Hello fine, neglected newsletter readers. Long-time followers may know that when I go home my newsletters usually grind to a halt. If you were happy to have a break: hooray! If you didn't need a break: sorry.
When I last wrote I was coming back from Europe to be with my brother and his family while he had brain surgery. Fortunately it went as well as one could possibly hope, short of hoping that it didn't happen in the first place. He spent an amazingly brief two days in the hospital before he was released, if you can believe it, and after a few weeks healing, started six weeks of radiation treatments. The downside to his situation (and also to my glaucoma) is that now all you can do is wait, and hope it stays stable. You don't really want to sit idle, drumming your fingers on the table and waiting for bad news, but if you focus on an illness it can feel that like sometimes.
Reminder to self: life is temporary, whether you have a major illness or not. Do what is important to you. Start today.
On my way back to India I decided on a visit to Guatemala, which explains the subject line. It would be a strange way to greet you if I was in India. I've been here almost a week, and I'm visiting my old friend Liz, who lives here most of the year with her adopted son Myles. (I love that kid!) I'm here for three+ weeks, and my friend Lauren is joining me for the last 10 days. Yay! I'll fly from here to India on February 1st.
Photos below, many more to come, no doubt.
Love to you,
p.s. Many people were unreasonably kind to me when I came home, but none more than my good friends Doug and Lori, who put me up (in style!) in their home in the Berkeley hills, and shared their bee-yoo-tiful kids with me. I'm so grateful!
Lake Atitlan, at 5,000 feet elevation, which is where Liz lives.
Liz organized a shopping trip for the resort she works at, to coincide with my arrival at the airport. These goods all had to be loaded onto a small boat for the village of Santa Cruz. There is no motorable road.
These local kids helped unload the goods from the van and into the boat.
The boat driver.
One of three extinct (we hope) volcanoes near the lake.
Beautiful Myles. He was born to a very poor family on the lake, who gave him up for adoption.
I bought a new Canon 7D camera, and so far I'm pretty happy with the photos.
Myles goes to a private school. He's seven years old, and is an amazing reader. He can read most of the words in a Harry Potter book. When he isn't studying, he's playing with guns, tanks, Stars Wars characters and basically being all boy. As Liz puts it, "He didn't get that from me!"
Liz has a beautiful house that she designed and had built. I'll take more photos of it later. There's no electricity, only a solar system.
After lunch at a nearby village, Liz and Myles are flagging down a public boat to take us back to Santa Cruz.
Uh, Titanic? Is that really the boat we want to get on?
These are new since I was here 10 years ago. These 3-wheeled tuk-tuks are made in India, and you see them everywhere there. It's funny for me to some them in Guatemala. One guy thought this one was made in California, based on the stickers.
The snack shop at the public dock.
Dang. This snake was about 6 feet (two meters) long, and the locals were shocked to see him. He could really swim.
Anyone have any idea what kind of snake this is? From this angle he looks pretty thick in the middle.
Buddy, where you going? Last we saw he was headed straight across the lake.
This kid sells postcards in the main town, Panajachel (pronounced Pana-ha-chel). I don't buy kids meals, because it just ensures that they'll stay out of school and in the street. But he looks happy about his tourist burger.
This cute girl, holding a big ol' moth, I guess, has a French mom and English dad. They live in Santa Cruz and she already speaks French, Spanish, and English.