DIY Arcade

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I am absolutely fascinated by the DIY arcade found in Guate and I wonder if I could recreate it here in the land where everyone supposedly has access to computers and advanced consoles. My neighborhood isn’t one of those burb matrixes with miles of franchises. My neighbors have an open air store which moves from lawn to lawn to outmaneuver the local garage sale ordinances. You can buy papaya or elote off the carts that pass a few times a day. In essence we are not terribly different from the Guate towns.

What if arcades were like libraries of games. You could check out a new release and various gear (perhaps a high end head set). Kick back in a comfy chair, text in your drink order and game on. What if there was a giant screen where battle royales unfolded in front of screaming spectators. What does your 21st century arcade look like?

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Holding up the wall

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View of Mexico City Intl. Airport Terminal 2.

View of Mexico City Intl. Airport Terminal 2. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m sitting in Mexico city airport by Wings restaurant partaking of the free wifi. Did you know they don’t really have Mexican food in Mexico? It’s all this stuff I’ve never heard of. What a fool I’ve been believing that the tacaria was the real deal. Of course it could just be the airport is full of smarmy weirdness. No se.

 

13 and out

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13 is a lucky Mayan number. At least that’s what I think the guide said at Tikal. I wore thirteen when I played soccer in high school and I spent a lot of time benched or injured but it still felt awesome each time I put on that jersey. I felt dangerous.

The all night bus to Flores wasn’t too bad.We got some kind of mayonnaise sandwich and an orange soda to snack on. Seats were pretty big and comfy. I didn’t even mind the 2 hour break down and did my best to sleep through it until we had to transfer to a working bus.

We got to Flores late but it was enough time to wash up a bit before the shuttle to Tikal arrived. My Spanish was good enough to get us dropped of at the hotel first instead of having to spend an hour at the airport waiting for folks. Little wins like that really help my confidence.

Once we are on the way to Tikal the driver picks up and drops off all sorts of travelers. This is the way folks travel since there is no public transportation. The drivers honk a bit as they get closer to walkers and stand abouts to see if they need rides. If they get a wave they’ll pull over and negotiate the fare. The offered fare is much higher for gabachos.

I think it was about an hour and a half into Tikal. It goes by quickly as we chat with the other tourists. You meet the loveliest people when traveling.

Tikal was amazing but I was a bit disappointed because I did not feel any buzzing. Everyone seemed exhilarated from touching the rock structures but it just felt like rock to me. The only exhilaration I got was from standing atop the highest structure and gazing across the jungle canopy to see the tops of the other temples. Every time anyone got close to the edge I had to look down and close my eyes because it made my head swim. There are no safety measures like you would find in American attractions and every forth guy seems to want to get right up to the edge to scare his family or mates. I’m happy to get down and head the the next reasonably sized ancient structure.

The day is terribly hot and humid. We run through agua pura voraciously but still feel heat stroky and the guide seems less than impressed with the groups pace. We keep stopping to gawk at monkeys and any other signs of animalia. He tells us that he knows plants that could kill a person in 20 minutes and authorities would not be able to trace the origin of the unfortunate’s demise. I’m not sure if this is bragging or a threat regarding lunch. When it is finally lunch time he breaks the group in half and stays with the first bunch so we are safe.

After Tikal we are joyous for the hotel pool from which you also get a lovely view of the lake that surrounds Flores. Another happy coincidence is that the pool is shared by a pair of married American physicians who have a practice in Mexico. They refer us to just the doctor we are looking for which was a big component of this trip and the reason I have been learning Spanish with determination. I’m so glad my intuition or insanity was correct in its message.

We had a whole day to explore Flores and spent most of it meeting other travelers, picking through stores, and seeing the local sights. You really do meet amazing people on these trips. We took a boat out to a little beach and swam for a bit in the warm water surrounded by little fish.

The bus back to Guatemala City was scheduled to leave around 10 and we headed there around 8 to try to upgrade to the better bus. No luck on that and it was unfortunate because the difference in comfort is extreme. We didn’t get much sleep so when the hostel picked us up from the station and brought us to our room we crashed out for 4 hours.

We did manage to explore a small corner of the city and find food but the cities reputation made is very cautious. No need to throw caution into he wind so close to leaving. The hostel crowd was a bit young for us except for this solitary crazy American. He had all sorts of random stuff with him that looked like it should be in a yard on the show Pickers. You see a few different kinds of travelers in general; the short timers who have a week off, the 20 somethings who are here trying to save the world, and the crazy homeless looking guys who are completely divorced from reality and happy for it.

I’m ready for home. The sun has risen at the airport and my plane for Mexico City will be boarding soon. Goodbye Guatemala take care. It’s a wild world and we are just children in it.

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12 maybe

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Guatemala city has Taco Bells that look like 23rd century discotecas. I’m on a two story bus headed for Flores. We met a lovely woman on the shuttle who seems like a force of nature. I believe she’s from Argentina but is currently living in Sebastople and stated whole heatedly that Kate must be deeply in love to agree to live in Sacramento. The bus has suddenly stopped two hours out of Flores in the middle of no where for reasons not immediately apparent.

I was dreaming of funerals just before. This trip, although the product of an existential crisis, may be the best thing for me. That is if I don’t disappear on this dark road in northern Guatemala at 5am on Easter Sunday. The Argentinian woman says the villages around Lake Atiklan are where it’s at. She wants to move there and teach the children who mainly speak various Mayan languages. I wonder if the pregnancy rates for girls ages 10-14 are better or worse against the national average of 25%. I still have to fact check that and I don’t know if an accurate figure is even possible.

Every town I have been in has quite a few Mayan women selling bags, scarves, and other colorful handmade items. There is a womens knitting/weaving cooperative in Xela which attempts to get members better wages for the textile goods they produce. I don’t know how much better they fair than the women sitting on the curb with their bundle of handy crafts.

10/11

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Guate sure knows how to rain. The air does warn you a bit before but you better heed it because the sky opens up and cries like a 15 year old with a broken heart.

I’m in Antigua curtesy of a $30 usd mini shuttle. It was full of Americans and Canadians. One vagabond who spoke fluent Spanish curtesy of his mainly Dominican Baseball team explained that he gets ripped off on the chicken busses due to his obvious non-Latinoness therefore opts for the shuttle. He’s a school teacher from New York who enjoys proclaiming that he’s retired and a junior AARP member. His specialty in the states is ESL but in Guat he makes money teaching Spanish. You cant make nearly as much teaching English here. The people who most need to learn cant afford much. Kate asked him how long it takes to get to a basic level of Spanish as this is our main goal. In his opinion if you immerse yourself you might be able to do it in a year but to develop advanced cognitive ability it would take six or seven years. He explained that this is the folly with forcing ESL students to take standardized tests in English. Theres simply no way they could critically think in their new language so quickly.

There’s also a Canadian family getting a tour from their 24 year old son. He is in Guat for his second long trip working for an NGO trying to fight against mining atrocities that destroy the land and add less than 1% back to the limping economy.

Both young men seem interested in this 24 year old girl who is also aboard but the vagabond has the edge. The Canadian is the super nice type of guy and in general i think nice guys lose to vagabonds until the girls make it out of their 20s. I wish this was less predictable or I could magic the right type of girl for the super sweet Canadian but everything will generally work out as its meant to.

Antigua is completely different from Xela. The roads are twice as wide across, there’s no graffiti, there are a ton of americany restaurants with English attempting staff, and in general it feels less precarious than Xela even though it’s been destroyed numerous times. It’s Semana Santa which brings an abundance of people to the city so I can’t judge it in this current state. I really didn’t want to come but Kate’s need to study religious phenomenon necessitated our trip. This is holy week, the Catholic celebration of the crucifixion and rise of Christ. I admit, I am a bit in awe of the processions. As an ex-catholic, watching these masses endure obvious pain is difficult. The floats are made of wood and metal and the extreme weight can be witnessed on the faces of the exhausted yet determined followers cloaked in purple or black.

Incense is burned in round metal containers on chains at the beginning of the processions. The smoke is thick and overwhelms my senses. Some of the participants make a good time of swinging them around. Roman soldiers lead the floats that all depict a life size Jesus. Intricate carpets made from colored sand, pine needles, and varied natural materials are finished just before the processions walk over them. The floats are carried from church to church and the participants switch out every few blocks.

I’m in awe of the unity of community it takes to accomplish this.

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8 or 9 no se

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Tuesday what on earth happened? I studied todo el dia. Lame as lame can be. Comps are coming up in two weeks or less. We had a beautiful rain in the evening and lost power for a bit. We watched the movie Los Ninos Invisibles. I found a place to stay in Antigua off AirBnB and we are leaving mañana a los ocho. No chicken bus this time. We’re catching a shuttle so that Kate doesn’t get too sick. Oh my favorite bit today has been the pineapple! You can buy it in hug pieces on the street for una quatzales. Muy delisioso!

Today after class we made chipolins. The cooking process is detailed in picks below. I also got a sweet bracelet.

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Six y seven

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I posted a few pics from yesterday but they don’t do the day justice. Many micro buses and chicken buses were necessary to make it to Chichicastenango and back again. Micro buses are the size of minivans but as I learned you can fit more than 28 people on board if you use the inside and the roof. An old Mayan woman mad dogged Kate the whole way possibly because she took up too much room by not sitting on my lap. The chicken buses were actually less crowded with only 3 to 4 to a seat. The driver guns through the mountain roads on his cell phone while we white knuckle the bus seats and brace against fellow travelers. The market was definitely an experience. The difficult part was the children working as shoe shine boys and various product hustlers. The youngest couldn’t have had his 4th birthday yet. Of course, Kate wore black boots so we were surrounded by the boys everywhere we went. There were a fair amount of foreigners and the venders locked on to the light skin and blond haired extranjeros like bees to honey. Kate bought an apron and a small chess set of carved jade. We also bought honey for our host familia. I’m happy to have had the experience but once is enough. The highlight had to be this 3 year old barrel laughing as the mini bus bounced down la calle.

Dinner was at a lovely Indian restaurant and the day was over early by 8:30.

Monday for me has included 7 hours of one on one study and Kate did 5 hours and a trip to the hot springs on the back of a pick up truck. She says that it started hailing half way up the mountain! I am really starting to like it here. I wish I had more time and the boys could come down and study Spanish too. My teacher says that I’m learning quickly but I feel like even English is difficult at the moment. I am forgetting easy words. Kate had to help me with “shue.”