Category Archives: personal

Back in Guatemala… mostly.

After nearly six months in New York, I’m finally back in Guatemala.

Leaving my family was heartbreaking. It always is. You’d think that, maybe, after almost 30 years of traveling between NY home and Guatemala home, I’d be used to it.

Nope. I was as sad and anxious, stressed and depressed this time as I was during my first trip in 1989. (My first visit to Guatemala was in 1988, with a Habitat for Humanity workcamp. I didn’t start living there, though, until the following year.)

I often feel that my return to Guatemala happens in three stages:

1.  My tired body arrives in-country, complete with plane-face and aching luggage-shoulders.

2.  In the following days my mind catches up, finally allowing me to form complete (and semi-coherent) sentences in Spanish.

3.  The last to appear is my heart. I’m not sure how it travels (United Airlines, perhaps?), but it always arrives beaten, bruised and incomplete. It always takes a while to heal.

During these times of transition, I wonder: “why do I keep doing this to myself?!?”

(When I have the answer, I’ll be sure to share it with you.)


“The only thing that is constant is change.”
― Heraclitus

“The more things change, the more they stay the same.”
― Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr

Change is scary. No, wait… ghosts are scary. Change is terrifying. Like “Trump as a babysitter” terrifying. Forget butterflies in the tummy, change is like hairy bats in your belly.

Yet change can also be exciting, inspiring, and invigorating. Especially if you’re lucky enough to be the agent of that change. To design it, build it, help it grow. In those circumstances change can even be fun. Fun and terrifying.

Over the past few months I’ve begun the process of creating a new nonprofit organization to support human rights defenders in Guatemala. The official name is The Human Rights Defenders Project, but I imagine that we’ll end up calling it the Defenders Project informally. (For the bilingual among you, we opted for “Proyecto Defensores” instead of “El Proyecto de Apoyo para las y los Defensores de los Derechos Humanos” for reasons that should be immediately apparent.)

It has been a fascinating and exhausting experience so far: the paperwork, the research, the fundraising, the brainstorming, the paperwork. (Yes, I know. It warranted repeating.)  Thanks to the help of generous donors and our super-savvy lawyer, Mollie, we are now a legally-incorporated nonprofit organization awaiting 501c3 tax-exempt status from the IRS!

It’s spring, and change is in the air. For me, this means:

Changing from NY to Guatemala: I’ll be returning to Guatemala City on May 2.

Changing from planning to doing: we will soon be “going public” with the Defender’s Project, and opening the doors of our new office.

Changing the focus of this website: from now on, news and analysis about Guatemala will be on the Defender’s Project website. This site will focus more on my personal stories about work and life in Guatemala, as well as other non-Guatemalany (yes, I made that word up) topics like leadership, meditation, time management, photography, productivity, etc.

I look forward to sharing this journey of change with all of you!

PS: If anyone knows how to rid a belly of hairy bats, I welcome your suggestions.

My addiction

It’s the simple things in life that make me happy. An iced americano (four espresso shots over ice, with a dash of raw sugar and a touch of half & half) at one of my favorite N.Y. cafes, the Peekskill Coffee House!



“I went out the kitchen to make coffee – yards of coffee.
Rich, strong, bitter, boiling hot, ruthless, depraved. The life blood of tired men.”

― from The Long Goodbye, by Raymond Chandler ―

Fall feels right

For someone who’s life is in transition… Fall feels right.

The crisp air and brisk breeze whisper: “don’t linger in any one place too long.”

The colored leaves burning brightly on the trees cry out: “all is change and impermanence.”

The shortened days, cut by night’s sharp edge, warn before fading: “life is all-too-brief. Live intentionally, if not urgently.”

Fall feels right.

El Canche is back!


lilies2I’m pleased to announce that after a 7-year hiatus (yeah, thanks Facebook) is back!

I’m hoping that this space will be a respite from the hustle and bustle of Facebook. A place where I can stretch my legs and let my mind wander. The idea is to share some of my photos, journal entries, and stories about life in Guatemala.

I’ll also post news and analysis, quotes from cool books that I’m reading, and the occasional left-leaning political rant (suck it, Trump.)

I’ll post mostly in English (para los que solo hablan español: lo siento!) pero a veces en español (to the English-only speakers: sorry!) and sometimes en ambos languages (to the bilingual folks: ¡órale!)

So, enjoy. After all:

  • It’s free
  • No trees were harmed in its production
  • It’s good for you*

(* This statement has not been evaluated by the FDA. This blog is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Except maybe the doldrums.)