Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Buenas Vistas.

Don´t feel like writing much today so I will suffice with photos of the stunning scenery here at the lake. Photos taken by yours truly. Above photo is view of north side of the lake and San Pablo town(middle right).
Volcanoes Toliman(front)and Atitlán.
Volcanoes Acatenango(left)and Fuego, shooting fire.
La vista from my rooftop terrace, during sunset.
And finally, view of San Pedro town(left)San Juan town(bottom right)and(right to left)Volcanoes San Pedro, Atitlán, Toliman, Fuego and Acatenango.

Es paraiso, verdad. It´s true, this is paradise.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Hell is frozen

I cannot believe that I am posting pictures. However, the "Water day" post has difficulty being understood unless one has an image to stare at whilst imagining the life here. I have added a picture of our laundry sink complete with a bucket of my soaking laundry. Look closely and you can see the washboard. Note the small floating bucket, used for scooping and pouring water. The entire concrete tank is full of water below the washboard as well.

The other is our famous tank-on-the-roof I speak so highly of. And no roof tank would be complete without posters of Guatemalan beer girls. For perspective, the tank is about 5 feet tall, roughly the girth of a small hot tub. Don´t I sometimes wish it was a hot tub. . .

Also, note the pieces of scrap wood holding the lid down in order to [hopefully] keep it on in the sometimes violent winds that whip up here at the lake(does not always work). Ghetto-fied!!!

This is the life.

Ahhhh, only in San Pedro

On the internet two days in a row, I know, I know, it´s like I´ve lost my mind. However somethings require blogging.

There is a family that lives along the main pathway here in San Pedro. There is always tiny little Mayan children running in and out of their dirt patch front yard amongst the drying laundry and their textile weaving Abuela(Grandmother). And now there is something else running around their front yard.

This family had dyed a brood of baby chicks with easter egg dye. There is little green chicks and little purple chicks along with all that I listed above. If you are not peeing your pants with laughter at the mental picture of this, check your pulse you humorless ass.

I absolutely enchanted by this place, and part of it being the random uber-hilarious things such as dyed baby chicks in dirt patch front yards.

Only in San Pedro amigos, only in San Pedro.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Free health care.

There is a beautiful thing in the air today. It´s my friend Lesley, on her jet plane back to the USA.

Not only is Lesley super beautiful but the fact that she was even able to get on that plane is nothing short of a miracle. We have spent the last five days puking among other things I will not describe. "Is it the water, is it from food?" you ask. No, this is something that only has afflicted only seven white women in San Pedro. These ladies and I became sick at different times, we do not eat together, live together or work together. Its a freak thing. No Mayans or men have been afflicted, nor Israeli women(a significant percentage of tourists in San Pedro).

Yesterday, after days of not being able to move, except to the baño, Lesley and I got our asses in a tuk tuk and went to the Centro de Salud(health center)between San Pedro and our neighboring town San Juan. I was amazed, first of all, that there was a doctors office open on a Sunday. We both went into the exam room and chatted with the doctor about our affliction. She suspected a bacterial infection in the digestive system. She gave us salts to put in water for rehydration, antibiotics and an antihistamine for Lesley since all of the other medicines she had taken in an attempt to soothe the pain and cease the mass exodus from her body, caused her entire body to break out in hives. This is not an exaggeration.

Then we left. No charge. No discussion even of any type of payment for services or medications.

What we found entertaining and slightly disturbing however is that the rehydration salts were from UNICEF, a branch of the UN. What this means to us is that as Americans we can go to other countries and recieve free health care sponsored, in part, by our government, but that our government can´t give us a damn thing for free on our own soil. Something here doesn´t add up.

Ultimately what it means for me is that my reasons for never returning to the Untited States to live are continuing to increase. Why would I go there when I can get free health care from the US down here and not up there?

Foreign words to Americans, three words that do not go together in American English, free health care.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Water day.

Here at the lake one would think there is an endless supply of water. Do not be fooled. Sure the Mayans use it to wash clothes and themselves for that matter, but the water madness does not end there.

We have "water days" in San Pedro. What this means is that the water runs, via plumbing, to our house three days a week for about an hour and a half at a time when the Mayan gods open the flood gates. Sunday, Tuesday and Friday mornings between 8-10am the water magically turns on and fills our sinks and tanks until the next time.

"Sinks and tanks?" you ask. Yes, sinks and tanks. As previously mentioned, all residents of San Pedro have a huge water tank on the roof or somewhere above our heads to work with the force of gravity. All residents of San Pedro(and Guatemala for that matter)also have a very large "laundry sink" for much more than just laundry. Tooth brushing, dish washing, leg shaving, foot washing and even hand washing happen in this "laundry sink". This sink consists of a large tank, maybe about 100 gallons more or less, and a concrete washboard with a drain. A picture is worth 1000 words in this case. Too bad I don´t post pictures. Someday, perhaps.

These laundry sinks do not have running water except water day. How we use the water in these giant concrete bathtub-lookin´ things, after blessed water day, is to scoop up the water in a bowl or whatever and pour it over whatever is being washed into the washboard basin part of the sink. This includes rinsing laundry after is has soaked in a bucket with soap. Pour, squeeze, pour, squeeze is something of the routine with laundry. The amount of water saved by these techniques is mind blowing. I wash my hands with about a pint or two of water. Brush my teeth with about the same amount. And I am kinda addicted to washing laundry by hand. I have the cleanest clothes of my life right now.

As for the tank on the roof, that is a different story. The laundry sink is only for sink purposes. We have to shower somehow(refer to "emails to brothers" post for more information on Guatemalan showers). The tank on the roof presents a few more problems. Sure it´s wonderful to have our water come down the pipes for our personal use. But getting that damn water UP a pipe to the 3rd floor is a crap shoot. Being that many people in San Pedro are recieving water at the same time, there is usually not enough pressure to pump water through Guatemalan plumbing up to the 3rd floor. We get water on the roof usually only on Sunday and Tuesday, for about 20-30 minutes, if we are lucky. This is to say our water runs for 1 hour per week. Beat that!

However, what this means is that water can be stressful. Believe it people, most folks in the world probably don´t have the water luxuries we have in our house in San Pedro, and trust me, none of you would think it a luxury(except my sis in Africa, shout out to Weez and the bucket bath). We never totally empty the laundry sink between water days, and the huge tank on the roof is never "empty". But the panic will set in if water skips two days in a row and the tank is going below half or so. All we can do is cross our fingers, or buy a water pump, and we aren´t buying a water pump. If the Mayans can bathe and do laundry in the lake, damnit so can I. So in the end, the lake does give something resembling an endless supply of water.

None of this water is for drinking either. We buy filtered lake water from a hotel here with an amazing water filtration system for 90cents for a 5 gallon bottle. We use the filtered water for everything from coffee making to cooking to washing vegetables. Also carrying a 5 gallon bottle of water through town makes me look tough.

Be oh so thankful folks. Pure running water 24/7 is not the norm in the world. So next time you let the sink run for nothing, turn it off, it´s messing up my pressure on the roof.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Pure genius.

To start the barbers new blog off right, I have to give a shout out to my friend Lesley for coming up with the title. Anyone even remotely familiar with the international travel scene knows of an orginaztion called "Doctors Without Borders", which has something to do with first world trained doctors spreading their skills and help amongst the third world. Now if that doesn´t translate into barbering as well, nothing ever will.

I love you Lesley, you goddamned genius.

I must also thank god, since without "it" we wouldn´t be here to enjoy such hilarities. ¡Gracias a Dios!

More to come . . . . .