A Travellerspoint blog

June 2013

5 Good Things the Rain Brings

Fighting the Good Fight During the Seasonal Deluge

Hey, I said it a couple of months ago: I will not be defeated by the rains. I’ve already had some sketchy moments this year: Several times our Tuesday/Thursday pick-up basketball games were canceled fifteen minutes in because a fresh storm rolled through. Last night, Emma and I went to meet a friend for dinner and had to wear flip-flops and short pants because crossing the street involved wading through ankle-deep water. More often than not, the deluge happens just as I’m about to leave work. Sure, it can feel a bit like being taunted.

But, I’m not giving in so easy. In effort to lift my own spirits and perhaps of folks feeling waves of the same twitchy “it has begun” anguish, I’ve devoted this week’s blogging effort to celebrating the season, an ode to rain if you will. Without further ado, and before that next thunderstorm starts, join me in the rain dance of verbiage, this teasing of Mother Nature, the refrain being that she just can’t beat us down.


1. With the rains comes the excuse to be lazy, to spend many an afternoon camped under a blanket with a good read or drool-gazing at another episode of CSI/Criminal Minds on cable channel 12. Why not snuggle with your sweetheart, put a few “skyrockets in flight”, and then, there are two excuses for taking a nap.

Oh, rain, you maiden of mischief, thank you for your valid reasoning to lock myself in for the day.

2. With the rains comes nature a-blooming, a solid recovery from the dusty duskiness of late dry season when the leaves have just about given up the fight, the ground has cracked like a dried-out foot heel, and let’s face it, some of us have grown to miss a little rat-a-tat-tat on our tin roofs from time to time.

Oh, rain, you savior of sumptuous greenery, glory be to the gardens growing from thou moisture so abundant.

3. With the rains comes a daily fresh shower for the city, and may each dog turd squeezed upon the sidewalks be washed into the culvert and clear from my feet, the cigarette butts and candy wrappers cleaned free from the fissures of cobblestone roads, the roving knick-knack sellers given a break while Antigua beautifies.

Oh, rain, you scrubber of our filthy ways, how you start us anew each day, forgiving those travesties foisted upon the world.

4. With the rains comes out our full wardrobes, all those sweet-ass hoodies closeted for heat of yester-months, the trendy rubber boots—so much more than just staying dry, another justification to wear ponchos, validation for lugging around all that long-sleeved, full-length, fleece-lined gear that had matriculate to the bottom of our backpacks/shelves.

Oh, rain, you fashionista of necessity, how you know the ways of worry, stuffing bags with precautionary measures for no good reason until you show, forces full blast.

5. With the rains comes true appreciation, the recognition of those sunny afternoons when grey clouds have been swept briskly beyond by Pacific winds, the mass migration of all to get outside and make the most of the moment we’ve been given, and take another fresh look at what a beautiful place we live in.

Oh, rain, you rubber of eyes, cleanser of corrupted contentedness, blessed is he (or she) who has been started anew by your graces.


Ah, it feel goes to shake a fist at the old, weepy bitch, to give myself a little something to fall back on when the rains go awry again, another tropical storm breaks wind upon us. I invite you all to do so yourselves, to add to our list of the positives of precipitation: Leave a comment, your own paragraph of praise and rant to rain. Something tells me by late August I’m going to need all the help I can get.

Behold, blog followers, visitors, and casual readers alike, below you will find links to new articles, as well as suggestive fast-tracks to the Jonathon Engels: A Life Abroad Facebook page and fresh revamps to my website. Thanks as always for the support.

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Posted by jonathonengels 07:59 Archived in Guatemala Comments (1)

Can Grumpy Writers Make Happy Readers?

3 More Books on the Trail of Travel Writing Super-Stardom



One thing I’ve learned venturing into the world of travel writing is that, by and large, we are a willing congregation of positive people. After all, what we sell is our own adventures: the places we go, the experiences within other cultures, and the inspiration everyone needs to get out there and do it. The industry gains little from crapping upon those places which…are lesser.

We are meant to inspire travel. How much inspiration comes from detailed confessions about stomach bugs, noting an abundance of actual bugs, and enduring people (because, let’s face it, annoying people are everywhere—that’s part of what makes them annoying)? I’d basically curbed my inclination to be a sourpuss and begun blowing sunshine out of my ass.

Imagine my dismay when this month’s books all take a rather grumpy, irritable stance about traveling, and amazingly, they all pull it off. I both want to go to the places they go, and I’m reminded of places I’ve been that were equally and equivalently as troubling. Truthfully, a piece me is a bit loathsome to have to write such positive things about these moaners and whiners.

Longtime NPR correspondent, Eric Weiner, a self-diagnosed grump, sets himself on a mission to find just exactly what makes the happiest places in the world happy. His journey starts in the Netherlands, where one can find the World Database of Happiness compiled by “the godfather of happiness research”, Ruut Veenhoven. Using decades Veenhoven’s annals, Weiner is able to visit some of the happiest places on earth, including Bhutan (where the government measures gross national happiness), Qatar (where everyone is stinking rich), and Moldova (a study of the unhappiest nation on earth).

This book’s title had set it up to be a knee-slapper, and while it did inspire the odd chortle, it was much more serious than I anticipated. Weiner actually examines cultures, often quotes philosophers on the subject of happiness, and genuinely engages readers to think about the sources of our own contentedness and/or bliss, or lack thereof. I finished the book feeling wiser as much as entertained and feeling reassured that, regardless of location, we all still have to live with ourselves. It was a lesson I began learning some years ago after leaving home and realizing I hadn’t immediately changed because I was now in Korea.

  • Inside the book: My favorite bit, without a doubt, was when Weiner goes to Moldova, a tiny ex-Soviet country wedged below the Ukraine. It is the unhappiest place in the world, and it’s those types of places that provide some of the funniest anecdotes and meaningful moments.

Two new articles that in no way reflect my grumpiness. Nonetheless, I hope you enjoy them: Driving Through a Redwood and The Shopping 'Til You Drop Tour of Antigua

J. Maarten Troost, who is something of the Hunter Thompson of contemporary travel writing, moves with his girlfriend to a tiny atoll, Tarawa, in the Republic of Kiribati—Safe to assume that is remote. The Republic of Kiribati (pronounced an unlikely kir-ee-bas) is composed of thirty-three atolls just north of the equator, roughly 300 square miles of land (or Baltimore) in a space as large as the contiguous United States. It’s easy to picture it as paradise, a place with palm trees, peace, and plump plankton-fed fish. It’s easy to make that mistake.

Troost, a rather fearless and self-defacing protagonist, recounts stories from his two years on Tarawa. The island turns out to be a constant challenge, full of feral dogs, “La Macarena” on track repeat, and varieties of pollution—Kiribati is where the US practices bombing stuff—that would take the luster off of spit-shined (fancy shoe). So, what he offers is a real experience, an unapologetic look at the warts that remain atop what might have been paradise. These are warts, I think, all places have, at least the ones I’ve been to. However, I think Troost gets away with his frank delivery because, by the end of the book, his departure comes off bittersweet.

  • Inside the book: As a shark lover with a healthy fear of the animal, I found it hilarious that the people on Tarawa had absolutely no trepidation. Rather, when a shark was in the water, the jumped in to go after it. Listening to Troost tell it…well, he’s a funny guy.

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Bill Bryson is perhaps the most revered travel writer of our day. Known to be simply gut-bustingly hilarious, he has been amusing readers for nearly forty years. This is why I chose one of his books. He is someone I should not only like but emulate, a writer whose prowess precedes whatever paperback that bears his name. The one other time I tried to read him, I didn’t make it through the entire book. About fifty pages into this one, I closed it one afternoon, a chapter after his travels in small-town America took him to the Deep South, and told my wife why I didn’t like Bryson’s book: “He moans about everything.”

But, I did pick the book back up and persevered. Hey, Bryson doesn’t need me to back him; he’s got the rest of the world. I can say that I eventually came around. Either that or Bryson stopped whining so much. His book(s) do have some genuinely funny moments, this one especially when telling stories about his father, who took the Bryson family on the road trips that would later inspire the writing of this book. And, when he isn’t complaining, which is the “humorous” part, over the mundane, he captures places in a nutshell. Sometimes it’s an ugly, disfigured nutshell, but there is always something at the center to snack on. He earned at list another read from me.

  • Inside the book: I was shocked that Bryson seemed to really ease off the South a bit and to recognize it as a place worth visiting. His write-up on some of the towns in Georgia and the Carolinas actually had me yearning for a little Deep South road trip of my own.

If you haven't visited the Jonathon Engels: A Life Abroad website, well then, isn't it convenient that I've provided a link. Check out all my articles, get links to helpful travel websites, and enjoy more glossy photos of me in various stages of beard growth.

So, I supposed I’ve learned that it can be done, that sunshine doesn’t have to shoot forth from every word I write, nor am I required to like every culture, to reach the goals I set forth in my articles, or to take my road trips and bus rides without complaint, which is a good thing for me because more than one person has told me I’m grumpy most of the time. Hopefully, some of that will start rubbing off on my writing.


Posted by jonathonengels 06:24 Archived in Guatemala Comments (0)

Got Water?: The ecofiltro

Imagine having to hike miles for your water every day, several times of day...



Last week was an awful one for me. As I’ve written before, my apartment here in Guatemala is not always the height of luxury. Though the setting is beautiful, my shrewd-ish budget and lackadaisical real estate hunting techniques basically led to living in an old hotel room without a hot plate kitchen, mini-fridge, and a bathroom that serves both as a place to shit and a place to wash my dishes. It’s this bathroom that has caused the fits of late.

For some reason, in the whole of Antigua, the running water in my apartment complex basically disappeared. Well, if I turned the hot water spout, a trickle of cold water would come out, but the toilet tank no longer filled (causing me to stand at the sink for about fifteen minutes after each bowel movement and hope this next slow gallon of water would get it down), cleansing showers became a memory, and filling up my ecofiltro water cleaning system turned into a real pain.

As I sat down this morning to write this blog, I knew it was NGO week, and beyond that, I hadn’t really thought about what I was going to present to you. The internet at the café was down, which meant classic Wiki-research methods were out of the question. I sat scratching my unkempt and crusty beard (It’s actually to a point where I may go up to Earth Lodge to take a decent shower.). Then, I got up and grabbed the latest Que Pasa, thinking they’ve always got a nice write-up. First page I opened to, I saw an ad for ecofiltro: Hike for Water.


First of all, let me explain what an ecofiltro is. More or less, it’s a five gallon bucket with an insert that sanitizes this infamously stomach-churning Central American water into something perfectly acceptable to drink. Without further polluting the environment with plastic water bottles and little plastic water bags, folks can acquire a little clean drinking water. Earth Lodge has them, Oxford Language Center has them, I have one, El Guato Tattoo shop—let’s just say anybody who’s anyone in Antigua these days has an ecofiltro.

Recently, the folks at ecofiltro have kicked off a pretty cool campaign. Thinking of the villagers in Guatemala who sometimes have to hike over a mile just get water, a task done multiple times a day, EcoFiltro has started an empathizing (at least symbolically) fundraiser: This year there are five hikes, climbing three volcanoes in Guatemala, and one mountain in Seattle, in which each participant essentially donates one ecofiltro to communities who could probably do with a sip or two of something cool and clean after carrying five gallons of soiled water over a mile.


I actually saw a few pictures of the first hike last week on Facebook. It looked like there was more than just do-gooding happening. People seemed to be having fun as well, and that’s always a combination that feels right to me. So, one hike is down and there a four more to go: 22 June is Volcan Pacaya (actively spewing hot lava), 27 July is Volcan Fuego (also a lava spitter), 7 September is Mt. Si (the Seattle sidestep), and 16 November is Volcan Acatenango (Fuego’s dormant neighbor). I’m hoping to make at least a couple of these. If you’re interested in hiking as well, visit ecofiltro’s Hike for Water page, or if you just want to support the project, that’s possible, too.

Eco-filters have been around since 1981, when first invented by Fernando Mazariegos, scientist at the Central American Research Institute. The following year, the design garnered the AIDIS prize for innovation in Latin America. Unfortunately, the filters didn’t really start making a massive breakthrough until the 2000s, when current CEO Philip Wilson began networking with NGOs and World Vision stepped up to help instigate widespread distribution. These days, with over 50,000 families benefited, ecofiltro is a for-profit operation that supports ecofiltro:one, its charitable partner creating sustainable solutions for communities in need of clean water.

As for me, I guess I’m thankful, if push comes to shove, walking a mile for water is not really in my likely future, and when I finally cave and decide a real shower just must happen, I can do so with relative ease. And, I’m thankful for my ecofiltro. In my first month down in Antigua, unwilling to part with the start up money (like $50) to get a filter system, I was rationing one plastic gallon of water a week, getting a little more dehydrated by the day. Then, after a run one weekend, I discovered my gallon jug empty. I’d had enough. Best $50 spent this year.


Posted by jonathonengels 12:19 Archived in Guatemala Tagged mountains profile ngo expat Comments (0)

FAQs about Tattoos

At the Guatemala City Tattoo Convention


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A couple of weeks ago, we accompanied Luis and the folks from El Guato Tattoo here in Antigua (4th Calle near La Bodegona) to Guatemala City for a tattoo convention. It was my first, convention not tattoo. Truthfully, I didn’t know what to expect. Luis, my former Spanish teacher turned tattoo maestro, described the event as a bunch of tattooists drinking all day. He was just going to do one tattoo, he said. It would be fun.

As a few of you may know, and some of you will learn by the end of this sentence, my wife Emma has been doubling as a children’s teacher and regular at the tattoo shop. (In the off hours, she’s a homemaker.) She hangs out El Guato a few times a week, watching a lot of Guatemala TV, picking up the occasional nugget of wisdom and considering a possible future career in the inking industry. She even managed to flutter her eyes in such a way that I allowed her to do her first tattoo on my thigh about a month ago.

FAQ about Tattoos: Does it hurt?
Yes. Essentially, you’re subjecting yourself to thousands of needle pokes. Luis explains that, while tattooing, an artist must avoid sympathizing with the customer. To sympathize would result in not putting the ink deep enough, thick enough, or cleanly enough. “You’re getting a tattoo,” he points out. “It’s going to hurt.” Emma seemed slyly content as she tattooed my leg.

So, it came to pass that on the Friday before the event, Luis’s person-canvas backed out on him, leaving him less than twenty-four hours to find a new customer willing to get a bigass tattoo. Enter Emma. Suddenly, going to the convention turned into a new tattoo, Emma bringing home several sketches that evening and laboring over finding the right one as we enjoyed our Friday night Ramyon-and-movie night. Her main concern: Luis wanted to use “psychedelic colors”.


Saturday morning I arrived at the tattoo shop about a quarter to ten, fifteen minutes after Emma, who’d gone with Luis to the nearby supermarket to buy bottles of rum. By ten o’clock, we were on the road. The idea was to arrive early to get a good spot. Then, we could start drinking. A small piece, the responsible side, spent much of the ride thinking about a drunken Guatemalan (stereotypically known for unreasonable intoxication) tattooist (again, not stereotypically known as a group of saints) marking my wife for life and how we are going to get home after that. In the end, I concluded there wasn’t much I can do about it at that moment.

FAQ about Tattoos: Can I get drunk first?
This one seems fairly obvious enough. Many of us intentionally get drunk before getting tattooed. However, I’ve heard stories of thinned blood and excessive bleeding caused by alcohol. My guess is that this is an effort to dissuade stumbling idiots. El Guato has a beer fridge which I have taken full advantage of on several occasions now. See my calf, my arm, and my thigh. However, protocol is that one shouldn’t drink, and it’s even illegal tattoo the inebriated in some countries. In other countries, they frown on tattoos, booze or no booze.

We were at the convention center by noon, the table set up, and nothing else to do but eat and drink. There were maybe half a dozen other shops worried about getting there early, and soon pizza boxes and fast food bags began to appear at everyone’s station. We were getting into a bottle of rum as others trickled end throughout the early afternoon. Finally at about four, the first tattoo got underway and event-goers rather than participants began touring the stations. In the manner of about an hour or two, the room got thick with skin art.


It seemed every ink enthusiast in Guatemala had made the event. Most tattooists were busy in their stations, and beyond the nattering of the crowd, all excited about the artwork, the buzz of the tattoo machines hummed nonstop, literally giving the air an electric quality. Soon enough, Emma was laid on Luis’s table, her skirt hitched up to reveal her thigh, and a blue towel, something she was calling a diaper, wrapped around her to properly cover her knickers, something which I had to periodically check being done effectively.

FAQ about Tattoos: How do I (or how did you) become a tattooist?
Honestly, it’s a bit of secret hand-shaking club of snobbery. While many tattooists do start off as rogues, teenagers scarring up friends in their mom’s kitchen or something similar, the proper route is to apprentice. Expectations vary, but it’s long and hard and a bit like going through an extended hazing week for a fraternity. One of the classic stories Luis’s mentor, Tattoo Mike, told him was about an apprentice who was required to come in two hours early every day and stare at the corner. His mentor warned that if he missed a day, he was out.
Despite several months of hanging out at El Guato, there is still a lot of stuff Emma, not an apprentice, can’t be told.

I’d quietly wondered what the hell I was going to do for ten hours at a tattoo convention. I like tattoos. Though they seemed uncharacteristically meager compared to many of those around me, I have a few, so I’m not immune to the charms of vibrating needles being set to my skin. And, it’s always polite to sit with your wife while she’s having a vibrating needle (Does that sound right?) set to her skin. Still, ten hours? Luckily, it was much more than tattoos:

Live music competed with buzzing tattoo machines and made it necessary to have lean-in-to-the-ear, bar-like conversations. A nubile, Lolita-like girl was standing in nothing but panties, masking tape functioning as a modesty preserver at the tips of her breasts, and a guy was literally painting her while a few dirty birds stood watching for hours, taking a collection of close-ups. A bar opened with hot plate sandwiches and “yellow cheese” nachos, a la minor league baseball concession stands. Into the evening, there was a live pin-up girl competition with five contestants prancing around in sexy outfits, posing on chairs, and blowing kisses to the crowd.


FAQ about Tattoos: Can you use something to deaden the pain?
Several products exists, but no. Any tattooist whose spent due diligence becoming one, say staring at a corner for a couple hours a day for a year or two, is not going to lower the trade by doing this. Tattoos are supposed to hurt. If the pain deters someone from having a tattoo, then he or she shouldn’t get a tattoo. In some sense, going through the pain earns someone the right to bear the ink, even if said ink is a Mickey Mouse on the shoulder or a dolphin jumping through waves on the small of the back.

As the show went on, it became apparent that Emma’s new tattoo was amongst the highlights. Her design was not only full of detail but also somehow both classic and unique. People were constantly coming back around to see the progress of the piece, raising cameras with serious lenses to get shots of Luis in action (hands all over my wife’s upper thigh). Tattooist and enthusiasts alike would contemplate a moment or two in admiration before delivering a smile, nod, or thumbs-up of approval.

Nearly four hours into the tattoo, Luis tells Emma it’s time to stop. He’ll finish those psychedelic colors, not yet half done, in a couple of weeks. Her skin, fair and sensitive, is risen and red around the edges, but without a doubt, her recurring twitch of a smile explains how pleased she is. It’s a stunning piece full of swirls and paisleys; the color is bursting and not at all girly, as she feared. Luis looks as drained as her, proof positive of how focused he was on the task. We all imbibe a couple of beers before leaving.

FAQ about Tattoos: Do you ever regret it?
Regret is not the right word. For me, who has been so bland as to choose the theme of a lizard, all of my tattoos based around an animal I hesitate to touch, it’s never regret. Some of them are better than others, and a couple are downright disappointing visually. However, it’s the memory I enjoy. The story that surrounds the lizard on my foot (done in a Mexican jungle hut), the one on my shoulder blade (as a sixteen year-old in the kitchen of an ex-con convicted of murder), and a little solid black one on my thigh, one my wife was brave enough to do and I was brave enough to allow. I suppose everyone has their own reasons for getting the next one. Regret is for cover-ups, i.e. a different tattoo all together.

Posted by jonathonengels 10:27 Archived in Guatemala Comments (0)

5 Endeavors of Tourism Still to Do in Antigua

& a Call to All for Some Localized Adventuring Wherever You May Be



Isn’t it odd how we become so complacent in the places we are, be them a hometown defined by our knowledge of shortcuts and old haunts or (oh, I don’t know, let me see…) the enchanting streets of Antigua Guatemala. A craving for something new, some slice of adventure, becomes consuming. I think old people call it stir-crazy, or mountain people call it cabin fever, or island people call it trapped on an island. Nowhere, no matter the tropical paradise outsiders may see, is immune to such abandonment. Where there are people, there are people who want to go.

That’s right. It’s been quite a while since this place has completely blown my skirt around my ears. It’s great and all, real sexy for a 16th century town, still curvy in all the right spots with curiously arousing wrinkles, but Emma and I have been around this joint long enough. We have routines: the shopping day, particular routes for walking to work, a place for restless Sunday afternoons when we don’t want to be stuck in the house. In simple terms, it’s become home. As the last eight years certainly suggests, sometimes, we aren’t good with homes.

Therein comes the topic of today’s musing: What to do when the complacency, an overly familiar feeling for a place, overtakes you…me…us, when you’ve done all your favorite things again already. One thing I try to do is remember all the things I haven’t done. I find new things I want to do. I like to make list, so I make lists of this stuff, something I can check off with a sense of satisfaction. Rarely, even after a lifetime, has every nook, corner, and cranny been explored.

So, here as Emma and I are rounding the corner into our halfway mark, five months in and five to go, I’m looking at a few of those items still remaining on my list for Antigua. I’m reminding myself of how much remains unaccomplished, what waits around the bend. In an effort to help the world, or at least the world around me, that’s you my dear readers, I’m inviting everyone to make their own lists. To share them with our little blog community, with others in Baton Rouge, England, Antigua, and beyond. I won’t end this year without doing these things:

  • Make my own chocolate at the Choco Museo: The Choco Museo, staffed by a friendly lot of sugar-riddled and bilingual elves, teaches visitors the history, mystique, and methods for making that long-time Mayan specialty of chocolate. I pass by on the way to work every day. People are always smiling, it always smells deliciously enticing, and I like to make stuff.

Excuse for Not Having Done It Yet: This one is legit. I’m waiting for Emma’s mom to visit us in August. Why can’ It do it sooner and again when she comes? I think it has to do with paying twice for something I probably only need to do once.


  • Camp overnight on Acatenango, the volcano next to Volcan Fuego, the ever-puffing smoke machine: I’ve wanted this for a couple of years now. I used to gaze daily at these volcanoes from my Earth Lodge porch. Old Town Outfitters, a local tour agency, offers overnight trips, hiking all day up Acatenango, camping that night, and summiting early morning. I’ve heard it’s an incredible view down into the fiery crater.

Excuse for Not Having Done It Yet: This one for sure is money. Old Town handles incoming adventure tourists who have the first-world funds to find the adventure. I will, I think, eventually succumb to the price, but so far, the budget has gotten the better of me.

  • Visit a tiny coffee finca with As Good As It Gets, an NGO tackling sustainable agriculture, fair trade, and reforestation: I’ve written about As Green As It Gets before. It’s an NGO with a project that sounds pretty exciting to me. On the tour, people get to visit one of the small, independent farms (usually around two acres), possibly help harvest, and get to watch how the beans are processed. And, you get one pound of coffee.

Excuse for Not Having Done It Yet: Again, I’m waiting for Emma’s mom so that we can all do it together. Because there is an actual end date in sight—August—this is okay. After then, I will do it, Sheelagh or not! And, yes, ma’am, that is a warning!

  • Eat macadamia nut pancakes at Valhalla, a macadamia nut farm just outside Antigua (also interested in sustainable agriculture and reforestation): This was a farm started a couple of decades ago by a couple from the US. Valhalla is still run by that couple and their son, Ricardo, who was a regular at Earth Lodge. Supposedly, there is a rockin’ restaurant there, and patrons are allowed to snoop around the farm a bit.

Excuse for Not Having Done It Yet: Two words, one man: Bryant Hand. He talks it up. He lives the dream (the dream being eating those macadamia nut pancakes) from time to time. He’s invited us once, at about 11:00 on Sunday, which is when wealthy small business owners wake up and long after I’ve eaten breakfast.

  • Taking the day trip to shop at Chichicastenango, Guatemala’s monster market, which admittedly is quite a ride away, but can be a gone-in-the-morning, back-in-the-evening type affair: This one just made the list, actually. Been to enough markets in my life, but I feel that I would truly be missing something special here. I’m pretty sure, even if I don’t buy a damned thing, the market will be stunning. I’ve seen the photos.


Excuse for Not Having Done It: I’ve already bought like three or four pair of “indigenous” pants that I don’t wear anymore. I’ve been to markets in Guatemala City and Antigua, shopped in Panajachel and Flores—seriously, do I need to peruse more Mayan textiles and crocheted juggling balls? Apparently, I do.

As I compiled this list of five, not all that trying of a task, lots of other things sprung to mind: Restaurants I want to try, volunteer opportunities, and propositions I’d like to undertake. Funnily enough, when I think back to Memphis, Moscow, Istanbul, wherever, it’s easy to find those next five things I’d like to have done, things that complacency kept me from while they were there at my fingertips. Summer is nigh people, and I propose we find a way to right these wrongs, to adventure locally—respectively—this year. We check off our list items and put another handful on the horizon.

This was a lesson I unfortunately didn’t learn until I moved myself halfway across the world and left all the richness of the US in my dust. Pretty soon, I’ll be doing the same thing to Antigua—more or less, for the third time in my life (left here with things unfinished in 2008 and in 2010). I’m fairly sure I’ll be back round this way again, but it isn’t going to be because I didn’t do these five things. “Seize the day”, aka “carpe diem”, is a commonplace utterance, a cliché as we say in the snub-nosing world of writing, but one that we all ignore far too often. Screw that.

I’d be really interested for you to send me your list of five ([email protected]) and keep me updated on how the checking off is going. I’d love to put together a blog or two, or the occasional aside, about what sort of mischief, mayhem, and memories people get themselves into. Go forth and live inspired, fair readers of the blogosphere. I have spoken thusly.

Posted by jonathonengels 13:43 Archived in Guatemala Comments (0)

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