Finding my bearings along Atitlán

May 2005. It was my third day in the small village of San Marcos La Laguna on the western shore of Lago Atitlán in the Guatemalan highlands. My backpack lay beside my bed, still unpacked. I was scheduled to leave that morning for Antigua and onward to the Mayan ruins of Tikal. But I had …

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Middle-aged on Volcan Pacaya

May 2005. The meat, shellfish and vegetable fried rice dish I was having was a delight. On the wall of the Chinese restaurant, the Spanish word ‘alegria’ (meaning ‘joy’ in English) was printed under a Chinese character that I assumed said the same thing. Yet I was dispirited that night in Antigua, Guatemala. “Could it …

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