Thursday, November 10, 2011

Garden of Retired Actresses and Mistresses, Cementerio General, Guatemala City

I didn't see the name of this garden so I gave it my own. Hello, Norma Desmond…
Also a space for having your stars read or secrets of the tarot channeled from outer space.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Photo Ranch brings "Hudson River School" Romanticism to Sacatepéquez!?

Photo Ranch Presidente and Particle of Dust avoids being mugged in the forest, at least one more time, and brings mid-19th century American art movement embodied by a group of landscape painters whose aesthetic vision was influenced by romanticism to SacatepĂ©quez, Guatemala this afternoon.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Basurero, Cuidad de Guatemala; Garbage Dump and Landfill in Guatemala City

A massive dump and land fill for the city of Guatemala is located below the General Cemetery. Zoom in on the image and see the 100's of people who collect items from the garbage trucks as they dump their load.

Garden in General Cemetery, Guatemala City; Jardin en Cementerio General, Cuidad de Guatemala

Late afternoon in Cementerio General, Guatemala City. A mysterious garden seeking a part in a movie or suggestive enough to warp into your dreams or nightmares.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Cementerio General, Cuidad de Guatemala; General Cemetery, Guatemala City

A most mysterious historical space in the Halloween strange city of Guatemala (called "Guate" by the bus drivers from the outlying areas), at least from the perspective of a north american anglo saxon still in novice stage being in this peculiar spell of black green magic on the tropical crust. Nothing out of the ordinary for a "Chapin" (nickname for a native Guatemalan). The General Cemetery is alongside an awe inspiring and very deep canyon, at the base of which is the dump and landfill for the city of Guatemala, a city of 3 million inhabitants. The sides of the canyon are coated with XXX lush vegetation, trees and trash, now being the end of any mold's fantasy rainy season in these tropics. The trash heaved down the ravines by cemetery workers and gravity giving it a landslide look. With a little lack of attention a rummed up pedestrian could drop fast hundreds of feet to the base of the canyon into the active landfill or streams of  black sewage, and if that wouldn't be grimy enough, under the hungry attention of thousands of really creepy black vultures circling above when not scavenging below. The vultures' other activities are acting out Edgar Poe book illustrations, shedding feathers, defecating and generally stinking up the top of tombs. Many can't resist the iconic, overdone, perch atop the christian crosses cemented over almost all the walk in style tombs. Careful, again. The tombs teeter right up to the edge of the precipice and there are no fences. The cemetery has a number of fancy tombs from olden days with surnames in addition to the majority in spanish of german, english and other tribes who occupied Guatemala along with the indigenous people, the Mayans.

Not recommended: To bring your astrologer, psychic friend, priest, pastor, imam, rabbi, tarot card reader, hairdresser or any other magician to this place late at night for visionary reading of your future. Unless of course, you're hoping not to have one.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Abandoned Great Estate in San Salvador, El Salvador

I often walk by this grand estate in gorgeous decline when I'm staying in downtown San Salvador, El Salvador. It is surrounded by a mildy ugly and gritty looking area which abuts the very heart of the super crowded city center, where many blocks have been converted to markets with stalls. The property is surrounded by an ornate wall with old ironwork. A guard is always posted by the main gate to prevent the public from coming in. The lush, glamourous vegetation evokes associations to Fragonard, the great 18th century french painter of gardens in immense, frivolous for the sake of it detail. Central America is to gorgeous green landscapes what northern Alberta and the tar sands is to oil.

Saturday, October 08, 2011

Bad Review for "Ejecutivo" Tica Bus from Leon, Nicaragua to San Salvador, El Salvador

After my research, I determined the only first class bus from Leon leaving late morning/early afternoon to San Salvador was an "Ejecutivo". The difference between a regular and an Ejecutivo is about 15 or 20 dollars for the same route. It would be 50 dollars without breakfast, 56 with. I would be obligated to buy lunch and dinner whether I wanted to or not. I assumed the higher fare would be for more legroom and more ability to set the backrest further down in addition to the 2 meals. I couldn't have made a worse assumption. But first I want to complain about the "drop off" time at the hotel/restaurant on the highway outside of town. I was told a cab would pick me up at Sonati Hostal where I was staying at 10:30am to drop me off at the highway where the bus originating from Managua would collect me. I didn't pay much attention to when the bus would arrive to pick me up since they determined what time I would be there. I was left along the highway with no place to sit but amongst an aggressive universe of gnats at the edge of a brick planter. The Ejecutivo bus arrived 2 hours and 40 minutes later. I complained to the driver and steward. Both answered gruffly, "Contact the office". They arrived on time apparently. The office leaves you there 2.5 hours early in case the "bus comes early".

Now the real big problem. My seat had much less leg room than any I've ever had on a 1st class bus in my life. I immediately complained as it was obvious that that was not the case with other aisles on the bus. But none were available except 5 reserved behind me for staff on the bus. I was told I could not have one of those. The bus steward had 3 seats for himself. All in aisles with AMPLE leg room, obviously. I made a little measurement with my hands. Almost double the leg room in the row across from me. So I once again complained and the steward admitted that my aisle lacked space. My knees were pressed against the seat in front of me sitting normally. Really horrible considering a 10 hour bus ride ahead at 50 dollars, much more than the "regular" class Tica Bus. But his response was "You picked the seat". Great, as if I would have picked the seat had the agent explained it hadn't enough leg room to fit me. Would anyone pick it ever? So I debated with him a while and he sort of listened to my rant but was not willing to give me one of his 3 seats. He said he needed those to store stuff as he walked around the bus. He stored his backpack on one of the seats throughout the trip and another one remained empty throughout the trip. He used the 3rd seat occasionally to sit in. He looked quite comfortable with the spacious legroom. I don't blame him for not wanting to sit where I was, I envied him his comfort.
3rd complaint: Now that I knew the extra 15 or 20 dollars (regular tica bus is 30 or 35 for the same route from Managua) was not for extra leg room/less seats I deduced it must be for the 2 meals. Meal one was a small portion of Gallo Pinto (Rice and beans) with a bit of chicken and meal 2 was a small Burger King hamburger. Hardly worth 20 dollars I'd say, except maybe in Iceland, where I've heard fast food is outrageously expensive due to strong Icelandic currency.

So the final word from the steward and drivers, "We have nothing to do with the seating problem, contact the office," or "ask the agent when you buy your ticket". Well I did ask an agent at another bus company this happened to me at in San Jose, Costa Rica a while back and he told me "All seats have the same distance between them".

So now I'm going to be very concerned about this when buying my ticket but honestly don't expect it to do much good.

My wish which I tried to convey to the steward was, "Why don't you advise your superiors about physical conditions on the bus". He never accepted that was a good idea, maintaining his role and their role are independent of one another.

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Beach and Countryside near Leon Nicaragua

The colonial city of Leon, Nicaragua is separated by about 14 miles from the oceanfront communities of Poneloya and Las Penitas. I've been going out to the ocean in the afternoons. Yesterday I jogged an hour of distance along the lovely road between Leon and Poneloya and walked most of the rest of the way. The image of the volcano, farm and vegetation was among the views I saw.