Kites and Farms

Festival de Barriletes Gigantes (Festival of Giant Kites)

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The other white dots in the sky are normal sized kites.

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We are taught as kids that one thing is better than another.

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The 40-foot tall kites are just for decoration.

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Before acid, flowers just smelled like flour to me.  I was always disappointed when I would stop to smell the roses.  Now I get all kinds of different scents and they smell great!

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The Day of the Dead is a tradition used to celebrate the lives and assist the spiritual journeys of loved ones.

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Random Blog Poem

Eat food as if you are speaking a language.

Window drip like the sound of a train

Ringing silence of mosquitos in my brain

here come the bombers

Here comes the pain

Fluffy and sharp, right on time

fear begins when traffic feels first

Breath in the to lack the walls

Sell light, tickle elders.

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MAYANS & FARMING

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The Mayans had some pretty clever ideas.  After harvest, each pen is rotated.  Animals are where plants were and there’s even a “resting” pen.  This is key to “sustainable farming” or “permaculture”.  Mono-cropping, on the other hand, is a short sighted, efficient technique that depletes the soil of nutrients and offers limited protection against disease.  Disasters such as Ireland’s Great (Potato) Famine are the result.  Dense concrete jungles are also vulnerable to viral attacks due to lack of microorganism bio-diversity.  With plants, animals, bugs, and soil nearby, the local immune system is fortified.

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“Every sound is born out of silence, dies back into silence, and during its life span is surrounded by silence.” – Eckhartt Tolle

Following their ancestors, Antigua’s Caoba Farms plant in spirals to match the shape of our galaxy.  This may seem whimsical and if I go into it too much, half of you will click the Facebook notification in the corner of your screen.  As a math/physics guy, it intrigues me so I’ll touch on it briefly.

In most of the world, we use a single calendar based on this solar system, particularly our relationship with our Sun.  If you Google  “how many stars are there?”, it says this:

    “There are about 10 billion galaxies in the observable universe! The number of stars in a galaxy varies, but assuming an average of 100 billion stars per galaxy means that there are about 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 (that’s 1 billion trillion) stars in the observable universe!”

 That’s just what we can see.  Could it be possible that there is something else influencing our world?

Around the time of the 2012 excitement Guatemala was crawling with hippies, tourists, and archaeologists.  A local farmer and his twin brother decided to do their own research and see what they could learn about their ancient heritage.  Emilio, one of the twins, who I’m working with on farm tours, explained to me that the Mayans actually used 23 calendars.  Only one of these pertained to the physical world.  They didn’t want to focus all of their attention on material items lest they live for superficial motives.

The others were based on energy because the Mayans apparently believed all life and the universe were made of energy.  Picture an electron doing laps around a nucleus.  Or the moon and Earth around the Sun.  Or our solar system around the center of the Milky Way spiral, which I just learned is a “supermassive” black hole.  Yikes!

Here’s something to bring you back to the present moment:

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“I don’t know man.  I just think it’s important to always try to be self-aware and self-correcting.” – Ben Hurst

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Instinct-driven Simplicity

So I’m riding a chicken bus back from Mexico for my 3-month visa renewal.  The guy who manages the money is wearing an authentic smile and a soaked t-shirt.  It’s not raining.  

At first it looks like there’s no room.  Even the front steps are full.  Following the assistant’s instruction, I SQUEEZE to the middle of the refurbished school bus.  My bag is on the storage rack, so I did not capture the amazing, everyday feats that were about to take place.

There are 3 adults in each of the 24 bench seats (built for two children), plus a FULL aisle of standing passengers.  I’m comfortably sandwiched between at least 4 people.  This must be similar to India, except there are no children in the overhead luggage compartments and no small crowd sitting on top of the bus.

A packed bus is no obstacle for the assistant.  After taking bus fare from those in arm’s reach, he asks a young passenger to slide down the window.  Grabbing the overhead luggage rack, he neatly slips both feet, hips, and shoulders out of the bus, which is traveling through the mountains at about 45 miles an hour.  (A week before, my brother and I were trying to figure out how the driver was able to squeal tires around every turn without flipping.)  Ten seconds later I see him standing in the back of bus collecting money.  Using the seat backs as steps, he duck-walks to the center of the bus, collecting money before he Houdini’s through another window and reappears at the front of the bus.

Since Central America is still “developing”, they don’t yet have rampant lawsuits, so people are still allowed to make their own judgements when it comes to personal safety.  One downside of an underdeveloped law system is the labor force is abused and the cost of living is significantly higher than the minimum wage.

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Money is a tool that is over used.  It’s like carrying a screwdriver around to open doors, write notes, get people’s attention, start your car, flip pancakes, scramble your eggs, eat your breakfast, and pet your dog with.

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ECONOMICS: “Developed” VS. Developing (and tangents)

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From time to time the discussion comes up about the differences between the economies of the U.S. and Central America.  After pondering, reading, and discussing with a variety of world citizens, I’ve come to a common denominator.

Latinos live in the moment.  Gringos live in the future and the past.  Keep in mind that this is a spectrum and I’m discussing the stereotypes to help contrast.

When you live in the future, you are more prone to make responsible decisions, plan effectively, and be motivated to address your scheduled priorities. 

When you live in the present, you make decisions based on what is occurring around you.  

This is one reason travelers gravitate toward Latin America.  Travelers, by definition, are inconsistent.  They like to put themselves in situations where it is necessary to pay close attention to their surroundings.  They also value experiential quality over financial growth.

As a traveler, I perceive benefit in surrounding myself with people who are more focused on what is happening now.  This is one reason I prefer the service industry to the construction industry.

The way Latinos deal with “stressful” situations inspires me.  When road construction consumes a sidewalk, pedestrians weave in with cars and no horns are honked except a quick beep to say “Hola!” to a passing tuk-tuk driver.  The tension of judgment is simply absent.  People just adapt, because that is how the body functions.

The body only reacts if something is actually happening: fire, dog bites, cold rain, being hit, etc.

The human mind works a bit differently.

The mind calculates, forecasts, recalls, extrapolates, exaggerates, rationalizes, and replays scenarios which may or may not have even happened.

The mind tells the body it is angry, jealous, resentful, sad, anxious, annoyed, and a bunch of other dis-eases, both future (fear) and past (pain).  If you stop to notice, each of these emotions are tied to a physical reaction of the body.  The next time you have negative thoughts, check out your body and see if you are tense somewhere.

There are also feelings reminiscence and excitement, which in excess show discontent with the present moment.

The future and past (and mind) are tools for deciding how to address the present.  If you catch yourself drifting off into thought, you can say to yourself, “I don’t need to use that right now.”

The point is that if you live in the moment (the latino stereotype) you may not have a luxurious lifestyle, but you are also not a stressed-out space cadet.

A quick glance at a developed economy seems like all sunshine and rainbows, and could be, except most of its citizens are missing the show because they are too busy planning for a rainy day.  Want proof?  Watch a crowded sidewalk or grocery store and see how many people are actually there.

If any of that psychological mumbo-jumbo intrigues you, you can get a healthy dose from the book The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle.  It makes sense to me, but gets quite dense after the first 1/3 of the book.

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If children just arrived from a different, non-physical world, then things like bubbles would be very entertaining.

More reasons to go to Guatemala

Here are some reasons to visit Guatemala.

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Go to an art school

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with a view

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and connected to the state of Georgia.

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Start with the basics

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and learn how to do this

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or learn to bake a delicious cake

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or paint madness.

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They have carpentry classes, if you are looking for something more practical.

DSC_0024Here’s a reason for Mama to visit.

DSC_0160You can rent a room in a cozy house
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for $100 / month

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in a nice neighborhood.

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You can visit weird stores

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and impressive parks

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or chill in the woods

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just don’t forget to smell the flowers. 

What else do you want to learn about?

Ask in the comments!

Antigua, Guatemala and “Where ya from?”

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Agua Volcano (one of 3 forming the town’s perimeter)

When I arrived to Antigua, I planned to stay for 10 days and then go to a workaway agreement at Lake Atitlan for 6 weeks.  The first night in the city I realized this was where I wanted to be.

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A week later, I cancelled with the place at the lake and decided I am going to live here.

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Above: An exhibit at one of the many art museums.

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Southern biscuits are one of the best things since the big bang. Now I have the power to create them.

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It’s your ride.  Good or bad, you decide.

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“Ignorance better means ignore-ance” -Alan Watts

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I didn’t know after the rockstar years I’d enjoy my own company more.

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There are two clerks and two customers each buying half a dozen things.  I stand in line for 10 minutes for a notebook and a few pens.  Is everyone in this town as high as I am?

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Mocha lattes make me feel normal.  It takes me about 15-20 minutes to drink one.  I take tiny sips, analyzing the microfoam texture, temperature, sweetness, flavor, and strength of the espresso.  I ponder things, breathe slow full breaths, and sometimes share thoughts with fellow homo sapiens.  All of life’s events are put on hold until the drink is complete.  This is my reset button for fresh perspective and energy.

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don’t think too hard, it’s just art

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Spanish Architecture. In the 1770s, the population was 60,000 people. Today it has a population of about 35,000.

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My least favorite question is “Where are you from?”, especially when it is the first thing to come out of a stranger’s mouth.  Sometimes when I am asked that question I tell them that is the only question I don’t answer right away.  I tell them that I have 4 reasons and if they would like to hear them, I’ll gladly share. 

The reasons are: Accuracy, Extrapolation, Embellishing, and Small Talk.

Accuracy, because the question is extremely vague, and requires either an equally vague or very long and complex reply.  The question also speaks to the past and doesn’t allow the person to display the growth since they started their journey.  Unless a person lived in one town for their entire life and then flew straight to where you are asking the question, it just leaves out a lot of important information.

Extrapolation is an estimation between a limited number of data points.  The only way to know a lot about a place is to spend a significant amount of time there.  When a stranger tells you they are from a certain place, the chances of both people being from the same place is astronomical.  When you learn that a person is from a place you don’t know much about, your mind projects any known data about that place to that person.  A lot of times it is bad data and most of the time it is completely unrelated to the person.  So the person gets a false representation before they have a chance to display any of their characteristics.

Embellishing happens a lot on resumes.  I know this because I am really good at making resumes.  Resting on laurels restricts growth and trying to sound cool is usually stretching the truth.  Someone might say they are from Seattle when they are really from Bellingham.  The person answering the question has control over the interrogator’s perception.  

In the end, it’s all just really weak, unoriginal small talk.  Talking about the weather would be better, because at least it’s in the present moment.  If you are going to lead into a conversation by asking about someone’s origins (which I think is kind of personal), try to be original.  Using, letter for letter, the exact same phrase that six hundred and fifty million other people have used that same day, just makes you a boring person.  Don’t be boring.  Think about the sounds your face is about to make. Try to show more cognitive awareness than a bowl of yogurt.

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Biggest people’s market I’ve seen in Central America. I got lost and it took me about a half hour to find my way out.

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Another group of expats from the U.S. that go to Central America after retirement are school buses.

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There is a factory that renovates the “chicken buses”. You can get a ride 20 minutes out of town for 1.5 Quetzals = $0.20   DSC_0170

I took a picture out the window while we were driving down the mountain.  Pancho is very polite and his natural reaction was to pull over.  Wrong place to pull over.  He realized almost instantly, but it was too late.

Some road workers came over to check on us.  Then they left and came back with very heavy branches from a tree.  Two layers of these 6-foot logs and the SUV drove right back on the road.  The entire ordeal lasted about 15 minutes after which we drove to town to run errands.

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Flan

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Central Park has public WiFi

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I have about 80 pictures of Antigua’s unique doors.

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I did not adjust the colors.

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Today I was told it’s the volcanoes surrounding the city that make people want to stay.  I can dig it.  Who’s gonna argue that a volcano isn’t a powerful force?DSC_0157 DSC_0039 DSC_0033 (1)

It all comes down to balance.  Working too much turns paradise into hell.  DSC_0060 (2)