Gained in the Translation

Out to breakfast this morning determined to have just a couple of pancakes. And that is what I ordered. Sometimes though, things get changed in the translation. Sometimes it is for the better. What you see above is crepes. What you don’t see is that the crepes are stuffed with chocolate and bananas. Must be a zillion calories here but who’s counting? I think I’ll skip lunch and take my siesta early.

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Christmas Day in Guatemala

On this beautiful Christmas Day here in Guatemala I am doing pretty much absolutely nothing. This morning I went out with a friend for a giant Latte and big bowl of fruit topped off with granola and yogurt – disgustingly healthy. For lunch I had roast chicken and french fries washed down with a coke to make up for it. Now I’m in my hammock ready for my strenuous afternoon. Here are some shots of my view.

…and now, taking these pictures has just about worn me out so I guess I’d better take my siesta. Merry Christmas to all. 🙂

Christmas Eve in Guatemala

I’m used to spending holidays alone now. In fact, I’m used to being alone most of the time so this time is not any different from any other. Well, yes it is different in a few ways. For one thing, it was over 80 degrees today. Not bad for Christmas Eve weather. For another, I am in a nice hotel on beautiful Lake Atitlan. Still …

I am fighting a battle with myself. It is a war I’ve been fighting for years. It is a war that reflects our age, sort of like the numerous US wars of recent times. I don’t know who the enemy is. I don’t know where the front line is. I don’t  know what the objective is. There is just one skirmish after another. Some are won. Some are lost. Captives are tortured for useless information. None of it seems to make any difference in the long run. I am always alone.

Don’t misunderstand. This just feels like the natural order of things to me now. I just wonder why, like perhaps I would if I were dying of some terminal disease. Sometimes I want to just go out to the edge of the world and scream into the void of it all, “Why me?”
Why was I “chosen” or “bent” or “warped” or whatever it is that “selected” me to have a personality that basically keeps other people at distance from me?

Years ago I was tortured by a drug problem that I felt was beyond my control. I turned to a twelve step program to help me. One of the first things I learned was not to ask the “Why” question. I was told that even if I knew the answer it would solve nothing. Still …

So, what does all this have to do with a trip around the world? You may think nothing at all but to me it is the essence of it all. This is what it is all for. I warned everyone in the beginning of this blog. This is not about a trip around the world. It is really about a trip around the inside of my head.

For reading through all that though, I’ve included a picture of the only painting I’ve done in months. I left it behind in San Marcus when I left there a couple of days ago. I didn’t mean to leave it. I meant to take it off the stretcher bars, roll it and pack it, but, I didn’t…

Thanks Guatemala!

Wrote this several days ago. I’m much better now but the info is still interesting.

For the last few days I have been pretty sick with the tourist’s disease which has lots of different names in different places but the worst diarrhea you can imagine by whatever you want to call it is still horrible so I’ll leave the details to your imagination. Anyway, I am recovering thanks to the Guatemalan Public Health Service. This is a few words about how that worked here in this so-called “third world” country.

In San Marcus where I was staying there aren’t any doctors (at least as far as I know.) The town is just too small. However, there is a government public health clinic. And, it is completely free. To everyone. That’s right – EVERYONE! Even Gringo foreigners.

I was asking around about where I could get medicine for my “problem” and was directed there. Not really understanding Spanish, I didn’t really know what the place was. I just knew I was sick and they might be able to help me. I went in and with Diane’s help, explained to the person in front about my symptoms. I was asked to wait. I was thinking in terms of a United States public clinic or something like that so figured I was in for a few hours of misery.

Surprise! About 15 minutes later, I was invited into another room. No questions had been asked other than about general symptoms. Not even my name. When I got into the other room there was a lady whom I assume was a nurse practitioner. She spoke only Spanish so Diane’s help was priceless. I was asked further questions about my symptoms.  After narrowing it down this way, the nurse went to a cabinet and returned with a package of Metronidazole tablets and two packages of a powder to mix with water.  She explained slowly and clearly how to take them in Spanish (I even understood her.) In addition there were directions were on the packages.

She then gave the medicine to me and asked me to sign a sheet to show I had received the medicine. This was the first time I had been asked for any sort of name. I signed but was still not asked for identification. I could have signed “John Smith”. I then asked “Quanta questa?” (How much?) The answer – “No charge.”

Still not understanding that this was a GOVERNMENT PUBLIC HEALTH FACILITY (I mean, forgive me, I’m stupid, I’m from the United States where you die if you can’t pay and as you are dying, people applaud.) I pulled a 100 Q from my pocket (about $12.50) and tried to give it to her as a donation. I was sincere. I’m just not used to the government giving me anything. She just smiled and shook her head at my Gringo ignorance.

Mi Casa

Inside Little House

This is the inside of my little house where I am staying in San Marcos. It is the guest house of Casa de Diane. Diane and her two incredible daughters, Sage and Spirit, live here in San Marcos.

Diane is an artist. She teaches therapeutic art. Sage and Spirit are sprites who live in a treehouse. They come down from the heights just long enough each day to cook incredible Guatamalan meals for which I am very greatful. I actually think I may be gaining back a bit of the weight I lost in the last couple of months before I left the States.

This is the path that leads to the little casa. It is a beautiful garden and a great place to relax – just what I needed.

Again, my apologies for the brevity of this post – but I did get one up. 🙂

Where the Rainbow gets its Color

Shot from Tuk-tuk on trip from San Marcos to San Pedro

Is that not beautiful? I’m no photographer and the tuk-tuk was moving on down the road but even with those handicaps, even a quick snap shot shows why Lake Atitlan is known by the Mayans as the place where the rainbow gets its colors”.

Oh yeah, in my last post I was in excruitating pain in Little Rock and now I flying down the road in a tuk-tuk in Guatemala so I guess I’ve got some catching up to do so here goes… Flashback to Little Rock:

There I am, sitting in one of those slippery plastic chairs they put in airport waiting rooms. I used to think someone somewhere had made a terrible mistake when they designed those thing. Now I realize they were built that way deliberately. When you finally get out of it and on the plane, the comparison between the plastic chair and the seat in the plane makes you forget how horrible the plane seat actually is.

Anyway, the plane loads on time. By  5:45AM when the plane is supposed to take off everyone is on board and we are ready to go – we think. The plane backs up from the loading ramp and then stops.

Did I mention there is about three inches of snow and ice on the wings? Well, there is. So the pilot announces about about a ten minute delay to allow for de-iceing. So… an hour later, the plane is finally de-iced and we take off.

We hit the ground in Atlanta an hour late. My plane for Guatemala has already been boarding for ten minutes, then I find out it is about a mile run from where I am so I start running – at least as best I can with my loaded pack and my un-ibuprfened and un-coffeed body. I make it just before they close the door. But I do make it. 🙂

Unfortunately, for some unexplained reason, that plane sits there for another 45 minutes past take-off time which puts us into Guatemala City about an hour late. I grab a shuttle to Antiqua ($10 and about an hour and a half) then another shuttle to Pana ($15 and another three hours). This puts us into Pana just minutes before the last launcha leaves for San Marcos at 7:30PM. But I make it. 🙂

The trip across the lake is gorgeous. It is dark but the sky is clear. The stars are bright and shining. The lake is fairly smooth. I can see the lights from all the little cities around the lake. The volcanoes and mountains loom on the shores. In San Marcos I get a nice room of $10 and lay my tired, aching body down. Tomorrow will be a beautiful day. And I will tell you about it later.

What da…!

It is December 7 at 4:30AM. I’m through security, sitting at gate number 4 at the Little Rock Airport. Outside there is snow AND ice on the ground. And if that weren’t bad enough, I just discovered I am old and disintegrating. Surprise! That’s what I get for sitting on my butt for two years I guess.

Anyone who has been in Little Rock Airport knows it isn’t very big. Gate 4 is just a little way from the security gate so I haven’t actually carried my bag far but already I am thinking of what I can do without. This thinking is induced by pain. My back hurts. My shoulder hurts. My arm hurts. I’m just a mess. What I really need right now is a big cup of latte and a couple of ibuprofen. Don’t have either.

Well, I wanted a change. I got it. I hope I survive to get to Xela. That is where I had intended to “get back into shape.” That wasn’t supposed to be on the agenda for at least a month. By then I’ll probably be carrying everything I own in one pocket.