Monday, January 19, 2015


I've learned the hard way that it is impossible for me to live and work in San Pedro. The noise is everywhere, and as much as I love the climate and the people here -- I'm so tired of fighting the battle to find somewhere reasonably quiet to work.

The latest example:

I moved into a house outside of the main town only to find a neighbour (now gone) who fed street dogs and encouraged them to hang out and bark. All. Night. Long.

When I moved in, the property owner said there would be some construction at the back of the property. Fine. But now I have rock cracking and chipping just 10 feet from my bedroom.

With workers in the back, there is absolutely no privacy. People chatting just outside my window. People walking past my windows and peeking in. And I can't leave the back door open to get the only light available because I get stared at all day.

The internet sucks ass. The only option is to use a 3G stick that works on the phone network. Sometimes.

The noise schedule is as follows:

0700-1600 Constuction noise, workers and stone cracking
1600-0700 Dozens of dogs barking. Occasional super loud music.

Yeah, I'm done.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Mayans from the Back

Lots of people like to take pictures whilst on holiday. Pros, too.

But some people think that they're entering the realm of professional photography with images that anyone can take.

I think that you're a pro if you know how to shoot exceptional images. It doesn't matter what the camera is -- it matters what you see and how you capture it.

So when I see "pros" shooting photos of Mayans from the back and then adding a letter-box frame and some nice text (in Century Gothic) -- I snicker.

Now, I don't mean to say that anyone who takes the above shot is cheating. It's hard to take photos of people face on and capture them honestly. However, it drives me nutty when people take a pedestrian picture like the one above and letterbox it like it's a work of art.

No. It's not art. It's just a (nice) picture.

And so it goes...

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Laundry Troubles

I don't have laundry facilities in my house. Thankfully San Pedro has several places where you can drop off your dirty clothes and get them washed and dried for about 70 cents a pound.


Except, the laundry joint I've been using for years has been screwing up. Recently they've misplaced socks (4 pairs one time), sheets and more. In each of those instances I've been able to use my poor Spanish to get my stuff back.

I now keep a list of what I drop off -- which I should have used when I picked up my load yesterday. It was a bunch of towels and other lint shedding stuff. I've already learned that it's a bad idea to have black t-shirts and white towels in a single load as the laundry folks just wash everything together.

Anyway... I picked up my laundry, which was packed in a black garbage bag. Should I open and check? Nah, I thought. The most important item was my expensive bath towel -- and I could feel it in the bag.

I was wrong. Yes, there was a towel, but as I discovered when I got home, the towel wasn't mine. It was the same brand, but a different colour and stained. Ew.

So now this morning I have to drag my ass back to the laundry and try to a) explain that I got the wrong towel and b) I want mine back. Although I know that there is a good chance by towel is already gone...

Just another day in paradise!

Monday, January 05, 2015

Wormy Water

So... the thing about paradise is that it really isn't.

What I mean is that parts of living in paradise are paradise -- like the weather. But there are other parts that pale in comparison to the world left behind.

An example: water.

Although the municipal water is likely fine to drink, I don't. I do use it for washing me and the dishes -- but that's it.

For consumption, cooking and tooth brushing, I use bottled water. The big 5 gallon bottles (garrafons) of purified agua.

The bottle goes upside down in a dispenser and fresh water is always at my fingertips.

Hello Wormy!
Every two bottles, I give the dispenser a good bleach/fresh water wash to keep things clean and healthy.

Imagine my surprise yesterday when I went to clean the dispenser and found not one, but TWO wee worms. They were swimming around the "fresh" water with considerable joy. Or drowning -- it was hard to tell.

Here's video of a similar (although much more wormy) bottle of water in India:

Needless to say, I scrubbed everything down including all my water bottles throughout the house. Then I set up a new bottle and shone a flashlight into the dispenser (it has clear walls) to see if the two worms had friends.

None that I could see. But that's the thing: how small are the baby worms? Or the baby worm eggs? And how many are inside me right now as I write this?

Hopefully they can't survive a belly full or beer and/or coffee. Hopefully.

I'm not sure where the interlopers came from. Did they live in my kitchen and suddenly discover an awesome pool -- or did they come with the bottle of water as a value add.

Either way, I'm thinking I need to either switch suppliers, add additional filtering or just drink beer and/or coffee all the time.

And so it goes... 

Saturday, January 03, 2015

The Return of the Anti-Vaxxer

So... last year a young woman arrived in San Pedro. She was nice but quite kooky. A faux-hippie. Perhaps even a Trustafarian (a young traveller, usually wearing a hippie costume, who is supported by a trust fund).

At some point during her stay here, she managed to get herself pregnant.

Eventually, she came to term and decided to give birth in a most unusual way: in a public "solar" pool with a bunch of hippie friends.


Anyway, she gave birth and then hung around for a while, telling everyone who would listen that she wasn't going to vaccinate the child. Also, she passed it around to her hippie friends much like one would pass a joint (if that's your thing). Poor child.

Now, the decision to not vaccinate your child is a personal (if uninformed) one. But it also affects children who can't be vaccinated. Hence, the return of all the diseases that we had supposedly beaten.

Fast forward to yesterday.

I'm walking to the other side of town with friends of mine who became parents just months ago. As we made our way through the dirty, patchouli oil-covered faux-hippie throngs (and their equally stinky dogs) we bumped into the Kooky Mother.

Her baby, now a year old, was naked (because he peed and pooped a lot, she said) and barely attached to her back in what appeared to be an old cloth shopping bag. The child was also small, smaller than my friends' four-month-old.

Kooky Mother immediately wanted to touch the four-month-old. The child's mother was not impressed, as she also knew of Kooky's aversion to all things healthy (and soap).

Kooky Mother suggested a play date and said she'd pop by as she knew where my friends lived. They bristled at the idea.

Eventually, we were on our way. My friends pulled out some hand sanitizer to clean the spot where Kooky Mother touched their baby.

We laughed, but we also felt sad for Kooky's child: its stunted development and the environment in which it was growing up.

Just another day in paradise!

Friday, January 02, 2015

January 2, 2015 (THR +183)

I think it's time for this blog to change focus.

I'm on the cusp of my six-month hip operation anniversary and all is going well. I've added more physio to my daily routine to help with the stiffness. I'm pain free and feel no physical restrictions -- but the stiffness continues. This could be from my less-than-firm bed or all the hard chairs and stools I'm sitting on.

I've also got to be conscious of my weight. It has definitely edged up and I've got to reverse the trend by increasing exercise and cutting calories. Beer is the culprit, methinks.

But there is much more to life than my hip. My experiences here in Guatemala should be written down and saved for posterity. That said, writing is my job -- and extracurricular writing has to be fun, or I won't do it. How to make it fun? Write about the silly stuff here.

I mean, there's the crazy dog lady (there are several, actually) that feeds street dogs outside a house where she no longer lives -- and I do. There are all the high school hijinks of the ex-pats here. The trouble is they're my friends, so how do I write about them without offending them?

So far 2015 is good.

After a quiet NYE party that featured an incredible view of Lake Atitlan and the combined fireworks shows of all the towns the ring the lake, I made it home and to bed at a reasonable time.

On January 1 I left my computer and backpack at home (a rarity) and headed into town to have lunch with my buddy Daniel on the balcony of a restaurant called D'noz. We spent the afternoon chatting away before meeting up with other people at Mikaso (hotel/restaurant) for wood-fired pizza.

It was a nice relaxing day and very necessary.

What will the rest of the year offer up? Let's see...