Monday, May 22, 2006

very long bloooog

It was hard to leave Maya Pedal, such a brilliant, empowering project, but my spanish was cripeling me, so I made the decision to travel to
Monterico where I heard there was a really good spanish school, few distractions and warm sea to swim in. The journey down on the ever musical and chaotic chicken buses was great fun, as I travelled down the country I got hotter and hotter, until reaching my final destination, I collapsed in one of the many hammocks by my hostel and sweated, I contined to sweat, I walked down the beach, I got chased by a pack of stray dogs, I narrowly escaped attack by jumping a wall and running through someones garden, Hot and full of adrenaline I swung in my hammock drinking beer thinking about my next move, but I couldn´t think, the heat was unbearable, O.K. I thought i´ll go swimming, So I jumped off the hammock and ran across the black sand, which burnt my feet and jumped in the water, it was warm, but you couldn´t swim you just kind of got thrown around in the massive waves, back to the hammock, I can´t learn spanish in this heat, I can´t do anythink in this heat, so thats exactly what I did for the day, nothing but drink and swing, which was grand, but I had to leave, as Hunter S Thomson said in Rum Diary which i was reading at the time: "There was no reason to feel pressure, but I felt it anyway- the pressure of hot air and passing time, an idle tension that builds up in place where men sweat twenty four hours a day." and that what it was like twenty four hours a day of sweat and idle tension.

I had many thoughts about animals while I was there, its seems generally in Guatamala animals are let to roam freely, in Monterico pigs of all sizes walked around town cleaning up any organic waste and looking fairly healthy and happy, almost everywhere chickens peck around undisturbed, all the animals seemed fairly happy, except the dogs, who make it dangerous to walk around at night and necessary to wear earplugs to block out their insesant barking, I suppose a lazy way of looking after animals works well for the pigs, who are smart, friendly and can eat practically anything, and probably are living the closest a domestic animal can live to that ever elusive and often fought about equality. o.k. at some point they are killed to be eaten, but after a full and happy life, (which it seemed from observation) from a permacultutre perspective it would be seen as wasteful to bury them, I guess thats where permaculture and animal rights clash, in a society where food and resources are sparce it makes it harder over simplify the debate which in the past I perhaps have. Lazy dog care just dosn´t work, the dogs here look painfully undernourised and basically need humans to help them out, the guatemalen goverments solution is to sporadically put down dog poison, and if your dog, stray or not is out on that day, he´s not coming back. Nuetering and food are the obvious solution, but this isn´t happening as its pretty low down on peoples agenda and it sounds like a problem for the whole of latin america, and theres no money or intent to solve it.

The next day I arrived at "Earth Lodge" in the mountains outside Atigua, as I walked down the path many signs greeted me in different languages saying welcome to Earth, I had a nausious feeling that I was heading for some kind of rainbow establishment and was about to be surrounded by lost souls with spirals in their eyes or generally ignored for not having reached the correct leval of enlightenment, but no, I was happily surprised, It was run by a really sound canadian couple, they kept goats for milk and a had the whole place covered with advacado trees, which I learn´t give fruit after as little as one and a half years of growth, the place was surrounded by trees, I could think, I could breath!, I could have a sauna and practice spanish with a really good teacher, yup i spent a really happy few days here, I would recommend the place to anyone, when I´ve sorted out my links, I will put their website down. This was the cabin I was living in, right next to the sauna, which was just about perfect fot me

So I´m back in San Marcos, struggling to speak spanish while surrounded by english speakers, and trying to organise a puppetmaking workshop with youngsters at a childrens project here.

Heres one of the stained glass creations, at an artelier here, where i´ll hopefully be contructing some puppets, the really interesting thing about all the stained glass is, that its using waste glass and instead of lead joints he use´s paper mache mixed with wood glue then covered in wax, very sustainable.

I met a really interesting russian american who was travelling around in his vegi oil bus while making a documentory about it, how in costa rica he had trouble with the authorites who said they needed a permit to collect the oil from fast food places, so he went to the mayor who thought what they was doing was great and wrote them a letter saying they could do whatever they wanted, It was great to see a vegi oil van that worked so well, heres a picture of the system; basically theres two tanks; a diesel one and a vegi oil one, the vegi oil comes straight from the chipper, though one filter into the tank, though another filter then through these two marine engine filters, which are wrapped in this copper tubing coming from the engine, this heats the vegi oil, and after about ten minutes of running the engine on ordinary diesel the oil is heated sufficiently to make it runny enough to combust the same as diesel the flow from the diesel tank is stopped as the vegi oil is let do its stuff, the marine engine filters can be taken appart and cleaned in about one minute when required, cool, seemed like a really interesting way to make a connection with the local people, most of whom where facinated by the whole project, and theres a film being made about it so watch this space. The only problem was when once they didn´t flush the engine out with diesel when they stopped to go swimming one day, and when they tried to start the engine again the oil had cooled and clogged the engine up so two days was spent taking the engine apart and cleaning it out, I suppose you learn alot from these experiences though.

After all this talk of unheathy and agressive dogs heres a couple of picture of some very heathy and happy ones that I met on my travels, ok for some reason blogger won´t let me download them so you´ll have to imagine them.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

more random pics

Ok i'll take advantage of this 'free' internet in this overpriced hostel in antigua, its a bit of a shock to the system to be surrounded by white americans taking about all the groovy things theyve done, after the relative calm and reality of san andreas izapta, well best grin and bear it, soon i jump on another chicken bus, destination Monterico, it sounds very posh, but apparently its very cheap, run down and this time of year practically deserted which suits me fine for figuruing out puppet shows in spanish and getting myself together, theres turtles nesting there too. The most exciting thing that happened last night was a massive thunder and lightening storm, whenever lightening struck all the electricity went off for a few seconds then back on again, I took shelter in a nearby chinese greasy spoon had a masive plate of mushrooms, and tried to figure out my next move. Funny thing about Guatamala is its really hard to get good coffee, I suppose all the good stuff is exported overseas and were left with the crappy stuff, that says alot about the politics of capitalism. mmm yeh. The thing with posting photos on a blog, I'm begining to realise is that it takes a really long time for them to load up, so i might develop my describing gene, and keep photo to essentials in future, well anyway here are some photos; Firstly of the bikibomba the bicycle powered water pump, which seems amazingly usefully, basically its a bicycle with the drive going to the front wheel; which is a contrete disk to act as a flywheel, with two car tire rims attached to it, to act as a pully, around this is wrapped a cord with large wooden beads knotted at intervals, when the bike is pedaled the cord goes up to a small bike wheel pully mounted at the top of the systyem, round and down a pvc tube that goes deep into the well, back up another tube, carrying a column of water trapped between the beads, up to a large water container to store the water, then round the pully and back down the other tube to collect more water, apperently this has the potential to pump, between 5 to 10 gallens of water per minute!. The next photo is some bikes made out of bamboo (!), then details of the prototype bicycle powered washing machine (bicilavadora de ropa) which is basically a rotating plastic drum with holes in, and tubes with holes in fixed inside that, this is rotating within a fixed metal drum, with pedal equiptment fixed at one end, and a half open door at the other end, to throw in fresh hot or colds water at intervals, and theres a exit valve at the base of the metal drum to let out the dirty water, very simple, but no-one knows if it works yet as it was still being built as i took these photo's. The next photo is a totally unneccesary sunrise at san marcos shot. peace out, love n trees Rob

Saturday, May 13, 2006

bikes bikes bikes

Well, phew i just spent a week working for Maya Pedal mostly fixing up donated old bicycles to be sold cheaply to create funds to sell the machines they make, very cheap so rural familys can afford them, its a wonderful project. Arriving in San Andreas Izapa on a super crowded chicken bus, something trikes me straight away after being around lake Atililan for two weeks, no gringos!, I sit at the nearby cafe to catch my breath and the women asks me if i'm here for Maya Pedal, yup were the only white folks in town, but are so welcomed by everyone in the village, and it seems everyone has a great deal of respect for what Maya Pedal do, I guess that because they work very closley with the Mayan women who keep the project running, maya pedal make everything from pedal powered water pumps to washing machines, it seems their most popular model is the pedal powered corn extractor and grinder, as most of the mayan diet consists of corn meal tortilas and beans, they soak the corn in lime which breaks down the protien and makes it more easily absorbed, which is how people have and mostly still do, survive on a diet of torlilas and beans.
It seems life here is very simple, most people even children carry a machette for chopping wood, and everyday horses pass my door loaded up with wood to be stored before the rainy season kicks in proper. Its nice and refreshing, its simple and it works, the kids here are amazing, from first arriving they asked me my name now whenever I pass they repeat Roberto over and over again, and fling themselves at me like i'm a human fairground ride, which i supose I am.
I was sharing my basic quarters with 3 americans; Sam, Laura and Sara, all very nice if abit loud, I learnt to play hot dice, which is a great game
Yeh It was fairly hard to leave Maya Pedal, but my bad spanish wasn't improving and i spent the week fixing up bikes, which i was glad to do as Maya Pedal is a great project, but I felt if i stayed longer I might start to resent it as it looked like there was no bike machine making for quite a while, so i learnt what i could from studying the ones already there and made my plans, tommorow i go to monterico, to plan puppet shows, workshops, relax(!) and learn more spanish

Oh here are some photos too, the Maya Pedal sign, which was made with much drama while
I was there as there was much debate whether to glue of weld the chain lettering to the sign, a picture of Carlos in full flow, a typical view from our door, the famous bicycle corn extractor, the bicimolino, and a dog on the street.

All the hot showers in Guatamala have an electric element perched on the end of the shower head, which to me looks dangerous, but who am I to question these things, but yesterday while taking a shower I put my had closer to the head, only to get little shocks though the water if i put my hand too close!!, only by the time the water hits my head the electricity has disipated enough not to have an effect, this revalation shocked (hehe) and amused me and gave a who new meaning to the phase electric shower, i'm glad we only have 110 volts here.

Monday, May 08, 2006

chill week

A week spent in San Marcos, VERY relaxed place, except for last tuesday, a week after the last fiesta, they have a mini fiesta to celerate the end of the last one, this involves blasting out marimba music, very loud all over the village all day and all night, theres no excaping the marimba, or so i thought, as curiosity got the best of me, and with two hippies zonked out on mushrooms i wander towards the marimba, only to find a techno party in full throw, funny no ´gringos´ but all locals in full traditional dress getting down to cheezy techno, all ages too, nice to see, thats one thing that really strikes me about guatemala, is the strong family ties, they do everything together, like i was sitting i a field the other day reviewing my bad spanish, and in the field next to me a family had just harvested a crop of onions and were sorting and bundeling them, but the whole family was there from little babies to grandparents all helping each other, you can´t help but think thats the way it always should be.
Ahem anyway enough of me family values rant, so a week spent in san marcos, well i was staying with fellow marionetista, arancha in a nice but very noisy house, surrounded by dogs and cockrells who have no sence of time and crow at any time of the day of night, i guess 24hr marimba music must throw them off too, there are pictures here of my neighbours the cockrell and some great kids, over 50% of the population here is under 16, which is why projects like cambalacha exist (see links) a creativity emowerment project for local youth, which I will be doing puppet making workshops for in the near future.
Also here are photos of an impromptu puppet show in the back garden and a detail of a typical wall here, most of the buildings here are built out of bricks from cob, that is mud and straw, often stuck in a framework of concrete and steel, now studying permaculture for the past two year, I´ve learnt that cob is good and sustainable, and concrete is bad and unsustainable and to mix the two jarred slightly with me, but still i thought it was good that as standard cob was used, untill i talked to a local about it and he said that its not good, its only done for cheapness, and with the flooding last year, alot of the buildings just got washed away, Well i suppose travel is all about challenging your perceptions, ok time for me to leave now to Maya Pedal ....... oh yeah i forgot to mention the two days of sleeping from tropical fever, and VERY strange dreams, well i´m not going to mention everything

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

puppet show

So, thrown in at the deep end i have to do the show myself, i worked out a little rountine and wrote some vocabulary in espania, tried to memorise it, and did a little show for 25 ninos n la taberna in san pedro, muy gusta, los ninos mucho feliz, heres some pictures, Skretec malovat on holiday, in his box, painting a little girl, and los ninos.....

marionetista revolution