March 2008


Should write. Will write. But not now. Not for a little bit.

Procession in La Antigua, Guatemala, celebrating the resurrection on Easter Sunday.

Trumpeter waiting alongside instruments outside a church in La Antigua, Guatemala, on Easter Sunday.

Yesterday, I stumbled into the very cool Iglesia y convento de Santa Clara, founded in 1699 and later destroyed (a number of times) by earthquakes. Now it’s a tourist attraction, but it has another purpose as well: retreat for horny teenagers — I ran into three couples (like the one above) macking in hidden corners.

 

For some reason, I decided it would be a good idea to climb a volcano. “Where else but Guatemala?” I thought. In that same spirit, I decided to climb not just to the top of volcano to ponder its awe-inspiring power, rivulets of flame snaking down the side of the hill, but to explore mere feet from cascading flows, the bottom of my sneakers even beginning to melt. We spent so long on the volcano that the sun set and the group (a motley crew of about 50 ne’er-do-wells, ranging from high school kids studying Spanish in Antigua to a BBC correspondent and a duo that was driving from North Carolina to Colombia) had to hike for two hours in the pitch dark, saved only by a few prescient souls who thought to bring flashlights or headlamps.

Stupid tourists! Get away from that lava!

No! I said away, not closer! Doh!

Or, pictures of people observing the Semana Santa processions in La Antigua, Guatemala:

(Above: Surf ad in Chichi.)

In addition to some great painted advertisements, I discovered a bit of graffiti in Chichicastenango, the market town about an hour from Antigua. I didn’t ask anyone for details about it, what it means, who the artists are, but I’d be interested to know more about local visual culture and artistic resistance, etc.

Girls hoist a float of the Virgin Mary on the Viernes procession in La Antigua, Guatemala.

Textiles at Chichicastenango’s Thursday market.

Tiny little cars, so bright!

Paintings galore!

Spotting of the day: Sarah Chalke from Scrubs in an advertisement for a pharmacy, shot at the market near the bus station in La Antigua, Guatemala. Trust her! She’s neurotic and quirky!

…but it doesn’t stop me from dreaming about tea-themed goodies, like this print from RansomStone on Etsy:

A father and his daughter, as well as several teenage girls, wait for the procession at La Merced to begin. More photos here!

Deterioration:

Rejuvenation:

Boobs!

T does Central America: currently WiFi-ing at the Black Cat Inn, a hostel in Antigua, Guatemala. I speak un poquito Espanol and am quickly realizing that that’s probably not enough.

Anyone in town for Semana Santa? I’d love to meet up with any like minds! Photos, etc., to come.

“It’s old light, and there’s not much of it. But it’s enough to see by.” –Margaret Atwood, Cat’s Eye (1988)

My favorite passage from the American Book Review’s list of the 100 best last lines from novels.

1_61_twofacedbaby320.jpg

The miracle baby that was saved after falling through an Indian train’s toilet was just the tip of the iceberg: Now there’s another miracle baby in India, a child born with two faces and four eyes. IBNLive reports that some are now worshiping the girl as a god.

I sometimes verge toward holding our fucking idiot president responsible for the fact that two of my brothers have risked their lives in the Middle East numerous times, but I try to stay rational about it. But….this? Despicable. Unforgivable:

HuffPo: Bush “Envious” of Soldiers Serving “Romantic” Mission in Afghanistan.

This is not bull-fighting in Spain. This is men and women, putting their lives on the line, often not really believing in the mission, but doing it anyway, because they feel a sense of responsibility. This is our youth — often, our underprivileged youth — fighting and dying because they were told to fight, because they were told our idea of ourselves depended on them being there for us. It is fodder for tragic novels, for reflection, for analysis. But it is not romantic.

And if you are really envious, go there. Fight. Subsist on MREs. Point a gun at someone who does not speak your language and may hate you not because you’re American, per se, but because you’re in his country and have leapfrogged diplomacy for conflict. Put your life on the line. Then come back and do it all over again, because you feel you owe it to us, or because you have no better options, or because you feel adrift. But don’t patronize us with your fucking delusions of grandeur, your sepia-toned imaginings of a conflict you wrought and yet seem not to fully grasp.

(HuffPo blurb from Reuters article.)

Must rest. In the meantime: the Guardian anoints the 50 most powerful blogs. My fave from the list, I think, is Jezebel.

Fascinating op-ed from the Times today: “Really dangerous liaisons,” by Tracy Quan, a former sex worker.

Cool piece in the Indian Express on a tribe that’s gone from subsisting on sales of pulses to positioning the coffee it grows as a brand symbolizing sustainable development in emerging markets:

The foundation helped the around 8,000 tribals of the valley organise themselves into the Small and Marginal Farmer Mutually-Aided Cooperative Society, with support from the Green Development Foundation of the Netherlands, and assisted them in setting up a coffee processing plant with machinery imported from the UK.

The Tribal Cooperative set up by the farmers happens to be the only cooperative in the country to have both fair trade and organic trade certification.

Although the tea culture in India seems much more entrenched than the coffee culture, there’s a surprisingly long coffee tradition:

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