The Zen of Travel

Cartoon of The Zen of Travel

Turismo is a concept so young that a century ago only the wealthy did it. And two centuries ago, nobody did. If you left “home” for anything, it was about mercantilism, conquest, or pilgrimage, and it was invariably dangerous. But nowadays, since so many of us do it, and since it has quickly become global, a vocabulary has quickly grown […]

Read more

New ‘Blood’ in the War on Malnutrition and Truancy

Funny thing about Margaret Blood. She fits no profile of North American do-gooders who come to Guatemala. She hails not from the Bible Belt. Nor is she a hippie-esque proletarian or a homeschooling missionary mom. But a mission she has, a mission of such scope that some of her friends thought it could never be realized. But she may prove them wrong.

Read more

The Zen of Caber and Cupo

The word room was in our first-grade spellers. So why are we forever mistranslating this word? I have discussed in a previous column “smurfy” Spanish verbs. Well, room is a smurfy English noun, so if you think our language is never smurfy, get over it. Room, when you think about it, can be abstract or concrete. The former is usually […]

Read more

The Bird-bound, Labyrinthine, “No Name Gardens” of Atitlán

Guatemala’s exquisite botanical colony plays push and shove with weed and water — and sometimes with people Everyone knows that cacti need little water. But in Guatemala’s most spectacular garden, the cacti are more watered than other plants. This is hardly the fault of the gardeners. They are not the ones doing the watering. This botanical garden abuts another Central […]

Read more

Runners On Your Mark

Marathon fever comes to the shores of Atitlán What would make people want to run barefoot uphill for eight kilometers? The answer: a 1958 foot race departing Panajachel for nearby San Andrés Semetabaj. Scores of participants could not afford shoes, but they would not let this keep them out of the race. The excitement of that event was such that […]

Read more

The Zen of Cuando and Cuanto

Cuándo and cuánto are not individually zenny, but they form a zen gestalt that can not only potentially confuse our minds, but also our speech organs. Folks in Readerland who know phonetics might note that their spellings are even closer than they appear: they differ by one letter, and barely that. The d and t are — don’t slap this […]

Read more

The Zen of The “ImpSub”

by Dwight Wayne Coop

The “Impsub” is not a subsurface vessel manned by cheeky cherubs, but a tense separating men scholars from boys. I would know, since it long confined me among the latter; I still regress on occasion. The topic must be approached inductively and deductively. If you have been out of college long enough to forget what these are, a refresher (in […]

Read more

Birds of a Feather?

The new nation of Timor Leste has yet to choose its national bird. For the moment, though, a chicken appears both on a coin and on postage stamps. This might not be as bad of a choice as it initially appears. Chickens, considered objectively, are resplendent things. Colonel Sanders would never have been interested in any of our local national […]

Read more

The Zen of Pegar and Pegársele

I never have understood the appeal of the Smurfs. I once supposed their dialogue was a preschool guessing game. “OK, Joey, what does the third word in ‘The smurfs smurfed all the smurfs to the smurf’ mean?” The smurfiest Spanish verb may be pegar. A classical root is missing, and only Portuguese and Catalonian have even semi-cognates for it. So […]

Read more

Raging Bulls and Aging Saints

Gathering in front of the church, Santa Cruz

Time for the annual fair in Santa Cruz la Laguna The feria in Santa Cruz la Laguna is one of a kind. No other Atitlán fair is more classical, more Guatemala-in-the-rough, and more “we’re-not-in-Kansas-anymore, Toto.” There are two Santa “Cruces”: the upper, traditional town and the lower, lakeside district; they are a twain that meet at fair time like they […]

Read more

Bird-brains to Watch Birds in Vaudeville

Martin and Zorn augur larks and laughs for Panajachel theater season

Martin and Zorn augur larks and laughs for Panajachel theater season David and Barbara Ramey were wrong about one thing. When the dramatists and retired lobster trappers began snowbirding to Panajachel years ago, they doubted that the Atitlán Basin could support a theater company, much less supply the talent. That was before they discovered the pent-up comic acumen of Jennifer […]

Read more

Marathon fever comes to the shores of Atitlán

Lago de Atitlán Maratón, Panajachel 2012

What would make people want to run barefoot uphill for eight kilometers? The answer: a 1958 foot race departing Panajachel for nearby San Andrés Semetabaj. Scores of participants could not afford shoes, but they would not let this keep them out of the race. The excitement of that event was such that only a year later it went national, and […]

Read more

The Zen of Tiempo, Vez & Rato

Time after time by Akors on Flickr (cc)

Some of us Anglophones disdain the phrase ‘at this point in time’ It is a redundancy that probably made its inventor look articulate but which today is so much filler. I once had a supervisor who had very little to say, but she never had to pausebecause she could always use these five syllables when a more word-frugal person could […]

Read more

Fun at the Fair

Deer dancer provide a cultural experience. (photo: Harris & Goller - viaventure.com)

Panajachel to host patron saint festivities in October St. Francis of Assisi was, among other things, the patron of animals and the environment. So it is fitting that fair week in the city named for him, San Francisco Panajachel, will include a ceremony to bless the animals. The environment will also be a theme, with many organizations involved in the […]

Read more

Creepy Carp Haunt the Lake

Creepy Carp Haunt the Lake

As if the ingress of bully bass to Lake Atitlán were not bad enough (see Revue August 2011, Lake Views, page 88), another alien may be even more harmful. At least since 2002, carp of the genus Cyprinus have been appearing in fishermen’s trawling nets. No one knows when they got there, nor what to do about them. “They have […]

Read more

Bad-Ass Bass Rain from the Sky

Karla S. is among the many anglers who frequent the Panajachel piers for bass. (photo: Brennan Harmuth)

53 years ago, an airplane wrought sudden, significant alterations in Lake Atitlán’s food chain Flying fish inhabit oceans, not lakes. Well, except for one sunny day in 1958. If you were looking at Lake Atitlán then, you would have seen big fish on the fly. They arrived in tubs welded into what was, judging from eyewitness accounts, a Sikorsky seaplane, […]

Read more

Crisscross the U.S. — Without Ever Leaving Guatemala

La República de Guatemala

Homesick U.S. natives living down here can visit Hawaii, Alaska, San Francisco, San Antonio, Los Angeles, St. Louis, Chicago and maybe Philadelphia all in one day without ever leaving Guatemala. And you may do so without a passport or a Star Trek transporter room. I will prove it to you. To get started you need a recent map of la […]

Read more

The Power of Guatemalan Roses

In May, the fancy for mothers turns to roses—which have more than meets the eye or nose. Not all plants sport flowers, but those that do use them to mate with others of their species. Appropriately, we use them to hail and express love, especially in February and May. Roses in particular are favored: red and burgundy roses in the […]

Read more

Time Is Short and the Water May Rise

Can Panajachel gird up in time for the next flooding? From space, Panajachel resembles a fan on a long, broken rod. This fan abuts Central America’s deepest waters—Lake Atitlán. It looks as though the city, in mortal fear of the lake, wants to escape up the skinny gorge that forms the broken rod. In fact, the lake is the most […]

Read more

Muleback Hosanna in Guatemala

Jesús Nazareno de la Merced (photo: © José Carlos Flores)

The Oddkins-Bodkins odyssey of how La Antigua’s patron image left town Your drive from La Antigua to Guatemala City retraces a procession trod in 1778 by the foremost Antiguan of the day. Being a mute statue, he raised no objection to the move. But so many others did object that the authorities making out his ticket proceeded with anguished caution. […]

Read more

Anthony Wayne Berger 1944-2010

Wayne Berger, a versatile genius who spread Guatemalan voices over a radius of thousands of miles, has died in Jerusalem. He was 66. Wayne’s office always reminded me of the inside of a tackle box. But if you looked closely, you saw more than just books on biblical languages jumbled on shelves with coils of wire and spare parts for […]

Read more

Winged Wonders on “Solid Stance” Street

One day last August, I drove down Avenida Hincapié in Guatemala City with my sons Ike (almost 12 by then) and JayJay (8). This odd street—you may know it—begins as soon as you pass under an aqueduct arch that seems to date from the reign of Marcus Aurelius. It is one of the few structures in town surviving from the […]

Read more

Lake Atitlán: Up Close and Cozy

I did not pick the name “Lake Views” for this column, but it stuck nonetheless. So I should probably make the lake my topic at least once. There is no counting the number of times—it is too many—that I have read that Aldous Huxley (1894-1963) called Atitlán the world’s most beautiful lake. He would know, being one of the best-traveled […]

Read more
1 2 3