Sunday, December 26, 2010


A tree house deluxe is where we will stay. A full bathroom in the bottom and a nice room with balcony, hammock and all!
Ixobel is 10 minute from Poptun Peten. This Finca, ranch, was owned by a Frenchman killed during the civil war. His wife and daughter now welcome tourists making it a backpacker haven.
Our first time here was in 1997 and it is always exciting to come back. You can stay here starting at Q3.00 which gets you hammock and if you want to splurge for Q3.00 extra you get a blanket.

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Atop the bridge "Puente Rio Dulce" we took these pictures of the river and the marina. I don't have that many stories of this area. I have driven across the bridge about 6 times in my life going and coming to Peten and have only stayed in the Rio Dulce area twice. Rio Dulce is in the department of Izabal. Puerto Barrios and Livingston are the other two mains destinations, likewise I have been to them two or three times.
The last trip to Rio Dulce was sometime in the nineties. I have never been a water person, my element is earth, so I cannot tell exactly what was the 'wind vessel' my friend had and made me get on, all I know is that I was all cool sitting when all of a sudden the wind came. I think I was supposed to pull something or other but I was so frightened I became paralyzed with a scared face my friend has never let me live down!
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Teculutan, Zacapa km 127 on the road towards the Atlantic Coast is the official and necessary stop to eat Dobladas or Tortillas con Loroco. They are stuffed with cheese (ricotta type) and loroco (a green bud). I have been known to drive the 'extra mile' for this treat.
Comedores that sell dobladas con loroco on the side of the road and family hotels, with big pools are what there is in Teculutan/Rio Hondo.
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Friday, December 24, 2010


I know you might be scratching your head as to how this whole prison topic goes with Guatemalan Genes. 

First let me say that even though at many times (now is one of them) I feel like God is making no sense, by faith or probably more so by hope somehow I cling to his promise "Everything, that is all things that appear good and appear bad, will become known to you in My timing that they were all indeed good for those who love Me and that I have called to Myself, according to my plan, which is the bearing of His likeness in those whom I knew from the beginning." Romans 8.28-29

A couple of weeks ago I was asked to write my CV focusing on my service interest and I was shocked to discover how there was a conductive thread on at risk youth and rehabilitation of offenders, starting with our graduating High School project which I proposed: "Correctional facilities in Guatemala". Now, sadly, the issue is closer to home than I would ever imagine and has led me to make more conscientious life and career choices to work on how to better the success rates of offenders re-entry to society. I cannot do much in the US, where I am finding out the system is light years from being successful and has no serious attempt to provide with rehabilitation, reentry programs and where the few services are outsourced to people just interested in collecting the service fee. On the other hand I am in a position to influence change in Guatemala.

In Guatemala the whole penitentiary system is a shame and re-entry programs are basically non existent. As the whole world knows Guatemala's crime rate and impunity situation is only worsen by the fact that jails and prison have become "universities of crime". 

Today, Christmas,  may I ask for you to say  this prayer (source)


Dear Lord, you have always shown yourself as friend of the small ones, the poor and the excluded to the point that you had wanted to go through the experience of being incarcerate: you were denounced, detained and imprisoned in the darkness of the night, led to prison and sent to questioning, insults, tortures, judged with no legal process, condemned and executed (as many through out history and still today).

Your love has taken you to identify yourself with them and to remain present in them: I was in prison and you came to visit me. At this puzzling sign we dare to ask you for all of todays inmates so that they:

Don't think that because society condemns them, you reject them.
Don't renounce for a moment to their dignity as people and children of God.
Don't ever loose their liberty within.
Don't despair nor fall to depression.
Don't give up on fighting against any type of oppression, repression or injustice.
Be eager to change their conduct.
Work for their life and re-entry.
Don't abandon their families and friends, nor be abandon by them.
Get close to you and their situation inspires them to along with you be saviors of the world.We also want to ask for us, society and the Church so that

We don't reject inmates for the sake of their situation.
We respect them as the people they are.
We see you in them and serve them accordingly.
We accompany and help them in their reentry process.
Our love may, in fact, help them discover who YOU are.



Señor Jesús, Tú siempre te mostraste amigo de los pequeños, de los pobres y de los excluidos: hasta el punto de querer pasar por la experiencia del preso: fuiste denunciado, detenido y apresado en la oscuridad de la noche, conducido a la cárcel y sometido a interrogatorios, insultos, burlas, malos tratos y torturas, juzgado sin las debidas garantías, condenado y ejecutado (como muchos a lo largo de la historia y también hoy).

Tu amor te llevó a identificarte con ellos y a permanecer presente en ellos: estuve en la cárcel y viniste a verme. Ante este gesto tan desconcertante nos atrevemos a pedirte por las presas y presos de hoy para que:

•No piensen que porque la sociedad los condena, Tú los rechazas.
•No renuncien ni un solo momento a su dignidad de personas e hijos de Dios.
•No pierdan nunca su libertad interior.
•No se desesperen ni caigan en depresión.
•No renuncien a esforzarse contra todo tipo de opresión, represión e injusticia.
•Se afanen en cambiar de conducta.
•Hagan por su vida y por su reinserción.
•No abandonen a sus familias y amigos, ni sean abandonados por ellos.
•Su situación los acerque más a Ti y sean cosalvadores del mundo.

También queremos pedirte por nosotros, la sociedad y la Iglesia para que:

•No rechacen a las presas y presos por el hecho de serlo.
•Les respetemos como personas que son.
•Te veamos y sirvamos a Ti en ellos.
•Los acojamos con cariño y comprensión cuando recobren la libertad.
•Les acompañemos y ayudemos a reinsertarse.
•Nuestro amor, en definitiva, les ayude a descubrir que Tú les quieres.

Te lo pedimos por María, tu Madre y nuestra Madre.


Book suggestions:

Jóvenes en la cárcel


This is a translation of the article: Navidad en Prisión

There is no doubt that there is nothing more sad than Christmas in prison. These holidays who serve to bond families, to celebrate around a manger, to reminisce the better times of our lives or hold each other in mourn of unconquered sufferings, take another dimension when in prison, denied from the most important asset after life: freedom.

The drama of prison affects equally he who is incarcerated, his family and those who battle for his freedom. It can only be understood by those who have walked or are walking that dim labyrinth.  

Days pass by slowly in prison. For the inmate hope dilutes amongst dreams of liberty and the reality of a process with no end whose sole law is that one of deferral, leaving with no sense codes, verbatim, doctrines that serve only to illustrate long speeches by lawyers whose language has nothing to do with reality. 

In prison the fight is survival with some dignity, sending optimism to loved ones, who are battered by skepticism and impotency. The prison environment is hard and hostile; distrust reigns;  bonds of friendship that can trespass the bars and walls of the inhospitable prisons; violence strides threateningly though dark intricacies.

Uncertainty the most serious of feelings. That is why, spiritual help fills the emptiness of prison to make it bearable the way of imprisonment.

When there is no sentence, one waits in vain the realization of the audiences that never happen on the expected dates. When the time is given the 'benefits' become the fuel of the fight; and when there is no hope whatsoever of liberty because of how strong the crime of the wicked impositions of justice, the only thing left is to make an interior world that is lived by the strength of faith and the entirety of a family that helps to carry the burden.

In this Christmas day  we shall think of our prisoners: those who strayed away from the right path and can have the chance to amend; those who never had another choice and where pushed to crime; those who were weak and succumbed  to bad influences because of an environment prone to all sorts of social deviations; and to those; who simply are there because they suffer unjust persecution from those in power who exercise control in their own benefit, with the deprivation of freedom of its political adversaries.

Let´s remember then our prisoners, raise a prayer for them, let´s vow for the cease of this penitentiary embarrassment, unmitigated condemnation for any government who treats cruelly and inhumanely a portion of the citizens that live in the marginality of the penitentiary sub-world.

I was in prison and you visited me. Mathew 25:36

Tuesday, December 21, 2010


Amongst platano leaves to wrap tamales and pineapples for the christmas ponche, boy sleeping in the back of the truck, while visions of sugar plums danced in his head...
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Sunday, December 19, 2010

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Hechando el lustre

Hechando el lustre is the expression for getting a shoe polish.

At the airport getting my red boots polished for Q5.00 about 80 us cents. Seems too little. I will be sure to tip him well.

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Thursday, December 9, 2010

Here I am staring at my 'unupdated' blog...

One month and 12 days is how long it has been since my last update! I miss you dear reader.

I almost want to write about all the great things I been up to but it would involve a lot of pictures of seminars, computer screenshots, traffic, meetings, bags under my eyes, etc.

Thanks to those of you who have asked of my whereabouts. Please don't 'unbookmark' me just yet I will be back soon. Vacation is three days away!

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