I could not be more excited to shine some light on the newest member of the Kolt Handmade Team, Allie Jorde. Allie went from a personal friend, to one of my favorite photographers and now working as a sales representative for Kolt. She is a true Guatemalan at heart, loving Pollo Campero, shopping for flowers at the local market and of course wearing every @KoltHandmade piece with pride.
This Arizona gal spreads joy and literally has the most beautiful smile from ear to ear enjoying life as she walks through the cobble stones of beautiful Antigua.
Here is a little more on her life and journey:What made you come to Guatemala and when did you arrive?
Truthfully, Guatemala was never really on my travel radar. In the United States I study Human Rights and Geography at my university, and it's required that you study abroad for at least two months. So when I was looking into where I should study abroad, I met up with one of my favorite professors from the University of Arizona who worked in Guatemala for years. She actually founded the study abroad program here in Antigua and basically told me this program would be perfect for me, and well, she was right. I arrived in September of last year and my program just ended in May.
What made you fall in love with Guatemala?
First and foremost is the people. Guatemalans are some of the kindest and warmest people I have ever met. They're always willing to help me out when I'm having a gringa moment, aka confused and lost, and always somehow manage to slip a joke in. Once a Chapin opens their heart to you, you're basically part of their family. I'm so grateful for all of my friends here who have taught me about their country and traditions, not to mention let me practice my terrible spanish on them.
Second of all, is the beauty of the country. There is not only diversity amongst the population of Guatemala, but also diversity in the nature and landscape. There's Semuc Champey, ancient Tikal, or colonial Antigua just to name a few. Everywhere you go, you're just in awe.
From the moment I met you, I noticed your drive to explore and experience new cultures and places. Where does this drive come from?
My family is full of travelers. My grandmother is from Puerto Rico and always told us, "See the world before you leave it." My mother instilled a curiosity in me and my siblings and she says that travel is the best education one can receive. When I was growing up, instead of giving gifts to each other for christmas or graduations we would all take a family vacation somewhere. My sister was always traveling in her twenties and kind of paved the way for me. She was the one that urged me to go to Fiji for a month right after I graduated high school, and that was when I really caught the travel bug. Since then, I travel as much as I can. I love that feeling you get when you land somewhere new, not really sure what that country holds for you, it's pretty thrilling.
Allie and her classmate Connor interviewed me about Kolt Handmade and my feelings on moving to the United States last semester. What made you interested in this topic and why?
Connor and I were working on a project that specifically focused on women in migration and how the experience is different for them in comparison to a man. There is a good amount of research on men migrating, but for women there is not nearly as much research collected; so we decided to focus on the narrative of a woman. We looked at different forms of migration and we thought yours was really interesting because you had just been married and were moving to be with your husband. The fact that you were a business owner here in Antigua and how you planned on running your business from afar was really interesting as well.
As I mentioned before, Allie did an amazing photoshoot for Kolt Handmade. What first made you interested in photography and where does your inspiration come from?
My sister is also a professional photographer and she was the one who first got me interested in it. She was the one who gave me my first camera and has been my best teacher. I would say my inspiration comes from traveling. I love being able to have the ability to capture something that I think is beautiful and have it frozen in time. When I need a little inspiration here in Antigua, I take a walk and look at all of the colorful walls and Jacaranda trees.
Allie is currently studying Spanish, do you have any favorite words or funny slang you have learned from the locals?
Oooooh this is a tough one. I think one of my favorite words from Guatemala specifically is chispudo, which means a clever person. I also really like "aguantas" which is used as a reply when someone makes a bold claim or says something outlandish. The expression, "A la Gran" makes me giggle too because you can add a cuss word at the end to make it a negative statement or use it as a simple "wow." Very versatile haha.
She will only be with us for the Summer, before heading back to Arizona. What do you think you will miss the most about Guatemala?
Easy answer: everything. I have traveled to 20 something countries, and no other country has ever stolen my heart like Guatemala has. I love living in Antigua because nearly every time you walk out of your house, you're going to run into someone you know so I'm really going to miss feeling so connected to a community. I'll miss the warmth of Guatemalans and how everyone kisses each other on the cheek, even when just meeting, and how outgoing everyone is here. I'll miss the chaos of daily life here, between dodging chicken busses or having to weave through the maze that is the market just to grab some fruit for breakfast. Oh, and I'm going to miss the dancing...a lot.
I'm just curious, if you could stay in Guatemala another year, would you?
Yes x100. This place is home. I actually tried really hard to figure out a way to finish my degree from here but it didn't work out, so once I graduate I hope to end up back in Guate.
Where do you want to go next?
For now I want to stay in Latin America, but I really want to visit Namibia within the next couple of years. I love the desert and the red sand dunes there look amazing.