Guatemala Day Something

It’s Tuesday, I think. We have been very discombobulated regarding time since we got here. Guate is 2 hours behind home, and there is no daylight savings, so having recently done the time change in the US, going back to standard time here, minus an hour, is weird.

Anyway, yesterday turned out to be quite adventuresome. Rachael and I went and did a little yoga in the highest temple, which was awesome. We were then scheduled for massages from a Phillipino-Hollander named Theo. He gave the best massage ever. As you may know, my wrist has been an issue for me the last couple of months since I sprained it one night at band practice. Theo work on it, and he got it feeling very good.

While Rachael was getting her massage, I met a nice guy from Seattle named Jeff, who was here for the week-long yoga retreat. Every week at Villa Sumaya, there are retreat packages that people sign up for, but you can also come for ‘personal’ retreats, which is technically what Rach and I are doing. Jeff and I talked about basketball and other interesting things as we checked our email.

After the massages, we walked with Lizzy to Santa Cruz to see Myles and check out her place. Lizzy lives in a place where the translation means “the place where the rocks fall”, and indeed, it was strewn with rocks from the high cliffs surrounding her. During hurricane Agatha last year, there was a giant rockslide all around her house, and a layer of rock five feet high covered the surrounding valley. Her place was largely spared, luckily.

It was great to see Myles, and he was excited to get the gifts I brought from Dax and Gray. We hung out around Lizzy’s place for a while until we decided to get back to Villa Sumaya for dinner. Rachael and I took off on foot to make the journey back, which was about a 40 minute walk.

Heading down through the valley towards the lake, we commented on how exciting it was to be all alone in the middle of the jungle in Guatemala. Shortly afterward, we heard barking dogs running towards us through the trees. After having seen all these wild dogs then last few days, I had visions of hungry teeth snapping at us.

My adrenaline kicked in, I said, “come on” to Rachael, and the next thing I knew I was 12 feet up the tree next to me, trying to make sure she had enough room underneath me to make it to safety. As she started to climb up behind me, the dogs stopped, and we realized that they cared nothing at all about us, and were fighting with each other.

We soon were laughing at the whole thing. Yes, I overreacted, but all I know is that if it had really been a rabid pack of dogs trying to eat us, we would have been safe thanks to my cat-like reflexes!

We made it back to dinner at last and had a good time enjoying the cool evening air.

Today, we decided to take it easy. I worked with Lizzy some to update the Villa Sumaya website, after which Rach and I got some sun by the pool. After a dip and some lunch we hit the sauna.

Tomorrow we meet Lizzy at the dock to get a boat into Panajachel where we plan on hitting the market and having lunch. Hopefully there will be no more rabid dogs.

Guatemala Day Three

I didn’t have energy to write this until today, but this is about the events of yesterday.

Rachael and I awoke in Antigua to the warbles of a bird which had a very pretty song unlike any either of us had evere heard. As soon as I looked out the window i saw about 500 things i wanted to take pictures of. So I did.

We had a nice breakfast in the courtyard of the hotel before we headed out to explore the streets of Antigua. I had been here 20 years ago, and much of what I remembered was the same: the faces, the clothing, the street vendors, and the crumbling architecture. What had changed was the invasion of the “first” world. Apparently, 20 years is plenty of time for American corporations to invade and take up every square inch of advertising real estate. The same was even more true of Guatemala City – 20 years ago there were no Audi dealerships or Burger Kings as there are now.

Still, it was an amazing treat to enjoy the walk around Antigua, trying not to stick out too much like sore thumbs, though judging by the people following us around trying to sell us things, we weren’t very successful.

A shuttle came to pick us up at the hotel, and we departed for Panajachel about 1:00. The ride down the Pan-American highway revealed mile after mile of rundown buildings with the occasional tienda or church showing signs of activity. In between were rundown auto shops, ambiguous doorways, the occasional drunk passed out with his hands in his pants, and many stray dogs.

Rachael mentioned that everything here seemed like it was behind closed doors, and this seemed to be very true. We could peep inside a door as we drove by, and catch quick glimpses of things such as a soccer field, or a restaurant. It’s the inside where the secrets lay, and as we had discovered so far, it was where the activity and the beauty were found.

We met a couple from New York on the shuttle, Wendy and Tom, and they had been here for three months. They were both writers and had been coming to Antigua during the winter for three years. Tom had a lot of commentary along the way, mostly insightful, but they were nice people whom we chatted with the whole ride.

The shuttle took a turn off the main road, and Tom let us know that it was a shortcut the drivers liked to take. Unfortunately for us, it meant two hours on winding, pothole-ridden roads across mountains with sharp cliffs looming beneath. The driver liked to keep up the pace, so we found ourselves exerting a lot of strength just to hold on and stay upright along every hairpin curve, praying for no break failures or blown tires.

When we got to the bottom of a valley where a bridge across the river was supposed to be, I suddenly got a feeling of just how far from anything ‘normal’ we were — a feeling I hadn’t witnessed since my last trip to Central America in a similar situation.

Last year’s rain season was particularly harsh, and the bridge had been washed away. I hoped that the shuttle had enough clearance to make it across the river, and even more that the driver had done this before. We made it across just fine, thank goodness, and started a winding climb up another mountain.

By the end of the ride to Panajachel, we were worn out. Pana was an amazing little village with a bustling market and a handful of tourists wandering around. Our main task was to get to the dock to find a boat to take across Lake Atitlan to Villa Sumaya, where we knew a cozy room and a hot shower awaited us.

Tom and Wendy were nice enough to hook us up with a ride on the boat that had been sent for them so that we didn’t have to try and negotiate with our poor Spanish skills. A 20 minute ride across the choppy waters of the lake, and we pulled up at the dock of our final destination. We were woozy, weary, and worn, but we were happy to have made it.

Villa Sumaya is insanely beautiful. Perched on the side of a mountain, right next to Lake Atitlan, it climbs up into the jungle with little temples and guest houses along the steep pathways. We were given the bungalow at the very top, and at 5000+ feet in the air, you definitely feel the low levels of oxygen when you ascend the stairs up to it. But it is so worth it!

We look out onto the lake from our room for a perfect view of the two big volcanoes. Surrounded by hummingbirds, banana trees, and all sort of other tropical flora and fauna, it’s a completely serene, breathtaking view.

We saw Lizzy today and she hung out with us for a bit, which was nice. We will be going to check out her house after we have massages.

A moment of note was when we were going to sleep last night, realizing there were absolutely no sounds other than the nature around us. You can’t hear cars in the distance, people, or anything else to indicate that just two hours away, the raunchiness of northern corporatism looms.

Guatemala Day One

What a day. Rachael had warned me of possible travel delays based on some Vedic astrology data she had read, and it was absolutely correct. How did we miss seeing that American Airlines had a fuel tank fire at their Miami airport hub on Thursday?

As we sat on Charlotte waiting for our flight to Miami, I got a call from the airline telling me our flights had been cancelled and that we were rebooked for Sunday, which meant we’d need to stay in Charlotte another night and lose a day of our trip. It also meant rebooking our hotel in Antigua and rearranging our shuttle to Villa Sumaya. Not good.

We managed to get a spot on the plane to Miami today anyway, and barely got onto a later flight to Guatemala City. It meant a 5 hour layover in Miami, but we felt we needed to get there today no matter what.

We made it to Miami, and after a few cat naps in the gate, we boarded the plane along with two FIFA soccer teams who were signing autographs and flirting with women the whole way into Guatemala. There must be a big tournament near here this weekend.

We were shuffled through customs quickly, thank goodness, and walked out of the airport into a scene that felt like a demented red carpet stroll at the Oscars. There were several hundred men behind ropes shouting at us to accept rides to varying destinations. I spotted the man holding a sign with my name on it — the shuttle to our hotel in Antigua.

We followed a man named Nino to the shuttle bus, and after several near collisions on curvy roads where lane markers mattered little, we arrived in Antigua at Hotel lo de Bernal. Once inside, we learned of the next delay: our room was unavailable because the bathroom was out of order.

Luckily, they had arranged for a room at another hotel. So back onto the bus with Nino we went.

Several bumpy cobblestone streets later, we got to the new hotel. From the outside, it was a walled off alleyway, which most of Antigua seemed to be. It turned out to be a beautiful Spanish feeling setup on the inside, and we went to pay Nino for the ride as we checked in. He told us it was $45, which we took issue with since we were originally told it would be 25.

After much Spanish flying around, we ended up getting settled up, but due to not having change for a 20, we had to borrow 5 bucks from the doorman to pay Nino. We are to get change in the morning and pay the doorman back, which we will definitely take care of.

Exhausted, Rachael and I sat on the veranda in the hotel courtyard and tried to soak in the situation, letting the day’s events start to slide away, knowing that we made it safely, better late than never, and ready for what the week has to give us.

It was dark when we arrived, so we haven’t quite gotten a feel for the insane beauty that I know surrounds us, but judging by the lights flickering on the mountains and volcanoes around us, and my memory of being here 20 years ago, I am certain the morning will be a nice treat.

Stay tuned…

Apple Mail “smtp.xxxx.com:xxxxx” offline

I have 2 gmail accounts configured under “Mail” and over the last few days 1 of my accounts when sending a new email shows the “smtp.gmail.com:xxxxx” as “Offline”, if I forced a send from it, I would have to type my password in again. Then it would send, but go back offline.

Even when re-setting the password under the Mail Account Prefs, no difference.

Here’s what worked for me.

1. Start a new message

2. Pull down the “smtp.gmail.com: xxxx” menu and select “EDIT smtp server list”

3. Click on the account that’s going “Offline”, select “Advanced”

4. Fill in the password and close.

I don’t know why, but the account that was having issues did NOT have my password saved (even though it was “saved” under the normal account preferences area).

All seems well again, even after closing and opening mail etc.

The very strange thing is, the “EDIT smtp server list” seems to be a sub-menu under the normal Account preferences, that can’t be accessed except the above way. Odd.

Hope this helps.