Author: klmalcolm2014

About klmalcolm2014

Retired from work in government and nonprofit organizations, I've been traveling the world nonstop since 2016, writing and supporting humanitarian work. Life is good!

Tikal, Flores, Guatemala City and Bye Bye

On Sunday, we left Lake Atitlan with Walter at the wheel. Walter will be forever in our hearts for leading us in several rounds of “Sweet Caroline.” After saying adios to Walter for the last time, we flew from the Guatemala City airport 350 miles north to Flores, a tiny town on an island in the Guatemalan jungle.

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Lake Atitlan, Guatemala

A fruit stand and women in traditional dress in front of one of many dozen murals in San Pedro.

If you know me, you know I wouldn’t have come to San Pedro La Laguna if someone had told me about the road. The drive from Antigua involved 13 hairpin turns on a steep two-lane road thousands of feet above anything that wasn’t air. Luis drove skillfully and carefully but my mind doesn’t respond to skill and care or any kind of logic in such situations. At last, Suzen gave the all-clear and I opened my eyes right before we dodged a landslide coming out of hairpin turn #12. But I survived! The excitement continued the next day when an earthquake shook our hillside casita. It was Suzen’s first earthquake!

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Antigua, Guatemala, Then and Now

A bunch of Guatemalan icons in the mural at the local Starbucks: coffee, textiles, quetzals, volcanoes, and hummingbirds.

This week, I’ve been in Antigua, Guatemala with my San Miguel BFF, Suzen. Antigua is one of those magical places that makes you wonder whether this is where you should be living (but I won’t be leaving my San Miguel!). Surrounded by volcanoes, Antigua is green and easy and full of young people. The city’s hill-free flat grid and architecture remind me of Patzcuaro and Oaxaca in Mexico, with single story colonial style buildings in soft colors. Like San Miguel, Antigua has cobblestone streets, a tree-filled plaza full of music, and random fireworks.

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We Could Try Radical Humanity

Last week, the Biden Administration announced immigration policies that would make it virtually impossible for migrants at the southern border to seek asylum in the United States. Among the new — and unlawful — policies is the requirement that asylum-seekers show they have applied for asylum in one of the countries they have traveled through. But, according to international law, applying for asylum in one country disqualifies a refugee from seeking asylum in a second country, such as the United States. Places like Guatemala, El Salvador, and Nicaragua are not safe for refugees, and processing asylum claims can take years. The Administration’s cruel Catch 22 will cost many lives and require Central America and Mexico to assume even more responsibility for problems created by the United States itself.

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A Couple of Days in Munich

I’m in Munich, where there is no traffic, but lots of walkers and bikers and public transportation. It’s quiet and clean, and loaded with museums, good food and, of course, beer. Like Bilbao and Rotterdam, Munich seems like one of the most livable cities, so I did a little research. Forbes Magazine recently named Munich the world’s most livable city and everyone else puts it the world’s top ten. Felicidades, Munich!

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Bon Jour, Tunis

It’s not quite 6am, still dark, and I wake to the call to prayer from the mosque a few blocks away. Another call to prayer begins from a mosque in the opposite direction. The voices harmonize in spite of differences in cadence. The sound is unexpectedly reassuring, a nice way to start the day. I’m in Tunis, the capital of Tunisia, the first country to demand and win democratic reforms in 2011 following “Muslim Spring.”

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More Cool Stuff in Vienna

The Kunsthaus, Hundertwasser Museum, Vienna

After almost a week in Vienna, I’ve barely scratched the surface, even as a normal tourist. I realized this yesterday on a walking tour with Hannes, whose knowledge and humor focused on Austrian history. Here’s the very short version of my main take-aways….The modern Austrian republic was created in 1918 with the fall of the powerful Austro-Hungarian Empire lead by the Hapsburg dynasty. Twenty years later, Hitler was welcomed to Vienna by a cheering crowd of 200,000 Austrians — none of whom could remember attending the event by 1945. For its role in World War II, Austria had to promise that it wouldn’t join any military alliances. These days, the only war here is between Cafe Sacher and the Demel Bakery over which one of them invented the Sachertorte.

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