Malena, Tyler and Ashley visit

A week ago, Tyler, Ashley, and Malena visited. Five people in our [race]car, we drove the treacherous roads of Guatemala including the altitude intensive road to Atitlan, the 4WD worthy approach to Volcano Pacaya, and two (unseen) speed bumbs at 50MPH. $450 in new shocks later, the Blurple proudly persists. On Friday night we went to our favorite tiny club, where we met these two random girls who definitely were too cool for us; it was written all over their faces. They were probably high-fashion models who have been trained that smiling is outmoded. 2cool4u.jpg So the next day we went to Casa Del Mundo on the lake. JRLagoAtitlan.jpg Yeah, yeah, it was beautiful and all that crap, but more importantly, you could swim to a 55 foot cliff and jump into the lake (might have been 388 feet, we were just estimating). Rebecca, who also shoots for National Geographic, took this picture of me mid-fall. You can see Tyler and Malena on the ledge about to go next. My advice upon surfacing was "clinch". cliffJump.jpg Of no importance, that night Tyler LOST A TRAGIC GAME OF CHESS TO SOMEONE. The next day we climbed Pacaya, still quite active. MayPacaya1.JPG I also took the following picture at dusk. It's 16:9, so clicking this link will launch it in a popup. Malena surveys Agua at dusk

Ignore this Blog Post on Clockys

This is just a post for my Multimedia Class, in order to get my page about how to Buy a Clocky indexed. My multimedia class is having a competition to achieve the highest ranking on google, and count non-Guatemalan web site hits. They are all advertising Clocky. Here you can pretend to buy a Clocky.

Perception Problem

One of Rebecca's kindergartners has finally completed an epic piece set for display in the Galeria de Classroom. The medium is colored wax and graphite on thin stock paper. The artist was attempting to capture the joy she felt living and learning around her teacher and her teacher's fiance. It's entitled "Ms. Rebecca and Jeff". The subtitle is "I love Jeff, I love Ms. Rebecca." MilagroPic.jpg (C) All Rights Reserved, Conchita Perez, 5 years old Most critics are calling the work a "masterpiece". It's whimsical approcah to gender roles in education captures the essence of the world-mother-nurturer, and disregards biological sex in a progressive effort to mar traditional stereotypes. Here, Jeff is portrayed in a dress, holding a flower, and being generously chested. The happy couple is set to depart on their mechanical ladybug together.

Cartagena

The next time we return to the good ole USA, I am probably going to be personally searched in some rather personal ways. Let's backtrack. Latin America has the week before Easter off for holiday. It’s called Semana Santa ("Holy Week"). The next time our friends return home, they’ll be sweating, hoping that the information sharing between Guatemala and US Customs is not set to detect Guatemalan exit and corresponding re-entry passport swipes without another country’s stamps nested in (which means that they, in an obvious attempt to support communism, visited Cuba and therefore might face a $2500 fine). So while they nervously wait in line, Rebecca and I will be pulled aside, delayed, patted down, sniffed by dogs because we visited a place that will earn us more harassment: we visited Cartagena, Colombia, where the coffee flows like the cocaine. Just joking. We did not see or meet any other US Citizens during our four days in Cartagena. There were a few Canadians, but this city is unheard of to Americans and it shows. This beach city was the first Spanish port in South America, and faces west on the Atlantic, just west of the northernmost part of South America, which can be hard to visualize... The sun sets over the Atlantic ocean horizon. Four things permeate our experience.
  1. Hellish heat and humidity
  2. Neverending supply of qualtiy, free pina coladas
  3. Interminible beach/street vendors
  4. Fat and related concepts
Here is a picture of the beach from the top of our hotel, Hotel DeCameron. Translated: Hotel OfShrimp. Rebecca swears this is not the meaning of the name. Don’t listen to her though, she knows too much Spanish for her own good and she doesn’t blog anymore. decameronView3.jpgdecameronView1.jpgdecameronView2.jpg Perhaps my first welcome to the beach and the lovely people of Cartagena was the best. On the first morning of beachdwelling, after being accosted by all manner of person selling all manner of ridiculously ugly and unwanted item, Rebecca found a sweet old African woman who gave quality French manicures on the beach for $5. Towel-side service. I was laying on my belly like a beached whale (fat reference no. 1), and when she finished with Rebecca’s manicure, she awoke me from my slumber with a "promocion" - a foot massage which was my free sample for a not-free massage. Well I gave in and was hooked and for $10 I got a 30 minute massage which was extremely personal (I kept casting dubious glances at my wife-to-be), and at the same time humiliating. You haven’t lived until a 60-something woman, bold and uninvited, thrusts her hands up the back of your swim trunks. When it was time to get me to turn over to work the front, a firm smack on the ass was an effective signal. When she propped me upright in a chair, she greased up my generous belly and started huge circular rubbing reminiscent of Buddha worship, while excitedly exclaiming "LA GRASA!!" (fat reference no.2) to Rebecca’s great amusement. She was actually quite good, albeit unabashed. Vendors are such a constant in Cartegenan tourist life that the only way to stay sane is to start having nonsensical bilingual conversations with them, as you don’t listen to their Spanish, while they don’t understand your English. Touring the old colonial part of the city and suffering the unbearable heat, we sat down for a drink. In the space of 30 minutes, we were approached 15 times. After brewpop #3, a young guy approached and shoved his stick full of ugly bracelets, of the type popular in the late 80´s, square in my face. Me: Your bracelets are horrid. Paco: (nobody in Latin and South America is actually named Paco, so we protect this minor’s identity with this fantasy literary device) Disfruta mis pantalones blah blah novia bonita blah preguntame un costo, perra. Me: Do you have a girlfriend? If you do, don’t give her any of these bracelets. Paco: Blah Para servirle gato feo blah blah. Me (gesturing): You see these earthy toned ones? They’re really bad, but still somehow better than these bright blue ones that spell words with the beadwork. Hey, do you like Chinese food? Do they have Chinese food down here? Anyway, the vendors were bad, and not at all hampered by the "Policia Tourista", which you would think was there to protect us, but perhaps they were actually deployed to contain and control any potential Tourist Riots (what??). They need Policia Vendadores. One vendor, selling hats as you can see here, had quite a sick infatuation with touching and romancing a statue of a very fat woman. vendorBotero.jpg OK, just joking, this is the statue from a very famous Columbian artist, Botero. He always makes his scenes and sculptures super fat (ref no.4). Since we’re collecting art from every country we visit, we now have our own replica - a miniature obese naked lady which will require explaining to dinner guests, except Hebda, who will feel right at home. As seen from the front, I guess there's something going on that parallels the good luck you get from rubbing Lincoln's nose before a final exam at U of I Lincoln Hall... jeffBotero.jpg Of interest to fellow electronic music fans, Cartagena has the world’s second [officially sanctioned] Cafe del Mar, which is as picturesque as its Ibiza sister. True to form, it’s a home to unearthly beautiful patrons and a professional freak show of hired performers including fire jugglers and mimes on stilts. The essence of the place, which this picture doesn’t properly convey, is it’s position atop the colonial old wall that surrounds the Old City, cannons intact, literally right next to the sea. The picture is photoshopped to bring out the background. CafeDelMar.jpg So that’s it – not a comprehensive picture of Cartagena, and not even a balanced impression of our trip, but folks, we’re not here to chronicle moments; we’re here to entertain you and confuse Latin Americans.

For the record...

My fiance said today: "For some reason, when I woke up this morning, I had the overwhelming urge to learn how to sew." I wasn't even whispering suggestions to her in her sleep - I swear she just popped out with this. I knew I was lucky already but DAMN.

Time for B-School

Today I pitched a $75,000 - $120,000 proposal to our Board of Directors, and it went very well. Last month I designed a plan to save $9000 annually on printing costs and increase controls. In November, I did a month of research and ended up rejecting a $200,000 proposal from an outsourcing provider. I think it's time to apply to business school. My work at Deloitte was complex, fulfilling, and I had engaging coworkers - but I never had this sense of ownership and real, tangible affect. I think this kind of work exists at Deloitte, and I think an MBA will help qualify me for it in the "big league" of the US business scene. Here we go, it's going to be a crazy next nine months.

More Santiago de Lago Atitlan

Maximon ("Mah chee moan") - a Mayan god integrated into the local Catholicism. He moves from home to home every year (hosting him is an honor), and the other locals have to find him again every year. They then appease him by putting cigs in his little wooden pucker, give him ties (he's wearing about 25), and pouring rum on his mouth. He's a micheveous little log - one year when there was an outbreak of some sickness, they chopped off his leg to make him stop. He gets recarved every few years because of all the punishments us humans have to dole out to the nasty little god. Its ridiculous, but even many well educated Guatemalans who live in the city such as our law-school friend are still deeply supersticious about persnickity Maximon. santiago34.jpg A woman using a backstrap loom to weave fabrick. santiag20.jpg Lago Atitlan santiag13.jpgsantiago5.jpg

Erupting Volcano

This is especially to make Chad jealous. Around the new year, we climbed Pacaya a second time, this time with our siblings Joel, Mike, and Liz. It was incredible - the volcano was actually erupting right behind us, spewing red lava up to 40 feet in the air. Yes, it was quite safe - there are many types of volcano eruptions, and this one was shooting about 3 cubic meters per minute. A constant flow, or larger pressures with larger volumes would have been dangerous. COMING SOON: SKI TRIP 2005 PICTURES FROM VAIL AND THE BACKFLIP HEARD 'ROUND THE RESORT. Also, "Stupid Cliff" by Mike SiMANek. sibstrip8.jpgsibstrip5.jpg