Monday, July 31, 2006

Too Cute

This video clip is just too cute.

Saturday, July 29, 2006


.....way too much to drink last night. I met up with my sister and her fiance at this new restaurant called The Green Onion (formerly known as the Wild Monkey) just down the street from my apartment. I am not sure what time we left other than it was very late. The food was absolutely excellent (we did the cheese plate and an assortment of appetizers) and I think we knocked out five bottles of wine between the three of us, which is pretty obscene. My alcohol consumption has been rather minimal as of late, so you can probably guess how I felt this morning. But after much water, some coffee, and a couple Advil, I am feeling human again. Or very nearly so. I suspect by the time I head out to the Blackwater Ecological Preserve for reserach in about an hour, I will be back to normal.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

The View

I took very few pictures while in Guatemala. This was mainly due to lack of opportunity; sitting at a desk working on a project proposal would hardly be considered a Kodak moment. I did take a few shots, mainly of the volcano visible in the distance from my bedroom window, which is shown in the image below. This is the Agua Volcano (I think) which is located west of Guatemala City.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Home Again

Arrived in Norfolk slightly ahead of schedule last night after mostly uneventful flights. Departing Miami was a little more interesting than usual due to the pilot having to thread a series of thunderstorms. We experienced a little more turbulence than usual, but it wasn't constant and certainly nothing overly alarming. The view from the plane, however, was breathtaking. The clouds shortly before sunset appeared as a terrian of sorts, with valleys and hills and mesas and towering mountains of thunderheads in the distance, all in various shades of white and gray and when the sun was able to shine through, pink and yellow. Occasionally there were flashes of lightning in the distant storm clouds.

The eight hour layover in Miami wasn't all that tedious between reading, people watching, and wandering around the airport. Though I had a book with me (Pathologies of Power: Health, Human Rights, and the New War on the Poor by Paul Famer) I opted for lighter fare and acquired Dan Brown's Angels and Demons at one of the airport bookshops which I subsequently began reading once I found a quiet place. Of course, finding a quiet place at the Miami airport took some effort, but it was worth it as I was able to enjoy the book with a minimum of distraction.

I'm glad I had the foresight to take today off from work. I'm not physically tired from the trip, but my mind needs the break. It was an insanely busy two weeks and having a day to mentally decompress will make the return to work tomorrow a productive one. Had I worked, I would most likely have spent the day staring blankly at the computer screen and reliving the experinces of trip. to run a few errands. It's good to be home.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Yet Another Rainy Evening

My last full day in Guatemala City and again it is raining. The weather is largely a replay of yesterday afternoon with thunderstorms rolling through followed by lingering rain. Though I had a little free time this afternoon to do something on my own (e.g., make the trip to Antigua), I opted to stay close to home due to having to prepare for tomorrow’s departure. Besides, at this point at the very end of a trip, my mind is already focused on the return home and I doubt seriously I would be able to enjoy the daytrip. Along those lines, packing is now out of the way and I have a few hours of relaxation before (hopefully) turning in early tonight. I have to be at the airport around 6:30am, so I will be up around five, allowing time for the daily coffee ritual.

I am not dreading the eight hour layover in Miami quite as bad as I thought I would. Certainly, it is going to be a long day, but I should be able to keep myself sufficiently entertained between a book, my travel journal, and occasional bouts of people-watching. Few better places to engage in the latter than an airport.

Friday, July 21, 2006

¿Soccer or Futball?

Across the street from the apartment amidst this little grove of trees is a basketball court. But it’s a basketball court only in design, this is Central America, after all, and the real function of that concrete slab is that of an impromptu soccer field. Every day around lunch time, fifteen to twenty young Guatemalans suddenly materialize and engage in a rough and tumble soccer game that lasts until 1pm sharp. (I do realize the punctual end of their game on a daily basis totally flies in the face of my observations about the casual approach to time down here, but presumably there is some viable explanation for this, most likely lunch break being over.)

They make the game look so easy. If I even attempted some of their more basic moves, I would necessarily be rushed to the nearest hospital (wherever that may be) probably via a familiar taxi (and arrive covered in feathers) But then again, they’ve probably been playing soccer since they were able to walk. They are supposed to be good.

Of Time and Fowl

Rain has been falling almost all afternoon. I got home from lunch around 1:30 and shortly thereafter a series of thunderstorms rolled through, followed by this lingering “just hard enough to get you wet if you try to walk anywhere” rain. Annoying, yes, but at least it was a viable excuse to avoid the 3pm meeting. I was to be but a casual observer, so skipping out on it should not result in any negative repercussions.

That’s one of the interesting things I’ve noticed down here: there is this casual approach to life and few things seem to be taken seriously to the extreme as they are in the States. At home, if a meeting is supposed to start at 9am, it starts at 9am. Sharp. Here…well, if it is scheduled for 9am, it might begin at 9:30. Or even later. Apparently no real hurry as long as things are done. Perhaps due to my Germanic heritage that revels in this obsession for order and punctuality, this approach to time vexed me to no end the first few occurrences, but now it’s an expectation, simply a part of the cultural adventure down here. Of course, I would not try this back home.

Even if it were not for the lingering “just hard enough to get you wet if you try to walk anywhere” rain, there are very few places of interest within safe walking distance of the university, save for a bakery, a convenience store (of sorts), the university outdoor cafĂ© on campus, and a little street corner restaurant all located on this block. To go anywhere else requires public transportation, either a bus or taxi. I have taken a taxi on several occasions and they seem pretty reliable and inexpensive. The only disagreeable experience thus far was the taxi we took Sunday morning. Not really disagreeable, more along the lines of interesting. The taxi smelled of poultry and scattered on the back seat were a few feathers. Though one may be inclined to speculate as to the event resulting in poultry odor and feathers, I will refrain from such and merely just chalk it up as being part of the adventure of Central American travel.

Winding Down

Another cool and partly cloudy morning here in Guatemala City. Save for one (possibly two) more meetings today, my work here is coming to a welcome conclusion. The project has gone very well, but it has been a tremendous amount of work. Checking in at the airport early Sunday morning will be a happy occasion.

My colleagues here anticipate at least two more research trips down here in the very near future. This is exciting, but right now I just want to get back to my routine at home. I am sure that in a few weeks my enthusiasm for the additional work will be much greater than it is now. I am simply burned out and tired. to the university for a bit. I feel the need for coffee coming on.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Hola desde Guatemala

Just a few quick lines to let everyone know all is well with me here in Guatemala. It has been a very busy week of research, which has left very little time to post on here. Just a few quick points of interest thus far:

1. Despite the recent pattern to the contrary, my luggage arrived when I did Monday afternoon. As I was expecting it to be delayed or diverted to the Far East, I had packed sufficent clothing in my carry-on to last two days. Ah well, better safe than sorry.

2. The weather here is much cooler than I was anticipating. Most days it has not gotten out of the upper 70s to around 80s degrees with the nights being chilly. This was very much a surprise.

3. Have found two reliable coffee places close by. One is a cafe at a nearby university with the other being a corner restaurant not far from where I am staying.

4. Tomorrow might be a "free day" if all goes as planned. Not sure what the agenda is yet, but it would be nice to get out of the city for a look around.

Anyway...hope all is well with everyone. Will post again soon, time allowing.

Monday, July 10, 2006


Having the morning coffee now and will be rolling on out to the airport in about an hour. As is usual before such a trip, I am both excited and anxious about the forthcoming adventure. It's going to be a lot of fun, but also a lot of work. And most importantly, the end resulf of this project will hopefully do a little good.

If the Internet cafe situation in Guatemala City is anything like I encountered in Honduras, I will be able to post on a regular basis, though it wil depend on just how much free time I have. The scope of the project is still largely up in the air (other than some general parameters), and I suspect we'll work out the details soon after I arrive.

Anyway...will post again when I have the opportunity.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Busy Weekend

It is going to be a marathon weekend of wrapping up things around here and other trip preparations. Haven't done much of anything yet, which means I'll be rushing about a lot over the next two days. What will complicate matters is having to conduct a final round of thesis research. Ugh. Like I dont have enough on the agenda as it is. Ah well. This weekend will require an orderly approach, including the creation the all important lists. The general preparation schedule goes like this:

Friday evening: Make lists

Saturday morning: take care of all errands (bank, purchases for trip, stocking up on cat food and litter, etc)

Saturday afternoon: Thesis ressearch

Saturday evening: dinner with my sister and her fiance (probably)

Sunday morning: Thesis research, part II

Sunday afternoon: Laundry, final round of tidying up the apartment, haul out the suitcases and begin packing. Also, have a few bouts of anxiety as I frantically look for passport.

Sunday evening: review lists to ensure I have not forgotten anything and check alarm clocks at least 32 times to make sure alarm is set correctly.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

An Inconvenient Truth

On Sunday I finally got around to seeing An Inconvenient Truth. Only one word can discribe this film: abosultely excellent! (ok.. maybe that's two words). The content was solid and interesting and Al Gore was nothing short of entertaining on many different levels. He is certainly well-versed in so many aspects of global warming, but did not come across as didactic in his delivery. It was more along the lines of an impassioned conversation with an old friend.

I may have to see it again....