Sunday, January 24, 2010

Bureaucratic delays :-(((

My passport expires on the last day of May 2010, that is a few weeks after my planned return from Belize. Which means that my passport would be valid during my entire stay there and a bit longer.
Yet, the government of Belize decided that any foreigner wanting to visit their very beautiful - and very sparsely populated - country needs to have a passport valid for 6 month after the date of their ... no, not arrival, but departure.
Oh, big brother, spare me!
Add to it that - due to international terrorism activities and ridiculously sharpened - in the wrong way - security measures - it is no longer possible to renew Swedish passports at honorary Swedish consulates - which there are plenty of, in every corner of the world.
No, nowadays you have to go to the Swedish embassy - in the USA a long plane trip from most of the country - be photographed and fingerprinted there... and then wait for the new passport to be manufactured.... in Sweden, sent back to the embassy and by the embassy to the nearest consulate... thus sparing you - generously - a second - expensive - trip to Washington. DC.
Oh, Big Brother.. too many Big Brothers.... utterly silly Big Brothers!
Since I was thinking of going to Sweden before my old passport expired anyway, a very nice employee of the Swedish embassy suggested a temporary passport now, which I could get in Atlanta right away. Alas, Swedish temporary passports are valid only for 7 months - fine if I were going on a short trips of a few weeks duration, but not on a prolonged one.
So on Wednesday I am off to DC, whether I feel like it or not...and no, I do not feel like going to DC in January!
It will be a long day: leave home at 5 am to drive to Jacksonville airport, fly to Atlanta, from Atlanta to Baltimore, take a subway ? bus to downtown Washington, get the passport formalities done... and then back to Baltimore, to Atlanta, to Jacksonville and home, where i should arrive shortly after midnight!
I may not be too old, yet, to survive the rain forest... but the bureaucratic amok of government bureaucrats pretending that they are "protecting their citizens" from either terrorists (USA, leaning heavily on the others) or illegal immigrants ? ... might very well kill me!
Watch out, Belize, for an invasion of European Union members, whose passports expire in less than 6 month after their planned departure!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Ma sa sa' la ch'ool = Is there happiness in your heart?

in Q'eqchi' (also known as kekchi and previously ketchi) there is no "good morning" or "good day" or "good evening."

But there is this lovely standard greeting: Ma sa sa' la ch'ool = Is there happiness in your heart?

To which you are supposed to answer (with a smile on your face, no matter what your real emotional status at the moment?) : Sa in ch'ool = Yes, my heart is happy!

As you see I just started learning some basic phrases and words in Q'eqchi'.

Let's try breakfast ingredients: wa (tortilla), molb' (eggs), kenq (beans) , chin (orange), cape (coffee).

And now, that we have eaten, it is time for a swim.

But first let's try to get a piece of vital information: Ma wan li ahin sa li nima? = Are there crocodiles in the river?

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Going to Maya country!

This year started with unseasonably cold temperatures even in coastal Georgia, and, after freezing for a few days, I had enough of both the cold and - to be honest - of too much leisure, as I have only worked very little during the last six months and started having vivid dreams in which my brain talked to me complaining: "Please don't put me on a permanent retirement, if you want me to continue to work for you. I need more intellectual stimulation, I need more challenge. Let's have another adventure, shall we!"
So I gave in... after founding a very exciting opportunity: a ground breaking model of nature conservation by indigenous people - in this case: Q'eqchi' Maya in southern Belize.
In a few weeks I'll be there... supporting this model, helping to make it sustainable, so it could attract replication elsewhere.
My leisure retirement in Georgia will have to wait... again.
And I do hope my body would do its best to keep up with my brain's demands.
Belize is far too interesting a destination to just work there. :-)
Such a fabulous snorkeling: Sapodilla Cayes, here I come!