Yahja: "Jan the Survivor"

Flores, Peten

Guatemala, C.A.

January 5, 2007

Dear Family and Friends,

Hat Co...Sa Qax,

Yes, I am a survivor!

So far on this trip to Centro America I have survived the four hour angry-bull-ride disaster of a mountain road to Caracol in Belize. By contrast the Guatemalan countryside highway this morning to Yahja was mostly almost Interstate.

I am surviving tacos, burritos, quesedillas, re-fried beans, rice and beans, fried bananas and the incendiary Chile Habanero.

I am surviving heat, humidity, a little rain, bugs and iguanas.

I am surviving the ultra high volume ear bone splitting third world ethnic music pumped and pouring and roaring through every multi-speaker sound system on every public bus - surviving of course with my Bose Acoustic Noise Reduction Headphones that I now carry everywhere. HA!

So. Did any of you unapologetic unrepentant Barcalounger addicts of Reality TV notice my morning's destination? Yahja, pronounced YaSHA. My driver Hugo informed me (I have never ever viewed even one episode of this offering) that Yahja was the site of the Survivor series in Guatemala. Small world.

Antigua and Tikal: "Café Condesa"



January 9, 2007


Dear Family and Friends,

At 03:00am one morning in 1976, Antigua was destroyed by a "terremoto." The adobe homes here and and in many nearby villages were flattened by an earthquake. The ruins of the churches and public buildings remain. Three volcanos loom and threaten in the mountains surrounding Antigua.

Antigua is the gateway to the Guatemalan Highlands; the land here is high and mountainous and volcanic and colorful.

Solola, Lago Atitlan (Caldera-Crater Lake), Guatemala


Lago Atitlan



January 11, 2007


CondeNast Traveler
New York, New York

To the Editor:

I am a loyal and thorough reader of "CondeNast Traveler." I even cut out and save your articles. When I decided on Belize and Guatemala, I checked my "Central America" file. I found an article published in April, 1997: "The Gods Never Died - Like an infant with an old soul, Guatemala emerges from war to a vibrant Indian nation."

I was impressed and motivated by a full page color photograph of a mustachioed Guatemalan man who is dressed in a straw hat, white shirt, embroidered pants, colorful sash, and a shoulder bag decorated with Mayan symbols and icons. He is standing on a small wooden dock. He is staring across what seems to be an endless, mysterious lake.

I want to say "Thank you" Mr. Editor. I am here, today, on that very lake. Lago Atitlan.