Jesus is my Crossing Guard

Jesús Chavarria that is. This guy is awesome. He doesn't stop traffic for you, but there is no way anyone is crossing the road if any vehicle is within a km from the crossing area. He's at roadside from 6:50 am - 7:40 am and 12:20 pm - 12:50 pm every school day - just waiting for you to try and cross the road without his permission.

If you drop your keys...

...in a river of molten lava, let 'em go, cause man, they're gone!

I climbed Volcano Pacaya with my sister, Saison a couple weeks ago. The hike lasted 2 hours to cover 4 kms (2.5 miles). The vertical increase was 800 m (about 2600 feet), the last 400 m was very steep and over volcanic ash.

For half of the hike, there were boys and men with horses antagonizing the people at the back of our 45 adventurer group. They basically intermittently shouted "Taxi!" or "Horse" as you struggled for your breath. Clever. I think almost every horse was rented. I used my feet.

It was quite a team effort some people to make it to the summit of this active volcano (1 of 3 in Guatemala). One 10 year old Danish boy made it up in sandals while a retired Québecoise struggled a few steps behind him. One of our guides has climbed this volcano over 2000 times.

An actual river of molten lava was present flowing from a smoldering sulphur heap. All this, a stones throw from where we tourists were allowed to stand and take photos. Nothing really prevented us from actually rushing down to the river to take a dip, aside from common sense I suppose.

Pacaya displayed some fireworks as we stood 15 m from the recently formed crater. In some of the debris it spewed, you could see the red. The smell of the volcano reminded me of my unventilated chemistry lab in Montreal - dropping pieces of magnesium in hydrochloric acid - burns the inside of your nose quite effectively.



I turned 30 on the day after the Ides of March and the day before St. Patrick's Day. The only real difference I can see is that my gotee seems to be thicker, but it could just be soup...

I spent my birthday morning teaching English and Music to grades 8-10. I then abruptly packed and I set out with my wife Amber, my son Blaise, my sister Saison (who was visiting us for a week), and my friend Michelle (who works with us here in Guatemala) on a very hot journey to El Salvador. It's March, dry and hot March. Blaise is a fantastic traveller fortunately. Cool, refreshing licuados were welcomed at the 100 km mark in El Rancho. Then we drove through Zacapa and Esquipulas before arriving at the El Salvadorean border.

We drove by about 35 tractor trailer trucks at the border to get to immigration. Not organized. I had to park the car in two different places on the El Salvador side after being told to move each time. It costs US$10/each (at least it cost us that much) to enter the country. This means we had to exchange money with the only money changer around - at an aweful rate (1.3 when it should have been closer to 1.2). After an hour at the border, we drove a pleasantly double lane highway to Santa Ana, the recommended tourist city. I do not recommend Santa Ana to tourists. There is nothing there. We wandered around the streets after sunset in our sweaty blue car for half an hour until we arrived at the Hotel International. There were maps on the wall leather couches in the lobby. There was also no water and no lights in our bathroom. Saison and Michelle's room didn't have a toilet seat. The rooms were US$20 each.

We set out to find some food, and after the ladies made me feel bad for wanting to eat in the modern mall food court, I gave in and we went to Pizza Hut. We enjoyed some classic music and watching a very enthusiastic table washer. A strange little girl rested her head on our table while I blew out my candles. Balloons fascinated Blaise, until he popped one - did he every scream!

I managed to use the birthday guilt thing with the girls and so, though we were all really tired (especially me), I beat them all at Settlers of Catan.

Thanks to for all the birthday wishes on email and the 2 phone calls. Cheers!


A week of sorrows

Saturday - I accidentally delete a scene from the film I'm working on. This just means redoing about 4 hours of work.

Sunday - I have a headache. Then while we're at church in the evening, our house is robbed of more than $8000 worth of stuff.

Monday - I'm in a daze because I couldn't sleep the night before because of the theft.

Tuesday - I move to a new house. The house is great, but in order to continue this thread of misery - I don't like moving.

Wednesday - Wednesday wasn't half bad. We bought a bed and a couch set in Coban and they delivered it the same day. Ah! I checked out a pawn shop and my stuff wasn't there that was stolen. That was disappointing.

Thursday - My markers don't work while I'm teaching that morning. That really bugs me.

Friday - I get my brand new Canon GL2 digital video camera - the one I've been wanting for 3 years. It malfunctions. I phone Canon and they say I need to send it to Calgary for servicing.