What’s up lately
category: Jims Guatemala

Sorry there isn’t a better title for the post. It’s sort of a mishmash.


Yesterday, we went to Yulais to give a health talk. It’s a tiny village about a 15 minute walk from here; ironically, very close to where we had the rock-throwing incident. Our message of preventive health was well-received. There were about 30 women and 11 men in the audience, not a bad turnout for such a small village, and they thanked us and are looking forward to our return next week. Here is a picture of some of them waving to us as we made our way back down the mountain.

Today, we went to the third village we work in, Campana, for the same thing. It’s about a 20 min. walk the other direction. No one was there when we arrived, so we waited. This is normal in Guatemala; everyone shows up late for everything. But after about 40 mins, when still not a single soul could be seen, we packed up and went home. The annoying part is, Emily even called the president of the Campana health committee to make sure the lecture was on for today, and he said yes. Another case of them “lying to your face, becuase they don’t want to tell you something they think you don’t want to hear.” For this group, it’s the fourth or fifth cancellation in a row. I think we’re done with them, unless THEY call US.


The cold has returned. Yesterday and today, I’ve been able to feel my fingers and toes only about half the time. We have taken to hanging out with the neighbors in their house, around their open fire. That helps. When we’re at home in the evening, we sit in bed like this picture of Emily. The night has brought strong winds that would sound really eerie and relaxing as they whooshed around, if we were insulated from their effects. We aren’t. Our new woodburning stove went in the mail 21 days ago, and we are still awaiting its arrival. By Guatemalan standards, we might have a few more weeks to go.


One of our strategies to combat cold is to bake stuff. We put chairs by the oven, and enjoy the warmth while smelling fresh bread and similar goodies. Here is a picture of the neighbor kids reaping the benefits of being buddies with the gringos in their town. Chalio, on the left, can now say “Cinnamon Roll!” in clear English. Little by little, my friend. Little by little.

axeSM.jpgAnother way we keep warm is to follow the advice of my buddy, Farmer Ryan. “Firewood!” he exclaimed. “Heats four times!” What are you talking about, Ryan? He explained it to me: it makes you warm when you cut it down, when you carry it, when you split it, and when you burn it. He’s a pretty smart guy. And we have a MOUNTAIN of unsplit firewood next to our house. Normally, it’s Galindo’s job to split it, so I took over and have been having a blast breaking up logs. (note: i learned a new verb, rajar, “to split”) Here’s a picture of the medieval-looking tool I use to get the job done. This place is so much like living in the Dark Ages, in so many ways.

Everyone will glad to hear that Galindo is up and moving around OK. I talked to him some today, as he was sitting in the sun cutting up oranges to give to the little kids. It remains to be seen what the long-term psychological effects of his attempted suicide will be, but it’s hard to really get into it with him because of the language barrier combined with the sensitive nature of the topic. That, and I am not always the most sensitive guy in English. Sigh.

We were eating dinner with the neighbors last night, and at one point, most of the people had left the fire. I looked over at Nas Palas, and he looked absolutely beat. “¿Tiene sueño?” I asked him. He told me that he wasn’t tired, his head hurt really bad. He’s been worrying about money in the last few days; apparently his grandson’s excursion to the hospital cost him about Q10,000. I should tell you that is a STAGGERING amount of money for an old farmer that makes, at the most, Q30 per day. The terrible part is that the hospital itself is FREE. The cost was for the bus rental to get the 30-odd relatives to the hospital and back, and rooms for them during the ordeal since they couldn’t stay in the hospital, and meals, etc. It’s totally a weird, Mayan social fabrication. I understand a little, yet I will never be able to understand completely. “It’s a shame,” he said in Spanish, “all that money for something that was his choice.” Galindo wasn’t in the room when he said that. I believe Nas would do anything for his grandson, but I feel bad for his predicament. Much like my grandparents and those of their generation that survived the Great Depression, people Nas’s age survived a horrible famine and civil war in their youth, so when they get money, they hoard it very carefully. I am sure he blew his life savings on this endeavor, and now fears that if there is a drought or civil unrest next year, they’re done for.

That is about all I have for today. Take care out there!

Posted by: jfanjoy