Ambulance/Fire truck/Bus rally from CA to Honduras for charity

In 2011, 30-something-year-old Murray Johnson and some friends reached out to CouchSurfers to join them driving two donated ambulances down to Honduras to give them to Honduran hospitals. Johnson recently posted: “The experience was so amazing and the donation so needed that we have made the Charity Rally official and opened it up for others to join! You can mix travel, adventure and charity all in one for a good cause. How it works: You form your own team or join a “potluck” team. Your team can be comprised of any number of people. (I am guessing it is best if all of our team members fit in your vehicle though, of course.) Each team secures its own car/ambulance/fire truck/buse/whatever and drive down. The rally organizers work with you to get the vehicle, secure the donation and do the paperwork to have the vehicle imported into Honduras — or wherever […]

Weekend in Guatemala

When I got on my bus from Guatemala City to San Salvador, I never expected to do the reverse drive to Guatemala City and return by the same route again. But I did, when my friend Frida decided to do the trip in her car. Another friend arranged for a CouchSurfing host who lived in a very modern, tall apartment building with a reception desk and a beautiful view. This was a very different experience than my previous visits into the city. I will post the photos of this view when I find them. I didn’t get to take my photos of me leaving Guatemala and entering El Salvador the first time across because passengers were not permitted to get off the Tica bus. So this timne, at least I got a photo as our car crossed the bridge borders. (Of course, I don’t photograph customs offices.)

Website consulting in Guatemala City

I spent this Shabbat in Guatemala City with some friends. It gave me the opportunity to meet several great people. Some invited me to their homes and it is so tempting because i like the people and the places. However, each is in a place I have already been. Great invitations for the next time I come there. But for now I need to keep moving south. It was pretty funny to have left Guatemala and traveled south, then back to Guatemala and back down again. Anyway… One on my many conversations led me to spend some time Saturday night reviewing someone’s business website and teaching them what they need to do to improve their site. It felt great to be back using that familiar expertise. From explaining the flaws of the existing site, to teaching them web site and web page structure, to giving them user interface advice, to […]

Tica Bus from Guatemala City

Leaving my great friends in the Guatemala City area was hard. They were amazing. But it was time to move on. A new friend awaited in San Salvador. Pedro and Tere dropped me off at the Tica Bus station on their way to work. I spent several hours in that bus terminal before my bus. However, Tica maintains its own terminals (each with its own hostel next door) so it is safe and comfortable. It was fun to see the people come and go, most on a great adventure or to see family. I felt comfortable and safe on this trip. The staff in Guatemala City was impressive. (Added note: I wasn’t impressed with my next Tica trip starting anew in Salvador and had problems due to lack of information that passengers starting in Guatemala City were given.) The Tica bus terminal in Guatemala City: My lunch in the Tica […]

Salsa at Pelicano’s restaurant in Guatemala City!

I am dressed in my nice new skinny jeans for the first time on this trip. Blue jeans, white shirt, makeup, the necklace my sister-in-law gave me for the trip, a bracelet I bought in San Marcos de Laguna, and as always, the bracelets my good friend Andrew gave me to wear and think of him. On my feet are the flat black bit-of-sparkle-on-the-strap Aerosoles that I bought in NYC for this trip. It is fun to be dressing up for a night out. I came to Guatemala City to meet Jewish Guatemala – and Motzie Shabbas found myself at Pelicano’s tropical style rooftop seafood restaurant having Margarita on the owner while my friends were the band to which everyone danced. On another weekend visit I actually danced. Salsa, me. Life never ceases to amaze me when I give myself the liberty to say “sure” or “I’d love to” or […]

A Guatemalan home

I was privileged to visit some new Guatemalan friends in their Lake Atitlán home. This family is not from the lake but moved here a few years ago. They rent this home from the landlord who lives next door. This home is off a paved street that is rather wide, has a proper car area and a sidewalk (albeit narrow) that is more of a height that someone in the US is used to as opposed to the very high (you need steps) sidewalks I have experienced in Honupduras and Mexico. Stepping out of the tuk-tuk we stepped up onto the sidewalk, then through the gate onto this property, then down a step inside the gate. Directly ahead was one home, the landlord’s. This home is beside the landlord’s closer to the road, so we walk along a short dirt path toward the right that followed the sidewalk’s line, just […]

Behind the walls

A recent reflection… Being from the suburbs of the USA, I am used to homes where people put their best foot forward, so to speak. The inside of a home might be a mess, might be in disrepair, or might be void of furniture due to lack of money, but the outside that the world sees tends to look good or look its best. In some of the countries I visited long ago, it was the opposite. The public saw a simple wall. Only when you walked through the oft-closed gate, did you discover that inside laid an open yard and perhaps a marvelous home. I am now in Latin America, specifically Central America so far, and again I am seeing some of this. Often, to drive down a road is to see nothing but walls. Most of these have been stone walls or walls of corrugated metal or flat […]

My alarm fly

I have a personalized Guatemalan alarm that ensures I get out of bed by 7. It’s my alarm fly. At 6:45 it starts buzzing around my head, then lands on various parts of my body. It simply won’t stop. By 7 I have had enough of the twitching to get it off so I get out of bed. (Maybe it isn’t a single alarm fly, but an alarm fly team. I haven’t asked.) I am not retiring my iPhone though as I don’t expect that flies re so well trained every place I will be visiting.

Ron Botran Guatemalan rum, friends, lightning, and my radio show

I am sitting outside in perfect air, talking and hanging out with some traveling friends. They are enjoying Ron Botran – 12 year old Guatemalan rum, 80 proof, loving how smooth it is. 1/2 of a 5th cost 50q here, about $7. One friend here, Kevin, just recorded my Computer Talk Radio segment with me, talking about his Nook. Wi-Fi is slow here so instead of Skype we recorded on Voxer on my iPhone. My iPhone battery was fully dead so my Scosche battery ran the phone. (I have lost count of how many times that Scosche battery has kept me going.) We are also enjoying a lightning show in the distance. I am so happy that I heard from my great Los Angeles friend Andrew tonight.

5th Grade in Jaibalito, Lake Atitlán

I am a guest sitting in the last chair in the middle of three rows in a 5th Grade schoolroom in the Jaibalito public school. (This was at the invitation of 11-year-old Sirena, a California girl who is attending school here for a month and spoke to her teacher to have me join them.) The students here all live within walking distance and are Maya. Jaibalito is a small village of approximately 1,000 people, mostly children. There are no cars, no vehicles. You arrive to this village by launcha (boat) or by foot. I have my iPad with me but don’t take it put as it would be a distraction. I write on a sheet of paper torn from a child’s notebook with my single non-electronic writing tool, the 3 or 4 inch stub of a child’s pencil. The morning started with cleaning, sweeping of the floor. A wall chart […]

FABULOUS place to stay during travel on Lake Atitlán

This is what I walk out to in the morning. It is the view from the dormitory of Posada Jaibalito. (You can have a similar view from a private room, too.) Morning is 6 a.m. for me here — and I love it! The smell of smoke from the homes of surrounding Mayan families greets my nose. The air is full of chipping and other animal sounds that are better than music. The sun comes up behind a volcano mountain so it doesn’t get bright and warm until close to 8. Before that it is a bit of a romantic hazy light and its own warm color. I love it all! Morning is laundry time. My clothes dry in the fresh air. I love the view from the roof — these rooftops and the hazy smoky sky being one. I don’t recall what time of day I took each of these […]

Quest for chocolate

I have heard over and over that the best cocoa beans are in Guatemala. Staying here among the lush vegetation in this volcanic region in the rainy season I can understand why. But I was not finding the people behind the chocolate and am not into taking a paid tour. Today I met the former neighbor of “Chocolate Bob,” the man behind ixcacao — so now maybe I will have to change my plans to go see him.

6 a.m. thoughts

It is the middle of the night, the pre-dawn hour of 2 a.m. and Wednesday, June 6, 2012 is is its first hours. Crickets chirp outside under the full moon. The sky is clear. I love this time of day. In NYC it was always my favorite time; back in my 23rd or 24th years I would often be walking home at this hour and I loved the sky, the emptier (not empty) streets, the relative quiet of the city, and it’s maybe “new” energy at the 2-3 a.m. hours. In Los Angeles the air was often cooler at this hour and I would finally wind down from my day, feel I had had enough of my Mac, and would finally get outside for a cool, calm walk. Tonight, in the town of San Marcos on the shore of Lago De Atitlán in the Highlands of Guatemala, I am not […]

Honduras Claro data card does NOT work in Guatemala

Claro in Honduras will tell you beyond all doubt that their card will function fine in Guatemala and in El Salvador. They explained to me that all if my unused data may be used in these neighboring countries, but that I will not be able to add to the Honduran card and will need to purchase a new card in each country to gain more time. This is incorrect. The moment I crossed out of Honduras into Guatemala my iPhone alerted me that the phone number had changed. Perhaps I could have done something if I understood the Spanish. However, there was no text message about this, so no way to know the message, issue, or fix. What I do know though is that the network name appears perfectly well, that I am told I need data roaming and that turning roaming on did nothing to give me data. Local-living […]

Giving whale watching in Guatemala a miss

Looking at things to experience along the coast of Guatemala, I was excited to see that the beach town of Monterrico offers whale watching — until I saw the price. Products Mundiales’ whale watching is from 1250Q per person. That is US$178! In Redondo Beach, California, whale watching with Voyager Excursions is around $15. I will be doing my whale watching in Redondo Beach.

At Guatemala’s Lake Atitlán

I am sitting on a wooden chair on a stone and tile floor, outside in the cool mountain air of Guatemala’s Lake Atitlán. Surrounding the lake are volcano-shaped with what I imagine are perfect pointed peaks. They were, in fact, once volcanos. I only say I imagine their tops because the actual peaks are hidden from my view as they are encircled by soft fluffy white clouds. The clouds somehow perhaps look both light and fluffy as well as rain-heavy. I am at a loss to describe their beauty. They seem to dance around the mountain peaks, dressing the mountains in a magical covering. Some of the mountains in view along the lake are vivid green. These mountains closer to my view are a soft blue-grey, veiled lower down by the mists of the clouds. This is the first time I have felt cool air since I left Los Angeles. […]

Out of Honduras & into Guatemala

I had planned to take the Hedman-Atlas bus from Copan Ruinas, Honduras to Antigua, Guatemala ($43). Their busses are so comfortable and fabulously safe. In Copan though, I kept seeing signs for the $20 van (micro-bus) and was told they were safe and didn’t stop to pick up other passengers so baggage was safe lashed to the top of the bus or inside. So, I decided to book a seat on the van. When I went to book my seat at the place Lonely Planet recommends, where many of the travelers hang out, Via Via or something like that, the girl told me it wouldn’t go without two people. That remained their story for the days I was in Copan. After a couple of days I inquired across the street at another place that did van bookings, Don Moises Guest House, a father-son business. There, the father called the van […]

Batteries in Honduras & Guatemala

I was worried about being able to buy batteries in Central America, especially AAA batteries so here’s a report  as of June 2012 in case you wonder the same.   Batteries in Honduras In an upscale department store in Honduras, I easily found Maxell AAA that are dated January 2016 in a 2-pack for just 29, which is US$1.50. In a same-mall electronics store batteries were 39L or $2. I forgot to check the price of AA batteries. Batteries in Guatemala In Guatemala the AA were a bit over US$3 wherever I saw them. Batteries in El Salvador San Salvador, the capitol city, has plenty of upscale stores and I am sure you can trust the batteries you buy there. But when I needed batteries I was in a small, out of the way beach town. There, the batteries were a brand I hadn’t ever seen and the AA batteries didn’t […]