Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Stay tuned please--I am really about to put up some great new posts



Dear Shay and Rhianna,

Albert and I agree: BIG EYEBROWS ARE
COOL!!

Friday, January 15, 2010

On the Road Again

Made through the Winter Solstice in Idaho, now I'm off on another adventure.

Pictures and Details following

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Entering (again) my life at home


I returned to the States on February 24, began work on a two week project in Seattle the following Monday. (Turned out to be three weeks) We had forty metal columns to install in a new 20 million dollar Microsoft complex.
There were two of us at first, doing the ones that required machining. The last few days we had a crew of eight.

Home to Idaho for three days then a flight to Portland for another short job. (4days) Then a deck demo job with my partner just for the fun of it at his house.


My head is spinning just recapping these event's as I sit here finally home. I look forward to relaxing but I'm wondering if it is all going to catch up with me like a rubber band snapping backwards and push me off the edge into another whirlwind. I think not-----whirlwinds are not in my immediate future.


I have been thinking a lot lately about about change, transitions, shifting from one reality or paradigm to another. In this case I am looking at the difference between the Ken's life as a traveler, (travel for work and traveling for the sake of traveling) and Ken's life as a home body.


From my perspective it's my life, and there is no borderline between the two, however, the process of unpacking my things, going to the grocery store, or just planning to be part of some community events seems foreign, so there must be a difference. This is feeling like another piece for "The Deeper Side" (http://moredepth.blogspot.com/2009/04/transition-change-and-other-morphatious.html) for now suffice it to say that Spring is here, I am excited about being home in Clark Fork and that every Spring brings change, transition and shifting realities. The two photos here are a good example of shifting realities. Last December my friend Paul's yard was devastated by an ice storm. Mother Nature however did not buy into the concept of "devastation". Spring is here and she is coming on strong, maybe even stronger now that she has undergone a bit of pruning.

Change is constant and evolution is always in motion, the big mystery is "where is it all going" of "what does it all mean"






Home with my new ride, It may be April 14th but this Beemer was glad to be in Idaho.

My brother gave me this car, (It had to leave California or face a firing squad) I got here and took it to the muffler shop, I thought it was too loud. The guy checked it over and found nothing. He said: "It's a BMW, get used to it and get yourself some nice sunglasses"

Friday, March 20, 2009

Home is where the grandchildren are.

Happy Spring!!


I'm back in the States, hit the ground running but I plan to recap my journey and debrief myself sometime in the near future/





Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Voy a Atitlan y bon voyage San Pedro

San Pedro , Lago Atitlan Muy Differente y la mismo tambien
(Different, but the Same)


Up in the morning, off to my favorite spot for coffee. Seems like I never left. This town has two "El Centros" There´s the center of town for 99% of the people who live here, the church, the town square, the basketball court and the market. Then there´s "El Centro" for tourists, the boat landing, the bars, the coffee shops and Internet cafes. I admit it, I'm heading for the tourist El Centro, because there's no coffee up by the church, (that I know of.)

The first person to talk to me is a young Mayan lady selling baked goods. "Pan de banana?" she says. I asked her name and, guess what, five years ago this same lady (a child then) greeted Cindy and I when we arrived. Little Teresa has grown into a beautiful young lady now wearing traditional Mayan clothing, and I´m happy to say she is going to school. When we were here before there was some question as to whether or not she would start school.
Another interesting aside: I know very little about national politics here, and there is very seldom anything good said about Guatemala's leaders. Here's a good tidbit regarding a new program the current president started. Low income families are offered a monthly cash bonus, it´s not huge, but considering the poverty most of them are living in it is worth working for. To qualify there are a few things that must be done, children must attend school, women and children must make regular visits to health facilities. The other thing the new president has done which is big is to keep all the community health facilities open 24 hours a day. Previously, if you worked it was impossible to have medical care because you would have to miss work.

I must regress here, because I had a wonderful weekend with Brigitte's family and I want to recount it

Brigitte, Joris, Jacques and I Left Antigua around 111:00 on Saturday the 15th. There are two things that are noteworthy about the 3 hour journey. We stopped at a roadside stand and Brigitte bought us fresh chilled coconuts to quench our thirst, that itself was not truly remarkable, what was unique for me was it was my first "drive through" experience in Guatemala, and I didn´t miss hearing the question: "Would you like fries with that?"

I know some of you are going to think I´m crazy(er) but the following is a real life account, an actual experience. I take my science pretty seriously, and I would not be telling you this if I thought it was a hoax.

There is a section of road where gravity is not functioning normally. Until recently you had to know exactly where it was, but now there is a small sign saying "Paso Mysterioso" Yes that is almost the same as "mystery spot" but believe me, this is not one of those places where they bend all the trees and build slanted houses. It is a section of road about 150 yards long. There are no trees or houses and you can tell the road crests a hill and goes to the bottom and back up. We pulled off the side and took a water bottle and tried pushing it down hill, it stopped, and proceeded to roll uphill every time. Here´s the "clincher", when we got to bottom of the hill there was no traffic, so Jacques turned off the car and put it in neutral. Believe it or not, we started rolling backwards, up the hill, not just a little, we kept gaining speed.

Brigitte was going to Santiago for the weekend to see a friend who was moving back to Spain. Once again I have to say I feel honored to be included in her circle of friends,
Her friend Lucia lives in a rented house on Lake Atitlan, the first thing she did after meeting me was to find a place for me to stay. She got Salvador (the caretaker) to open a little guest cabin for me, another "Perfect Situation" just plain happened without any help from me. (You may think I´m using "play on" words here, but Salvador was my Salvador.)

We had a great time together walking along the lake, exploring Santiago and just relaxing. Sunday in the afternoon we feasted on Paella. It was a community effort preparing it. It took a good deal of the day and quite a few beers making this combination seafood, chicken, rice and vegetable dish, I loved the process: A whole community of different people coming together in Lucia's neighbor's kitchen, most of us strangers, but all of us united as friends before the meal was over. Buen Provecho!!

I caught the last boat to San Pedro while Brigitte and family drove home. This parting was a bit sad because I may not see her again. I´m going to stop by her house next weekend to get some things I left there, but they may be on another adventure.

Back to San Pedro.

I already pointed out that it seemed as though nothing had changed. Of course that´s not true, but so many of the things that were a part of my life when I was there five years ago seems (depressingly) the same. The poverty up in the native part of town, pretty much the same. The constant party atmosphere in the tourist part of town, pretty much the same. One change (also depressing to me and all of the locals I talked to) is that there is a huge fleet of three wheeled taxis (called "tuc tucs" ). It reminds me of a bunch of mosquito's buzzing around. People got along just fine walking or taking a ride on one of the picups before the Tuc Tucs arrived.

I had a great living situation there. I had a whole house to myself for as long as I wanted it. My friend Leo and his family have moved into his Mother in Law's for an indefinite amount of time to assist in caregiving. It was just me Sally (a four month old puppy) and a three bedroom house at the end of a funky little foot path.

I was not really happy in San Pedro, mainly I was bored, and I could have found a volunteer thing to do somewhere but I didn´t. What I was feeling, and what I was seeing in many people around there was a "lack of passion". I did some soul searching and a little writing on the topic (Find it here, link to othe deeper side: here and now, vs there and then ) I had a few short visits with another friend from years ago, and decided to bug out after three days there.
I have never been to Xela (Queztaltenango). It´s Guatemala´s second largest city and it is high in the mountains. Google Images.

I met Mike and Lucia from Tennessee on the bus ride there and they have been a pure joy to hang around with. They are both recently retired and pretty much just living the good life. Two months down here and then it will be time for them to return to their gardens and wine making. They were coming to Xela to see a famous Cuban band, the Buena Vista Social Club. Turns out it is one member of that band with his new band Buena Vista de Corazon. That concert was a bit too much, too many people, too much noise and a little shy on authentic Cuban Salsa, however last night we went to little dinner club which had an excellent five piece band, mellow atmosphere and they didn´t make us wait for 45 minutes in line and frisk us before the concert. More contrast, there's no shortage here.

Yesterday I took a trip up higher in the mountains to a gorgeous hot springs called Fuentes Georginas, its an awesome spot! (Wish it were my back yard!) (Pictures : Google Images )

There is so much to write about, and I have only three days left in Guatemala, so I´m going to close this journal here with the promise to myself that I will edit it, refine it and add some more pictures before too long (That was purposefully vague)

Thanks to all my devoted readers (both of you). Here´s a wish for continued good relations where ever any of us go.

Peace

Ken

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Montiricco, Coastal Resort minus People and Condos

Turn the page--travel about 150 miles -- enter a totally new world.



Monterrico, La Playa muy differente. (Montirrico, Google Images) For one thing, the sand is black because it is volcanic, but the main difference is there are no people on it. I splurged and spent $10.00 US for a direct ride to Monterrico on a tourist bus. It was worth it, I got there stress free in 2 1/2 hours, lots of time to explore lodging options and check out the "scene". As far as lodging goes, once again God has provided me with the Perfect Situation. (There´s another title for a piece on The Deeper Side
"God´s Perfect Situations- (GPS) - How to recognize them, and flow with them" Pretty deep stuff)



I checked in with the Spanish School here. They did not have a family for me to stay with but they had a 2 bedroom cabana right there with a shared bathroom and a kitchen! I shared it with Suzette a young lady from Holland, (The dangerous young lady pictured above with the machete) she is on a four month South and Central America adventure! She´s already been to South America, love it there and she´s going to Cuba before she heads home, (I´m jealous).
Having a kitchen was great. Fruit smoothies in the morning and avocados on fresh hot tortillas for lunch. I guess I didn´t actually cook anything did I?? I would have been a fool to prepare all my meals here. With a stones throw there were six great restaurants. Fresh seafood, at a cost, once again, too low to mention on this blog without waves of guilt.



From Montericco



I Love the Pacific Ocean! I got to thinking about it, and in my life it has been one of the major sources of joy and wonder. In my childhood time at the Pacific was always awesome, I think that is because when you are on the coast looking out and seeing nothing but water, it´s like experience infinity in your mind. The only thing that rivaled it for me was lying on my back on a dark night staring up into the vastness of the sky. Considering that most of my life I have lived withing a days drive of the Pacific, and part of my life I lived on the Pacific (The Bearing Sea). she has to be playing a major role in my life.

From Montericco


Monterrico, is it heaven on Earth? To some maybe, to me it was a very peaceful piece of the Pacific coast with great food and friendly open people. No barbed wire, no armed guards, I wonder if it is just too poor to have crime and corruption? Maybe the Pacific here just has a calming tranquil effect on everything. (En Espanol pacificar :pacify, calm)
I spent 4 days here, hire a teacher for one hour a day, studied for maybe another 2 hours and pretty much just kicked back and worked on my tan. Lots of younger travellers, the party crowd. I´m not into partying much myself, but I think as a "elder, I should have some sort of special status. Possibly "senoir beach bum in residence" I may not have the stamina to party all night, but the up side is that I have the beach to myself every morning.

From Montericco


One interesting adventure. (It´s always interesting when you get your adrenalin flowing) The school offered for free a field trip into the mangroves one afternoon. I decided to tag along. I thought we would be riding on one of the bigger launches with other tourists. I was wrong. My teacher, (our guide and fearless captain too) led us through several back yards to a spot where there were several boats beached and proceeded to stuff all 7 of us (8 total) into a boat that was probably designed for four. We shove off and it seemed ok, we had three inches of free board (for you landlubbers, that is how much lower the boat can go before it fills with water)(oh yeh, then it sinks)

From Montericco


The trip itself was really beautiful, I didn´t get enough good pictures to do it justice, but there was one gal who freaked when the boat tilted a bit, and this caused everyone else to freak and try and correct it, generally screaming while they were at it. The fact that the boat was leaking didn´t actually bolster my confidence)

From Montericco


Here's a personal paradox.
This trip and other trips down here I have felt somewhat "guilty" at how little I was paying for everything . The other side of the paradox is I do feel good about saving my money in the states and then coming down here and spreading it around. I can say with a clear conscious that I have not given a nickle to the Marriott's or the Hilton's. One year after hurricane Stan I choose to stay home and just send the money. I helped out a few friends with (I think) some worthwhile causes. I felt good to me and my only real loss was I didn´t get much of a tan that Winter.

One more note on Monterrico. It was a ghost town while I was there, empty restaurants everywhere. Every weekend that changes, -- it is a primo weekend destination for Guatamatecas. A la fin de semana---este TIEMPO por la FIESTA!!! (On the weekend, it´s time to party!!)
It's Friday the 13, of February as I write this (in my notebook) It is mi hija mayor's birthday! HAPPY BIRTHDAY SHAY!! I'm back in Antigua, It only took 3 1/2 hours to get here by public transportation. I was pleasantly surprised. It was a pleasant way to spend the morning. First a 30 minute boat ride through the mangroves to a speck of a pueblo which is the"end of the road" Then three separate "chicken bus" rides, all of which I got to sit down, and there were no chickens or goats aboard. I chose to get up early so I could have time in Antigua to catch up on the blogging thing, and get some pictures uploaded. Brigitte has invited me to join them on a trip to Santiago (On Lago Atitlan) for the weekend, I´m looking forward to that, and I plan on staying at the lake for the following week. I´m going to sign off here and begin the next installment.
(Because actually it is Wednesday of the following week, I´m in San Pedro, bored at the moment and thinking about leaving tomorrow).

Hasta al Vista Amigos






Thursday, February 05, 2009

Antigua Out of the nest and into "El Mundo de Turista"



The other day I wrote a piece on the contrast and irony here in Guatemala. I love exploring what is going on inside of my mind and sharing it though my writing. Truth be known, I love writing and I do it mainly for myself. I feel this fit's into my "travels" but in reality it doesn't. So I have created a "sister blog" as a place for posting these writings.

I call it "The Deeper Side" http://moredepth.blogspot.com/

For some time now I have been practicing the art of "not looking like a lost and bewildered tourist." On previous trips I learned that if you wear flip flops, a t-shirt and shorts, you may as well hang a sign around your neck saying TOURISTO! This trip I decided that even the hat I brought was, how do I say this, "a little it too "gringo-ish" (Even though it was a Peruvian hat. So I bought a used baseball cap. I have been practicing a few new tricks this week in Antigua.

One trick is what I call "purposeful walking" the other is "The Latino Pause"

I know that appearing like a tourist is not the worst thing in the world, but I prefer to keep the spotlight off of myself as much as possible. When I'm walking, I keep moving, I don{t pause at each intersection to gawk up and down the street. Truth is most of the time, I have no idea where I'm going, I do know where I've been, so I can always walk around the block and head back. I may be dazed and confused, but I know where I'm going, at least it appears that way. I know you are on the edge of your seat. What the hell is the "Latin American Pause" you say. Somebody wrote a song about it before I was born: "Standing on the Corner, Watching All the Girls Go By" I'm thinking that sounds sexist, and it probably is, but truth is Machismo rules here in Latin America. I would like to write more on that dilemma, something like "Women of the World UNITE!! It's your turn to run the world!!" (Look for it at http://moredepth.blogspot.com/ the deeper side)
At last, I am actually going to write about life in Antigua (for me). But First, a word of caution! There may e a few readers offended by the "bare bosoms" in the photo below. In justification, it{s just another major irony I observed here.Antigua probably has more churches per sq. mile than anyplace I have been. Most of them very old, some of them in ruins, all of them very staunchly conservative Christian.Yet for Antigua's center piece, smack dab in the middle of the town square they have four bare breasted women gushing forth with the elixir of life. (my metaphor) That kind of contrast just has to make you laugh!!

From Antigua Picts



Pictured above (top first) Englisia Merced, one of the nicely restored Catholic churches. A quiet street outside the center of town. A coffee plant, Next, one of the ladies in La Plaza Mejor. I took a tour of a coffee finka (farm and processing plant) next is a group of tourists from Pennilvania (There were quite a few Amish people here).



Mi Semana in Antigua esta Muy Bueno!!

I attended school 4 hours in the morning, included in the package was 5 days of classes, and 7 nights with a host family, (3 meals a day included except Sunday) It was so inexpensive I am embarrassed to tell you. ( $170 total $190 if you wanted a private bathroom.) My teacher suited me pretty well, although there were a few times I needed to correct her on one contridiction or another. I told the director in an e-mail before I signed up that I had learning disabilities and required special needs. I said "my mind is old". Funny thing, I actually said "mi mende is lejos" My mind is long (I meant viejos).
My teacher, Gloria, was very patient and we worked together at a pace that was comfortable for me.

Pictured at the left, the courtyard of the house I stayed in.
The Inglisia Merced (near the place I stayed)
Below Joris and his Grandpapa
Last picture is little Brigitte trying to drink away the dissapointment that I am leaving. Just kidding the bottle was empty.

My routine for the week
(Funny, I haven't had a routine for so long, it was nice to "have a groove to get into.)
Up around seven and breakfast with the clan. (There were four other students from Korea, We were forced to talk in beginners Spanish, they knew no English nor I Korean)
School from 8:00 12:00
12:00 to 1:00 one hour of "purposefull walking"
Lunch at 1:00
The rest of the day was pretty much a random combination of "the walk" find a cafe or two and study, "the Latino Pause", internet, play some music or find some kids who want to play with the Angel Sticks, read, and etc.
Don't forget, Dinner is at 7:00.
From Antigua Picts

I never did figure out why, but Ana, our hostess, had about ten or twelve other people for dinner each night. All girls, about high school age. The girls were gone on the weekend, so my guess is that she was running a boarding house. (I'm being a bit sarcastic at my own expense. I was getting room and board also.)

No big highlights for the week, all and all, a pleasant mellow time in Antigua.
On Saturday I got to hang out with Brigittes family again. Her dad is in town now (for six weeks I think) He's a really nice guy, He's my age, a retired truck driver living in Holland. I look forward to spending more time with him. Sunday we all had dinner together in Antigua, (at that moment Brigitte's family consisted of ten of us) (As I said before, the number fluctuates daily)

Monday begins another week (actually over at the time of this writing, I guese we will just call this the "Latin America Time Lag" The way things are going, I may be home before Ifinish the section on the Playa and Lago Atitalon.
We will see.
From Antigua Picts