Friday, April 27, 2007

April 27, 2007


April 27,3007 Friday at 7:09 pm in Guatemala

A very nice day. The graduation went well There were only three who
graduated with me and I did not know the other two. Douglas and John were
not there in fact they did not participate in the second graduation at 4 pm
either. Guess they were shy. I saw both of them and they were alive an
upright. John was headed for New York and Douglas was going to catch the
rays in Cancun for a while. I took some pictures so you will see how
spectacular the event was.

It finally rained around 5 pm. First time in a couple of weeks. So very
nice because it washes the trash into the lake and cleans the streets.
Sounds terrible but true. I can finally breathe again. The dust was
getting bad. This morning the flies were especially bad for a while and I
thought it might be because of the pending rain. It was. So very nice to
breathe again.

It was sad to end school. Estella will ride with Melvin and I to Guatemala
City on Sunday. She really enjoyed talking to me about education and the
United States. Maybe she will be able to come someday. I offered to host
any or all of her four children if they wanted to come to the US to high
school for a year. We had a young woman from Mexico for a year and it was a
good experience for all of us.


Had breakfast this morning as usual with a fruit plate and yogurt. Lunch
was rice, beans and spinach with some meat in it. I had it before and it
was good. Dinner is 17 minutes late at this point and have not seen a
thing.

Went to Nuevo Sol after they had been closed for a week. Nancy, Dennis and
Julie were there. Had seen all three all week long around town. Today
Julie and Nancy were doing Yoga with the local kids at the lake. Funny to
watch. Of course the kids love the attention. Not sure what their schedule
is at this point. Nancy will stick with Julie. Julie is going to El
Salvador for Yoga this weekend. Dennis will stay here to run the
restaurant. He is a neat guy and a real radical. Love talking to him.

Douglas is going to continue his tour for a while. He is very interesting.

School was great and I learned a lot. One important thing that I learned is
that you must keep speaking Spanish wherever you are. It is so important to
practice as much as you can. poco en poco. Little by little.

I never did get dinner and finally went to the Rosti-Pollo stand and got
some papafrios (French Fried Potatoes). I did not want to play chicken
roulette again. The fries were wonderful. Something about the flavor of
something that has been deep fried in a machine that has probably never been

cleaned. It just keeps getting better.

Ran into Dennis, Julie and Nancy again on the path. They were headed to a
cross dressing event at El Barrio. Dennis was wearing a nice little black
number. Dennis is about 6' 4" and has a very hairy chest if you get the
picture. He also has a beard. Julie was dressed as a young boy. Nancy was

dressed as a Nancy. The owners of El Barrio had ridden their bikes from
California to Guatemala a few years ago and are not taking six months off to

travel but this time by air. The woman half of the owners really looked
like a man and the man half of the owners was wearing a dress that did not
flatter his figure.

I guess it takes being over 2000 miles from home to really let loose for
some folks. g

Thursday, April 26, 2007

April 28, 2007


Saturday Saturday April 28, 2007

There are probably some of you who could hardly wait for this day. Today
will be my last Blog from Guatemala. As usual I will send it out on Sunday
morning from my hut that gets free wireless internet. I will post the
photos in the next week or two.

Raphael is the groundskeeper here. He and Estella are good friends so
Raphael has always taken good care of me. This morning as I was walking
through the jungle to get to my hut he asked if I wanted a table and chair
even though there was no school today. I thanked him for his courtesy. He
has been using a hose on the paths at the school to keep down the dust for
the past week or so. Last night we had heavy rain so this morning the dust
was gone. He and I talked about how nice that was too.

Not sure what I am going to do today. Probably go up to the open market to
see if there is anything different for sale. That place is amazing. You
could buy anything from a wide screen HDTV to one radish. They do have
different prices however. I really like watching the people. It is about
the same as a county fair where everyone gets together to socialize.
Sometimes large groups will actually close off foot traffic with their
friendly discussions.

A young girl came to the gate a few minutes ago looking for Rosa. I have
not seen Rosa or anyone else this morning. I know that she is not somewhere
making my breakfast. The girl wanted to have Rosa pick up little Felipe,
Felipe's nephew and Ramon's son. Rosa takes care of him every day, all day.
Ramon's wife is an attorney and apparently does not do childcare herself.
They also have a daughter in the children's program. Estella described
Ramon's role as Principal of the language school and principal of the
children's school. Of course he also owns everything too.

Not sure that I have described this part before. Ramon is the big boss. He
is Felipe and Rosa's brother in law. He is Estella's cousin. It is a
family affair. Hey, if you can't take of your family who will. Or maybe
Felipe could get a job and take care of himself?

I think I will go somewhere and have breakfast as it is not forthcoming
here.

Halfway up the hill to el Centro I ran into Rosa coming down. She had three
bags full of fruit and vegetables from the market. She explained that it
was from my breakfast. I told her that I was going to the market. Thank
you but I would have lunch at 1 with her. I don't think that I will ever
adjust to Guatemalan time.

Stopped by my favorite juice lady. She has a hand juicer and a large basket
of fresh oranges. She slices them in front of you and then squeezes the
juice by hand for a large glass of orange juice. She uses two filters for
the pulp and seeds and the final juice is pure and clean. A very large
glass costs 3 Quetzales. About 40 cents. It is not cold but it has great
flavor and is fresh.

Went to The Cove Restaurant for breakfast. It is owned and operated by an
American Bill. He has lived in the Caribbean for about 20 years and in
Guatemala for about ten. He was interviewing a young black woman from
France who wanted to rent a room from him. He includes one, two or three
meals a day with the rent. She went for the two meal option and the price
was about $6 a day for room and board. That is about what I am paying here
with Rosa. Mine is a little over $7 a day. But then again I really don't
get all of my meals do I?

Bill commented that Guatemala is the Costa Rica of twenty years ago now.
Property values are climbing but still very cheap. He said that Costa Rica
was ruined by all of the Americans and Real Estate developers. He lived
there several years ago and said it used to be great. What price progress?
We all want to make money but we all don't want to ruin anything for the
next guy or the next generation.

Bill and I also talked about fishing in the lake. I had been watching two
men pull small fish out of the weeds by hand. Bill grew up in Florida and
knew a lot about fishing. He said that some Germans came here a few years
ago and started a fish farm in the lake. They turned it over to the locals
to run and then left. When they came back it was out of business. I have
heard the same thing many times. It is a cultural thing and that some
people just don't want to learn new things or to change what they have
always done in the past. You see that every day in American business but it
is a way of life in Guatemala.

Met a nice couple on the path back from town who were Guatemalans from
Guatemala City and spoke perfect English. People in the cities have an
opportunity for a great education. People in San Pedro and other rural
areas are stuck without that opportunity.

A funny story. People in Guatemala see all of America as the same. They do
not have concept of states. They understand the difference between the
mountain and the plains and small towns and big cities. But everything gets
melded together. I tell everyone that I am former Colorado State
Representative. I am very clear about that. That get translated down here
that I am a current congressman in Washington. This is a very small town so
I get called upon to debate foreign policy a lot. I tell them that Colorado
does not have a foreign policy but they don't understand the concept.
America is America and all of the bad stuff that Bush is doing is my fault
and I need to defend it. Talk about difficult. I don't agree with the
President one bit but I can explain his reasoning behind his stupid and
dangerous policies. I find myself doing that as a Congressman, I mean state
representative, former state representative in Guatemala. My head hurts
from all of this. Maybe I should tell them that I was a newspaper
delivery boy, one of my first jobs. By the way the Spanish work for retired
is jubliado. Sounds like jubilation. Maybe it is.

Had a nice lunch from Rosa and it was on time. Maybe she can read minds. I
had cut green beans in a red sauce with rice and tortillas. Very nice.

Went for a very long walk this afternoon. Retraced many walks before. This
will probably be the last one like that. I will walk up to el Centro to get
the papers from Guatemala City tomorrow morning at around 730 am. I buy
both papers and the seller is so happy when I do that. Can't imagine what
he makes.

I thought about this before but I think that one of the reasons there is no
clean water or trash pickup is that there are no activists here. No one
complains. People accept things the way they are. There is an on going
protest about education, the one thing that everyone protests about around
the world including Summit County.

I think that if there was a daily or even weekly paper here things would
change quickly. A lot of bad stuff cannot stand the light of day in the
press. The government would certainly pay attention. I did when I was in
government. The people would know that they are not alone in their
feelings. A lot might happen.

I think I told everyone that Rosa's daughter who was getting married, and
then got married, and no one has ever introduced me to, was 16. I was
wrong. I just talked to Rosa and she said that Andrea is turning 16 today.
Married at 15. Scary. Even more scary is her husband who looks like he is
12.

Quiet night last night. Had a very long talk with David the bartender from
Canada. He is a very interesting person. Rosa and Felipe were walking on
the path as I came home last night. I did not recognize them in the dark
until Felipe grabbed my arm. Some drunks from El Barrio walked me to my
door. I was not concerned but was not sure they were going to make it home.

Maybe I should have walked them home.

It is 6:44 am right now and I will go down to the hut to send this in a
couple of minutes. It will probably be my last transmission for a while.
Have a nice day. I will as I wind down my last day in Guatemala. Buenos
dias mi amigos.


There are probably some of you who could hardly wait for this day. Today
will be my last Blog from Guatemala. As usual I will send it out on Sunday
morning from my hut that gets free wireless internet. I will post the
photos in the next week or two.

Raphael is the groundskeeper here. He and Estella are good friends so
Raphael has always taken good care of me. This morning as I was walking
through the jungle to get to my hut he asked if I wanted a table and chair
even though there was no school today. I thanked him for his courtesy. He
has been using a hose on the paths at the school to keep down the dust for
the past week or so. Last night we had heavy rain so this morning the dust
was gone. He and I talked about how nice that was too.

Not sure what I am going to do today. Probably go up to the open market to
see if there is anything different for sale. That place is amazing. You
could buy anything from a wide screen HDTV to one radish. They do have
different prices however. I really like watching the people. It is about
the same as a county fair where everyone gets together to socialize.
Sometimes large groups will actually close off foot traffic with their
friendly discussions.

A young girl came to the gate a few minutes ago looking for Rosa. I have
not seen Rosa or anyone else this morning. I know that she is not somewhere
making my breakfast. The girl wanted to have Rosa pick up little Felipe,
Felipe's nephew and Ramon's son. Rosa takes care of him every day, all day.
Ramon's wife is an attorney and apparently does not do childcare herself.
They also have a daughter in the children's program. Estella described
Ramon's role as Principal of the language school and principal of the
children's school. Of course he also owns everything too.

Not sure that I have described this part before. Ramon is the big boss. He
is Felipe and Rosa's brother in law. He is Estella's cousin. It is a
family affair. Hey, if you can't take of your family who will. Or maybe
Felipe could get a job and take care of himself?

I think I will go somewhere and have breakfast as it is not forthcoming
here.

Halfway up the hill to el Centro I ran into Rosa coming down. She had three
bags full of fruit and vegetables from the market. She explained that it
was from my breakfast. I told her that I was going to the market. Thank
you but I would have lunch at 1 with her. I don't think that I will ever
adjust to Guatemalan time.

Stopped by my favorite juice lady. She has a hand juicer and a large basket
of fresh oranges. She slices them in front of you and then squeezes the
juice by hand for a large glass of orange juice. She uses two filters for
the pulp and seeds and the final juice is pure and clean. A very large
glass costs 3 Quetzales. About 40 cents. It is not cold but it has great
flavor and is fresh.

Went to The Cove Restaurant for breakfast. It is owned and operated by an
American Bill. He has lived in the Caribbean for about 20 years and in
Guatemala for about ten. He was interviewing a young black woman from
France who wanted to rent a room from him. He includes one, two or three
meals a day with the rent. She went for the two meal option and the price
was about $6 a day for room and board. That is about what I am paying here
with Rosa. Mine is a little over $7 a day. But then again I really don't
get all of my meals do I?

Bill commented that Guatemala is the Costa Rica of twenty years ago now.
Property values are climbing but still very cheap. He said that Costa Rica
was ruined by all of the Americans and Real Estate developers. He lived
there several years ago and said it used to be great. What price progress?
We all want to make money but we all don't want to ruin anything for the
next guy or the next generation.

Bill and I also talked about fishing in the lake. I had been watching two
men pull small fish out of the weeds by hand. Bill grew up in Florida and
knew a lot about fishing. He said that some Germans came here a few years
ago and started a fish farm in the lake. They turned it over to the locals
to run and then left. When they came back it was out of business. I have
heard the same thing many times. It is a cultural thing and that some
people just don't want to learn new things or to change what they have
always done in the past. You see that every day in American business but it
is a way of life in Guatemala.

Met a nice couple on the path back from town who were Guatemalans from
Guatemala City and spoke perfect English. People in the cities have an
opportunity for a great education. People in San Pedro and other rural
areas are stuck without that opportunity.

A funny story. People in Guatemala see all of America as the same. They do
not have concept of states. They understand the difference between the
mountain and the plains and small towns and big cities. But everything gets
melded together. I tell everyone that I am former Colorado State
Representative. I am very clear about that. That get translated down here
that I am a current congressman in Washington. This is a very small town so
I get called upon to debate foreign policy a lot. I tell them that Colorado
does not have a foreign policy but they don't understand the concept.
America is America and all of the bad stuff that Bush is doing is my fault
and I need to defend it. Talk about difficult. I don't agree with the
President one bit but I can explain his reasoning behind his stupid and
dangerous policies. I find myself doing that as a Congressman, I mean state
representative, former state representative in Guatemala. My head hurts
from all of this. Maybe I should tell them that I was a newspaper
delivery boy, one of my first jobs. By the way the Spanish work for retired
is jubliado. Sounds like jubilation. Maybe it is.

Had a nice lunch from Rosa and it was on time. Maybe she can read minds. I
had cut green beans in a red sauce with rice and tortillas. Very nice.

Went for a very long walk this afternoon. Retraced many walks before. This
will probably be the last one like that. I will walk up to el Centro to get
the papers from Guatemala City tomorrow morning at around 730 am. I buy
both papers and the seller is so happy when I do that. Can't imagine what
he makes.

I thought about this before but I think that one of the reasons there is no
clean water or trash pickup is that there are no activists here. No one
complains. People accept things the way they are. There is an on going
protest about education, the one thing that everyone protests about around
the world including Summit County.

I think that if there was a daily or even weekly paper here things would
change quickly. A lot of bad stuff cannot stand the light of day in the
press. The government would certainly pay attention. I did when I was in
government. The people would know that they are not alone in their
feelings. A lot might happen.

I think I told everyone that Rosa's daughter who was getting married, and
then got married, and no one has ever introduced me to, was 16. I was
wrong. I just talked to Rosa and she said that Andrea is turning 16 today.
Married at 15. Scary. Even more scary is her husband who looks like he is
12.

Quiet night last night. Had a very long talk with David the bartender from
Canada. He is a very interesting person. Rosa and Felipe were walking on
the path as I came home last night. I did not recognize them in the dark
until Felipe grabbed my arm. Some drunks from El Barrio walked me to my
door. I was not concerned but was not sure they were going to make it home.

Maybe I should have walked them home.

It is 6:44 am right now and I will go down to the hut to send this in a
couple of minutes. It will probably be my last transmission for a while.
Have a nice day. I will as I wind down my last day in Guatemala. Buenos
dias mi amigos.

April 26. 2007


April 26, 2007 Thursday at 6:54 pm in Guatemala

Another day down and one more school day to go. I am going to be 65 next
week. I must love going to school. We graduate at 10 am tomorrow but my
class day ends at 5 pm. I wonder what I will do. Douglas the surfer dude
and John the doctor from New York City will graduate with me. We each have
to give a speech in Spanish. I have already written it and am ready to go.
The power came back on at 4 pm and Wednesday's blog went out then. It is
like childbirth in many ways. The three days my computer was down and then
today make me very anxious. Must be addicted. Saw a parade today from the
elementary school to el Centro. Actually was in it for a while taking
pictures. Kids are kids and they are all wonderful. Did not see anyone
eating in Rancho de Rosa today except me. Wish the best for her. They have
signs out on the path and stand there calling for people to come in. I know
this because they stand right under my bedroom window. The signs look like
the signs we used to make selling Kool Aid back in Iowa. Estella told me
all day how sad she will be tomorrow when I leave school. She is so neat.
She really likes my stories. She probably had never heard anything like
them. She is like a small child in some ways. Except when she is teaching
verbs and then she is a terror. Rosa still does not have anyone in the
other room. That is very bad because she really needs the money for
herself. She has six children and a husband who does not work. He is a
very part time soccer coach and an even more part time referee.

Ramon the owner of the school who lives across the path has a dog that barks

all the time. Ramon lets the dog run loose in the yard which is fine but
the dog challenges each and every person who walks by the house. The degree

of the barking has a direct relationship with how many people are walking by

during the night. Last night there must have been a ton of people walking
by because the dog barked all night long. Oh well. Two more nights and
then I am out of here. I will not be able to hear Ramon's dog where I am
going.

Just reread my graduation speech. In thinking about it I might be the only
person graduation this morning. Douglas and John are in the afternoon
session. Hmmmm. Does a tree make a sound if it falls in the forest and
there is no one to hear it? Is a speech a speech if there is no one to hear

it? I love all of these unanswerable philosophical questions.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

April 25, 2007


April 25, 2007 on Wednesday at 5:41 pm

Thank goodness for Bill Gates and Microsoft and all of their research. My
computer kept crashing and coming back. It did not crash at all today. The
last message was that my computer had a major problem but that windows had
fixed it. I hope so.


One of my readers pointed out today that I had not reported on the leaving
of my Japanese housemate. Could have to do with the crashing of my computer



at the same time. Her name is Aki and her daughter is May. Aki is 29 and
May is 3. They were with me for one week. She had been at the school for
two weeks and would take her daughter to all of the classes. Aki was from
Tokyo and was going to New York from here. She actually leaves Guatemala
City at the same time as I do so I might see her at the airport. She could
speak Japanese, some limited English and some Spanish. She was very shy and
not forthcoming about herself or her life. I sat next to her in the
computer room and she had a handheld computer with a camera and was doing a
face to face talk with her mother in Tokyo. It was excellent quality and
sound. May was on her lap and was in the picture also. Aki and May left
here to go to Antigua for a week. Antigua is the first capitol of
Guatemala. It was devastated by an earthquake in the 19th Century and the
capitol was moved to Guatemala City where it remains. There is still an
active volcano in Antigua.

Speaking of volcanoes. There is a dormant one almost in town here. It is
called San Pedro of all things. This morning Estella said that there were
tremors around midnight last night. I did not feel a thing. I might look it
up on the internet later. They publish a world map of all of the reported
tremors each day.

I have two days of classes left. Seems like I just got here. In my mind I
left last weekend so I have been mentally packing my suitcase since then.
If any of you ever want to do something like this I can give you some great
suggestions. When I went to Mexico for two months it was like going to
Arizona or California. Not much of a culture change. Here it is a
different story. You need to think very simple. What are the bare minimum
things you truly need. Don't pack what you use every day. Pack like you
might have to carry everything on your back for twenty miles. That is what
I mean by bare minimum. You do not need to make a fashion statement. You
need to be warm and dry and that is it. No one cares what you look like.
Sounds silly but it is true.

I don't want to sound too grim. If a person wanted to you could come to San
Pedro and stay in a very nice $200 a night room in a very nice hotel with
television and internet and just about anything your heart desired. It
would be the minute you stepped out the front door of that hotel that
reality would hit you square in the face. The smell of urine and feces is
the first thing and once you got used to that the vinegar smell from the
coffee bean processors would be next. The great smell of clothes fresh from
the dryer would not be one of those smells.

There must be 500 loose dogs here and none have collars or tags. They
really seem to do well on their own and do not cause too many problems other
than their droppings everywhere. I would say on the sidewalks but there are
no sidewalks.

Of course it still takes me aback when I see a grown man urinating in the
middle of the street when he is stone cold sober and there are women and
children around. I have asked a lot of people about that and they say it is
because there are no public toilets.

I also asked about the huge amount of trash piled up on the streets. I was
told that there were trash barrels everywhere recently but the Mayor had
them removed because he thought it encouraged people to go to restaurants
owned by foreigners. I have actually seen a list of locally owned
businesses with a admonition to only shop in those businesses because all
outside businesses were just taking away from the community. I guess they
never heard of Wal Mart.

The two things I have missed the most are mouthwash and hot water. Can't
bring hot water but I could have brought a gallon or two of mouthwash. A
very small bottle here is about $10. They don't use it and the stores don't
carry it. Another thing is gum. If you can't have mouthwash you need to
have gum. Nine pieces of gum is about 50 cents. I get the 65 piece can of
orbit gum at Wal Mart. My son Matt suggested it sometime ago. The
container fits in your coffee holder in the car and has a removable wrapper
for your desk or kitchen counter. My goodness. I sound like a commercial.

Saw that Colorado had snow again. It was actually cool here this morning
but it warmed up later. Saw a beautiful crane and several other birds I had
never seen. Of course my camera was in my house. I will take it tomorrow.

Noticed that the stock market set a record of 13,000 today. Maybe I should
stay out of the country longer if that keeps happening in my absence.

Rosa my errant cook and landlady decided to open a restaurant today here at
the house. I am not kidding. Maybe she will sell chicken backs and necks.
The really good news is that she will have to keep the kitchen open all day
so getting me a meal will not be such an effort. She is really a nice lady
but a tad like Edith Bunker.

Her restaurant is called "Rancho de Rosa" which is a little strange in that
her "ranch" is about one small US building lot. I guess it is in the mind
of the beholder. She put out her menu on boards near the entrance. I
checked it out and she is not serving the public any more or less than I am
getting. Enough said.

I am leaving San Pedro around 2 pm on Sunday by taxi for Guatemala City and
the airport. I will arrive there around 5 pm and am planning to stay at the
airport during the night until my flight to Houston leaves at 6 am. I had
thought about taking the Chickenbus that left around 2 am from San Pedro but
I was more interested in seeing the rest of the country on the drive east.
When I came in on the 2nd of April I was in a shuttle and I really did not
enjoy the trip. The only good part was driving around Guatemala City
picking up the other passengers. That is a very beautiful and modern city.
Not like Mexico City at all. Traffic is heavy but in control and there is
some design to streets and intersection.

I just heard my landlord speak on his experiences as a prisoner of war and
his subsequent escape and return to San Pedro. Guatemala was in a 37 year
civil war that just ended in 1996 with the Peace Accords. I have read a lot
about the event and it is very difficult to understand. Christians were
fighting Christians. Mayans were fighting Mayans. Brothers were fighting
brothers. I guess all wars are hard to understand.

Dinner is at 7 and it is now 7:11 pm. Maybe nothing has changed. I will
let you know.

There is a graduation at 10 pm on Friday and each graduate is supposed to
give a speech in Spanish. Thanks to my computer translator that will not be
a problem. I can rehearse the pronunciation and make sure I smile in the
right place.


You can stop holding your breath. I was served rice, black beans and fried
bananas at around 7:40 pm. I will live another day.

I normally write these the evening of one day and sent them the morning of
the next day. I started this on Wednesday evening and should have sent it
on Thursday morning but, lo and behold, the power company for some unknown
reason decided not to provide electricity today (Thursday) until 4 pm. I am

on batteries right now. It also means that the internet is down in the
entire town. Interesting.

This morning I had the usual fruit plate with bananas, pineapple and mango.
Mango just came into season and they are delicious. For lunch today I had
chicken. A chicken back of course. Oh well. Rosa has her restaurant open
but I have not seen any customers yet. We need to change the name to
Restaurante de Gary.

Beautiful day again. I am getting a low battery signal so I will end this
and try to send it ar 4 pm if and when the power comes on again.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

April 25, 2007


Wednesday (Miercoles) April (Abril) 25, 2007 at 9:10 am in
Guatemala

I have a computer that is working for the time being and have some time
because Estella is at a funeral. By the way they still lay out the body in
the living room in the deceased's home.

I forget to add this to my last missal. Rosa gave me two hard fried eggs
and two very small slices of cheese for dinner (sena) last night. She was
too funny. She told me that I went to the movie at the Barrio (a bar) that

is why she did not fix dinner. I have never been in the Barrio. Had been
in my room all evening.

It is very cold here this morning. About 50 degrees and everyone is either
wearing a coat or a sweater. Totally overcast but there is no forecast for
rain.

I am so very ready to head home on Monday. I think that something clicked
in my brain over the past weekend and I stopped being in Guatemala and
started being in Colorado. I had a dream this morning that I could not find

my car in the parking lot at Safeway. No Safeway or parking lot here. By
the way I never found it so if you see it let me know. Either that or it is

still in my garage.

There is a rack of Snicker's bars next to the cash register at the Internet
store. With my computer problems I have gone there a lot. My waistline
will suffer.

April 24, 2007


Tuesday afternoon at 1:54 pm in Guatemala

My computer continues to recover but still will die a sudden death in the
middle of a thought or a word. Then to top it off all day today the
internet service for San Pedro has been spotty at best.

Just met a fellow student, a doctor from the Bronx. I worked in the Bronx
for a couple of years in the 1960s in the Police Department. According to
him it has changed a lot. He has been here for five weeks and is doing
great.

I am going to the Festival in San Marcos (St. Mark. Remember the Apostles?)
today by boat (launcha). It is one of the biggest town festivals in the
country and was featured in Prensa Libre (Free Press) on Sunday. Lots of
advertisements. This whole area is finally grasping the concepts in
marketing. That is the good news because it will make the community more
sustainable. The bad news is that the simple nature of the towns will
probably be lost. Not unlike the Summit County I first saw in 1970.

I tell people that the only street that was paved was Main Street and that
there were still wooden sidewalks for several years. Hard to imagine.

The lady from Breckenridge that I met bought her condo for $79,000 in 1990
and units near her are selling for over $300,000 today.

Maybe it is time to buy land in Guatemala. They will let foreigners own
property but if the family that sold it to you wants it back for their
family then you have to give it up. That will probably not last much
longer.

I probably doubled the size of this after I got back from San Marcos but my
computer shut down before I saved it. With Word you can do a setting that
will save every so many minutes. Can't find such a thing in Outlook
Express.

Rosa and Felipe have the patio set up for a garden reception or something.
It is now 7:14 pm and I was supposed to get dinner at 7 pm. Out of sight
out of mind. I should have brought my gun and started firing it when a meal
is late.

Oh well. I can always go down the street. A couple of nights ago I had a
delicious Snickers candy bar. How is that for being Guatemalan? The
wrapper said it expired two years ago but it tasted ok. Or at least I am
still alive.

San Marcos was interesting. Nice hotels and a very small town. Lots of new
age stuff going on there and a lot of hippies like San Pedro. It is nice
that they have recycled all of those large bell bottoms and hip huggers.
See a lot of tie dye too.

It cost 5 Quetzales to go over and 10 Quetzales to come back. Same boat.
Same distance. Same time. I asked why and they said that they charge less
for locals. Hmmmmm.

I keep coming up with these funny script ideas. This one is about a man
living with a family in Guatemala. The man pays rent that includes three
meals a day. He does not get any meals unless he makes a fuss. Tonight the

man walked in to the patio and the lady of the house looked at him like he
was a burglar and what would he be doing in here house. Then it came to her

that he lived there and she should have fixed him dinner 30 minutes ago.
Then she said it would be ready in five minutes. I will let you know what
it is. Not chicken parts I am sure. By the way in San Marcos they have
legs and thighs and breasts and wings. Must be some sort of Pollo protest
in San Pedro.

Monday, April 23, 2007

April 23, 2007


April 23, 2007, Monday in Guatemala

Now I tried this once before and I lost everything because I was not saving
it fast enough. I think the problem with my computer is heat. When it gets
hot is shuts down. I had the same problem with my Dell a couple of years
ago.

Anyway I am up and running for a while. What I will do is save this to a
drafts file and keep adding to it as thoughts occur.

Had a long talk with a woman from Romania this evening. She has been here
for several years and thinks that this is the place where she wants to spend
the rest of her life. She could write a book about her experiences in
learning Spanish and then building a house. She lived in Oakland for about
ten years and has a grown daughter in Santa Cruz. She is an architect
and knows construction so that helps. Both she and Dennis from last night
have talked at length at how corrupt the government is here. But my
opinion is that it is not any more corrupt than in the United States.

Got my hand made sandals today. They cost me about $10 and are real leather
and real used tire tread for soles. Interesting.

Just finished dinner. Scrambled eggs and beans. Again the Dinner (cena) is
the lightest meal of the day. Lunch is the biggest meal and today that was
a chicken patty with rice. I keep telling Rosa that I am allergic to gluten
but she keeps trying to please me. She has a 19 year old daughter who
lives at home and a 16 year old daughter who is married. She also has a 10
month old who is nursing and walking sometimes at the same time.

Today was the beginning of my last week (ultimate semana) and Estella and I
both are slowing down. I think that both she and I are trying to remember
what we have covered and what we might have to move on to this week.

Made my reservation for the taxi to the airport on Sunday. That was about
$80. It was steep as compared to the chicken buses that run about $2 for
the same trip. I saw a photo in the paper the Presna Libre (Free Press) that
showed what happens when a chicken bus and a person collide. My money is on
the chicken bus. I might have said this before but I think the name chicken
bus comes from the cartoon of a bus with chickens on the top and inside
going down the road. I would redefine it by saying that the chicken bus
plays chicken with all of the cars on the road. You have to be here to
understand. My 43 years as a police officer pales in the light of what they
do here.

You might remember that I do not get any meals on Sunday. So part of the
day is wandering around trying to find good meals. There is a local
restaurant and bar that I have gone to several times and that is where I
ended up this past Sunday. The characters are: Dennis the owner 35. He is
from Boston and has been here for about three years. Very nice guy and very
smart. He is a political activist and a joy to talk to. Julie his
girlfriend 35. She is an American Airlines pilot and has been coming here
for
a couple of years. She comes down on her long changes. She flies out of
St. Louis but lives in Edwards, Colorado. Nancy Julie's mother 70. She
lives
in Memphis, TN and is a retired elementary school teacher from St. Louis.
Neat lady who really has a passion for kids. David the bartender 50. He is
from Ottawa and left at an early age to travel the world. He landed in
Calgary and Vancouver before coming here where he has been for the past
seven years. And now for the kicker. Shirley from Breckenridge, Colorado
40.
She has been a travel agent most of her life and has lived in Breckenridge
for the past 20 years. She owns a condo in that employee housing thing at
the southeast corner of French and Main across from the Breckenridge
Building Center. She worked for Breckenridge Travel and for the Village at
Breckenridge for years. For the past several years she has been crewing
sailing vessels all over the world. On one boat all she did was polish the
mahogany every day. She said they never sailed and the owners never showed
up. She thought they had the boat so they could tell their friends they had

a boat. She has crossed the Atlantic several
times. Spent a couple of years in the Mediterranean and now has a boat
harbored in Guatemala. So what are the odds of my ending up in a bar at the

end of a dead end street in San Pedro, Guatemala with two of my former
constituents? By the way neither women had ever heard of me. I hate
rejection.

Interesting thing in the paper on Sunday. The new head of narcotics
enforcement is an American woman who worked for the san Diego police
department, DEA and Homeland Security. She looks like just what they need
down here. There are a lot of American government folks working down here
to bring this country into the 21st century. g

Thursday, April 19, 2007

April 19, 2007


April 19, 2007 at 6:19 pm in Guatemala

I just walked the length and breadth of the town to check what the movies
are tonight. D'Noz has "Bobby." Amadeus has three movies. At 6 pm is
"Sevens" and at 8 pm is "Apocalypto" and at 10 is "Premonition" all first
run movies in your local theater back home. The Buddha is having a pool
tournament. Never heard of that movie. Oh, maybe they are having a pool
tournament. The Gallo is playing "I walk the Line." I will pass on all of
them. Don Brown from Estherville, Iowa who is currently in Amsterdam
suggested I get a copy of "Apocalypto" and show it here as this is the
center of the Mayan culture. The movie is about the end of the Mayan
culture by the Spanish. I guess I could stand outside the theater and do an

exit poll. Doubt if many locals would attend. It would be much like a film

about how ski areas are bringing about the end of the world and showing it
in Breckenridge. We still have not had rain and things are very dry. There

was rain up on the volcano this afternoon but nothing down here at the lake.

Everything is still green but the dust is dustier. The children's school
here had a doctor come in this afternoon for a presentation. I checked and
there are three medical schools in Guatemala. That is great. Estella has
said that the doctors in the local clinic are all from Spain. Interesting.
A week from tomorrow will be my last day in school. I fly out on Monday
morning at 6:45 am from Guatemala City and will be back in Denver around 1
pm. Even though this has been very nice it will be good to be back in
Colorado. Just don't let it snow for me. My Japanese housemate is feeling
a lot better. Her daughter is being very ornery so I guess she is doing
well also. Her daughter May is three and is now speaking several words in
Spanish. She was born and raised in Japan so she only speaks Japanese for
the most part. Felipe has a futbol (soccer) match tonight so he will be off

doing that. g

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

April 18, 2007


April 18, 2007 at 6:11 pm in Guatemala

Another uneventful day in Guatemala. Verbs and more verbs. I think that I
have it down to a system now for regular verbs and I will start on the
irregular verbs soon. Estella had her "injection" this afternoon in the
office. At the teacher's meeting this week they announced that they will be
setting up another school in San Marcos another town on the lake. The towns
on the lake are named after the apostles. Santiago. San Lucas. San James
and so on. That sounded very plausible until I found out that there are two
towns San Pablo and Santa Clara on the Lake. Paul and Clara were not
Apostles. Maybe they have a different rendition of the bible than I have.
San Marcos has their Celebration and Fiesta all next week. San Pedro does
theirs in June. Guess I will miss that one. Tony rented a kayak last
Sunday and paddled to San Marcos in about 15 minutes. It would be about an
hour on foot. On the road not across the water. Only one guy could do
that. Peter did it for a while until he lost faith and sunk. Estella went
to the bank to deposit her paycheck. She makes about $1 a day. So consider
that all you slackers who are upset you are only making $50,000 a year. And
Estella smiled all the way to the bank. She knows how important that is to
her family. Last night there was a large demonstration in El Centro to
celebrate the revolution that ended eleven years ago. I was told that they
had dug up three bodies and had them on display because they were buried
without being identified. How terrible. Felipe my landlord fought in that
war and was held prisoner for some time and finally escaped. Apparently his
brother was never found. I asked him about the demonstration and he said it
was very small. Estella was there and she said it was huge and rowdy and
Felipe was in the middle of it all. I guess he did not want to talk to me
about it. My Japanese lady housemate was up and around this afternoon.
She does not talk to me much but is very talkative with Rosa and Felipe.
Not sure what that is about. There were two Polish women students who had
been here for five weeks who left today. Lots of hugs and tears. They were
very fun loving. Remember wet Monday? The film "A day without Mexicans"
is playing tonight and I might go to that. It is a docudrama about how the
United States would be without our Mexican workers. Regardless of how you
feel this country could not function without our Mexican workers. They are
critical to keeping this place going every day. I get 5 to 10 very racists
anti-Mexican e mails a day from people who don't know any better. I know
that when my grandparents came here from Ireland and Sweden they were not
accepted either. Racism is racism regardless. We need to deal with the
problem and not try to get rid of it. That is not dealing with it. It is
not something that we should joke about either. We are talking about the
lives of human beings regardless of where they came from or how they got
here. That is my rant for the day. Can't even talk about the weather.
Perfect is perfect regardless. When the temperature is 70 degrees day and
night and it never rains not much you can say. Raphael the Gardner has been
going around watering down the paths and the lawn furniture to get the
layers of dust off. Don't see that he is getting ahead much. The shootings
in Virginia were not on the news much here. I get CNN and the Denver
Channels on the internet so I watched it most of yesterday. Terrible thing.
Not sure what else could have been done. The school repeatedly notified the
police about this guy but the police could not do anything unless he
followed up with what he was talking about. Something about living in a
free society. Time will tell what should have been done but from where I
am, which is far, far away, it looks like it was handled well. Update. I
did go see the movie and it was excellent. Even if you don't agree with the

premise it is a funny movie nonetheless. An observation as I was walking
home along the path. The greatest group of people down here are not
Americans. If I had to guess I would say it was the Germans followed by the

English then the Australians and a ton of others from the Scandinavian
counties. A truly universal community and they all are trying to speak
Spanish and they all love it here. Can't beat that I guess. Off to bed.
g

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

April 17, 2007


April 17, 2007 at 7:52 pm in Guatemala


I heard from my webmaster Rick Warren ,who is now living in London, the
reason that gary@garylindstrom.com is not working anymore. Apparently the
payment was due and they notified me at the only other e mail address they
had which was my Earthlink account from two years ago. They also only had a

credit card that I had cancelled a year ago. Hey they had lost me on two
fronts. I contacted their customer service and gave them the new
information on both fronts so maybe I can have my domain back again. I have

over 26,000 e mail addresses that probably would only reference that address

for me. Why do I have 26,000 e mail addresses? Well at one point each one
was probably one vote. I only needed 65, 000 votes to win. Or I could say
that now that I will be 65 in two weeks maybe it is time to pack in my
domain. Naw. Everyone should have at least one domain right?

Today in San Pedro was almost too Idyllic. I had a hard time concentrating.

Imagine trying to study when you are under a palm hut on a beach in the
middle of nowhere and the breeze across the lake was the right temperature
and the right speed. Poor Estella. She really hit me hard with sentence
construction and verbs this morning and my mind was somewhere else. She is
such a dear. This afternoon we turned to our usual conversation about
family. Her father in law left his wife of many years recently for an 18
year old girl. You could see the fire in Estella's eyes as she told that
story. Estella is around 35 years old. When Estella tells me to do
something I always respond with "Si Madre," "Yes mom."

Estella has arranged for the local public health nurse to come to the school

tomorrow to immunize all of the teachers. What a nice thing to do. My
daughter Amy does the same thing in San Antonio for the Public Health Office

there.

Tony moved out yesterday for points unknown. I now have a 29 year old woman

from Japan (Ahi) and her 3 year old daughter as housemates. She speaks
Japanese and some Spanish and some English. Her daughter was up all night
coughing and today the mom got very sick. Felipe said it was because she
ate banana bread from the street vendor. He said that several people in the

office had the same problem. Felipe just knocked on my door with an arm
full of over the counter drugs. He asked me about each one and if he should

give them to the child and the mom. I guess he did not realize that my
Master's degree is in human communications and not medicine. I am not a
doctor but I do play one on TV. Anyway I read the labels and they were cold

remedies. I told him the dosage for each and he left. By the way the
labels were in German. I was able to read them but Imagine a 65 year old
English speaking man in a jungle in southern Guatemala studying Spanish with

a degree in communications reading a label in German for a native Spanish
speaking Guatemalan soccer referee. Sounds like a film that would do well
at Sundance.

I saw a book recently in a book store in Boulder and its title was "5001
Spanish Verbs." I think that I covered most of them today. Buenos noche.
g

Sunday, April 15, 2007

April 16, 2007 Monday Evening


Monday April 16, 2007 at 6:00 PM.

The most remarkable thing about today was the weather. It was perfect.
About 70 degrees and sunny. No rain. No wind. Just very nice. Had fruit
and yogurt for breakfast. That will probably never change. Rice and
chicken for lunch (a tail and a back, imagine that) and do not know yet what

dinner will bring. Got a massage at noon from a woman down the path. She
is a Guatemalan and graduated with a degree in aromatherapy. Just my kind
of massage therapist. Her name is Ada and she lives in a shack with a
German fellow. She is very good and has given me some good advice on how to

take better care of myself. For those of you who are into massage, in
Colorado it costs $100 an hour. Here it is $20 an hour for the same thing.
Very economical. Other than that I did not venture out except to go to
class. Estella and I conjugated verbs all day. So much fun. So necessary
but tedious. Tony escaped to parts unknown. He last told me that he was
going to El Salvador and then Panama. Estella told me that he was heading
toward Guatemala City and the airport. There is only one airport in the
entire country so your guess is as good as mine. I have his e mail address
so I can ask him in a couple of days. He was a good guy. A young woman
student from Japan joined us for lunch today. She takes her daughter to
class every day. It is interesting because she does not speak English and I

do not speak Japanese. We have no choice but to speak Spanish. Good for
both of us. Today was the first day of my third week and I feel very good
about my progress. I sometimes have second thoughts and then get thrown
into a situation where I must speak Spanish and I do very well. Always hard

to gauge. I was so disappointed after spending two months in Mexico a
couple of years ago that I really wanted this to work. I think it has by
leaps and bounds. One thing that happens is that you start dreaming in
Spanish and then start thinking in Spanish. As I write this I have to
translate my thoughts from Spanish to English. I am serious. It is almost
funny. I will be 65 in two weeks so it is never too late. g

April 15, 2007 Sunday Afternoon


April 15, 2007 at 2:33 pm



It is actually hot here this afternoon. I was commiserating with a fellow from Canada who has lived here for seven years. April and May are the hottest months and then it cools off during the rainy season of May through December. That is what they consider winter down here. Does not make sense but who am I to tell. He said that he grew up in Ontario and then moved to Alberta and then Vancouver. He hopes he never sees snow again. He laughed and said that it did snow in northern Guatemala a few years ago and it was front page news. He called it a skiff. He is now into gardening down here and says that during the rainy season you can cut something off a plant and throw it on the ground and the next day it will have taken root. I don't doubt it. I know that when it rains here the plants take on a new life and turn very green and there are always new flowers the next day. So far the movies today are Repo Man and Pulp Fiction. I have seen them both. Havana Blues is playing at the hotel where I get free wireless so I might try that. They have some films that are more artsy than others. g

April 15, 2007 Sunday Morning


Sunday April 15, 2007 at 11:53 am in Guatemala





Sunday in Guatemala is so very laid back. My homestay has no meals on Sunday so I got to wander the town for food just like the dogs and cats. I had coffee at and espresso shop near the dock. The proprietor and I had a very long talk about police work and being a politician in the United States. He seemed very happy and his shop was very clean and well run. He had about the same menu as Starbucks but his Cafe Mocha was only 10 Quetales, about $1.25 while Starbucks is almost $4. He is much closer to the coffee bean growers of course. He is about twenty feet from a huge roaster operation. I had noticed what I thought were coffee bean husks on the corn plants in the fields yesterday. Estella confirmed they were. This morning I was in the same field and talked to the farmer and he said it was what was left of the corn after they processed it for corn flour. Now I am really confused. I am making a list of the things that I would bring the next time I come and the things that I would not bring. If you come down here you need a minimalist attitude and not bring a lot. It is warm both day and night and you can get by with light short sleeve shirts and shorts. Women from every country do not wear shorts here. They wear long pants or long skirts for the most part. Many of the foreign women like to dress native because it is light and comfortable and fashionable all at the same time. Women can dress like that and look like they have lived here forever while men can't do that. It is time to go scavenge for lunch now. Lots to choose from so it is always an adventure. g

Saturday, April 14, 2007

April 14, 2007 Saturday Night


Saturday at 3:29 pm in Guatemala

Kind of warm today. Took a very long walk along the beach for a couple of
miles early this morning. Lots of family laundry being done. I find it
funny that women here wear very long dresses and always dress up but when
they are two feet into the water all their clothes come off to be washed.
It is very practical because all of their clothes are being washed. Several
old jokes come to mind about the Laundromat in the college town where all of
the students take off all their clothes to wash them. I went to the
dedication of the new football (soccer) field on the east side of town near
the Santiago dock. It has been a field for a long time but it was just a
pickup game arrangement. Now they have real goals and even have four
basketball hoops. I asked earlier if women play soccer and they don't but
they are now playing basketball. Poco y poco. Little by little. The neat
thing was to see the hope in the eyes of the children who were looking
forward to playing on the new field. They played the national anthem twice
and then did another thing when the flag came on the field and then left.
Very much like the United States. When I was growing up in Iowa the premier
sport was women's basketball. Men's basketball was nothing in comparison.
I shopped today for a couple of things I want. A knitted bag with
"Guatemala" knitted into it and some men's leather sandals. I found
neither. The bags I found were very feminine and they literally do not make
sandals for men. Tony had even tried to buy some "flip flops" and could
not. Any Dollar General in the United States has hundreds of them. I
started taking pictures of the flowers today. I downloaded them into my
computer and they did not look the same. My camera is very light sensitive
and if what I am shooting is not in direct sunlight it looks strange. There
was a political rally across the street this morning. They take their
politics seriously. They won't remove a politician in an election they
either assassinate them or start a revolution. The newspapers here are full
of stories about assassinations. One party is the Partido (political) party
and the other party is the Mano Duro (strong hand) party. Lots of posters
and signs on walls. Reminded me of the old cartoons in Mad Magazine about
Spy vs. Spy. I think that I mentioned the movies that the bars play every
night. Last night there was a docu-drama on Haiti, a Friday the 13th
Trilogy, The movie, "23", "The Shooter" with Mark Wahlburg that I just saw
two weeks ago in the theater in Colorado. The shooter is a great movie.
Many truths in that one. Tonight they are having the Rocky
Horror Picture Show, another Friday the 13th film, The Lives of Others,
another
great spy movie about East Germany. Amy and I saw it in Texas. And "The
Big
Lewbowski" a great Coen brothers film. They did Fargo and Oh Brother and
many
other great comedies. Don't know if I will go. Always past my bedtime.
Tomorrow will be another adventure when I have to search out and eat three
meals that Rosa will not be fixing as she does not have to fix meals on
Sunday. Let's hear it for Rosa. Let's hear it for women's liberation in
the kitchen from having to fix meals for the ugly American and the ugly
Australian. g

Friday, April 13, 2007

April 13, 2007 Friday Night


Friday Night at 6:35 pm in Guatemala

Had a fruit plate with yogurt for breakfast and omelet for lunch and do not
know what is in store for dinner. Very nice day here with warm temperatures
and overcast skies. So very nice. The average daytime high is 75 and the
average overnight low is 65. Very tolerable. I sleep with a light blanket
and that works for me. Estella took me on a walking tour of the area around
San Pedro this afternoon. We walked along the shore of the lake and saw
large onion fields, coffee plantations, banana plantations, flower fields
and corn fields. In the movie, Maria, Full of Grace, they depicted the
flower industry in Columbia where huge numbers of flowers were grown,
picked, boxed and flown to the United States. I would imagine that it is
the same here. I did not seen any marijuana fields but I am sure they are
there according to Estella. I saw the elementary school that Estella's
children attend from 7 am to 1 pm every day. Very large and a fairly new
building. I found out that people from Germany actually subsidize the Mayan
education program. Not sure what I will be doing this weekend yet. I have
thought about taking the shuttle to Antigua to see the original capitol of
Guatemala. It was destroyed in an earthquake in the 1800s and was moved to
Guatemala City. Another shorter trip is to Santiago, another small village
about 30 minutes by launch from San Pedro. I think that I mentioned before
that the local bars all show movies every night. The Buddha is showing a
Friday the 13th Trilogy. I will pass on that one. Another bar close by is
showing a documentary on Haiti. Probably in French. That might be
interesting. They are all free for just buying drinks or food or both. A
few people have asked what I wear. I wear shorts, sandals and a t shirt
sometimes but I also wear my jeans, cowboy boots and a long sleeve shirt.
The locals all dress modestly and would never wear a short sleeve shirt or
shorts. Some wear regular shoes and some wear sandals. Most of the women
wear traditional dress that actually looks the same on everyone. A blouse
with a very long skirt with sandals. Now for the kicker. All of the
Americans, Europeans and Australians wear shorts, tank tops and no shoes all

the time. It is amazing to me how they do that. Men and women alike. The
young men and young women dress like it is still 1969. I think they feel
bad that they missed that era. Lots of dread locks. I would have third
degree burns and huge blisters and cuts on my feet. The streets are filthy
but they still do not wear shoes. I think that part of it might be telling
their friends back home that this place is so laid back that they don't wear

shoes.
later g

Friday April 13, 2007


Thanks for the update on Jim. I remember him being on crutches for a lot of school. Always a nice guy. He worked at the grocery store downtown. No goats here that I can see. Lots of dogs, cats and horses. I realize that I am in earthquake country. Lake Atitlan is the top of a volcano. There is an active volcano in Antigua which is not far away. Amy has spent thousands of dollars on those cats and insists on letting them out. I have told her now and many times before. Hard to believe that there is a four lane that far. I remember that was always being talked about in the '50s. Estella took me on a long walk in the area today. Saw coffee plantations, orange trees, huge fields of onions. Will put it all in my daily piece. Lots of great photos. I am talking to Lynne over the internet every night. I can dial any phone in the world for 2 cents a minute. It is called skype and is free to download and actually free if your party is on line at the same time. I am paying because Lynne is not always available and she can use a regular phone more easily. love g

April 12, 2007 Thursday


Thursday BLOG April 12, 2007 5:56 pm

Had a good day. Fruit and yogurt for breakfast. Tony got Corn Flakes.
Rosa does not understand that corn does not have wheat in it. Oh well.
Lunch was chicken and rice with corn tortillas, corn tortilla rolls and
avocado. Very tasty as usual. School went well. The weather was ideal all

day. Estella and I have a hut fairly close to the beach but there are two
closer. I think those students must pay more for beachfront property. Had
a few e mails about the new storm coming into Colorado. It was in
Georgetown a few minutes ago. I stuck my head out of the hut and did not
see any snow here. I will let you know if it happens. Actually CNN will
let you know when it snows in Guatemala. Went to the store for an afternoon

Snickers bar and they did not have any. My request got a good laugh. I
ended up with some mints. Not the same as a Snickers bar. The town has
really settled down after Holy Week. You can actually walk the paths
without running into anyone. Much like Summit County after the ski areas
close. I never go to Safeway or City Market during the day when the ski
areas are open. I am one of those people who walk around in the store
around 10 pm. Same with Wal Mart although Wal Mart is almost never quiet.
I asked Rosa if there was a large grocery store in San Pedro. She told me
there was but then admonished me about shopping there. Must be a support
your local small store campaign. It was the same in San Miguel. San Miguel

had a huge grocery store but the locals would always shop in the corner
store to support their friends who ran the store. Could that ever happen
in Colorado? In a word, NO. Anyway I might put on my Lone Ranger mask and
go to the big store some day and hope that none of my Guatemalan amigos and
amigas see me. Another thing is that gas is exactly the same here as in
Summit County. Funny how that works. I read the daily paper Prensa Libre
from Guatemala City and they are always campaigning against the oil
companies and their monopoly. I asked someone the other day where the
expensive houses were in San Pedro and was told they were all owned by drug
dealers and they were high in the mountains. They also pointed out all the
nice properties here in town that are owned by the same drug dealers.
Probably a lot of Summit County dollars in those businesses. Part of the
culture. Part of the economy. Part of the greed of man. g

April 13, 2007 Friday Morning


Friday April 13, 2007 Guatemala time 6:33 am

Today is Mike Goetz's birthday. Mike and I grew up together in Iowa. He
was a certified genius and was tested by several educational organizations.
He was a talented artist and musician. He went into the Air Force a few
months after I did in 1960 and was immediately put into a program at the
University of Indiana in Bloomington to learn Russian. He was there for a
couple of years, finished his degree in Russian and went off to Eastern
Europe to be a spy. He and I crossed paths several times when I was living
in New York City. He ended up getting his Master's degree in Fine Arts at
the University of Texas in Austin. He married, had a daughter and was
divorced. The divorce devastated him and he moved to Spain to teach
English. While in Spain he met and married a woman from Sweden and they
eventually settled in Hollywood where Mike was a film producer. He worked
for a time for Public Television. I went to see him in California a couple
of times. His wife was a real estate appraiser in Long Beach and they had a

son, Tony. When Mike was in Junior High School he was diagnosed with a hole

in his heart. He had one of the first open heart surgeries in Iowa. He
passed his physical to get into the Air Force but I found out later that he
was discharged on a medical due to continued heart problems. He had several

other heart surgeries after that. In December of 1988 he called me to tell
me that he was going to have heart surgery again after that Christmas. He
did not want to spend Christmas in the hospital. Shortly after he called me

he died in the driveway of his home in California. He was 46 years old.
Mike would have liked San Pedro and all of the native art here.

Local culture item: Rosa fixes chicken a lot. It tastes fine but it is
always the back, tail or neck. My old friend George used to call the tail
"The Parson's Nose," Or "The last part of the chicken to cross the fence."
I have never liked the back, the tail or the neck. When I fix chicken I
normally put those things into a pot with the giblets for stock or soup.
Rosa only serves us the neck, back and tail. She fixed a really nice potato

pancake thing wrapped in a banana leaf with a piece of the neck, or back or
tail in the middle. It was as if the chicken piece was the prize in the
middle of the cake. For the past two weeks I have been walking past a push
cart with a lady selling fried chicken and french fries. Always looks and
smells delicious. Much like the food you buy at a carnival or fair. Last
night I finally stopped to buy some and take it back to my room. I was not
paying attention to the lady and she just ladled up some chicken and fries
and put it in a plastic bag. When I got back to my room and opened the bag
I found, you guessed it, a back, a neck and a tail. Do I look like a neck,
back and tail sort of guy? I distinctly remember seeing wings, thighs, legs

and breasts on her rack. I will ask Estella what I need to do. I guess it
is "Ask not and you will have not" and I did not ask the right question.

I read in a guide book that you do not put any paper including toilet paper
into the toilet. It has to do with their sewer plants and not being able to

deal with paper. I thought it was only in very rural areas and did not pay
any attention to it. Yesterday I asked both Tony and Estella and they
assured me that you never put toilet paper in the toilet. You use the
toilet paper and put it in the wastepaper basket. That is fine but Rosa and

Felipe have yet to empty the wastepaper basket. I do not need to give you
any more detail on this matter.

I am at the halfway point today. I have finished two weeks and have two
more weeks to go. There is a graduation ceremony at the school every
Friday. They did not have it last week because it was Good Friday. It will

be interesting to see who is ending the program today.

Met a student yesterday who has finished everything in Spanish and is now
back to learn Mayan. Not sure why someone would want to learn Mayan. Not
me. Spanish is difficult enough.

Tony moves out tomorrow to go to El Salvador. I will probably get a new
housemate this weekend. g

April 12, 2007 Thursday


Jim Kleemeier. Now that is a name I had not heard for a long time. I remember he was in my class but I am not sure if he graduated with me. Never see his name on any lists. Update me. In San Miguel there was a regular laundry across the street. It cost me about $3 a week to get everything washed, dried and folded. I just sent my stuff on Monday with Rosa and it was over $10 for one week. I think it must be a scam. Estella does not have a washer or dryer but said she would wash my stuff by hand for a lot less. She has a husband and four kids so she does laundry by had three times a day. You need to get in the car and go somewhere at least for the day. If I lived there I would go to Des Moines or Omaha or Sioux City every couple of weeks. Have lunch and see a movie if nothing else. I think that Charles would go nuts in Sunnyview. Carolyn and Don are in Holland right now. love g

Thursday, April 12, 2007

April 12, 2007 Thursday Morning


Thursday morning, April 12, 2007, 6:30 am

I send e mails a couple of times a day if I can find an Internet connection.

I write them several times a day and then just keep them on my laptop until
I get connected. I am sorry if I confuse you with what I am writing and
your perception of what I am doing and where I am. I will try to remember
to put the time I am writing in the subject line. When I write about early
in the morning and then send it late that night it does not make sense.

I go to bed every night at around 9 pm and get up every morning at 4 am. I
have done that for years. I am a true morning person and feel that I do my
best thinking and work before the rest of the world gets out of bed. This
morning I was in bed trying to remember where I was and why I was here.
Strange feeling. Then a bird out of my window began to sing the most
beautiful song. I had never heard that bird before and it was fascinating.
Then I was able to hear, off in the distance, another bird answering the
call with the same song. Amazing.

I have noticed that there are a lot of Monarch butterflies here. Several
years ago my sister Janet was involved in a project in Iowa to tag Monarch
butterflies to check their migration patterns. I aways imagined those
relatively big tags that they put on the feet of larger birds. I know that
her tags were smaller.

You have two choices. You can sit on the couch and rot with the tv remote
control in your hand or you can get out and about and do something. I have
always been a do something kind of guy. I had a couple of weeks from the
time I got back to Breckenridge from Texas and leaving for Guatemala. That
was a remote control kind of time. I actually could tell that my mind and
body were slowing down. I am always reminded of the men and women who
retire after a long and hard career only to sit around the house and die a
young death. Then I remember the people who I see here in Guatemala who
have decided to risk something and let go of the remote control and get out
into the world and do something.

Last night at dinner I was listening to Tony and the fellow from Calgary
talk about their travels. Neither will ever have any regrets. Tony told a

story about hitchhiking from Oklahoma City to Dallas. He got a ride from a
driver going to El Paso. Tony figured "why not?" and ended up spending a
couple of weeks in El Paso. How is that for being spontaneous? He was
suppose to be in Dallas to pick up some money that his brother had wired him

so he still had to go there. It just took a week longer. The fellow from
Calgary had been in Denver many times but had never stopped. He just passed

through because it was not where he was going at the time. Both men live
off of opportunity or the fruits of the land. One of the reasons Tony came
to San Pedro Spanish School was because of cheap housing and food, not to
learn Spanish.

Believe it or not tomorrow marks my halfway point in San Pedro. I know that

I have learned a lot and know that I have a lot more to do before I leave in

two weeks. g

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

April 11, 2007 Wednesday Night


Wednesday night April 11, 2007


Kind of hot and sticky here tonight. Had dinner with a young man from
Calgary who is house-sitting for the owner of the School Ramon. He has a
very large and beautiful home across the path from the school. The fellow
from Calgary was a computer programmer in Calgary before he dropped out.
Very interesting guy. He has literally traveled all over the world on
little or no money. He is here in San Pedro for six months and then does
not know where he is going. Tony announced tonight that he is going to El
Salvador on Saturday. Then parts south into Panama and beyond. He has to
be back in Australia in July to start teaching again. Will be quiet around
here without him. The young boys will really miss the daily soccer matches.

When Estella and I were cleaning up at 5 tonight an older gentleman came by
to talk. He is from College Station, Texas and is down here to get some
cheap dental work done. He is a pecan farmer and has all Mexican workers.
Of course he spoke fluent Spanish. He is in his 70s and already hooked up
with a woman who is letting him stay in her house. He met her on the launch

coming over from Panajachel. This morning we had the usual fruit plate with

yogurt for breakfast. Sometimes Rosa will put granola on it. I can't eat
granola but I do to be polite. Has not bothered me so maybe my allergy to
gluten has gone away. Rosa this morning put some brown seeds on it and then

could not tell me the name of the seeds. I asked to see the package and she

did not have that either. All she said was that it was good for me. Time
will tell. Rosa has a 16 year old daughter that we have never met. I
found out today that she is getting married in a hurry soon. Too bad. Too
young. For lunch we all ate together for the first time in 9 days. All
four boys, Lena, Rosa and Felipe with Tony and I. We had hamburgers and
french fries. Not what I remembered but they were good. For dinner we had
two fried eggs, fried bananas and tortillas with salsa. Nice combination.
A little something for everyone. If Elvis had dropped by we would have
needed some peanut butter for the bananas. I had to explain that one to
Tony. He was born in 1985 and probably never heard of Elvis. I am getting
an A in grammar, an A in vocabulary and a C in conversation. I can read and

understand spoken Spanish. My issue always has been speaking Spanish. I
have two and a half weeks to correct that part. Someone asked me today
about the women on the beach. The Guatemalan women wear one piece bathing
suits and then put a shirt and pants on over that. American and European
women wear a one piece suit too. Usually the bottoms. Sometimes not. You
could be a mile away and tell the country of origin of the women on the
beach. Huge difference in cultures. As of right now I think that I am
going to stay where I am. I checked the local hotels and they are nice and
clean with TV but they seemed to be very lonely. Not sure I want that. I
would miss being awakened several times a night by the drunks on the path.
Time will tell. Maybe the last week to get ready to get back to the real
world. I have many more photos from the past couple of days. No. None of
the beach. Manana g

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Wednesday Afternoon


Wednesday afternoon



I have been getting e mails for the past couple of days from Summit County about all their snow. It sounds bad. Roads closed and a ton of accidents. Spring storms are always the worst. Lots of moisture. You would really like San Pedro. It is very retro with a lot of people who came down here in the 1960s and never left. Very laid back community with an artist flair. Estella was born here and she has an attitude like many in Iowa. This is where I was born and where I will die. I know there are better places but this is where I want to live. She makes $1 an hour. She teaches me for six hours and makes $6. She will get a big tip from me when I leave. Good that you are doing the pictures. There is always a market for anything old. love g

Tuesday Night BLOG


Tuesday Night BLOG

I want to tell all of you that we did not get any of the snow you had. In
fact the only weather was bright and sunny. The road report from the
Guatemalan Department of Transportation is, as I have said before, dry,
dirty, dusty and narrow. The chain law is not in effect. Today was just
another day in paradise. All of the spring breakers and touristas have
really left now. Nice to be able to walk down the street alone or to go
into a shop and be the only customer. Tonight on the path outside my window

there is little "Ruido" (noise) only the barking of a single dog and the
sound of footsteps on the hard dirt. Felipe told Tony and me tonight that
he and Rosa used to own one of the biggest restaurants in San Pedro. Rosa
was the chef. It was called the Cafe Verde and the store is still there but

is now an Internet shop. I have been in there many times. Felipe lost the
restaurant because an employee got into a bad accident and it took all of
Felipe's assets to settle the claim. Now Felipe is a soccer coach and
referee. He said he might open a new restaurant here at the school. He
needs a front end loader to clean up the yard and that would be a major
start. I have pictures of what needs to be done. No much else to report.
Off to dormir (sleep). g

April 10, 2007 Tuesday Morning


Tuesday morning, April 10, 2007

First of all, happy birthday to my oldest child Christine in Binghamton, New

York. I hope that she has at least 43 more years. Her grandmother was in
her 90s when she passed away so it is possible. Of course there is that
occaisional truck. Having been the Coroner for many years I know how much
life is fleeting and death is always sudden. Live every day like it is the
last and you will not have any regrets. Now if I could only do that.
Several of you have asked about the bugs here. I have not seen many. House

flies are prevalent but I have not seen many mosquitoes. Tony sat down in
an ant colony on Sunday and suffered a bunch of bites. His hand was swollen

last night at dinner. Dinner last night was refried beans, homemade corn
tortillas and scrambled eggs with onion and pepper. Remember dinner (cena)
is the smallest meal of the day. We ate around 8 pm. When I was in Mexico
for two months a couple of years ago the host family would have cena at 10
pm and then stay up until way past midnight. This family has four boys
under 9 who have to be in school at 7:30 am. School goes to 1 pm with no
lunch. I was telling Estella about the farm subsidies in the United States
and how the government will give the food they buy to keep the prices up to
schools for school lunches. She thought that was a great idea. Estella is
working on a project to protest to the government about providing 12 years
of free public school in all areas. There are large signs in the market
place asking people to meet at the docks to ride the boat to Panajachel to
join people there to protest to the President. By the way the people here
really hate George Bush. They also hate their own president who is said to
be close personal friends with Bush. Imagine that. Felipe was up on the
roof last night draining the rain water off before it came into the
building. One of the windows in the large room has had water seeping
through the frame and onto the floor. I am still considering moving to a
hotel. I am too old for this roughing it stuff. The average age of the
average student here is about 22. They never wear shoes. They wear the
same shirt and shorts every day. Their entire life fits into one medium
backpack. I think I was 22 in 1964. I had been married for three years and

had a young family. I would imagine that none of them were alive then. By
the way. We did not get any of that snow you had down here. I kept hearing

about it on the Internet but none showed up. The road conditions here were
dry, dusty and narrow. We did get a nice rain late in the day but I hardly
noticed. Take care. g

Monday, April 9, 2007

April 9, Monday Evening


Monday Evening April 9, 2007


Had a lot of responses from everyone today. Nice to know that it is
working. Internet connections here are strange. I think that the systems
are in place with a strong broadband cable. My issue lately has been
comcast. I have comcast at home because I can't get anything else. That is
a long story but even being a member of a powerful committee that regulates
cable service I could not get Qwest or anyone else to give me service.
Before I left Breckenridge on this trip my e mail was bouncing from Comcast
because they said my garyml@comcast.net was not a valid domain. Well hello.
My domain on that address IS comcast. Now I have to Google Comcast to get
connected and it does not work most of the time. I get these error messages
saying that I need to change the settings on the computer. Well the
computer is not mine. I am in an Internet store that rents computers to use
by the hour. It is their computer and their settings. I am sitting next to
people from all over the world and they do not have any problems at all. I
guess that is why monopolies are a bad thing. No competition leads to bad
service. And yes, I have talked to Comcast and they keep telling me it is
my server. I remind them that they are my server. Then I get a long
silence. Tonight I walked into a large field near the school with my laptop
trying to find a sweet spot for wireless. When I found it things went well
until it started to rain. Rain vs. Computers is not a good thing. Or muy
mal. Today was almost idyllic here. All of the touristas left after Holy
Week and all of us Touristas had the place to ourselves. Very nice. It was
much cooler today and was only in the mid-70s. It did rain a bit in the
last part of the afternoon but just enough to settle the dust. They do not
have any street sweepers here so women will get out into the street with a
broom and sweep several feet in both directions from their front door. They
did that in England when I lived there in the 1960's. Works for me. It
also gives everyone a chance to talk and gossip in the street. Not many
cars here. The few that venture into the town normally have to back out
because there is no place to turn around. Cars beep their horns to get
people to move and for the most part that is greeted by a blank stare like,
"I will move when I feel like it and not because you are rude and honk your
horn." Funny to watch. My first day of six hours of instruction went well.
Time goes fast. I would much rather be in class than sitting around doing
nothing. I went to the bank this morning and had a chat with an older
fellow, probably 90, waiting in line. He was very articulate and
interesting. He was telling me a long story about the bank and when there
was no bank here. As he was talking the women were coming up and kissing
his hand out of respect. Before I hear from you, older women get their
hands kissed too. g

April 9, 2007 Later Monday Morning


Subject: Later Monday Morning April 9, 2007


Lake Atitlan is in the center of the Mayan Culture. I was always under the
impression that both the Aztecs and Mayans had disappeared and that the only

time you would see any of their culture is in a museum or airline ad on TV.
I will assure you that the Mayan culture is alive and well in all of the
villages around Lake Atitlan and is especially true here in San Pedro. I
remember driving across northwest New Mexico and northeast Arizona and
listening to the Navaho radio stations. The radios stations here are the
same. They broadcast in both Spanish and Mayan. Mayan is nothing like
Spanish and actually sounds a lot like Hebrew. Very guttural. Could the
Mayan be one of the lost tribes if Israel? Just kidding but it would be
interesting to do some research into all of that. My teacher Estella is
Mayan and she grew up speaking only Mayan. Her father is a coffee grower in

the mountains above San Pedro. There is no high school in Guatemala. If
you want to go to high school you must travel to a large city and your
parents must be able to pay room, board and tuition. Estella spent four
years in Guatemala City to finish high school. Imagine the struggle for her

parents to pay for that. Made me think of the Vail Mountain School for some

reason. A lot different. When people start lecturing on lost civilizations

you can remind them that Mayan is not one of them. g

April 9, 2007 Early Morning


I am a dyed in the wool morning person. I go to bed around 9 pm every night
and get up around 4 am every day. Have done that for years. Guatemala is
not a morning person kind of place. Nothing happens here until much later
in the morning. No coffee. No Internet. No nothing. I sleep with my
windows open and can hear people walking and talking on the path all night
long. The sound is so good it seems they are standing next to my bed. A
cacophony of languages being spoken. A truly international path. At about
3:30 am the birds start to talk to each other also. It seems that the sound
always starts in the distance and gradually moves up the hill from the lake.
I can hear the roosters in the yards a little later. Must be
Guatemalan roosters. Right now it is a little after 5 am and the birds and
roosters are clamoring for the day to begin while all of the people are
still asleep. Everyone but me. g

Sunday, April 8, 2007

April 8, 2007 Easter Sunday


Easter Sunday April 8, 2007

I want to wish my oldest son Eric who lives in Ithaca, New York a happy 40th
birthday. His sister Christine turns 43 in a couple of days. I am sure
that she is happy that I am announcing that to the world. Eric is a film
producer and graphic designer. Christine is an Administrator in an Assisted
Living facility in Binghamton. Her oldest daughter Lindsay is graduating
with her Master's degree next month in Physical Therapy. How time flies.

I have heard from enough of you to stop sending photos. They are hard for
me to send and take a long time and then at your end it takes a long time to
download. In a couple of cases they actually crashed systems. It is
fine if everyone is on broadband but if you are on DSL or dialup it is hard.

Don Brown from Iowa, the owner and operator and chief cook and bottle washer
of Don's Diner, suggested that I put the photos on an internet site and then
they reside there instead of in your computer. That way you can look at
them any time you want but don't have to use up a lot of space on your hard
drive and not download them.

Easter Sunday here is the culmination of Holy Week. Everything was closed
all week and everything continued to be closed today. It is funny but the
places near the docks on the lake stayed open. Those are the
places that charge twice as much as the rest of the village.

My home stay includes three meals a day. Breakfast at 7:30 am, Lunch at
1:00 pm and dinner at 7:00 pm every day but Sunday. Of course that is the
day that all the restaurants are closed. I had breakfast at the American
Hotel, Mikaso, believe it or not, and then lunch at The Cove restaurant near
the docks. It is run by an American. He is about 40 years old and has
lived all over the world. Very intelligent, well read and he speaks
three or four languages. He wears a Chicago White Sox baseball hat so I
asked him if he was from Chicago. He said that he grew up in Florida but
that the hat was part of the clothing that he had picked up all over the
world. He lived in the Caribbean for a while and when tourists would buy
souvenirs they would leave their stuff they could not pack for the staff.
He has an Italian,
Mexican, Guatemalan and American menu. Today twelve young people from
Israel came in and it was funny to hear them order. No bacon of course but
no bread either.

Speaking of people from Israel there is a bearded young gentleman at my
school who
tells people that he is an Israeli anti-terrorist agent. My comment is that
if he was, he would not tell anyone. It is like the guy who tells you he is
with the CIA. You know right away that he is not. He would never tell
anyone that.

I have been using a route through town that starts at the Santiago Dock to
the east then up the hill to the Catholic Church and market in the center of
El Centro (downtown) and then back down to the Panajachel dock on the west.
Today because I did not have any classes I found a path along the lake shore
and walked the length of that. It was very steep in places and very rocky.
I was wearing my sandals so it was also tricky. What a nice walk. Lots of
families enjoying the lake. Swimming, sunbathing and doing their laundry.
Many students from the many Spanish schools were there studying also.

I did solve the mystery of the ZL Bar and Restaurant. It stands for Zoo
Lander. Not sure what that means but I guess it could mean Summit County at

some
times during the year. I also know that Zoolander was a film with Ben
Stiller. In my opinion Ben Stiller has never made a good movie so that
should tell you something. Adam Sandler has not either. Ben Stiller, Adam
Sandler and Jack Black are the three biggest money makers in Hollywood.
Someone must like them. Opinions are like
certain body parts. Everyone has one.

Today is the first day in a week that it has not rained so the flowers are
now blooming. So very pretty. This is a jungle so there are flowers I have
never seen before. I will take some pictures and put them on the web when I

get that set up.

I virtually never go into any bars. Tony my housemate does every night. He
had two comments from the weekend. The police shut the bars down near the
docks at the closing time of 2 am but let the in town local bars stay open
all
night. He said that the cops had been paid off to let the dock bars stay
open and
then reneged on the deal. I do not know the truth. I asked Tony if he knew
of a movie theatre here and he said there was none but that every bar showed
one movie a night to draw in patrons. I guess there is a big business here
in bootleg DVD of first run movies. Reminds me of the Seinfeld episode
where Kramer gets a job filming new films with a video camera for the
bootleg copies. Funny stuff. Tony bought Babel for $1.00. Cheap at half
the price. Very illegal though. Don't try this at home.

This will be my first week of full classes. I go six hours a day for five
days a week. Nine to noon and then two to five with Estella my teacher.
Last week I only had three days of classes and they were only five hours
each due to Holy Week. I had a long conversation this morning with the guy
selling shaved ice to put in cups and then cover with flavoring. He was
selling Strawberry and Orange. I had Strawberry. Fresca en espanol. He
was an interesting
fellow and asked me a lot of good questions about Breckenridge and
Colorado. Maybe he was a CIA agent posing as an ice salesman. Of course if
he was he would never say. But if he was an Israeli anti-terrorist agent he
probably would. Yeah. Right. g

April 8, 2007 Easter Sunday


Internet here is hit and miss. The connections are good but very slow. When I send pictures it takes about 30 minutes for me to send the message. I might just hold the pictures until I get home. Very nice here on Easter morning. Everything is closed so I am back in the big hotel for breakfast and internet. Everything in San Pedro is closed. And I mean everything. Noticed that all the Americans were getting on buses to go to Antigua. Probably not a bad idea. I am sure that Jenny wants to turn the page on her life. I am going to go study now.

Saturday, April 7, 2007

April 7, 2007 E Mail is working now


I got the problem solved with my settings. I will start a new blog
tomorrow. It was hard to send the last one because there were too many
photos and the file was too big. It is hot here today but overcast. Lots
of Guatemalan tourists in town for the Easter Weekend. The entire country
takes the whole week off and most of the businesses are closed. I should
have waited one more week to come. Oh well. I guess I got acclimated
during that time. There is a bar and restaurant here called "ZL." There
are also a lot of American druggies here left over from the 1960s. I need
to stop by the bar and see if the owners are from Summit County. I have met

a lot of people from Colorado down here just hanging out. Lots of
Australians as I have said and Eastern Europeans. Just like Summit County.
later g