Gettin’ on a jetplane
category: Jims Guatemala

Early tomorrow morning, we’re getting on the plane. Sorry about the landslide of posts in the last day or two; after more than a week of being extremely busy, we took two days of “vacation” at the lake, and we finally got caught up with the blogging. The idea was to relax a little and enjoy each other’s company before returning to what we know will be a few more weeks of busy, intense socialization in the US. Oh, and yesterday was also our anniversary. We’ve been married for four years now, more than half of it while living in Guatemala.

Besides relaxing, we spent the last few days of our Guatemalan experience buying some presents, saying goodbye to old friends, and packing our bags. Bags aren’t normally a problem with us, but after two years and a pile of going-away gifts, we’ve ballooned up to about 250 pounds of crap to bring back. That’s AFTER some ruthless discarding and regifting. Good news? You can take extra bags on international flights. Bad news? The airlines charge you $100 apiece for your third and fourth bags, and $50 for each one that’s overweight.

weighing_sm.jpgThat makes our big challenge “load distribution,” to keep costs at a minimum. While I was paying our last visit to my host family in San Luis, I made a makeshift balance scale from a broomstick, some string, a jug of water, and a tape measure. It works on basic statics: moments are equal to each other in a balance, and are the product of moment arm times mass. In this case, the moment arms can be measured with the tape, and we know the mass of the jug (1 gallon of water = 8 pounds). For my backpack, for example, the jug is at 37cm and the pack is at 10cm from the fulcrum. Do the math:

37cm x 8lbs = 10cm x ??lbs

weighingMemo_sm.jpg…which means that my backpack weighs 29.6 pounds, still within the airline tolerance. I can throw in 20 more pounds of clay idols, toy marimbas, native traje, and organic coffee before I get fined $50. Yay! The kids were pretty excited to help me weigh our stuff. Things went well until Memo asked to be weighed; two seconds after I took this picture we discovered that he exceeds the load capacity of my apparatus. BAM! But everyone laughed.

We also stopped by Froilan’s tailor shop for the final fitting of the suits we ordered. After Emily ordered hers, my mom got wind of it and suggested that I order one for myself as well, in memory of my Grandpa Wildy. He was a Great Depression survivor, always felt that you should “dress for success”, and it was his custom to buy his grandchildren a fancy suit when they graduated from college or other important occasions. What my mom didn’t know is that Froilan is cut form the same cloth: as a local craftsperson, he was in the Antigua newspaper a year back, the article entitled “Hay Que Vestir con Elegancia“– a direct quote from the interview (“One must dress with elegance”). After three visits, we slipped into our new togs, and WOW! do they look and fit great. Indeed, Froilan is a professional: we gave him several photos we’d taken from online fashion magazines, picked a fabric from his sample swatches of fine imported English wool, and he did everything else.


“Part of the reason I agreed to do these suits,” he explained as we were admiring ourselves in his mirror, “was because I wanted the challenge. How can I call myself a professional if I don’t ever aspire to doing trickier projects?’

Indeed. I apologize for the quality of this photograph; it doesn’t do the suits justice. When I get to a place that has good lighting, I will take a more flattering picture and post it– these suits are amazing. And at just under $200 apiece, they are a steal. Now our only concern is putting back on those 30 pounds we lost; my real dad tells me that during Vietnam, all of his crew had clothes tailored, but within a year or two of returning, nothing fit anymore.

I know that some of our blog readers are actually living in and around Antigua, so I want to post a shameless plug for my host dad/ master tailor, Froilan Menchú. Do yourself a favor and visit his tiny shop if you are in the market for new formalwear:

Diseño Profesional (Froilan Menchú)

2o Calle Poniente 34

Antigua Guatemala, Sacatepéquez

tel: 4074-8512

That’s about it for now; we have to finish packing for tomorrow’s big trip.

Posted by: jfanjoy