Winter '99

Winter '00

Winter '01

Winter '02

Winter '03

Winter '04

Winter '05

How the Guatemala Gazette Got Started



My first trip to Guatemala was in 1986. I was an aspiring journalist and I needed to learn Spanish in a hurry. The beautiful colonial town of Antigua near Guatemala's capitol boasted several language schools, so I got on a plane and flew to Guatemala City knowing next to nothing about the country or it's people. I managed to bus-surf my way from the airport to Antigua by saying nothing more than the name of my destination. As soon I stepped off the bus a young boy grabbed my arm and led me to a language school. (Such services are part of the Guatemalan free enterprise system and payment is expected, but I have always found it endearing that you can step off a bus just about anywhere in the country and there will be someone within a few feet eager to fulfill your wishes.) After a month of language classes my Spanish was good enough to get me the job I had applied for and I moved to Washington, D.C., where I went to work for a news agency as a photo editor.

That first one-month visit to Guatemala was for me a life-changing experience. The country was beautiful, exotic, and, in those days, a little dangerous. (The civil war, which lasted 30 years and claimed the lives of some 200,000 people was winding down, but not over.) The people were open-hearted and helpful to a struggling language student. The Mayas, with their colorful native dress, many of whom didn't even speak Spanish, seemed mysterious, yet curious and friendly.

In the years since then many things have changed, in my life and in Guatemala. But I have continued to return again and again, and my bonds to the country and people there have grown. In 1997 I became godfather to three children in a Mayan family in the village of San Antonio Palopó, which is on the shore of Lake Atitlan. A couple years later a little girl was born and became my fourth godchild.

I met my partner, Faye, in Guatemala in 1997 at the baptismal ceremony for one of my godchildren. She was a fellow traveler, and she has made the trip with me to Guatemala and other parts of Central America each year since. We usually leave about Christmastime and spend a couple of months-- sometimes more, sometimes a little less.

When I first started going to Guatemala in 1986 communication with the outside world was a challenge. Letters often took two weeks or more to arrive, if at all. To call home I had to go to the phone company offices and stand in a long line of people waiting to have an operator make the call for them. Over the years there was steady improvement. By 1999 the internet and even cell phones had come to Guatemala. In areas frequented by travelers internet bureaus began opening where, for a dollar or two an hour, I could surf the net and send email just like at home (or in some cases better). I began writing what I called The Guatemala Gazette, an account of our trip, and sending it to family and friends who I thought would be interested in what were were doing (and, in some cases, concerned about our safety).

Over the years these accounts have added up, and the distribution list has grown. As a writer I am gratified that people seem to enjoy reading the reports as much as I enjoy writing them. Several have suggested I make a book of the material. I doubt that will happen. But for now I am archiving past reports here on this site for those interested.

Please feel free to contact me with any questions or comments by emailing