antigua and we said our goodbyes and headed east rising out of the subtropical heat. The road was busy with many trucks, some double trailers carrying incredibly big loads of sugar cane to the processing plant. I think their top speed downhill is only 60 km (35mph) and uphill, well, I could walk faster.

I like driving in Guatemala. There are none of the frivolous and fancy things like speed limits, or actually any highway regulations to stop one from driving like it is a video game. The only difference from a video game is that here on the highway there is no rest button and you die. Wrecks are common and deadly. Lots of obstacles like animals, boulders in the road, landslides, many times cars in the oncoming lane passing on blind curves and suddenly they are in your lane. Wow, this is almost fun.

Then there are the chicken buses -turbo charged diesel converted school buses driven by men with an overt death wish or drivers that believe they are invincible because they have a Jesus decal on their windshield. Whichever the case, I give them lots of room and expect crazy stuff from them. Riding in a chicken bus is like a life and death Disney ride on steroids - going around curves so fast the wheels on one side might as well be off the ground. I included a few road trip pictures to entice you to call your AAA or CAA road club for maps, so you too can make the trip.

We did arrive in Antigua five hours later, my hands still clenched in the shape of the steering wheel. I quickly found my hotel for the night, dropped off my stuff off and headed out to do some errands. I had brought a pair of freshly polished shoes from Canada, so what else would I do but look for Domingo, our shoe shine friend to polish them again. That is a picture of him, his brother and sister. I then went to our favorite silversmith to do some covert shopping, (don’t read this Heather), stopped by to say hello to Heather/Alicia’s mandolin teacher and Dora, the weaver who makes our Somos bracelets.

After that flurry of activity, and sending some emails, I had a quick snack (cheese pupusas) from a street vendor at the Merced Church and I am now in my hotel waiting for Corrina to call signaling she has arrived in town, so we can go to dinner. After that who knows, perhaps a midnight drive in the moonlight. But driving at night here is another story.
I hope you always have a safe road trip too,



A+ Tutoring Service
Alexma Diversified Services
Arts Club Theatre
Bamboletta Dolls
Beats without Borders
Blue Hat Systems
Capers Community Market
Detzler Chiropractic
Earthly Presence
El Camino VolunTours
Ethical Bean Coffee
Festival Theatres
Flower Factory
Gap Adventures
International Year of the Tiger Foundation
Jelly Bean Junction
Lattimer Gallery
Little Nest Cafe
Los Guerreros Mexican Food
Margot’s Custom Cakes
Miranda’s Hat
My Living Canvas
Philosophy the Salon
Project Seres
Purple Dragon Academy
Que Pasa Mexican Foods
Red Mountain Resort
Richmond Go-Kart Track
The Adjusting Room
Uprising Breads Bakery
VanCity Theatre
Vancouver Centre for Homeopathy
Whole Foods


Douglas Alder
Elaine Arrowsmith
Elspeth Banerd
Hollie Bear Bartlett
Lloyd Bernhardt
Travis Bernhardt
Nigel Boeur
Kimberly Boutilier
Chris Buckshaw
Jenny Calogeros-Smith
Rachel Calogeros-Smith
Maureen Cameron
Melanie Carlson
Josiah Cazares
Yvonne Chin
Barbara Chirinos
Kathy Day
Dale Detzler
Dan Detzler
Heidi Dubland
Yasmeen Elhalaby
Sam Erber
David Gagnon
Roberto Gaudet
Perry Giguere
Marian Gilmour
Corrina Grace
Karen Graham
Crystal & Hershal
Jose Jacome
Maria Jacome
Aliki Kaloupis
Peter Kaloupis
Denis Knox
Meg Knox
Steve Knox
Kate Lasiuk
David LePage
Sam Logan
Karla Mairena
David Marsden
Heather McDermott
Liz McDonald
Marie Naubert
Gin Nielsen
Trevor Orourke
Shannon Patterson
Fern Ragnier
Kim Schachte
Leonard Schein
Kate Semrau
Michelle Sexton
Steve Smith
Tina Spathis
Wayne Stewart
Tina Teoli
Tina Thorndycraft
Marni Turek
Andrea Venegas-Rook
Nils Von Hahn
Ziggy Wazir


Benefit Fiesta 2009

On October 14th, we held our Second Annual Project Somos Benefit Fiesta. Have a peek at the photos that were taken by Nigel Boeur that evening.


Total Makeover Package from Harmony Spa and Philosophy The Salon

Philosophy The Salon are proud to be British Columbia 's first Eco Neutral Hair Salon. In conjunction with Harmony The Spa, they are offering a total makeover package, perfect for launching yourself into the new fall season. The package includes:
Hair Colour
Spa Facial

Located in the heart of Yaletown in Vancouver British Columbia, PH Salon offers a relaxing and personal environment for their customers. Their talented staff of hair salon professionals will take the time to understand your needs, and deliver the most suitable and stylish look.

Donated by Ziggy, Philosophy the Salon

Valued at $400, Starting Bid $200

Watercolour Painting by Marni Turek

This original piece was painted by Marni for Project Somos. It is based on a photograph taken in Guatemala.

Valued at $500 Starting Bid $250


Ethical Bean Coffee for a Year!

You will receive a 1lb bag of the Ethical Bean coffee of your choice per week, sent out monthly in batches of 4. That's 52 bags of delicious, Fair Trade Certified, organic shade-grown coffee, folks! Plus, a fantastic Good Mug so you can drink your coffee on the go!

Total value is $750, Starting Bid $350
Ethical Bean Coffee


Textiles from Guatemala

Genuine, hand-made Guatemalan knit hats. Perfect for the fall and winter seasons.
Each Valued at $20 Starting Bid $10
Spice up any room with this vibrant, hand-made Guatemalan wall hanging.
Valued at $30 Starting Bid $15

Toy Bundles from Jelly Bean Junction

Four fun toy bundles for your favorite tots have been donated by Jelly Bean Junction: The Place for Kids! The bundles are designed for a range of ages and interests. Jelly Bean Junction is located in Rossland, BC.

Top: Creative Kids Bundle
Valued at $30 Starting Bid $15

2nd: Playtime Adventures Bundle
Valued at $47 Starting Bid: $23

3rd: Mad Scientist Bundle
Valued at $50 Starting Bid $25

Bottom: Baby Bundle
Valued at $50 Starting Bid $25

All donated by Liz Arsenault, Jelly Bean Junction, Rossland, BC


Three Pairs of Day Passes for Red Mountain Resort

Red Mountain Resort, a Rossland, British Columbia ski vacation resort, is renowned for its skiing and snowboarding in Canada, as well its glades and steeps. At Red, visitors can choose from 87 runs spread across two stellar mountains that feature everything from wide-open groomers to steep, powder-filled glades. With more than 1,685 skiable acres and 880 meters (2,919 feet) of vertical terrain serviced by 6 total lifts, there is a lot to explore at Red.
Each Pair Valued at: $128 Starting Bid: $64

Baby Tamara Doll

Baby Tamara is a cozy little girl standing at 10" or 25.5cm. She has beautiful pj's made from a fluffy bright pink recycled wool sweater. Her skin is a rich brown color, dark brown eyes and soft pink lips. Black wool has been crocheted into cute little dread locks. Organic wool is used to stuff this sweetie pie.

Donated by Tina Thorndycraft ~ http://www.craftinat.etsy.com/

Valued at: $40 Starting Bid: $20

Jewellery by Jenny

Jenny Calogeros-Smith uses unique beads to create stunning but wearable pieces. Check out more of her work at http://www.sunyata.etsy.com/.

Top: Bracelet includes Project Somos colors of purples and pinks in the form of rhodonite, amethyst, candy jade, lepidolite, Greek ceramic beads, and sterling silver and a hand made toggle clasp.
Measures 8 inches.
Valued at $60, Starting Bid $30

Middle: Necklace made with amethyst and candy jade, sterling and Karen Hill Tribe silver. Off set sterling silver Somos pendant piece. Measures 19.5 inches.
Valued at $120, Starting Bid $60

Bottom: Rhyolite Ring, hand forged sterling silver.
Valued at $50, Starting Bid $25


Gift Certificate Network Spinal Analysis and Treatments

$200 Gift Certificate donated by Shannon Patterson Chiropractor for Network Spinal Analysis which includes : initial assessment and following 2 treatments. Expiry Date Feb 15, 2010.

Network Spinal Analysis™ is an evidenced based approach to wellness and body awareness. Gentle precise touch to the spine cues the brain to create new wellness promoting strategies. Two unique healing waves develop with this work. They are associated with spontaneous release of spinal and life tensions, and the use of existing tension as fuel for spinal re-organization and enhanced wellness. Practitioners combine their clinical assessments of spinal refinements with patient’s self assessments of wellness and life changes. Greater self-awareness and conscious awakening of the relationships between the body, mind, emotion, and expression of the human spirit are realized through this popular healing work. NSA is exclusively practiced by Doctors of Chiropractic in relationship to the identification and self regulation of spinal tension and Subluxation patterns.

Donated by Shannon Patterson Chiropractor email:bealigned@gmail.com

Valued at $200 Opening Bid: $100

Gift Certificate Network Spinal Treatments

$200 Gift Certificate for Network Spinal Analysis donated by Dr Detzler Chiropractor for 5 NSA appointments.

Network Spinal Analysis™ is an evidenced based approach to wellness and body awareness. Gentle precise touch to the spine cues the brain to create new wellness promoting strategies. Two unique healing waves develop with this work. They are associated with spontaneous release of spinal and life tensions, and the use of existing tension as fuel for spinal re-organization and enhanced wellness. Practitioners combine their clinical assessments of spinal refinements with patient’s self assessments of wellness and life changes. Greater self-awareness and conscious awakening of the relationships between the body, mind, emotion, and expression of the human spirit are realized through this popular healing work. NSA is exclusively practiced by Doctors of Chiropractic in relationship to the identification and self regulation of spinal tension and Subluxation patterns.

Donated by Dan Detzler (Detzlerchiropractic)

Valued at $200 Opening Bid: $100

Moukisac Shopping Bag System

Moukisac® is a Made in Canada (Vancouver) unique and practical product for conscious shoppers. This 6 in 1 compact reusable shopping bag system kit is the result of Marie Naubert's talent in haute couture, her creative spirit and her commitment to reducing our ecological footprint on earth.

Perceiving a need for an easy shopping-bag concept, Marie combined fashion, fun, and practicality. Her design is available in a range of colours and fabrics. People can improve their consumer habits with a sensitive solution that is highly functional and self-contained.

This 6 in 1 versatile carry bag starts as a shoulder bag or sling bag, or can be worn as a waist pack to keep your cellphone, keys and wallet secure. It unfolds into a full-sized cloth shopping bag and includes 4 Moukinet™ drawstring mesh bags to hold produce and bulk foods.


Thanks to Marie Naubert for donating these shopping bag systems for this Somos fundraising. There are two available for your enthusiastic bidding.

Value: 29.50 Starting bid: $15

Healing Myths Healing Magic by Dr Epstein

Healing Myths Healing Magic book donated by Dr. Shannon Patterson:

In this breakthrough book, Healing Myths, Healing Magic, Dr. Epstein divides the myths into four categories: Social, Biomedical, Religious, and New Age. He exposes each myth individually, then suggests an alternative statement, or Healing Magic, to help us reclaim our body's natural ability to heal.

Go to Dr Epstein’s website for more information: http://www.donaldepstein.com/books/hmhm.shtml

Thanks to Shannon Patterson Chiropractor for her donation.
Shannon's email is: bealigned@gmail.com
her website is http://www.theadjustingroom.ca/

Valued at : $25 Starting Bid: $10

12 Stages to Healing by Dr Donald Epstein

12 Stages to Healing book by Dr Donald Epstein donated by Dr. Dale Detzler:


After Observing thousands of people both in private practice and public seminars, Dr. Epstein discovered twelve basic rhythms, or stages of consciousness, shared by all humanity. The Twelve Stages of Healing offers us fascinating insights into the complex relationship between mind, emotions, and body, and shows us how we can use these insights to promote greater health in our bodies and harmony in our relationships.

Donated by Dale Detzler (Detzler Chiropractic)

Dale's email address is: dale@chiropractordale.ca

Valued at $25 Starting bid: $10


Another Great Gift Basket from International Year of the Tiger Foundation

Check out this exciting gift basket and all it's wonderful goodies! Many thanks to Yvonne and the International Year of the Tiger Foundation for generously donating this to our Second Annual Benefit Fiesta.

Candle Cucumber & Mint – natural oils hand poured (Paddywax)
Bath salts – lavender/all natural (Intn’l Year of the Tiger Fdn)
Essential oil pure lavender/French 5 ml (Intn’l Year of the Tiger Fdn)
Soap – lavender all natural (Replenish)
Lavender sachet – French super grade flowers (Intn’l Year of the Tiger Fdn)
Notecards scented Water Lilies 18 cards/envelopes (Michel Design Works)
Lantern tea light holder – (Pier 1) w. non-leaded tea light
Box with lid (London Drugs)

Donated by Yvonne Chin, International Year of the Tiger Foundation

Valued at $94.50, Starting Bid: $45

Gift Basket by International Year of the Tiger Foundation

This wonderful gift basket is donated by the International Year of the Tiger Foundation. It is cruelty free and full of all sorts of wonderful hair and body products to pamper you or someone you love.

Donated by Yvonne Chin, International Year of the Tiger Foundation

Valued at $128, Starting Bid: $60

Quilt by Heidi Dubland

This one of a kind exquisite quilt is made by Heidi Dubland of Vernon, BC. Heidi is Heather's (Executive Director) sister. This bright crisp blue, green and white lap-sized quilt is backed with a cozy flannel and would look stunning on any couch or bed!

Many thanks to Heidi for her hours and hours of hard work putting this together especially for the Project Somos Benefit Fiesta. Look out for her at the event as she'll be there helping out for the second year in a row! What a sister!

Valued at: $400+Starting Bid: $175

Richard Shorty, Northern Tutchone "Hummingbird"

Richard is a self-taught artist and his crest is Crow. He began painting in 1981 with encouragement from artist, Ben Houstie. In 1981/82, he started learning Northwest Coast design from books “Looking at Northwest Coast Art” and others. From what he learned, he began to develop his own designs. In 1983, Richard moved to Victoria, BC to learn from other artists. During this time, Richard picked up on his carving techniques and began to create a style that was a combination of traditional and realistic Native art. Richard's first limited edition print "Frog" was produced by the Leona Lattimer Gallery. His work also includes original drawings and paintings. Recently, Richard has painted bentwood boxes for us here at Lattimer Gallery, as well as stunning leather cuff bracelets.

Thanks to Lattimer Gallery for this donation!
Valued at: $60, Starting Bid: $30

Painting By Josiah Cazares

Josiah Cazares is a 26 year old artist from Indianapolis, Indiana. He became interested in Project Somos during his five month travel through Central America where he met Heather and Greg. He heard about the silent auction, and wanted to donate a water color painting depicting the country side of Guatemala. This painting involves one of the most prevalent aspects of daily life in Guatemala: The Chicken Bus. This photo appears a bit blurry because of poor scanner quality.

This is such a beautiful depiction of Guatemala and such a wonderful addition to our auction items. Thanks Josiah!
Valued: $75, Starting Bid: $40

Whole Foods & Capers Goodies

Many thanks to Whole Foods and Capers Community Market in Vancouver for generously offering to provide goodies at our upcoming Benefit Fiesta. Whole Foods on Cambie and Capers on West 4th Avenue will be putting together treats for us to enjoy on October 14th. Our sincerest thanks to them!

Justin Rivard, Cree "Raven" Brouch/Pendant

In addition to being trained artistically as a carver, Justin is a trained jeweller. He is dedicated to applying his skills to new and unconventional forms, while using the same media of gold, silver and semi-precious stones. For example, Justin has created carved business card holders, lighter covers, and cufflinks. Justin trained with Kwakwaka'wakw artist Ray Dumont for 16 years and has work in Canadian, American and Scottish galleries.
Thanks to Lattimer Gallery for this donation!

Valued at: $110, Starting Bid: $55

One Of a Kind Art By Marni Turek

This incredible piece done by Marni Turek is done using pencil, pencil crayon, charcoal, ink, watercolours and even a touch of crayon. It is based on a photo taken in Guatemala by Heather while in Guatemala this past year. It measures 14" x 20".

Value: TBD, Starting Bid: TBD


Bamboletta Doll

Bamboletta’ means ‘little doll’ in Italian and is a term of endearment that parents use for their children. Bamboletta Dolls is a family business based in Cobble Hill, BC. Christina Platt and her team of "mamas" and husband, John, take great pride and care to use only the finest materials available to make their special dolls. Recently featured in Mothering Magazine, Bamboletta Dolls are growing in popularity around the world. While in Guatemala this past Winter/Spring a Bamboletta Ambassador joined us for the journey and regularly blogged about her adventures.

Christina is donating one of her special dolls to our upcoming gala. Her name is Poppy and she is pictured here on the bench at the coffee shop where we just met Christina on our way up Island. Isn't she adorable

Valued at $125, Starting Bid $60
Christina Platt, Bamboletta Dolls


Indian Bed Cover

This plum coloured bed cover is elaborately stitched with enchanting flower and animal designs. This cotton based textile is from India. It is imported to Canada by Sam Erber who generously donated it to Project Somos. Be sure to look out for Sam at many of the summer music festivals throughout Western Canada where you can pick up many beautiful items from India!

Valued: $150, Starting Bid: $75

Indian Wall Hanging

This intricate wall hanging is made by Gujuratis living in Delhi, India. It is imported to Canada by Sam Erber who generously donated this item. Be sure to look out for Sam at many of the summer music festivals throughout Western Canada where you can pick up many beautiful items from India!

Valued: $150, Starting Bid: $75


Starfish Pendant

This unique starfish pendant is made of Precious Metal Clay (PMC) and is 99.9% silver. Liz takes her inspiration from West Coast nature and many of her pieces are reflective of that.

For classes at Burnaby Continuing Education and gallery go to her website. Check out Liz’s other business as a Canadian Certified Immigration Consultant

Donated by Liz McDonald
Valued at $75, Starting Bid $35

Steve Smith Vase

Steve Smith has been carving since 1987. Steve's pieces include original paintings, sculptures, masks, limited edition prints, etched glass, totem poles and drums. Steve's distinctive work has been featured in several major exhibitions throughout North America, and his work has been purchased by collectors around the world. In 2005, Steve was featured in the 'Changing Hands: Art Without Reservation 2' exhibition that opened at the Museum of Arts and Design in New York. Steve recently completed two major commissions of works in the Vancouver International Airport. These monumental installations are amazing pieces of art and contribution to Vancouver and BC.
Thanks to Lattimer Gallery for this donation.

Valued at $100, Starting Bid $50
Lattimer Gallery

Homeopathic Remedy Kit for Travelers

This travel kit contains 36 remedies covering common ailments and injuries along with remedies specifically for the traveler. For fear of flying, bites and stings, holiday tummy upsets and much more. The kit comes with a comprehensive booklet that introduces you to homeopathy and features an A-Z guide of symptoms that can be treated, as well as a section describing the main uses of the remedies contained. Perfect for the frequent and long-distance traveler.

Donated by our friends at the Vancouver Centre for Homeopathy.
Valued at $120 Starting Bid $60


Beautiful Cotten Hankies

Beautiful cloth hankies made from 100% cotton voile. Elegant yet durable, these hankies are gentle on your skin and easy to care for. Just throw them in the wash, gentle cycle with like colours, dryer is okay. Become more sustainable and fashionable one sneeze at a time! Earthly Presence ... great gifts, small footprints. An eco-friendly and locally-sourced gift store based in Vancouver, Canada.

Set of 4 hankies. Retail price: $15.00, Starting Bid: $7


We Are Traffic T-shirt

Cyclists are the future of our city. Though emitting no fumes, we have a burning desire to hear birdsong and breathe clean air. Won’t you join us? (Our t-shirts are 70% bamboo and 30% cotton, made in Canada)

Monkey100 is a business that believes design can be a tool for social change with the t-shirt as the ultimate mobile canvas. Our name was inspired by a parable about how critical mass is achieved. The parable tells of how a radically new behavior started by one group of monkeys soon spread to islands of monkeys thousands of miles away. The 100th monkey is the number needed for an idea or new behavior to really take off; it's the tipping point for massive social change.

Shannon Harvey, Monkey100
Valued: $30, Starting Bid: $15

Tenor Seranade with Trevor Orourke

Purchase the wonderful gift of a 'Serenata' and surprise a loved one with something memorable. Trevor Orourke is one of our local young tenors and a new member of the Vancouver Men's Choir. He has apperaed in several choir concerts in the lower mainland with the Jubilate Choir and has made private appearances as well. He is available for hire for any type of event. This makes a unique gift that will not be forgotten. He comes accompanied with a guitarist and will do a half hour private concert.

Valued at: $150, Starting bid at $75

Pupusa Feast – learn it, cook it, and eat it!

Outstanding homegrown cook (concinera), Karla Mairena and her assistant will come to your home and teach a small group of 4-6 people how to make pupusas in the traditional Salvadorean style. Learn with her in a fun and warm atomosphere. She'll bring lots of flavour and laughs to your private dinner fiesta.

Retail value: $200 starting bid at $100.


These two beautiful and delicate scarves will add a touch of radiance to any outfit!

Alexma Diversified Services is a small business run by Margarita Nikolaeva Boatter with the help of her family. The company started it’s operations in 2008 & is specializing on unique gifts including fashion accessories, natural cosmetics, fine teas. Their fashionable scarves, costume jewellery and purses are already very popular with women of different age groups and professions due to their excellent quality and unique elegant designs.

The company is working hard to add the best cosmetics articles as well as finest tea to our collection of fine gifts. They are working on a website thus giving their customers an opportunity to access a full range of products we carry and to place their orders on the website.

Donated by Margarita Nikolaeva, Diversified Services


Flower Factory Gift Certificate

Visiting the Flower Factory, located on Main Street in Vancouver is a special experience unto itself. The store is filled with the most divine flowers on the planet. The staff work magic as they create exquisite bouquets, like you've never seen before! The Flower Factory is generously donating a gift certificate to the Benefit Fiesta. The lucky bidder will be able to go in and choose or have their own arrangement made!

Stay tuned for gift cerfitificate amount
The Flower Factory

Photo by Nigel Boeur

Nigel is an avid outdoor enthusiast, who fortunately likes to keep his camera with him on his grand adventures.
Last year, Nigel's gift photo got our bidders very excited! The stakes were high and one very lucky bidder went home with a fabulous photo! We're excitedly awaiting for this year's photo up for bids!

Nigel was our official photographer at last year's gala and will play the same role again this year.
Check out some of his great shots taken last year!
Benetfit Fiesta 2008-Heritage Hall, Vancouver

Creative Memories Photo-safe Album and supplies

Donated by Elspeth Banerd, this wonderful bundle of goodies includes: 12x12 Album 'shortcuts' - pre-cut paper, stickers - 3 packs paper cutter, corner rounder, templates x's 2, photo splits, fancy scissors, pen, pencil Elspeth has taught 'how to' workshops and has a wonderful eye for designing very classic photo albums. This is the second year that Elspeth has generously donated to the Benefit Fiesta.
Valued $150.00, Starting Bid $70.00


Sweet, sexy socks. What more could a girl ask for? Back by popular demand, Heather McDermott of Soxy, is donating five pairs of socks to this year's Benefit Fiesta. Originally designed for equestrian riders, these socks are funky, pretty and very comfortable. Heather and her husband are both avid travellers and they both have a desire and commitment to make the world a better place.
Donated By Heather McDermott
Valued at $10 each, Starting Bid $5