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ROUTE OF THE MAYA - Nov 5-22, 2007

MONDAY, 11/5/07: 10:25AM: Total madness last night and this morning, recorded partly this morning until 7:35AM or so, and then it was just pack and pack and pack, interrupted by a few tries to get through to cancel my Sun, but I stopped at 8:45AM, convinced they won't be open till 9 or later, and poor Bill has to take care of it. Think of a LOT of last-minute additions: the Valium and Ambien from the medicine chest, quickly BRUSHING (only) my teeth since they were SO furry, but I clearly didn't have time for breakfast, deciding early on to take the orange, cheese, and nut snack in my shoulder bag to have in the taxi, and froze the wrap that was the last left. The pills, as I'd predicted, took a long time, and the two Lomaza, or whatever, almost make the morning pillboxes impossible to close, so I wrap the whole thing hopefully tightly in a plastic bag next to my AlphaSmart. Get out the swimming trunks, just in case, decide against the snorkel mask, include dress shoes in case my usual shoes get too muddy or wet, and just guess I'll take ALL the paperwork for the trip because I don't have time to sort things out. Nip and tuck with the time, changing my belt so it won't break during the trip, wearing my front-spotted blue shirt for possible evening warmth-need, and take time on the way to the gate to soap and water off MOST of the stains: at least they don't shout out: MESSY! Weigh everything, remarkably symmetric with the shoulder bag at 10 pounds (without videocamera) and black bag at 20 pounds (without any cold-weather clothing except for my blue non-cotton shirt if I REALLY need it sometime), and manage to scrounge up FOUR short-sleeved shirts, the last left, and preparing for some sweaty, messy walks in Central American jungles. There's still five minutes after weighing, so I decide it'll be better if I eat the orange quarters NOW, which I do, rinsing off my hands and putting the shower cap into the overflowing hamper, denuded of all the magazines that are really weighing down my luggage, hoping to get caught up with them on the trip. Look for actual TICKETS at the end, but all I have are the passenger receipts, plainly labeled "Not valid for transportation," but I still don't trust this e-ticket thing. Make sure to take my AAdvantage card. Gasp as everything is together (I GUESS I shut off the living-room lamp?) at 9:15, and I check around one last time and phone the car service at 9:17, to be put on hold for a long time, and then told "The car's downstairs." I leave at 9:17, tell Ron I'll be back 11/23---happy I picked up two (probably overpriced) 9-volt batteries for $8 at Pea and Pickles last night for my answering machine. Car goes at 9:21, via the BQE, which goes very fast despite the roundabout distance, and I'm so strangely tranquil that I wonder if I'd taken Valium this morning, which I'm pretty sure I didn't. Had labeled my check-in nametag before leaving, and filled in the carry-on tag (surprised to hear the airport announcement that even carry-ons have to have nametags) in the taxi. Smiling guy says nothing, but I do note, after adding a $6 tip to the $40 fare on the credit card, that they charge $3 extra for credit cards! So much for "convenience." I remember I forgot a water bottle, ironic with a dozen Poland Spring water bottles weighing down the bottom of my fridge. Out quickly and onto the ticket line at 9:51 (really just LESS than a half-hour trip to JFK!), avoiding the curbside check-in "service" for "$2 per bag, tip not included." Check in by 9:57, assured that my A28 is NOT over the wing, but the A18 IS, and both flights are jammed and no changes are possible, but I can still ask in Miami. Didn't realize that both flights are American, so the bag can be checked straight through. I'm told at 9:57 that it's a ten-minute walk to gate 36, take notes, and am delayed a lot at security when I blithely take off my shoes and put them on top of my laptop, but then am gestured to remove my jacket, and the bell sounds as I go through, so I sheepishly remove my full change purse; the bell goes again, and I more sheepishly remove my keys, along with "everything in that top pocket," and finally my BELT---which I assure him NEVER causes a problem---causes a problem. The guy in front of me, and his wife, commandeer about 8 trays between them, obviously taking everything with them. And I again pause to catch up on my notes at 10:07. Stop to pee and swipe at my shirt-spots, getting to crowded Gate 36 with lots of gabby people and screaming kids, so I put in my earplugs and pull out my AlphaSmart at 10:25, as noted, and catch up-to-date at 10:54, plane scheduled to depart at 11:45, now on time. I'd thought in the cab that the day is divided into 3-hour segments: 9-12 getting to the plane, 12-3 to Miami, 3-6 in Miami, 6-9 to Panama, and hopefully getting to bed before 12. It now appears I may have taken someone's partner's seat, but they don't bother me and I don't bother to notice them. Envy people sitting reading today's Times. Kids bump against the back of my chair. Cool enough, maybe because I seem to be sitting right under an air-conditioning down-draft, that I keep my jacket on. Felt almost TIRED in the taxi, so I hope there's no trouble falling asleep tonight without Ambien, which I indulged myself by taking the last THREE nights, but each lasted only 5-6 hours. Quote comes over the PA: "If you have your seats, we'll be boarding in a moment," at 10:59. Encouraging! 5PM: Board at 11:11, behind wing; A18 is ON wing, but it'll be dark, anyway. Back out 11:51. 2:38 flight. Fly over AMAZING amounts of Virginia and other land to 1:15PM: a GIFT! Pee at 2:04 and get feet WET because whole back area-rug is just sopping wet. Gorgeous emerald-green and blue-green in waters east of Florida at 2:15. And ISLANDS to east, in an inverted L-shape with a town at the toe and a city at the heel and the "leg" stretching off to the distance at 2:20. Roll 1: #10-11 Miami Beach at 2:32. Land at 2:45, circling city way out to the Everglades-barren outskirts. FINALLY plane docks at 3:19: first dock full, finally sent to a second NON-American Airlines dock, where people stand in aisles and periodic announcements say they're trying as fast as they can to wed the gate to the plane. Glad I had no problem with time! We're still sitting at 3:45, one HOUR after landing, Captain even saying we MIGHT have to go to ANOTHER dock that would WORK for AA. Off at 3:52! Told to go to gate D43, but I check the board and it's listed twice at A10, which is described as a 25-minute WALK, and even the glidolater isn't working! Take an elevator up one flight, but then have to escalate back down. Pee at 4:08, still walking to A10! Sandwich place is OUT of bagels. At 4:16 I finally find a place whose Visa-slip gives the full colorful name of "Jose Cuervo Tequileria Miami Airport," and order an enormous Bud Light draft and a Gringo sandwich, good with ham and cheese and crisps with a second bowl of salsa. Lots of kids, but I absorb myself in my SECOND New Yorker, leaving the first, completed one, on the plane, now working on the 11/29 issue. Finish lunch? dinner? taking pills first, at 4:53. Pity if there's food on this flight! Pee again and sit at A18 at 5PM, crowded, no yellow OAT tags in sight, and I decide to catch up with this to 5:14, most of the announcements being made in SPANISH: training for the trip? Lots of people standing around. We should be loading shortly. Board (only ONE call) at 5:35. Move back 6:03, working sudoku, dark out, off at 6:17 after brilliantly lit city. Bumpy; I try to nap, but can't; read New Yorker. Old woman neighbor keeps bumping our double seats. 7:32, over halfway! Land at 8:43, over bright coastal lights (of the PACIFIC, so Alex says) to a duet of HARD brakes in foggy landing, windows all fogged, 26°C. Off at 8:57, to carousel 5 for LONG wait, seeing other yellow tags of Peter and Sherlyn, and we need THREE forms, including a tourist card for $5, and finally through long immigration line at 9:11, then long wait for bag at 9:44, a mess. Pee, at Alex's behest, and four of us, including Victoria, a former Spanish teacher!, into truck at 9:59, to Crowne Plaza after a final try at missing two people from 10:02 to 10:26, getting room 909 for one night, bags out at 9:45 to leave for tour at 10AM after buffet breakfast. Get rum and coke, not very good, rum punch tastier, and we chat about his lawyering in northern "kingdom" Vermont, and to room at 11:07 to type this to 11:18, turning room air conditioner up to 24°, since my cold is REALLY acting up! Wash face, blow nose endlessly, and bed at 11:25PM, first time in Panama! Nose just INCREDIBLY stuffed, and in desperation, after propping head up on two pillows doesn't work, I decide at 11:55PM to start on a course of Ciprofloxacin: it can't make things any WORSE! And it's TWICE a day.

TUESDAY, 11/6/07: Surely get to sleep after midnight, at last. 4:45AM: Wake and type dream and my nose drips freely onto a tissue on my lap. Took an acetaminophen in desperation to do something about my stuffed sinuses. Got to buy a decongestant today. 5:54AM: Can't sleep. Check itinerary: two nights in same place next. Nose drips on one side and is blessedly clear on the other. I'm hungry, so I get out cheese and nuts and eat those while I type this. Today is mostly riding around, so I hope my lack of sleep won't poop me out. Happy that we don't leave here until 10AM, wondering where the four from Illinois are; tear out people-sheet for notations. But they said TWO people had arrived already: a couple from Illinois and we're missing the single woman from Texas? Sherlyn says she's NEVER had the full 16 on any of her six trips, and I'm ahead, Alex says, with EIGHT trips. Pity I can't remember which ones: Turkey, China, I guess Angkor, North and South Vietnam, Copper Canyon? SO GLAD I'm ALONE with my cold on this trip! 6:10AM: Look at three magazines, take one on Panama with a good map, showing Gamboa. 6:53AM: Can't stand staying in bed with my cold, with so many thoughts of how to pack for the day, getting breakfast, and getting something like Contac at a pharmacy, not to mention counting my money: I have $240 in 20s and $40 in ones, for a total of $280 to add to whatever I recorded earlier as being in my wallet and coin purse---forgetting to detach the little credit-tabs, which I just did and added them, with my keys, to my "future" bag. Take slide-rolls out of box, make a "stuff" bag, put my only long-sleeved shirt into the bottom of my shoulder bag for "cold" air conditioning, fill up my dop kit, pile the assorted junk into the "stuff" bag, just put my jacket and T-shirt on top, and start getting dressed now at 7:40AM. Clean my glasses, lock my bag but leave my shoulder bag unprotected, but put on "Do Not Disturb" sign and leave for breakfast at 7:58AM. Peter and Sherlyn are about finished, but they point to Victoria across the room. I have a good, soft, mushroom-ham-onion-cheese omelet with a small pancake, tasteless orange cantaloupe juice followed by apple juice and my container of pills, and rather dilute hot chocolate, while talking about Victoria's four children, one dead, and her husband, dead for five years. I leave and ask for a pharmacy, and he says, "Left, cross street, left, right," and I go out into the muggy morning and find I really SHOULD have crossed the street at the corner, where there's a light, but I go to a crosswalk, and cars and taxis slow to let everyone cross. Farmacias Arocha (with a handy sign on the corner) is big and has day-Tylenol and night-Theraflu for $6.96, for which I give $6, four quarters, and a penny, which she gives back to "Papa," as she called for me, then thinks again and gives me the nickel change with a smile. Back across to the hotel, dodging cars, wave thanks to the bellboy who gave the directions, and get to my room to find that the Everglades mosquito repellant has LEAKED inside my dop kit, so I clean it up and use a toothpick for a thorough cleaning though it may have a SPOT of repellant on it, but then my gums aren't mosquitoes. Finish that while finishing Monday's Sun, start on National Geographic, finish about 9:18, and get to this to finish at 9:25, ready to lock up bag, put it out, and go downstairs to chat with whomever may have joined the group, or just read. Decide to pack this, too, hoping it doesn't turn on while being jostled about. #12 from my Crowne Plaza room 909 at 7:49AM. Leave room 9:45. On big bus 10:10, meeting Pat from Texas, chipper and well-traveled; and Sibyl and "Carl," not Howard, Etchason, from Illinois, and the other couple from Illinois seems permanently lost and not coming. #13 Cathedral top from bus at 10:05. To Centro de Visitantes de Panama Viejo 10:20, Alex rather a bore, and I prefer moving at my own speed, looking at objects, reading the English, and finally buying a book for $10 that essentially duplicates the museum. #14 18-21-foot tides and birds and bridges. #15 old and new Panama 11:20 on leaving museum and walking through ruins of oldest Panama in stifling humidity and rather good signage. #16 framing skyscrapers (I hope) at 11:28. #17 old Panama 11:35. #19 1673 convent church and 70-story building that will be tallest, he says. #20 cathedral 12:02. Onto bus 12:03. #21-22 skyline from Mi Ranchito on Amador Causeway 2:02 after great lunch shared with Pat: filet of sea bass and shrimp, a tasty light Sebrano (?) beer and a darker, bitterer Balboa beer, with yucca and plantain that I still don't quite distinguish between, and a guanabana smoothie (they didn't have Silvan, or whatever the exotic fruit was) and a two-flavor smoothie of guanabana and mango that was great. Bus driver joined us and Alex insisted we all introduce ourselves and talked too much on his own. Pee and to Miraflores locks in lowering dark clouds. #23 Miraflores 2:29. Current locks 33.5 meters, and Dneiper was only 34 to be biggest? NEW ones will be 55 meters! Fairly decent museum full of people and extraneous noises, among them Alex, whom I move away from more and more to see things on my own, and take a picture of three incredibly sexy Indians I hope to see more of today. #28 locks 3:49. LOTS of sexy GUYS in museum and on roof looking at the Paris Express Hapag-Lloyd ship slowly moving into the locks, and just as I remark, on the slowness, "It's like watching paint dry," it starts to rain. They announce closing at 5PM but mercifully let us stay to see the locks opening. Into movie in English 3:54, starts 3:56 and over at 4:05. #29 ship coming at 4:15. #32 cruise ship Norwegian Pearl paid record of $350,000, this ship pays about $240,000 at 4:42. #34 progress at 4:58. #35 doors opening 5PM exactly. #36 5:04, into bus 5:11, through forest, waiting for red light at one-way bridge a bit, and to enormous Gamboa, to huge atrium lobby, get keys, left off with little instruction, which pisses me off, to hotel at 5:45 and to ludicrously enormous apartment (but no hangers in closet) at 6:01, numbly looking through magazines, tearing out a good map of Panama, going down to call out for Victoria, who's ponchoed and ready to WALK what I thought was too far (but wasn't) to lobby, and leave at 6:43 for bar for good rum punch, and Alex brings two tables together to preview next days and we leave tomorrow at 8:30AM for the Indian village, where we "must mingle," which I don't look forward to, but we can take any pictures we want. To tour of spa and restaurants. Tomorrow breakfast at 7:30. Back 3:30-4. Alex in room 2623. To restaurant for strawberry daiquiri for $5, poor red wine for $3, good burger with onions and little cheese and mustard and mostly uneaten fries for $9, on tab with credit card whose number I left at desk, and back at 9:35 to mope about room until I type the following: 10:05: The spilling of the mosquito repellant in my dop kit has become a true living nightmare, but I clean it out as much as I can, take two night-cold pills, manage to force out a hard turd that I panic for a moment about (a white coating), but realize it must be from the toilet paper I put in my ass against the very dirty, sticky shit of Monday morning! I hope to get to sleep at 10:07 when I finish typing this, still stuffed from dinner. Fall asleep rather quickly, for which I'm pleased.

WEDNESDAY, 11/7/07: Wake about 4:40 with a dream memory, pleased that my nose isn't stuffed, and go right back to sleep without peeing. Wake again at 6:15AM, thinking I'd had seven hours' sleep with the vague memory of going to bed at 11:07, but then find I'd gone to bed just after 10PM, so I actually got just over eight hours' sleep, without having to pee, and feel great about having bought and taken a daylight cold-pill, a night cold-pill, and the second Ciprofloxacin last night. Decide it's about time to shower, since my last was Saturday and it's now Wednesday and the bathroom is usable enough. Mark **** yesterday that I have to fill in my notes later. Start shower at 6:37AM, quite light out. Shit a bit and find that neither the place nor my bag has any shampoo, drat! Finish at 7:03AM and FIND shampoo in the bedroom tray, so I now put the shampoo in my dop kit! Unpack into drawers, change socks and shorts, and gratefully use Shelley's little container of baby powder, time moving at 7:12: I'll get ready for breakfast now, ready to leave for the day. Catch up with last night's notes to 7:35, comfortable in "dining room" with A/C and lights on, cloudy out but not raining, ready to get dressed and walk to breakfast and start of day. Put third Cipro in totally overloaded pillbox. #37 of room last night. Roll 2: Everything together, leaving blinds closed, and leave at 7:42AM. It's RAINING, so I'm back up for wet-umbrella bag! #1 Morning mist and sun 7:49. Go in for breakfast, seeing Pat and Carl at a table for four, but they say Victoria and Sibyl are sitting there, so I take a seat at the next empty table for four and go off for another wonderful omelet and a wedge of home-fried potatoes, a slice of toast and butter to have with the apricot preserves on the table. Peter and Sherlyn sit alone at a table for two: I don't think he likes to talk to others very much, and I even heard him say something like that later in the afternoon. Finished my omelet and got up for a plate of fruit to return to find three people preparing to sit down at the table, wondering about the half-filled cup of hot chocolate, a quarter-filled glass of melon juice, and my napkin beside an almost empty plate. I urged them to sit down, and they turned out to be three MasterCard salespeople, two from Florida and one from Mexico, here for five days of mostly work and just a little touring, just like last year's convention at Punta Cana, in the Dominican Republic, where the handsome tall man to my left won the prize for being the best salesman. We talked of their trips, Mexico and my destinations there, our love of Oaxaca as being unspoiled by tourism, and my group's itinerary, and then it was getting close to 8:30, so I bid them goodbye and went up to the lobby to find four of us talking: Alex hadn't shown up yet. So I decided to go to the john a last time before the bus. We leave at 8:40, through outskirts of Panama City, where the houses got poorer and poorer, and we passed an egg-shaped building that Alex said was one of seven Baha'i temples, and I rashly stated that I'd seen at least eight, but couldn't think of any others besides Chicago, Panama, Jerusalem, Hiroshima, and Samoa (or was that where the Mormon Temple was?), but there's sure to be one somewhere in California. At 8:47 we had a piss-stop in a supermarket, where I enjoyed looking at the lower prices: a bottle of beer for 33 cents, $2.50 wines, $6 rum, $2.35 Spam, $1.29 two-liter Coca-Colas, and it's big and clean with an astoundingly large selection of meats. Wines being sold right next to wine glasses. Stop at a market to buy fruit for our Embera Village hosts at 10:20, Alex pointing out chayote, brown-sugar cakes, achiote, seven kinds of root vegetables and saying that zarzamora batidas were made with small sweet-sour berries. CDs are 5 for $1. People all friendly. Arrive at entry office for another pee at 10:55. Drive down to lake, and boat goes at 11:16. #4 approach to village 11:26, having seen herons and jicamas on the lake with my binoculars. Love the beaded wraparound on our body-painted, slicked-back black-haired handsome native guide who stands with a pole in his hand throughout our trip to the spit of land on which five musicians are playing for us, kids are leaping around, and a few bare-breasted women appear unselfconscious. We walk up through souvenir cabin to a high-roofed meeting hall at the back of which, down a high step, a fire is boiling vegetable oil in preparation for the tilapia. Alex has told us he'd only translate: we should interact, chat, and help as we could. I took a few pictures, smashed some plantain cylinders with a wooden pestle to make the characteristic flower-shape from the half-cooked banana-like vegetable, and then these were further cooked to be served in a conical palm-leaf cup with a sliver of lime for flavoring the fish. Victoria's was bonier than mine, I took the nerve to photo a spread-legged guy with two colored strings sashed across his chest, his red loincloth reaching suggestively to the floor, and he smiled willingly. Did another portrait of a guy who turned out to be the chief, praising his headband and his silver necklace---and almost forgot the woman in a bustier comprised mainly of US quarters. Other groups came in, Alex started interpreting what the chief had to say, Anita joined in from the other group, and then the other guide spelled Alex for a bit. I drank water and Coke, eating not that much and not having any of the ham and cheese sandwich on the wheat bread that the white-bread-bred children didn't care for. Talk went on to 1:14, when one fellow took us up the hill for a tour of the village, explaining that the water came from a lake a mile away, they weren't permitted to farm because they were in a national park, so they had to rely on tourism and souvenirs to keep them going here, away from their parent group at the farthest end of Darien, even going across the border ("Marked with a rock," the guide said) to Colombia. Then he decided it was too hot to walk any farther, and we turned back: #16 coming down at 1:33. Then looked through souvenirs, not willing to pay $10 for a red poison-frog carved out of the heart of a particular nut and then painted with acrylic colors, and sat around waiting for the dancers to assemble for their foot-stomping, flute-drum-maracas-accompanying Bird Dance, #17 at 1:49, Flower Dance, by the women, and then the Social Dance by couples, followed by a general dance that I decided not to join until one of the youngest, most attractive little women held out her hand to me and I couldn't resist, dancing awkwardly to her constant smiles, reversing direction while others took pictures, and then out to avoid the last of the souvenir-looking to take #19 of a canoe on leaving at 2:09, and then finally saw our guide talking to the woman with whom I'd danced, pointed to the two, and Alex said they were married, that the wife had done the drawing on his back, and I brought myself to ask him to walk into the sun, where he humorously raised his hands above his head and I took what I hope is a good picture #20. Leave at 2:20, wearing a life jacket this time, looking at more birds and taking two pictures of the guide silhouetted against the lake and distant misty mountains. #22 leaving at 2:20. Bus leaves at 2:30, passing a store proclaiming itself "Super Mini Millennium," and baggage out tomorrow at 11:45 for leaving at noon. We stop bus for a family of titi monkeys crossing the road and peering down at us, and #28 fascinating line of leaf-cutter ants busily transporting a tree to a hole in the ground at 4:08. More titi pictures, more ant pictures, to #29, then stop at desk to make $19.69 senior-discount reservations for the 8:30AM trip to Monkey Island, and Alex comes up to say that our free capybara-search bus will leave at 7PM, and I think we'll have to eat before that. I say I want to see the Orchidarium, and Alex volunteers the bus driver to take me down, but I tell him the wrong way, and he stops a dynamite Italian-looking shirtless cyclist to find where we should go and he tells us, and I think we're going VERY far, and he lets me off, but the hundreds of wooden tree-stumps circles have very few of the smallest orchids in bloom, and I go farther at 4:45 to find the Serpentarium closed, miss what appears to be a tour bus that two workmen take, but then look to see another bus going down to what's marked as a "recreation area" near the lake, and I figure it might be the area below the hotel, and go that way to pass a MasterCard pep-rally in full cry, then a large lawn where I get my one shoe very wet, climb a flight of stairs to find myself at the swimming pool, meeting a bathing-suited pair of Peter and Sherlyn coming down the stairs from the elevator, and I go up to walk toward our building to find Victoria setting out for the pool, and when I talk about eating by 7PM, she says she intends to eat afterward, but concludes, "Do what you like," which leads me to go up to the room at 5:30, sit and shit and read more of National Geographic, and then decide to take off my clothes to let them dry, which they do very nicely by the time I finish this up-to-date by 6:25, deciding to dress in the very same clothes and get to the bar for a Rum Punch to enliven the capybara-hunt with my flashlight and flash-camera, in case [start file 2 at 6:25 5/7, only two days into the trip, so I might fill ALL files this time, or am I going on too long?]. Gotta wash my face, too. Oh, had started feeling snotty at 2:30 and took two more cold pills. Also started feeling TIRED on the bus back. Leave room at 6:35PM. Have a fabulous Rum Punch for $4.25 with Victoria's shared fish sticks and French fries, and Alex joins us and we leave for the bus at 7:13 with Gabriel, who says the light will be in the front, so I sit in front, and we see a rabbit, then two opossums, and then, by a miracle, four capybaras: two adults and two small ones, and Carl even gets a picture of the head of one that I swore was hind-end to. And then on the return road we see two adults even closer to the road, and a baby, but they quickly run through a hole in the fence and vanish. Also some night-bird related to the nightjar, squatting by the side of the road. Back at 7:50, in to dinner, where I have the chicken sandwich with a daiquiri, very tasty, and Alex asks us all about what we learned first today and I amused the table by saying, "I saw my first brassiere made out of US quarters." They talk and talk, Alex giving excessive amounts of praise to everyone, saying everyone is so experienced and kind and sharing, and finally we pay the bill and leave, finding the roads very wet, but it's not raining. Back to the room at 9:30, finish this to 9:41, looking forward to getting to bed. Alex again exclaims about my notes, so I'll have to remember to show him this. He did NOT like my correcting "capibara" (which the restaurant downstairs is named) to "capybara," so I told Pat privately that the animal is, in English, called an agouti, not an aguti. I could almost close my eyes sitting on a thick cushion from the living room on a dining-room chair typing now at 9:43PM. Remember to take my night Cipro. Ah, but then I DID, with my dinner pills! Put one in for tomorrow morning and I have 6 left. But count, and that CAN'T be right: I STARTED one on Monday night, two wasn't until Tuesday night, three was Wednesday morning, so four MUST be tonight, leaving six, one of which I put in pillbox for tomorrow morning. So I take what I hope is NOT a second Cipro this evening! Now 10:05PM and I'm clearly having trouble thinking. Have to hunt for slippers WAY under the bed. Then---I'm REALLY losing it---think to take two Theraflu at 10:12PM! Then have to go to DINING room to get my EARPLUGS from my pants. Bed at last at 10:16PM.

THURSDAY, 11/8/07: 6AM: Type dream, slept most of the night though waking twice briefly after dreams, and now pee. Lie and think, still nasally stuffed, not tired, thinking of rest of trip, and up at 6:41 to see that our trip covers 1) Panama, 2) El Salvador, 3) Honduras, 4) Guatemala, and 5) Belize. Only single-night stays left in Panama tonight, Salvador tomorrow night, and Guatemala City. Take two day-cold tablets at 6:47. Semi-pack by 7:15, having shit, emptied water bottle while brushing (only) teeth, and get out for breakfast, Monkey Island tour, and final trip back to leave bag outside door, per Alex, and leave for Panama City at noon. #30 breakfast at Gamboa 8:14AM. #31-32 from top levels of hotel down 8:20. #33 from below upward 8:25. Carl's camera is Olympus SP550UZ (ultra zoom 18x) $330 on Amazon, and 2 gigabyte card and recharger brings it up to about $400. Bus leaves for Monkey Island 8:45, we seven and a couple from Toronto. #34 Hercules 9AM, enormous dredge sold from Germany to Canal Zone for $1. #35 dredges ALWAYS working 9:02, line puts sand onto shore, where bulldozer levels it off. #36 train and ship on Canal, as we are. Roll 3: #1 guide and riverside 9:24. Long trip under one-way bridge, along shores, trees, clear bottoms for a turtle shot, but no crocodiles. About five kinds of hawks, kites, ospreys, and finally about a dozen white-faced monkeys, jumping onto boat (though not grabbing for glasses, the warning of which had prompted me to borrow a chain-fastener from Victoria) lots of pictures of which I hope one or two are good. Plaintive noises, lots of competition, one even going into water and getting wet for bread, and a glimpse of a baby on its mother's back. Sloth! Then 6-8 howler monkeys as inert black blobs on three tree limbs too far for a picture, but a HUGE iguana with a fat stomach that I glare at through binoculars before it flashes indignantly away. Off boat at 10:20 and back to lobby to see sign for 10:30 tramway, and she says the tramway ITSELF is 1.5 hours, but it includes an hour at the exhibits, which makes it impossible to do before packing, checking out, and leaving at noon. Then think and get Toto to drive me down to the Serpentarium, on truck 10:38, and we're off at 10:40. In at 10:45 but many exhibits closed, some snakes not visible, most inert, only two boas are even moving around. Out at 10:52 and go to the Butterfly House, which is much more successful: about a hundred morphos, red-and-blacks, a strange dual-leaf wing rubbing itself against itself, dozens flying around, impossible to photograph, though I try #15 of general Butterfly House, probably moving camera as one flies by that I try to get silhouetted against the sky. Out at 10:52, no truck appears to be going back, but when I'm a few minutes on the road a truck comes past (maybe they were waiting for me?) and I give her $1 as I'd given Toto $1 when he let me out. Rap on roof to be let off at corner, and get to room at 11:09. Pee and pack and leave bag out at 11:20 and walk in increasingly hot day (it was actually COOL in the truck riding down to the Marina, where Gabriel greeted us again). Sibyl is checking out before me, complaining about how bad she felt this morning, and I pay $69 credit-card bill for two meals and the boat trip and my drink, and sit down and start typing at 11:30, finishing up now at 11:48, only Victoria remarking about my AlphaSmart, and haven't even SEEN Alex yet today. Maybe out to make sure they have my bag. Go to bus and they do have my bag at 11:51. Off at 12 noon exactly. #17 Centennial Bridge, SECOND bridge over canal, built in 2003, but with no roads leading to or from it: the bridge to nowhere, over the Gaillard, or Culebra (meaning snake, for the shape, which has been widened and straightened over the years) Cut, the narrowest part of the canal, right at the Continental Divide. #18 Culebra Cut from the bridge from moving bus. #19 French cemetery, over 27,000 dead, one cross for each hundred people, a square for the administrators, and a pillar for all the people from the rest of the world. The French lost $300 million on it and sold it to the US for $40 million. #20 back to front: bridge, Pedro Miguel (smallest locks), Miraflores locks at 1:10. #22 main city from the top of Ancon Hill, which Alex had to negotiate our bus going up, long enough so that when we were at the top, talking to Audubon people and a woman from North Dakota who'd lived in Panama for 44 years, it started raining, but Alex had brought four huge umbrellas from the bus for all of us to shelter under, Berto, the bus driver, escorting me. #23 Colonial Panama at 1:15 in the rain. Down to town and Niko's Cafe for a real cafeteria line where I spot an enormous lasagna and decide on that for $3.99 and see Zarzamora juice and take a small glass for 65 cents, on the bill as "Chicha Chica," for a total of $4.64, to which I added a 50-cent brownie with a glass of water after peeing, and we sit around talking about the change of plans because the sky has opened and it's a torrent of rain with some VERY loud thunder, which Pat insisted was funneled into the ladies' room with tremendous loudness. We wait for the bus under the awning at 2:12, and drive past the #25 Administration Building at 2:22, and #26 Arias Memorial 2:28, to one entrance of the market where we can't get protection from the rain on entering, so we drive around to the other side through TORRENTS flowing over lawns and down streets and stalling cars, even though the sewers seem to be taking everything they get. To market 2:35-3:20, and in to look at much of the same stuff, a remarkable number of Embera village stalls, and don't even think to look for the Cuna Indian representatives, who come later. I get quickly bored looking at everything, sit outside, hear "Happy Birthday" in Spanish, and go in for #27 birthday girl 2:48. Sit outside 2:58 after pointing out outlandish loving frog-carvings to Carl and Sibyl, then notice sign for next building, and find much the same, then return to main building and sit outside again, to recommend the annex to Pat and Victoria, and then Alex motions me into the bus and we leave at precisely 3:20. #28 Plaza Herrera, poinciana tree, and building at 3:15. #29-30 San Jose golden altar from 1673, moved to Colonial Panama 1675 after it was protected from destruction by Hidalgo, or whoever burned OLD Panama, and another in closeup: incredible place, and I'm beginning to overload at 3:40. #31 side street at 3:41. #32 Jesuit ruin 3:45. #33 cathedral, enlarged, 3:52. #36 blue crane, a gift from Japan 40 years ago, on porch of Presidential Palace at 4:05. #37 Simon Bolivar Square (UNESCO patrimony) 4:11. Roll 4: #1 hunks aside Bolivar, #2 Christ with vultures 4:13. Across road to National Theater, where I lead the way in with $1, not noticing Dame Margot Fonteyn de Arias's bust in the lobby until later, and take a photo of the chandelier, then recite "To be or not to be" from the stage, then go up to the penultimate balcony to peer down, go into the outer lobby, try to get to the top floor, following Alex back up and he goes onto the roof and says one must go through the next building and over the back of the stage to the only door I see at the extreme left of the section. Well, maybe. #7 Cuna Indian from rear 4:40. Along walk along Bahia de Panama, tide at 16 feet going to maximum of 18 feet, leaving rocks for birds to perch on, and around to end, overdoing everything, taking photo after photo, #10 Plaza de Francia 4:54. #11 to far left: Bridge of the Americas, which is the start of the Pan-American Highway at 4:55. On bus at 4:56, tired. Tomorrow leave at 1PM to get to airport three hours before 4:30PM flight to El Salvador, baggage out at 12:45, and Alex suggests a trip tomorrow to the Smithsonian for $27 that Victoria and I want, but Carl and Sibyl are tired, and Sherlyn and Peter waffle, feeling guilty about NOT letting us go, and Victoria says to leave it up to them, and then Alex recommends the Tinajas Restaurant with a show, but when I ask who wants to go so I can join them, no one says they know yet, and we get to the Crowne Plaza Hotel at 5:22, take a long time to get key to room 602, get drink slips and everyone agrees to meet in bar, where a woman is shouting into a microphone in what I take to be Finnish, and she just WON'T stop, and we get handed Rum Punches but don't get our tickets taken, so we finally go out to the lobby, where Peter's managed to find a guy who calls the restaurant to find that they have a table for 8, but so far from the stage they won't charge the initial price of $5/person for a show-seat, so we agree to get there at 7:45, meeting in bar at 7:15 for our ticketed drink, leaving at 7:30 for the restaurant a few blocks away to have the Panamanian platter split among us, and no one says anything about the Smithsonian, and I agree with Victoria when I say I could very well just sit and not go, but then I add that we'll never be back here, so will never have the chance again. She smiles. I get to room, which has a living room, kitchen, and bedroom, but no luggage. Call desk and he says the bellboy is on his way, so I put a pillow on the chair at the desk, find out how to turn on all the lights, and the bag comes at 6:02, and I continue typing to complete exhaustion at 6:41, ready to unpack my good trousers (though the women can go in shorts!) for tonight. And more luggage-sorting to do before going on the plane---and I didn't ask if we can LOCK our luggage! Dark out now at 6:43. 7:09: unpack a bit, shuffle things into and out of baggies, hang up shirts and pants, get out my black pants, shit a bit, wash my face, dress and type this at 7:10, ready to go downstairs for the group in the bar, who I suspect won't be there when I get there. Well, totally wrong, since everyone is ALREADY there, and Pat remarks she thought I'd be there FIRST, but they all admit that even I am a half-minute early. I phone Alex to join us, we have our second free drinks, and leave at 7:30 for the Tinajas restaurant, chancy walk on very uneven sidewalks and the same street-crossing difficulties. We're seated at the far end of a balcony from the stage, and I'm momentarily sorry I didn't bring my binoculars, but there wasn't much to see: no sexy guys, and they acted so CRAZY I wondered how the women could even tolerate the thought of them acting that way. Some colorful female costumes, but the men were in unrevealing white pants. Rudimentary English commentary. I ordered the Brochetas Mixtas, one big shrimp, tender chicken, tough beef, with vegetables including chayote, and Alex offers me some of his tamal, the best of the lot: chicken, olives, maybe achiote, good spices. I took photos through #17, not figuring to get many with flash from such a distance. Feeling slightly out of it, tired, and back to hotel at 10:08. Look at the recommended tips and decide to give Alex $30 and the driver $12, for which I'll have to get two tens for a twenty and two envelopes from the desk in the morning. Take two Theraflu and bed at 10:40PM, closing doors and blinds in my suite. Comfortably asleep rather quickly.

FRIDAY, 11/9/07: 3:40AM: Wake at 3:25AM with a dream that I type, then pee and go back to bed. 5:50AM: Nose stuffing up (lessening when I get out of bed), so I take two day-cold pills. Lie, thinking too much, and up at 7:50AM to shower, long and luxurious, to 8:25, maybe a new record. Put on clean shirt for a do-nothing day, and wear slippers to breakfast at 8:40. Ask for change, get told to go to the restaurant, where a waiter disappears behind a door and returns to give me three fives and five singles; I also get two envelopes. No one from the group is visible, so I get an omelet and settle into a table for two, wondering how I'll find Victoria for her luggage lock graciously volunteered last night, and she walks past and asks if she can join me, saying she has the lock with her. We chat nicely, talking of computers, how I started indexing, her brother who went from engineering to sculpture of the da Vinci "Measure of Man" that was offered to some Brooklyn school that didn't accept it and it's now somewhere unknown in storage, and a FEMALE version he made of it was accepted by a Cuban medical school for women! She tells me the driver's name: Berto. Alex comes past at the end, saying he was glad to have slept a lot. Leave at 9:40 after at least four cups of hot chocolate, both rather grateful for a free morning, and I start at 9:46 to go back to last night. Up-to-date at 9:57AM, deciding to go out to see the church at the bottom of the hill they said was so beautiful inside. Fill out envelopes for tips and leave for church at 10:06. Same hassle crossing roads, and church is FILLED with people for some kind of ceremony (now that I think of it, probably a wedding, which is what Alex said it was usually used for). Undistinguished inside, I had trouble finding a spot for #18 church at 10:17, because of intervening trees and wires and poles. Back across the street and wave to Pat, who wants to ask some questions about what she didn't hear from Alex, and I can help with a few things, but she still has things to ask him. Up at 10:55, having to rather insist on taking myself away from her talks about trips to Laos, her relatives in northern British Columbia, and her forgetfulness. I tell her about Marine Expeditions and my trip up the Atlantic. Then suddenly think I told her we were leaving at noon, so I phone her and she graciously says she thinks I told her the right time. Decide to see what's on TV at 11:02AM. Watch 72 channels, many in English, and CNN about Pakistan "crisis," and fire in Rochester Institute of Technology, then leisurely pack everything, having to UNPACK to get out 1) safety pin for securing new key to my inner pocket, 2) itinerary and "tickets" for flight, and 3) October magazines to finish before starting November ones. Put new-locked bag by door at 12:18 and finish this at 12:20, not imagining how I could have squeezed in a tour in addition, and put this near my shoulder bag. Ah, and remember to EMPTY OUT water for this international flight and put bottle in my packed bag. Decide to shut TV off and put bag out and go down to check out at 12:35PM. All gather early, on bus 12:53. Leave 12:54. To airport 1:30, and they open my CHECKED bag and take out the MATCHES, from which I angrily remove the matches themselves and put the matchbooks, which were all I wanted anyway, back into my bag in a huff, hoping she won't notice my insecticide, which she doesn't, and Victoria said she could see my anger radiating from my back. Through check-in 1:45, at security I didn't have to take out my computer nor take off my belt, only putting my pen and coin purse into a basket, which I forgot until I started searching for my pen. Clerk then asked me for the immigration form, which no one said anything about, but I fill it out there and get through at 1:55. Go toward gate past crowded Tierra Firma Pizza, but there are no other places to eat and I'm hungry, so I stand on the side until someone leaves, then ask Sherlyn if she wants to join me, but she says no, and she passes on my location to Victoria and Pat, who join; Pat eats nothing, Victoria a whole two plates of food, and my Four Seasons pizza is so large I only eat 5/8 of it and put the rest in a bag to take with me, it's so good. Pat talks most of the time, I tell about my two most expensive trips, and the time passes to 2:58, paying by credit card $12 with $2 tip, and get to gate to finish National Geographic, which Sherlyn insists I leave on the seat because "These things are expensive for these people," so I just do it. Board at 3:52, time having passed quickly, move back at 4:22, having done sudoku in Explore magazine that I steal for a hunk and good maps of where we're going, realizing that San Jose is in Costa Rica! One-hour flight. Off at 4:31, and at 4:38 into vague clouds but see flocks of ships gathered waiting to go into the Atlantic side of the Canal! And maybe the Cuna Islands? Mostly cloudy, doing puzzles and seeing the sun dimly but never climbing above clouds. Start down at 5:10 and land at 5:28, changing watch to 4:30, hoping it'll still be light when we take off next. Actually chilly on bus to terminal, and gate 4 says it's going to Panama, so I check with information and the gate is changed to gate 2. Pee at 4:50 on the way there, board at 5:05, peeing again, sitting in the very last seat on right, 34F, dark outside, and the two people sitting next to me move away at 5:27 as I type away. Announce another hour flight with "partial clouds, and a bit of turbulence." Umm. Lots of cars on highway right outside window. Hope there are at least lights to see, though the map indicates that the land will be pretty far off to my right. Finish now at 5:29, no sign of taking off. Move back at 5:33, take off over farmland, but then into the clouds and there are some lights to see, but not many. Do a puzzle, and when the drinks are again passed from the rear because the drink-truck hasn't time to come to the rear, I ask for vodka in my orange and she gives it to me. Some lights again off to the right, and then we're over El Salvador, landing among some lights at 6:36PM. I feel ready for BED. A warm empanada and a sweet roll were passed out that I added to my food cache, not feeling hungry. Out into what seems to be the MIDDLE of the terminal, with a LONG walk to immigration, and I figured anyone could leave, but Victoria later reported that she wandered off the path and officials very quickly told her to keep to the narrow trail to immigration. Pay $10 to pleasant fellow who is impressed that El Salvador, "the smallest," is my last Central American country visited. Then in for luggage claim, and Victoria and Pat wait until I get mine last, then we're out to all the signs to see none for OAT. Others say he'll be at the entrance, so I move toward the street just as Mario Soto comes toward us with a sign for OAT, and he greets all of us, saying the other seven are already at the hotel, and that HE had called some of the people in the US and found that Mrs. Hutchinson had had an operation and had canceled, so HE knew more than Alex knew, though he implied there was a number that Alex should have known that would have told him. He talks a bit on the way to the hotel, but seems lower keyed than Alex. Driver is Omar. Arrive at Hotel Sheraton Presidente at 7:57; it is smallish, decorated with lights and Christmas trees! We sit in lounge and he says, "Luggage out at 7, briefing at 7:30, breakfast from 6AM, Salvador uses US dollars!" To room at 9PM to find a pair of legs! It's Dale, who announces we're SHARING, and we'll be saving about a thousand bucks. Talk about who we are: he's of "Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints," which they prefer to "Mormons," doesn't snore, "As my two wives said," and he gets into bed as I wash my face and pee, finish my pizza as we chat, and get to bed at 9:36, figuring it's the equivalent of 10:36 from yesterday after the time-change, and he resets the alarm from 5AM (!) to 5:30, since I say I won't be showering. Some trouble getting to sleep because of the presence of someone else, and my nose is clogged, but finally drift off after about half an hour.

SATURDAY, 11/10/07: 12:21AM: Some trouble going to sleep, but start Actualism and doze off. Then hear him going to john, and I can't breathe through stuffed nose, so use excuse of peeing to blow nose, write this, and back to bed at 12:23AM. Some trouble sleeping because I kept trying not to SNIFFLE when my nose was clogged, for fear of disturbing Dale. Wake at 3:30, 4:05, dozing only slightly between, and pee again at 5AM, lying until the radio comes on at 5:30 and I ask for a report on my snoring: "Zero," he says, and "Fabulous," I respond. He goes into the shower; I dress in the too-cold room, and start typing at 5:37, to fill in last night. Finish at 5:55, Dale confessing to "being different," and I let it pass for now. Talk more to 6:10. To breakfast with Mario, Dale, and Pat, and meet Bob and Arnie from California, probably a pair, and Eloise and Judy from Florida, also probably a pair. Only scrambled eggs, beans, rolls, juice, good hot chocolate, and lots of underripe fruit. Talk and talk, and up to room at 6:45AM, just in time to pack and put out luggage by 7AM. Bag out at 6:58. #19 San Salvador volcano and "Arte" Museum from balcony at 7:02. To lobby 7:20. Look at shops and people gathered for diabetes march. Briefing: LOTS of information and maps from 7:30 to an exhausting 8:48. #20-21 diabetes march in front of the hotel, proclaimed by drums whose provenance I knew. Bus goes at 9:06, Bob and Arnie taking separate seats, I sit apart from Dale, couples sit together, but Joan and her husband are sitting apart and I see a window seat behind, with the wheel hump, that NO one wants, so I tell them to sit in my seat and I go back there, and then Pat sits next to Dale and they proceed to talk a mile a minute to each other and to Joan and husband (who also sleeps) across the way. El Salvador has 6.5 million people, San Salvador 2 million. #22 San Salvador volcano. #23 downtown San Salvador: cathedral dome on right, church bell tower on left at 9:25 from hill. #24 cathedral facade by local famous artist at 9:42. Term Mestiso is being replaced by Ladino. #25 lava flow from about 150 years ago from volcano on left of photo 10:21. To Joya de Ceren (Jewel of Ceren, the last owner) 10:34. Volcano covered it in 640AD with 13-26 feet of ash, some 18 layers deep. Found in 1976 when trying to lay foundations for silos, which were then moved to hold rice and grain. #26 map of ALL places I've been now at 10:41. This is late Classic Maya period, and early is considered from 2000BC, which would include Olmec, since sites were found that combined artistic elements of late Olmec AND early Maya. Museum of COMMON objects of COMMON people, called the "Pompeii of the Maya," even to the extent of exhibiting corn husks formed by filling decayed holes in ash as they did the bodies from Pompeii. I could make sense of most of the captions, commentary difficult because guide knew only Spanish and Mario had to translate. Izote=Yucca, whose big flowers are mixed into omelets! #27 ruin of storehouse and ash layers 11:31. #28 room and 2 beds on left 11:33. #29 back: sauna; closer: storehouse. #30 niche under bed stored object now in museum; reconstructed walls. Two originals in Archaeological Museum in San Salvador that have reproductions here. #31 ginger pink and red leaves. #32 family complex; wood circle for communal kitchen. 10 of 18 buildings excavated, others left for more money and better preservation techniques. #33 first building found---photo of doorway under ash. #34 Healer's house 11:57. No human remains, only duck carcass. Leave 12:12. #35 poinsettia, lake, house at 12:54. Lake Quetzal Teque to #37 around Rancho Allegre to 1:28. Chicken OK, vegetables and rice poor, had beer and Fresca to fill up and some coconut ice cream at end, sitting [file 3 9PM 11/10/07] awkwardly with Sherlyn, Peter, and Dale. On bus 2PM. Nose stuffed at 2:50, so I take two day pills, asking Mario if we'll be going to a pharmacy tonight and he says yes. Stop at El Salvador border 3:30. Give Mario $10 for the three $3 border-crossing fees. To Guatemala entry at 3:32. Pee, and take roll 5: #1 money-changer at 3:35. Bus goes at 3:45. Road is VERY spectacular. 4:40 traffic stops to 4:44 for one way around 4AM landslide which was just cleared a few hours ago, so delicate are our plans. To Guatemala border 5:31, almost dark. Turns out we had SECURITY guards in two cars behind us!! Move at 5:37. We go to Copan 8AM tomorrow, breakfast starts at 6:30 and Dale estimates he wants the bathroom at 6:45AM tomorrow after my shower. To Hotel Marina Grande 5:57. Carl in room 260 volunteers DayQuil and NyQuil after we walk town 6:27-6:50. #2 marimba orchestra 7PM. Then I shit 7:04-7:06 and unpack to 7:28. Down to dinner, which is delayed ten minutes to 7:44 because delicious beef isn't ready yet. Awful (though small) red wine, good talk with Judy and Eloise (who are NOT a couple) and Mario to 8:40. Start typing to 9:25, Dale returns and I read my almost nonexistent notes on Copan, though I DO remember what the site LOOKED like, though I'll bet the steles are now in the museum down from the hotel. Dale isn't going to unpack, the lights go out for a moment, and I finish now at 9:32, deciding to proofread, since I'm not going to get up till 6:15. Proofread file 1 to 9:54, Dale definitely bound for bed, so I stop. Bed at 10:02, but he chooses to start talking about his dinner "discussion" with David about how civilization started in many areas of the world at about the same time. They concluded it was the concentration of "three sigmas" in cities that catalyzed scientific discoveries. I tried the argument that most great discoveries were the result of ONE person's thinking: Newton, Galileo, da Vinci; but then conceded that many times MORE than one person had the same idea: Darwin, and whoever it was [Wallace]. Then he suggested we tour the statuary museum after our tour at 3PM, and asked where the children's museum was, and I settled on a clock-face with the church at 12, the children's museum at 3, we at 7, the regular museum at 5, and he agreed. I checked my watch at 10:17PM as I put in my earplugs and fell asleep quickly.

SUNDAY, 11/11/07: Woke and peed about 12:30AM, woke again at 3, 4:40, 5, 5:30, and got up at 6:07 to type this until 6:15, when I went to dreams to 6:17, then started shower after a rather successful shit. Quick shower, learning to turn faucets to 3 to shut them off, rather than rotating them, and finish in bathroom at 6:40AM. I dress in a clean shirt and move around a bit, waiting for him to wake on his own, and about 6:45 he asks about the shower and I tell him the water is fine, but warn him about the "3 off" condition. He gets out of bed and looks at his watch at 6:47AM and makes some remark, which I take pains to ignore, about being "two minutes off schedule." He then repeats what he's said three or four times before about "not wanting to think, because it's so hard"; he much prefers to operate on automatic, where everything works, then tells me about his problem of ordering three "obsolete" memory cards for his two-year-old digital camera, and getting a "no-component rip-off" via Hong Kong from his Sony order. He goes into the shower and I catch this up by 7PM, having taken two DayQuil, always having to resort to my razor blade to open the damn capsule-cases. Have to get more water before departing at 8AM. #3 pool from 5th floor 7:50PM. Change battery and have to DASH back up for second Band-Aid. On bus at 8AM EXACTLY, Fito introduces himself and we're off at 8:03. 25,000 in old Copan, in 4900 buildings, in 24 square kilometers of valley. #4 stele and altar by road 8:11. To map 8:22. #5 map 8:25. #6 model 8:31. We're at 2200 feet. See blue-headed motmot and agouti in woods. #7-8 macaws 8:59. Macaws to 9:03. #9 ON temple 11 9:14. Stelae REMOVED from Hieroglyphic Stairway (HS). #10 temple 22 in sunlight. In 1989 they found INNER building UNDER HS. In 1994 found woman with 10,000 jade pieces. #11 figure on temple 11. #12 guide, temple, stairs, roots 9:41. #13 altar 9 9:48. Skeleton found that MATCHES left-center figure with broken right arm (this is a replica). #14 houses to SOUTH of altar H 9:54. #15 same, with people. #16 tomb of 16 kings, ORIGINAL, found in 1979. All stones were covered with stucco and painted; we're seeing the skeletons of the facades. #18 "Jaguar Stair," on each side, Sun God in center 10:13. #19 "Serpent Mouth" at top of temple 22. #20 original stucco and paint 10:17. #21 Eastern Court, up. #22-23 inner doorways 10:25. #24 fangs. #25 Council House, temple 22A. #26 ball court, HS at right, stelae in distance 10:30. #27-28 ACTUAL under-temple 11, tunnel 1. #29 stucco mask inside. #30 macaw mask: Jash=green, Kok=quetzal, Mok=macaw. #31 macaw profile. #32 side eaten away by river, 4 layers, rebuilt 10:56. #33 ball court: classic era had three macaw heads; also three serpent heads in highland post-classic; one ring in Chichen Itza, lowland post-classic. #34 top center of ball court, Sun God arrogant macaw. #35-36 HS. #37 out of ball court 11:03. Roll 6: #1 HS. #2 altar at base of stele M. #3 stele M. #4 banister of HS. #6 13th king stele, ORIGINAL in ORIGINAL place. #7 wide side view 11:20. #8 18 Rabbit (13th king) as Corn God, with FEMALE skirt on---subject of much discussion---mother-father of creation. #9 stele A. #10 stele 4 (face on top of foot). #11 "18 Rabbit" "Established in 156AD," referenced 600 years before his reign. Bob Hope = Zip, mountain deity. #12 top to bottom: bloodletting, agouti, ZIP. #13 stele B. #14 stele C front, #15 stele C back. #16 leaving area 11:40 to museum. #17 agouti. To museum via underground tunnel to afterlife at 11:51. #18 Rosalila replica 11:54. #22 earliest inscription period ending and closing of tomb beneath HS, found 1993. #23 Cama Zotz (killer bat). #24 original stele A! #25 water bird. #26 altar G1. #28 stele 63 period ending 435AD #29 proboscis of butterfly image. #30 figure WAS atop HS in temple that collapsed before being found. #31 original ball court top figure. #32 (715AD) temple 22 inner door. #33 giants holding up sky. #34 structure 32, found in 1990. #35 1990 maize deities. #36 Venus, war goddess. #37 rabbit-on-moon on side of bed. Raced through the site, took off quickly with Dale guided by Mario through the tunnels, then trying to catch up with Fito and the group at the HS, racing around taking pictures and taking notes on pictures, dashing to catch up with group, RACING through museum knowing we have only half an hour and only Judy is anywhere near as slow as me, as I insist on scanning each label, searching out each interesting photo, seeing everything there is to see, totally exhausting myself. See lots of us in souvenir shop, and quickly buy $19 Copan book, which I stop typing (exhausted at 5:09) to look through. Bus goes at 12:33, Hotel Marina Copan lunch at 12:59, empanadas mediocre of which I eat about 2/3, and good limeade, which they refuse to refill, and good tiramisu dessert. To bus 1:40, off at 1:43. To Las Sepulturas 1:50, suburb of Copan. Roll 7: #1 Las Sepulturas house 2:08. #2 bed for many people. Courts were BURIAL places! Tomb from 1500BC. #3 large house of patriarchs, copies from museum originals, house of scribe 2:20. Bonampak MURAL shows scribes' FINGERTIPS cut off---canceling HISTORY and his ability to produce it. #4 plaza F 2:26. LARGEST residential center in Meso-America. Rather too long at this minor site, and the attempted sale of stone bowl annoys me at end to 3:11. Time away from museums. 6PM DVD. Tomorrow requires jacket, bags out 7AM, leave 7:59. To hotel 3:20. Immediately to Archaeological Museum for $3. #5 crocodile in Museum 3:29. #6 FLINT carvings 3:17, no flash allowed. Leave 3:51. To Casa K'inich Children's Museum, seeing everything quickly, #7 me as Humo Jaguar (Humo Imix Dios Ko K'ak' Nab-Kauil) to 4:18. To room 4:22, tired. Type 4:25-5:03, read Copan book, wash face, Dale enters, having bought nothing, leaves for DVD. I type 5:48-5:55:55. Down and the DVD has already started, but the power goes down at 6:02 and he has to start over, somewhat closer to the beginning, and Nova's "Lost King of the Maya" is SO EXACTLY what we've seen that it's wonderful. It's over at 7PM but we talk to 7:15, when I finally ask, "Where are we going to eat?" and Sibyl says, "Well, the guidebook says this is one of the best places in town," so everyone decides to eat here. I ask Arnie how long they've been together, and it's been something like 15 years, but there's only 11 years difference in their ages: 57 and 68, and they certainly look like they're MORE different in ages, which of course I don't tell them. Get back to the room at 8:40 and start typing, Dale saying he's going to try to look for some souvenir, but returns VERY quickly to say the place was closed. Talking to Joan and David and Sibyl and Carl is very pleasant at this end of the table, and Arnie and Bob and Dale seem OK at their end of the table, but my BBQ pork chop is impossibly bony and gristly and fatty, so I eat very little, have TWO gin and tonics, and my whole bill is only $16, so I give him a $2 tip, which he likes, and since the meal was something like $8, the soup like $2, the drinks must have been $3 apiece, not that much gin, but a pleasant enough buzz. Lots of laughs at the table, and Sibyl repeats that she'd never (as I'd never) heard the term "the goats from OAT" as we clamber over the ruins of Copan. Prepared to go to sleep early tonight, glad not to have had to take another afternoon pill, but feel that I'll take two night pills just to be SURE I don't get stuffed up. Good thing, since I'm now out of Cipro since Saturday. Stop now at 8:53PM. Dale heads toward bed, setting alarm for 6:30AM, saying he has to stay up to digest food. I pack most everything and get to bed at 9:30, falling asleep quickly with a relatively clear nose.

MONDAY, 11/12/07: 3:19AM: Think I hear a bell and wake with a dream. Go to pee, putting down bathmat for feet, and type dream. Can't remember much, though I remember feeling emotions vividly in the dream. Type to 3:25AM. Then JUST can't breathe. Snuffle and TRY to clear my sinuses, but they just won't clear. Get up about 3:55AM to take two DayQuil and for a few minutes think things are better, but they continue, looking at my watch at 4:15. Finally doze off to about 6:10, and then see that Dale is up and ask if I bothered him. "I know you had a bad night, but I wasn't bothered," so I said, "I'm very happy to hear that." He then went into the shower and I started typing at 6:20AM. Type dream till 6:27, and prepare to unpack my passport JUST in case we need it going back from Honduras to Guatemala this morning. Feel vaguely OK from being awake for about an hour and a half of our 8.5-hour sleeping period, again glad not to have disturbed Dale. Bag out 6:52. Breakfast to 7:35: "pan integral" is the term for wheat bread, per Victoria, who went to MASS last night. Two controls (TV and A/C) to desk and to bus 7:49. Bus goes 7:59, Peter vomiting. #8 cemetery 8:08. Across border 8:21. #9 escorts and Mario 8:33. #10-13 "Family Stop" to 8:52. Stop at landslide 9:27-9:30, to main road 9:31. Gas-stop 9:41-9:56 with stuff to look at and stuff to buy. Pass a hillside full of pink poui trees. Museum 10:27-10:50. #14 giant sloth and Carl 10:35, from 150,000BC. #15 post-classic burial (see #21) 10:39 in Estanzuela in Zacapa Province. #16 earthquake of 1976, earth moved a FOOT and killed 25,000 people at 7.6 magnitude. KZ, "abbreviation" for Caseta, is PRONOUNCED Ka-Zeta. #17 old man's beard cactus and Motagua River 11:44. #18 old man's beard against sky. #19 two cacti and group 11:49. #20 cacti and mountains. #21 looted tomb (see #15). Get piece of obsidian that clearly came from tomb, since we pass the only source for it on a mountainside a half-hour later. Lunch at Restaurante Sarita El Rancho off Atlantic Highway 12:03-1:08: double burger with cheese, and tamarind drink for 65.50Q + 6.50Q tip + 5Q ice-cream cone. #22 hills from moving bus 1:31, spectacular hillsides. ABE.COM is 50,000 used book dealers. Slow traffic through Guatemala City at 2:35. Pee stop 3:10, getting tired. Go at 3:21. Onto Pan-Am Highway to Antigua Guatemala (AG) 3:28. Tomorrow we start at 8:30. #25 AG Cathedral 4:11. 1 1/2 blocks, NE, is good Erisa snack bar. From square it's 3 blocks south to hotel. #26 central park fountain. #27 Agua Volcano 4:19. To hotel 4:40. Meet 6:45 for dinner. To bar 5PM, wait for Pat. Good drink free with lots of peanuts. To 5:45 on roof, then to room to unpack, clean away last remnants of insecticide, and Dale returns 6:25, and talks about water filtration and reverse osmosis to 6:35. I try to type, but can't. Dale talks more. Leave 6:40. Bus goes 6:47. #28 musical duo in Las Antorchas Restaurant 8:02. Have pork neck, huge portion, rice, veggies, a small beer, pills, and water, and duo is AWFUL, though younger one is cute and COULD have a good voice, but Victoria and I exchange a "How could they be so BAD?" and I put my head down and a NUMBER of people ask if I was dozing! Dale buys their CD and I confess my hatred of them to him, and he takes it; later when I say I won't be taking pills and he should tell me if it bothers him, he almost ATTACKS me for trying to be so nice, so I agree I won't hassle him so much. Out at 8:38, back 8:51, type 8:55-9:18, and ready for a shit, I hope, having finally gotten matches from hotel. AND need to brush teeth, but wait till he's in the shower tomorrow. Tiny shit, brush teeth only, and get into bed as he talks more, turning light off at 10:10PM. My nasal passages are free, I start Actualism, and fall asleep quickly.

TUESDAY, 11/13/07: 12:20AM: Had wakened at 11:23PM with a dream, but didn't want to get up so early to type. Then typed the dreams HERE and had to later move them to DREAMS file. When I went into the john I was VERY careful to direct my pee-stream into the bowl, but then found the floor WET, and used many toilet-paper sheets to wipe it up, thinking idly that this was like a continuation of my nightmare, and then, a final bizarre touch, a ROACH climbed up the shower curtain hanging outside the tub! THEN found the TWO dreams inadvertently typed into file 3!! GOT to end this, now at 2:45AM! Blow my nose TWICE and step on a SMALLER non-roach-but-maybe-a-roach on the floor and wipe it up with a tissue that I put into the basket. MADNESS! Dream like a bad ACID trip! 5:35AM: Another dream, that I'm DETERMINED to type in file 8. Finish typing at 5:43AM. Up at 6:37, shower to 6:48, and Dale says alarm rang and he called me, but I didn't answer, so he left me alone. I insisted, then, that I have to respond to make sure I hear him. Watch TV, EVERYTHING on, while I do detail tooth-work to 7:10, when he comes out and dresses, and I catch up to 7:13, ready for breakfast. Decide NOT to take a jacket, but we were outside, and I was chilly, so as soon as I finished my omelet, roll, butter, ORDERED toast (no pan integral), DENSE chocolate, and fruit, particularly good pineapple, taking a chance on grapes with skins, I raced back to room at 8:05 and put on my jacket. Brushed my teeth, feeling raw after the brushless additional steps this morning, but there was no noticeable blood, and Dale said he might have a pair of scissors with him for my mustache-trim. Watch the end of what appears to be Powder, from 1995, with Director Selva, Mary Steenburgen, Lance Henrickson, and Sean Patrick Flannery as an ET lightninged into heaven at the end. I finish this at 8:14, Dale raring to go. Leave to bus 8:20. Bus goes 8:30. To bank line 8:35-8:45, getting 300.8Q for $40: 7.52 SHOULD have been 308, but what the hay! Cathedral poor, not worth a picture except for outside yesterday. Bus goes 9:05. Casa de Artes 9:07. #29 Artes 9:09. #30 devil cock 9:14. #31 figures and masks. Turns out that my sofa is covered with a TUBE-SKIRT! #32-33 me and Judy dressed from San Martin Chili Verde. The bird-embroidery I bought comes from Santiago Atitlan. To 10AM. GRID of streets was planned in 1685! To San Luis Pueblo Nuevo school 10:29. #34 flag and students at 10:36, National Anthem and even Pledge to the Flag unnaturally long. #35 dancers 10:45. #36 family 12:27 after lunch of chicken soup, chicken, corn, chayote, orange soda, tortillas, with 6 daughters and 2 neighbor's children, oldest at 17 working. 12:47 onto bus, starts to drizzle, as our hostess said it would. Bus goes 1:03. #37 cemetery 1:08. Roll 8: #1 local laundry 1:10, in Jocotenango. To Azotea coffee museum 1:33. Music Museum 1:39. #2 marimba and concerts 2PM. #3 Museum court 2:46. Senecio is yellow flower. To Coffee Museum 2:50-3:30, annoyed at Mario for not telling me there was a nature walk rather than sitting around outside the shop deciding not to buy coffee, chocolate, or stones. #4 Our Lady of Mercy Church from 1764 at 3:42. Tomorrow leave for tour (12 of us) at 8:30. To jade factory 3:53. #5 Olmec jade. #6 supernatural being with deformed head to left of "The Fighter." #7 yellow/orange ("newfound color") jade 4:35. #8 reproductions 4:37. Leave 4:40, pointing out possible dinner place, and to hotel 4:50 to see Dale's $218 jade quetzal. Type 5PM-5:15 as Dale sets up wires, trying to recharge his camera. Leave at 5:24 to Dona Luisa Xicotencatl at 6PM, past ruins of church, meeting Judy and Eloise in the hall as we investigate the second floor, and settle into a front room before I notice a "Smoking Permitted" sign that causes us to move to a windowless room where we look at a menu with no prices, then get an order form with prices on it, and Dale spends all of 12Q and I splurge 18Q on chili, 10Q on lemonade, and 6Q on a "varied fruit" pie, which was delicious. Pee, look at lots of photos, and walk back to hotel to climb to roof and look at clouded Agua and the crescent moon setting behind Fuego, and he explains the difference between two kinds of sodium lighting. Back to room at 8:06, sharing his sesame cookie. Try TV, but nothing. Bed at 9:50. Take maybe 15 minutes of Actualism to get to sleep. 11:35AM: Wake with dream. Pee and type it. Finish typing at 11:45PM, nose dripping.

WEDNESDAY, 11/14/07: 1:58AM: Wake from dream and pee and start typing. Finish this at 2:22, hopelessly incomplete. 3:12AM: MUST start file 7. Finish first draft by 3:35AM (one 2-3 minute interval), which I transfer here:
TRIBUTE TO MARIO: TIME: 3:12AM at the start of the 9th day of my 18-day trip, thus the middle.
IDEA: Mario gave us the Mayan number system with the maximum of four dots, three lines, and one zero-symbol.
OUR GROUP: We are 16, four pairs, I could say, who combine into four dots; three pairs, I could say, who combine into three lines; one pair, I could say, who combine into one place-giver: zero.
Let's look first at the pairs comprising the four dots: two pairs of women, two pairs of men---each pairing the same yet very different: the two pairs of women being Judy and Eloise, friends since high school, coming together for this trip; and Pat and Victoria, coming together on this trip for the first time: both with absent husbands, one living, one no longer living, yet both with children we've heard so much about. Then the two male pairs: Arnie and Bob, so alike yet so different: one previously married, the other never married; and Dale and Bob (noting the pairing of Bob and Bob from those two pairs), one previously married---twice, one never married. Then the three bars: as Mario said, the Mayans combined male and female in complex ways, and these three married couples form male-female bars of strength---similar, yet with their differences: Sibyl and Carl, Sherlyn and Peter, Joan and David, in many ways similar, in many ways different. Then to the place-givers, which zero certainly is: Omar carrying us from place to place; Mario (I can't resist noting they share the same four letters in each name, but Mario, being the tour leader, merits an extra letter: an I: number ONE) GIVING us each place. I remember Mario's talk of the lines of chance and necessity intersecting in each present, which is at each moment the center of the world, as this trip has been our center of the world, here in MESO-America.
MARIO: A guide does many things: 1) he presents places: Mario has done this surpassingly well: never too much detail, never too little, always fascinating. 2) he fills time on long bus-rides, but Mario is unique in that these possess "Four Eyes": invariably informative, interesting, and intelligent. 3) he interacts with his tourists: I believe Mario has established the perfect balance, as far as I can see, with each individual tourist. 4) he tells jokes; Mario's are different in that they are unique, and they are funny, both qualities very much unlike those of many other guides. I'm sure each of you could add endlessly to these invaluable characteristics of our Tour Leader. 6:30AM: Feel I might want to shit, and also remember part of a dream. Type dream to 6:32, nose very stuffed again! Do shit, thankfully of a good consistency, so the home-hosted lunch was OK health-wise. But I have an itchy mosquito bite on the top of my right foot, which I must have gotten in BED in the room. Light match and back to bed 6:39. Dale's up and in to bathroom and I get up at 6:53AM. Find I have three clean shorts and four pairs of clean socks left, perfect for nine days left---trip half over! Change shorts and socks and put on the dark blue formerly worn, slightly smelly shirt. Oh, Joan and David ARE married, so I change file 7 to 7:08. Finish in bathroom by 7:25 and go to breakfast 7:30. Leave 8:19 (10 of us, not Joan and David, not Sherlyn and Peter). #9 Santa Maria de Jesus 9:11. #10 women and church 9:20. Leave 9:52 after looking through market. #12 AG under cloud 9:59, about 40,000 people, unknown percentage foreigners. To Santo Domingo Museums 10:13. #13 Fuego (left) and Acatenango (right) 10:14, clearer than usual. Juan Bautista Antonelli designed rectangular grid for streets and blocks of AG in 1541. #14 map of museums 10:39. #15 silver archangel 10:59, in Colonial Museum. Mary's crown miraculously appeared on her TILTED head in too-short niche. #16 St. Jerome, left, stoned, with rock, Gods in center, St. Roque with bag on right. #17 crypt carving 1653. To Pre-Hispanic Museum 11:31. #18 Czech, Pre-Classic, Swedish, Late Classic women left to right. #19 Popul Voh artist (Roberto Gonzalez Goyri) died YESTERDAY 11:55. #20 kites to scale. Buy Glass book $10, Galeria book 50Q, leave 12:20. To Donde Monica for Hibiscus (or Rose de Jamaica) and Horchata (rice) drinks and fabulous Pepian de Pollo, best meal of trip, with plantain cooked in chocolate for dessert. Tomorrow bags out 8AM, leave 9:30, take jacket for 9200 feet. To hotel 1:45, so tired I just lie down. Dale leaves for shopping. Mario drops off Museum map 2:35. I look at it, then up to look at Galeria book, and Dale returns with tablecloth 2:55. Up at 3:05 to apportion last pills into pillbox and fold Map into quarters in bottom of black bag. Decide to go to sit in Parc Central, chase out pesky fly, and type to date 3:37-3:49. Ready for drink at 4:03. Locate RIGHT card for drink by 4:07! Stop and chat with David and Joan about what they missed, and Arnie and Bob come up and say they're going to use THEIR drink cards, so we order, I take their picture, we sit and talk about sex-drive and Proscar and Hytin and #21 Fuego and Acatenango at 5:32, and then it's 5:50 and too late to go anywhere, so I go to the roof and watch the sunset (realizing it IS setting in the west), and Dale clocks in at 5:20 and comes up and talks aerodynamics of wind-movement until clearly nothing's going to happen, so we're down at 5:52 for me to pee and he to do something, and we leave for dinner at 6PM, I don't know where yet. We cruise the bar to see if anyone is going anywhere, but only Joan and David are talking to Pat, and they're not eating for an hour. I ask where the Italian and French restaurants she'd talked about were, and she simply says, "Go left to the street, and they're one and a half blocks up." We go to the end of the street and are attracted to the hundreds of candles around the ruined church there. Inside, they've set up a piano. We leave, pass the closed laundry, check out the Italian menu that does nothing for Dale, and then up to the French place, Lili, which at first I thought was Spanish, but the second language was French and the third English, and I notice duck in orange sauce, and Dale says he could have that, so we're the only ones into an inner room, and I find they have confit of duck leg, so he gets the orange and I get the confit, getting a salad on the plate in addition that I don't touch, and his orange sauce is so good and so copious that I have it with two bits of confit and three bits of salsa'ed toasted bread they serve with the ducks. Both are 80Q, making it easy to figure, but I can't resist a Kir for 28Q and profiteroles for 29Q quite filling [filling file 3 with the word "filling" at 8:35PM 11/14]. Others come in, a guitar starts softly and builds after 7:30, and the "lady" and the "chef" are talking with two other customers, and a cute waiter handles everything, taking my Visa card and I hope liking his more than 15% tip, for a total of 260Q, for which I use the calculator here for the first time to find it's $34.67, of which Dale gave me $13. Back to listen to a bit of piano music, then back to hotel at 8:08 to chat and share some of his chocolate cookie, and catch this up-to-date at 8:39PM. Start packing 8:45. Finish packing 8:56. Turn on TV and watch the end of Final Impact on Discovery and the end of a very sexy Cirque-de-Soleil type The Company, with the Joffrey, Neve Campbell, Malcolm McDowell, and James Franco to 10PM. Then bed, with alarm set for 7:45AM. Sleep fairly quickly.

THURSDAY, 11/15/07: 12:03AM: Wake at 11:59PM and glad I can pee and type dream as Thursday. Can't remember first dream! Back to bed 12:06. 3:49 shit, no dream! 6:30, CAN't breathe, CAN't sleep, so I take two DayQuil, which clears nose eventually, so I may nap. But try starting Actualism about six times, none of it working, and get up at 7:37AM, Dale in shower, to type this and remembered previous dream. Finish typing that at 7:43AM, needing to shit, but also to dress to put out my suitcase by 8AM, taking my AlphaSmart in my carry-on bag. 7:46: Put out bag dressed only in shorts and shirt, wipe my nose in the bedsheet, and feel a pressure to shit, hoping Dale gets out of the bathroom quick. He leaves some turds, saying he fears the toilet isn't working, but I add much to the load and with two or three flushes manage to get everything down. Shower to 8:11, comb hair, and Dale gets told by Mario that there's a "waitress-carrying-tray" race in the Main Square at 9AM. I dress and we leave for breakfast at 8:35. Then to square at 8:51. #22 Lili in front of Lili's 8:58. #23-24 tray race 9:04, lots of preparation, race starts for waitresses 9:45, taking to #29. #30 first-place runner 9:50. Bus goes 10:01 after I pee and Mario gathers everyone. To #35 San Simon (brujo) in San Andres Itzapa to 11AM.! #36 calla lilies and hydrangea at Cabana de Don Robert 12:05-1:25, good smoked ham baguette and orange tea and veggies. Stop for construction 1:25-2:25, Arnie getting sick from altitude at 9200 feet. Then stop for stalled truck 2:40-2:51. #37 accident 2:52. Roll 9: #1 trucks 3:03. Solala 3:40. Off bus 3:56. To #7 in square. Leave Solala 4:20. #8 cemetery 4:21. Through #11 Lake Atitlan. San Pedro to right, Toliman in front, Atitlan in rear 4:30. #12 beaches (?). Dinner, meet lobby 7PM. To hotel Porta del Lago 4:50. Tomorrow breakfast from 7AM. Mario in room 106. To roof, photos to #17 to 5:20. To room, unpack to 5:35, wash, finish this at 6:05, ready to walk up road to Casablanca dinner at 7PM. Dark along lake, farther walk than I would have thought, though Dale was confident we were walking far, and up through shops in plenty of time to be in front of Casablanca at 6:45. Walk both ways along "local" street, Dale finding "my" copy of Popul Vuh in a chocolate shop for a nonnegotiable $11, and I picked up 10 Cipro for 130Q, just under $20, far less than NYC prescription. Back to Casablanca to see Pat and Victoria drinking at the bar, and I order a gin and tonic for 22Q at bar, bringing can to table, for which they later want to charge me 20Q! Awful pork ribs---hardly any meat, and rice with lots of butter, starting with odd broccoli soup, Arnie delightful through dinner, everyone, I suspect, seeing us camping it up, and Dale must somehow be jealous with my ease with Arnie, because he tries to crack a few jokes and be a BIT less stiff. Back to hotel on bus at 8:46 to scan TV and find Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman and Claude Rains in the fabulously good movie about the uranium ore in the wine bottle that I have to check name of with people at breakfast. Turns out to be Notorious. Bed at 11.

FRIDAY, 11/16/07: But nose stuffs up, I barely sleep before 1:07, when in desperation I get up and take two last Theraflu and put on facemask against light from top "window" of bathroom light. 5:13 pee and feel relief for having slept, and do Actualism spottily until he turns light on at 6:45AM, reporting NO clouds on volcanoes outside! I get up while he showers, and type this to 7:04AM, noting that I've written halfway down my LAST blank note card, unless I sift through stuff tonight to find another, which I just might do in re-sorting "future" and "past" bags to make easier packing tomorrow. Put on long-sleeved shirt, anticipating much sun, and maybe spray and cool winds on Lake Atitlan today. Nose still terribly stuffed, but I know Cipro won't help it, and it WASN'T something in the AG room to which I was allergic, and I'll probably have to see Chin on Friday, a week from today, my first full day home. All agree the group is just great. Manage a reasonable shit, wash face, get pills, Dale comments as he packs for the day but will still return to the room after breakfast, not leaving much time, since it's already 7:18 and we haven't started down yet. Restaurant jammed, so Victoria and Dale get a foursome in the outside area, toward which I spill orange juice climbing over the chain closing it. Good omelet, eventual hot chocolate; they leave, I go out to bus and get on first, then to boat, where I climb into front right seat, knowing sun will be on the left and wetness will be in the back. LOTS of spray on left, I use my jacket backward to protect. Mario stops in center of lake for orientation. #18 Atitlan/Toliman 7:28. Boat goes 8:01. #20 Indian profile of Tecun Uman 8:15. #21 SPRAY, I hope. To Santiago Atitlan 8:40. #23 Atitlan Volcano from Atitlan 8:55. #25-26 Maximon to 9:20. #27 casket for funeral 9:29. #28-29 Father Rother's death 7/28/81. #34 Holy Ghost replaced by quetzal 9:43. All in Apostle Santiago Church at 9:57. #36 church 9:46. Roll 10: #1-7 Indian market. #13 new house, four going to five floors 10:21. Recommended for stuff. #17 San Pedro and boats 11:48. Onto TRUCK 11:01 because water too rough for boat-transfer. Find last lost Carl 11:10. #20 truck 11:34. Talk to driver Cruz, age 20, road age 30, to 11:47. #21 group 11:55 at Restaurant Toliman. Lunch to 12:51, good chicken breast, tamarind drink, again-dry apple cake. #22 Toliman restaurant 12:55. #24 boat 1:03. To San Antonio Palopo 1:04. #25 Toliman 1:14. To 1:22. #27 Arnie and Joan 1:40. To weavers 1:58. To bus 2:09. Bags out 8AM as we leave tomorrow to zip-line. To room at 2:53. Leave for "hot springs" 3:21, getting someone to turn it on, soak maybe half an hour, dry off and return towel to laughing attendant, across to elevator to shower to 4:32. Proof file 2 4:35-5PM, Dale in then, angry that I haven't finished typing yet. Get to bottom of card 10 and decide to MAKE cards from envelopes and paper in drawer to 5:27. So THERE! Type to 5:44, Dale remarking about sunset light, turning to skim through TV, and I decide to proof file 3 5:44-6:18, having to dress for meeting at 6:30. Out at 6:22, with jacket. Arnie recommends, a spin-off from OAT and GCT, but competitive with only a few trips. They meet us at the corner, and Arnie had the brilliance to reserve a table for six: Mario tells us that a group of SIXTY has reserved for this evening. Bob makes a fool of himself because he keeps demanding TAP WATER, which he said Mario said was safe, which of course he didn't. We order a grande pizza with salami (pepperoni) on half, with olives and mushrooms, which isn't very large, and Mario orders a margarita and a  medio pizza, which serves maybe two. I order two gin and tonics, then have most of the pizzas, and end with a Coup Calypso: chocolate ice cream, whipped cream, and Kahlua at the bottom. A GORGEOUS chest from California wants our table, and even talks about the upcoming wedding of his wife's sister here. I Visa the bill, which includes tip, of 390Q. Mario insists his company insists he spend 100Q per DAY, but not on THIS MEAL, says Dale. So I go to my applet and it's $52. I get $20, $10, and $5, which is $35, and 100Q from Mario, which is $13.33, amounting to $48.33, so I spend $3.67, where my bill for gin and tonics and dessert was 69Q, or $9.20 ALONE. But everyone insisted that I forget about it, so I have. HA!! We get back at 9:28PM, I try to shit, but can't, Dale immediately changes for bed and turns on TV, and I finish this at 9:41PM. King Kong is on, the original, with a very florid voice-over narration, and I encourage him to watch it as I put in earplugs and put on facemask and take two NyQuil while he goes on about his phenol addiction. Light stays on, but I hear no TV (he says he shut it off immediately), then goes out, and I breathe easily and go to sleep about 10PM.

SATURDAY, 11/17/07: 2:48AM: Wake, still breathing easily, and pee, and type this until 2:55AM. 4:05AM: Wake with dream, a dry mouth, an erection, and anxiety. Do nothing, start to worry, doze, and at 4:44AM up to take a Valium with water and type what little I remember of dream. Pee and hope I can get back to sleep. Sneeze twice and blow nose. Will problems never stop? Tempted to take two DayQuil but don't. 6:13AM: 6:04AM I look at the clock, and have a dream and look at the clock and it's 6:08AM. Think a bit and at 6:13 go to john to type it. Type a lot, feeling "out of it," nose having become VERY stuffed and now somewhat clear, close to 6:20AM with alarm set to go off at 6:45 and we have to be out of here at 8AM. And flight tomorrow doesn't make things easier. Pee, strain, and actually shit a bit. 6:36AM: Obviously I've wakened Dale, who says, "Can I put the light on now?" And I say yes; he opens the curtains and I ask, "How's the sky?" And he says, "Almost totally clear," and I remark, "We don't want rain on our zip-lines." I type this and get into the day at 6:38, the clock that I set yesterday afternoon still recording current time without current-interrupt blinking. 6:52: Mostly pack, decide to pack this and leave bag out BEFORE going to breakfast so I don't have to come up after breakfast. Bag out at 7:04. To breakfast 7:08. Arnie remarks on Pat's gabbiness and my intolerance of it: "I'm a people-person," he says sincerely. Eat to everyone's leaving to room by 7:40: good omelet as usual, one piece of bread with butter, two glasses of juice and a piled plate of mixed fruit with a glop of yogurt, restaurant not as crowded as yesterday. I finish at 7:45, pee, turn in my key. #30 pool 7:43. 7:48 try for a shit, and SUCCEED! On bus 7:54, leave 7:57. Off bus 9:09. Sign life away for zip-lines "diploma." #31 "base camp" 8:21. Dress to 8:34. Start up 8:45, all ten of us with added Mario and three or four guides. #34-37 spider monkeys 8:53. Roll 11: #1 spider monkey. To top, tired, Arnie flaking out at one point (interesting: Arnie supports Bob when Bob's a bitch at dinner last night; Bob supports Arnie when he can't breathe on the way up the hill this morning). #10 I'm third down 9:28. Too quick to be frightening, looking down at treetops and dark-green Hotel Atitlans before Lake Atitlan and mountains beyond. Comfortable sitting in harness, but hand-mitt gets VERY hot as I clamp down, trying to adjust but fearing to burn MITT rather than asbestos. Sherlyn has a terrible descent: calling help when clearly she's sideways with no hand ready to brake at all. She then goes with guide, as do Pat, Joan, Sherlyn, and Arnie. To second stage 9:50. #12 9:41. To third 9:45, and I think that's the one that's so STEEP there's little chance to brake and all crash into the stop-rope that actually, sadly, says Dale, burns the palm of the stop-rope handler. Fourth stage at 9:55, glove HOT. Fifth at 10:06, 6th at 10:14. Seeing people flying ABOVE as you're setting off is a kind of kick. Undress and pee to 10:20. #13 begonias in Butterfly House 10:39 with VERY few butterflies. To bus 10:54. Hiked up 276 meters. Leave 11AM. Stop at falls 11:08 for #15 red, yellow, purple, and blue flowers not NEARLY as concentrated and mind-blowing as they were on ALL OTHER parts of the mountains out of Atitlan. #17-18 falls to 11:11. #19 Hotel de Lago at upper left 11:13. Piano music this morning, that I asked Sibyl and Carl about, he SAID they inquired through desk and three other people to say was by Richard Clayderman, which I recall hearing (HA!) before. #20 Lake Atitlan from point that was totally clouded in when we arrived. #21 Toliman to San Pedro vista 11:56. #22 traffic on widening road 12:01, with 12-1 "break" in work, which is obviously their lunch break. To Cabana de Don Robert 12:36 for two cheese tortillas, starting with shared nachos and guacamole, my Cuba Libra that was a small glass with negligible whatever, but end with FABULOUS chocolate cake. I leave 15Q when I should have left 5Q for my 65Q lunch including tip, which makes up (partly, I blush) for my killing on last night's dinner bill. Leave 1:52. San Pedro was in St. Peter Sepetepeque? Guatemala City town traffic by 3:10, my eyes closing MANY times, wanting to take spectacular mountainside vistas, but just keeping them in mind. To Miraflores Mall 3:16. #23 Mall Xmas tree 3:29. #26 mound and cinemas in mall 4:12. #27 Cotzumalguera Atlante from 800AD and Pat. In bus and leave 4:26. Roberto Gonzalez Goyri has murals here and was the painter in AG who "died yesterday." Take jacket and umbrella on plane to Flores tomorrow evening. Leave 9AM tomorrow on city tour, then back to hotel for final luggage out, to airport about 3 for flight of 35 minutes after 5, so it'll be dark, sadly. To Best Western Hotel Stofella on 2nd Avenida in Zona 10 4:47. To room 110, right off hall to breakfast room at 4:56. Look around and luggage arrives at 5:07, I start typing 5:11-5:42, this moment. Dale says both the toilet paper and the tissues are VERY transparent to ANY solids or liquids. Ugh. Fuss to start proofing file 4 6:05-6:20, HERE. Ready to dress for meeting downstairs 6:30, which I organized, to see Xmas-tree lighting, then go to Tre Fratelli. Leave room 6:24, Bob comes from john and we leave hotel 6:30, to tree 6:46, area JAMMED. #28 band and crowd 7:11. We wait until 7:26PM when the fireworks start, and they go and go and go and GO, finally ending at 7:44. #29 fireworks and tree. Dale recommends 200 mcg selenium for prostate. Dinner at Tre Fratelli, my chicken good, Victoria agreeing to a half-liter of Italian wine for 70Q that she INSISTS on paying for. Arnie and Bob are civil at the other end of the table. Great conversation, and we're all very pleased with one another. Back to room 9:24PM and I catch up by 9:29, MUST do my teeth and take time to digest my food before bed. Dale sets alarm for 7:30AM. We talk about all sorts of things, primarily the idea of getting travel information from agencies and websites, and the possibility of traveling together again: 1) he thinks the sooner we'd travel to Egypt and Petra with Odyssey the better, because "things will become chaotic there soon," he said; 2) he'll look into Odyssey tour to find out what it costs and when it goes; 3) he seems vaguely interested in the "five Stans" trip, though we can only name 3-4 of them; 4) we'll certainly be in touch by e-mail to talk about this later. This while watching something with Clive Owen and Angelina Jolie about Vietnam; I finish teeth, we decide we've digested enough by 10:40 and we get someone to try to warm room, but he can't change temperature, so we just turn off A/C and I get to sleep by 11PM.

SUNDAY, 11/18/07: 2:45AM: Wake, Dale says, "I didn't flush for fear of waking you." "Remember, I wear earplugs." "What about the neighbors?" "Well, I'd flush." Go in, pee, flush, and type dream to 2:47AM, about to drink a glass of "agua pura" from faucet on our only night in Guatemala City. Wake at 5-something, doze, and at 6:05 go into cold bathroom to type a second dream to 6:07. Add "travel talk" to last night to 6:11AM. Oh, and Dale has TWO of the red-dot slightly raised bites I showed to Mario last night, and he said, "Just wash them with a lot of soap and water, and they'll be OK; nothing to worry about." Oh, God, I was walking around naked last night in front of Dale with TOILET PAPER stuffed into my ass-cleft. SHIT!! Maybe doze again; try starting Actualism a few times but get almost nowhere. Experience a few brief mympths of both the blue-dot-in-white-lattice form and yellow-dot cascade form. Up at 7:18 when he's in the shower, reminding myself to take mefloquine today, and to get out my mailing list for the four postcards I bought in lower Atitlan for 10Q, much better than the two-for-a-dollar (3.75Q/card) that are more common, as are 3Q cards. Figure with agony to give Omar $30 US dollars, for which I filch the envelope left by the maids for THEIR tip, which I NEVER give. Leaving only the problem of Mario to be paid with quetzals gotten from some ATM machine to the amount of maybe $100, or 750Q! Wash face, add mefloquine to pills, at last remember to put passport in carry-on luggage for---but we're NOT going over a border, we just need ID. 7:50 to breakfast. Skimpiest breakfast yet: precooked teeny omelets, no chocolate, though I had corn flakes; toaster that barely worked, though David saw that it was on low and turned it higher, which will surely soon fill the place with the smell of burnt toast. Back at 8:17, both complaining that the bite on the hand is itchier today than yesterday. Reminded again on peeing that I had asparagus last night, and Dale reports that he's never HAD that, and I'm reminded that it IS only a certain percentage of people who experiences it, but I can't remember anyone before who DIDN'T. Manage another small shit at 8:42: triumph. Also reapply lip-ice, oddly. Almost forget jacket. Leave room 8:55AM for 9AM city tour. Bus goes at 8:58. #31-32 Columbus Monument 9:08. #33 sexy base 9:12. #34 Agua on left, Acatenango on right 9:26. #35 Xmas tree 9:38. #36-37 Church of Our Lady of Anguish: earthquake prayer-promise in 1942 9:45. Roll 12: #1 owner's house 9:53. #2 "Eiffel Tower" 71 meters, from 1936 World's Fair, on 7th Avenue 10:05. #3 north view from same place 10:07, including sculpture that is enlarged version of piece in local museum. Off bus in Central Park 10:20. #4 National Palace, finished in 1943 10:35, closed on Sunday. #5 Central Park fountain. #6 bird fortunes 10:46. #7 Cathedral from 1534 10:47. #8 flag 10:49. #9 white dress 10:51. #10-11 people. On bus 11AM. To Mario's 1897 house to 11:05, with lorito, a parrot. To hotel 11:54. Bags out, check out, lunch, leave at 12:30. Bag out at 12:05, get 800Q from MasterCard Citi card for Mario's tip, to leave me with cash for NYC return. Puzzle to lunch at 12:30, to Casa Chapina 12:35, having black-bean soup, lemonade, various Ladino munchies including chile relleno, and black beans, then plantain in a too-sweet sauce. #12 musicians at lunch 1:11. To hotel 1:25, puzzles and New York magazine to 2:55. On bus at 3PM, Mario mentions passports, I look in bag: it's not THERE! Search again, and again, and finally bring myself to say, "Mario, I don't have my passport." Bus stops, people volunteer to look "dispassionately" in my bags, and I look and look and SUDDENLY remember my comment to Dale this morning: "Oh, we're NOT going over a border, so I WON'T need my passport, so I'll put it in my checked luggage and use my NY State driver's license if they require identification, which I used once before AT a border." Apologize to everyone on the bus, Sherlyn says, "You gave us all heart failure," and thinking of nothing better to say, I replied, "Good, that's why I didn't have to have one." That goes to 3:07, but seemed like ages. To airport 3:13, all hand-luggage off, and all get off bus to shake hands with Omar and I hand him the envelope with $30, THAT done. In through security, taking off shoes and belt and computer, through security and to a long hallway where the first men's sanitorio is closed, and the second has only one urinal working. Pee, as I said to Victoria, "Like I didn't do on the bus a few minutes ago." Then to gate 10, where Mario finds only Judy and Dale to get up at 4AM tomorrow for Tikal, and another guy not on our tour seems to want to join. Get our 20Q-boarding-pass sticker checked. I finish this at 4:03, sweating and smelling. Boarding announced for 4:55, for a 30-35 minute flight, but will STILL get in after dark, with "dinner on own, but we're not near anything else, so it'll be in our hotel." Finish the last October New York magazine at 4:55PM, when we should be boarding: at least the plane is at the gate. Arnie came over to talk with me, which was sweet. Now to start another Sunday puzzle. Board 5:09, and they move back 5:23, still sunlit clouds, they let me move back from wing-back. 30-minute flight. Wait for little plane to land. Off 5:37. #13 volcanoes 5:38. Start down 5:52, FEW lights below, still sunset-red sky behind. LOTS of RIVERS. Land 6:07, 30:07 flight. Plane stops 6:12, off plane 6:17, onto BUS 6:22! Bus goes 6:38, driver Victor. Breakfast at 6. Crocodiles! Leave store 6:35, to room 7:16, to dinner of good burger and tamarind and carrot cake for 77Q including tip to 8:35. Unpack, look at Tikal map, fan on high (on 1, not 5), windows open, Dale in john, so I finish typing at 9:12, bed at 9:15, naked under fan with open windows for "light about 5:45AM" per Mario.

MONDAY, 11/19/07: 2:43AM: Wake with second dream, cool under fan-on-2, and get up (without slippers) to pee and type dream. Wipe awfully shitty ass! 5:48AM: Don't think I slept at ALL most of the latter part of the night, thinking of my "final eulogy" praising and contrasting and comparing the couples and pairs and individuals and Mario. Thinking of my characteristics that others have taken over: Judy for "last one in," Carl for "lost for 10 minutes," Dale for "overexplaining," Pat for "repeating stories," Eloise for "being self-contained, different for each person," Sherlyn for "being in physical trouble," Peter for "being terribly unwell," and David and Joan for "having entirely too much fun," and Arnie and Bob as "A and B who help and succor each other in turn in times of the other's problems." Get up at 5:29 and take my earplugs out in time to hear Dale's TINY alarm-sound, and maybe EXHAUST his pyrethrin spray-can on my long-sleeve shirt, hat, and pants. He put the fan down to 3 about 4AM, because I'd put on the coverlet and STILL felt cold, sniffing THICK mucus as in a REGULAR cold, compared to the allergy-constant-stuffiness of before. Only TWO full days left of trip, yet I'll remember this group and this guide with GREAT fondness. Also fearful of not being able to see enough of the newly developed Tikal site in just the few hours we're there this morning. Stop now at 5:54AM, all clocks in synchrony. #14 howler (flash) 6:08; #15 croc head (flash) 6:12. #16-23 croc and howler. Almost ready for bus when I discover I've left my water bottle! Dash back and I'm last on bus, which goes at 6:40. 400,000 people in Peten, Flores is capital. Chicle-gum major product. Onto highway at 6:47. Arrive 8:04 after spider-monkey stop. Buy map for 25Q and 5 8Q stamps for 65Q, changing one new hundred, at 8:15. #24 MODEL from temple 4 at 8:16. Keel-billed toucan flies distinctly overhead, no picture at 8:24. #26 ceiba with bromiliads 8:19. Complex Q 8:40. #27 complex Q 8:43. 9 stelae. #28 Q and 5 stelae 8:44. #29 stele on "peccary" handout 8:47. #30 bound, long-haired king on altar before stele 8:52. #31 9-door palace-entry to underworld. #32 2 elaborate trees (strangler fig, left). #33 flowers. #34 WEST twin of Q complex. #35 Complex R 9:07. #36 oratory. North Acropolis started 200BC. #37 complex P 9:21. 9:38 up temple 4. Roll 13: #7 top of temple 4 9:44. #9 Mondo Perdido (r) temple 3 (l). #13 Bottom (?) 10:03. #14 BACK of temple 4 10:05. #15 Mondo Perdido 10:21. #16 3 layers of construction 10:24. To #22 from top to 10:43. #31-32 Palace windows/bats 10:53. #34 central acropolis from temple 2 11:01. #35 north acropolis. #36 temple 1. #37 down to plaza 11:02. Rain 11:06. Roll 14: #1-3 south acropolis and central acropolis, and top of temple 2 11:06. (#4 temple 2, #5 temple 1) from plaza 11:09. Then to North Acropolis. #6 mask inside. (#8 temple 2, #9 temple 1) from north acropolis 11:04. #10 FACE on temple 1. #14 MASK on top of temple 2. #15 UP temple 1 (no climbing) 11:23. Tomb FOUND in temple 1, a tomb is KNOWN to be in temple 2. #18-19 North Acropolis and clore (?) 11:27. #20 temple 1 side. #22-23 IN north acropolis 11:32. #25-26 temple 5's mask on top 11:38. #27-28 carved roof beams. #32 back of temple 1 11:56. Rain 12:06-12:30 during good lunch of chicken, rice, LOADS of tamarind drink (begging from last table for lots of laughs). #35 vulture 1:11, after lunch. Museum to 1:47: no cameras, no books, some in books I bought. Buy Guatemala big book for $14. Then $20 for good Tikal book on Visa. To bus 2:03. Bus goes 2:07. #37 sky at 2:34. Roll 15: Shop 2:45-3PM. Tomorrow: bags out 7AM, leave 8:30, lots of mosquitoes. PASSPORT, border. Dinner tonight 7PM. Nature trail available, but it rains as we pull in at 3:45, and to room 4PM with wet poncho, take good shit while Dale enters with umbrella. I take all clothes off but shorts for drying. Look at our books and maps to 4:45. Raining hard. Look at my passport to 5PM. Repack meticulously to 6:05. Postcard-write to 6:25: Marj, Shelley, Sherryl, Rita, Mildred (and Charles). Type 6:31-6:55, catching up. Now to dress again and head for dinner at 7:01PM. Awful choice between chicken (after that wonderful chicken at lunch that Sherlyn said she couldn't eat because it was so awful) and spaghetti [start file 5 at 8:05PM 11/19/07, still three days to go], so I take spaghetti to adhere to "little food" idea. Start with Pourro soup, which turns out to be scallions, and end with strawberries and cream. Peter actually interacts with people for a change, though Sherlyn monopolizes. Back for Dale to rush for the bathroom at 8:04 and I finish this at 8:07, getting ready for the final days, hoping I sleep better tonight than I did last night, NOT looking forward to the even MORE primitive accommodations promised for the last two nights, including leaving for the airport at 6AM for a plane that'll get me home about 9PM! Now to finish packing at 8:08PM. Start shower at 8:18 and finish that AND brush my teeth to 8:42, Dale still in the bathroom preventing my using the baby powder on my pubes and putting my dop kit into my bag. Finish peeing, powdering, and packing at 8:56PM. Finish last October New Yorker at 9:45 as Dale goes to "do [his] teeth." I start on November 5 New Yorker and lights go off at 9:50PM. Sleep quickly, nose clear; cold really OVER at last?

TUESDAY, 11/20/07: 3:23AM: Woke after dream about 1:20AM, but figured I'd remember it and went back to sleep until now. Well, have to blow nose after peeing, so some problem still there. Feeling vaguely sexy: only two more whole nights to go. Shit a tiny bit, thinking, "Shit, now my nose is stuffed when I sit UP, rather than when I lie DOWN!" Go through the start of Actualism, nose recovering, and drop off to sleep after maybe half an hour. 5:15AM: type dream. Actually feel like I may have shit a small turd again, but look into the bowl and, with relief, see that that didn't happen. Back to bed in increasing light from outside. Try Actualism but get nowhere. Have general good thoughts: where I am, how I feel, Yaxha and Caracol today and tomorrow, and then home. Hear Dale up, fussing that he has two bottoms and no top for his religious undergarb. I decide I can reopen my case to stash my slippers. Last morning start. To trail 7:01AM: fog, egret, slippery path. #1 heron 7:22. THOUSANDS of tiny (1 cm) black frogs. #3 dining room 7:37. FISH (2) in lake. Breakfast omelet, fruit, rolls and butter and marmalade, and coffee with cream and sugar 7:50-8:10, we two absolutely alone. #5 tree and pool boy 8:11. Back to this to 8:17. Bus goes 8:30. #6 shop 9:02. #7-8 washerwomen 9:14. Back to bus 9:24. Lunch order and pee break 9:55-10:03. To Yaxha 10:17. Off bus 10:25. #9 security and Joan 10:26. #10 pyramid 10:29. 500 structures, 40 stelae. #11 trogan in tree 10:35. #12 acropolis. #13 full-figure Tlaloc 10:42. #14-15 Acropolis 30 meters high 10:48. #18 with butterfly. #19 group G 10:54. #20 spider. #22 top and people down 11:03. 3 howlers. #23 CAST of original 11:10. #24 stairs 11:16. #25 gumbo-limbo tree, aka tourist tan 11:19. #26 strangling fig 11:21. #27 Group G 11:31. #28 north temple. #29 east temple 11:35. #31 west temple. #32 group returning 11:44. #33 reproduction of lying stele, lying at #34 11:48. #36 fig. #37 map 11:57. Roll 16: #1 ball court of STEEP sides 11:55. HOWLS from what sound like DOZENS of howler monkeys everyone tries to see and David says he thinks he saw one. Back to bus 12:07. Bus goes 12:12. Lunch 12:30-1:40: soup drunk by hand, good chicken under mushroom sauce, vegetables and rice that I eat about 2/3 of, and Sprite. #2 road 1:45. To Belize 2:35. #3 "Welcome to Belize" 2:41. #4 hammock under truck 2:45. OFF bus in Belize for immigration 2:47, bags down from top, we claim them and face Black who asks two, "Have you any food?" and two, "Have you any wood?" Back on bus 2:55, which goes 3:02, applauding Mario for getting us through so easily. Xunantunich passed 3:20 and Dale gets his picture. Pass San Ignacio's Baha'i Center 3:33. Handmade bush/furniture an unfortunate break. Phallic mimosa, Tzikin Tzakan sign from before, recorded at 3:51. #5-7 5-6"-diameter tarantula 4:22 spotted from bus and chivvied back to road by courageous Victor, who also spotted three iguanas in a tree for us. Arrive at Five Sisters at 4:50 after passing intriguing sign for 1000-foot falls, and then seeing painting of high falls that Laura verifies IS 1000-foot falls, a 35-minute drive from here, and she asks Nigel Richards, manager, if he can arrange it, and I tell her later we're in Barton's Creek. #8 "local" falls 4:56. 4:58: Laura: 300 steps to falls; tram goes 8AM-5PM [at exactly 5PM]. Mile-long nature trail, breakfast at 7, dinner tonight at 6:30. We're in Barton Creek; this goes to 5:17, followed by welcoming fruit drink. To room 5:25 with Carl and Sibyl following us OUTSIDE entrance and up hill to rooms. Unpack to 5:37, Dale still wanting no drawers, so I fill up all 5, suitcase in bottom, and start typing at 5:40, finishing now at 6:03. Wash and dress and leave at 6:15. We chat with early arrivals and go to dining room at 6:28, to get a carrot soup, BOTH the hibiscus and water but they refilled my hibiscus twice. Good spice cake dessert after curry-ish beef, rice that I didn't finish, and potato-and-carrot salad. Talk about tomorrow: breakfast at 7, leave at 8, back about 4, and I got nothing from Nigel about 1000-foot falls. Starts to POUR rain, but I start back to room in jacket and it essentially stops at 7:50. Finish this at 7:54 and have lots of time to kill. Brush teeth (only), pee, start 11/5 New Yorker 8:05, fumbling with mosquito net, Dale finally securing my V closed with his long-sought-after clothespins, and the sheet rumples up underneath too easily and the net gets caught in the other pillow, and I continue to read lying practically flat on my back until 9:55, when the article on the whale-killing goes on too long. Try to sleep for as much as an hour before finally drifting off.

WEDNESDAY, 11/21/07: 1:05AM: Wake and can't get back to sleep: sweaty, uncomfortable, vaguely sore. Finally up at 2AM to take a sleeping pill and pull sheet up into some semblance of order and manage to get to sleep maybe 2:15, to wake and shit a bit at 5:55AM, then lie back down and Dale is up and in shower a long time, I caught up now at 6:38AM, trying to type dream. Do that to 6:40, getting out clean pair of socks, putting on same old blue shirt. Rained a lot at some point last night, but the sun is trying to break through the clouds in the east and the ground doesn't appear to be TOO wet. Had to retrieve shorts and pen from floor, to where they'd slipped off bed in the night. Bedclothes a total chaos. 6:55AM: Washed face and hands, opened windows to sunlight outside despite hard rains last night, put on deodorant, peed again, put on pants and blue shirt and took pills in box and notepad and peed and put on wristwatch and took shoulder bag to leave from lobby when bus goes. Leave cabin at 6:57AM for breakfast at 7. TWO cups of coffee, ordering scrambled eggs, sausage (adding Dale's two), fried roll, and beans. Breakfast still not here by 7:18. Finish breakfast 7:42 and try to shit: succeed in a small way---twice! #9 falls 7:50. #10 our cabin "Barton Creek" 7:55. To bus 7:58, Peter and Sherlyn into bus 7:59. Bob in 8AM. Arn in and leave 8:07. Near Coppola's Blancaneaux (whatever that means?). Elias on 8:16: talks of "logging from the forest preserve." Belize has 270,000 here, 300,000 abroad sending money back here. At 1981 independence it had only 150,000. 41% of pine woods (which are about 20% of their forest) destroyed by pine bark beetle. They have indigo wood, boiled for the indigo dye the Mayans used for royalty and that Europe also adopted for royalty: bluebloods; Europe had NO dyes then, the Americas also adding cochineal. Had mahogany trees, which they cut down. Brits brought African slaves to Belize, for working in timber work camps. Creoles born from English and Africans; in 1834 they abolished slavery. 5000 rebels from St. Vincent to Belize. Carifunas: music! #11 road 8:39. Pine Bark Beetle killed 41% of trees. To security checkpoint 8:47. Out 8:51. To Rio Frio cave 8:58. #12 map 8:59. #13 entry 9:02. #14 orange-hat tourist to right 9:03. #15 falls 9:05. SOME Mayan paintings found in caves. Cave pictures through #21 at 9:12. #23 "San Francisco" "male" doll at 9:18, DESPERATE to get his face and chest, which I hope I did. #24 security 9:22, and leave. LOTS of MILITARY buildings. Five cars in today's group: our 14, another bus of about 6 (who ate at Five Sisters with us last night), a car of 4 (including my doll), and a car of 2 from New Orleans on their own. All have to go in at same time, waiting for them to 9:28. 50 sites in Belize, 10-12 recovered. Go in at 9:32. March-April driest, worst for forest fires, which they had earlier and I noticed in the valley below. "Red mimosa," and "White cascade," names? "Just bushes." 9:45AM: 27 km to Caracol. 9:51AM: 24 km. 3 km in 6 minutes is 18 mph. Vampire bats attack cattle. #25 Belize River and heron 10:03. Caracol at 1500 feet. 1938 site REPORTED; 1951-52 site MAPPED from University of Pennsylvania. Removing stelae and altars to Pennsylvania museum. 1954 University of Florida started reconstruction; 2001-2003 LAST Belize excavations. 10:08: 16 km. Groups started coming in late 80s, two OAT tours last week had to turn back because of impossible roads caused by a tropical depression: roads washed out! 10:12 PAVED road. River divides acidic PINE forest from Maya-friendly resource-full RAIN forest. Linton Satterthwaite REMOVED stelae to Penn, with agreement from then-government, and Elias said there's just no money to pursue it anymore, anyway. Arrive 10:27. Start walk 10:40. #27 Raleigh Group 10:45. 5000 of these areas, 36,000 estimated in all, "only" 100 excavated. #28 7 skeletons, male and female, buried here 10:48. This ONE restored and reassembled: called Plazuelas. Jewelry in Belize City Museum. #30 Barsin Group 10:58. #31-32 Caana 11:04. 7 platforms to ELEVEN doors, "heavenly" entry to upper world. Temples and vaults at TOP contained remains and two RESIDENTIAL (for priests, Mario admitted) complexes. Start up 11:07. Ball court in WEST observatory/unexcavated in east. SOUTH took 100 men 365 days to uncover. #33 NORTH acropolis 11:10. #35 Judy 11:13. Roll 17: #1 CAST over original 11:17. #2-4 from top of Caana 11:20. #14 base of North Acropolis. #15 three faces: upper (round-eyed) Tlaloc; middle, then fish on left: water world (Maya underground). Jaguar has big nose: sun on voyage through underworld. All copies ON TOP of originals. Jaguar wearing earplugs, J-shaped whiskers, and on bottom "witz": mountain spirit. All to 11:40. #17 small "filler" steps 11:41. All above in "B Group." #18 ball court 11:42. 331AD Caracol Dynasty founded. #19 observatory, A-6, 11:50. #20 FIELD for 100 conservators from Florida University. #21 closeup of A-2: observatory SEAT. #23 stele 1. #24 altar 12. #26 altar 23 11:58: prisoners of Caracol: (l) Betal (2) Ukanal (which in the guide is described as the CITY they're from, not their names), hands tied, sitting on character "Mountain," which means they're on display. Double-headed serpent represents person who hallucinates, communing with spirits. #27 stone 28 11:59. #29 1951 excavation: administrative group. #30-31 individual buried BEHIND stele 5. #32-33 A Group: ball court of Ka'n II, who buried mother on top 12:26. #34 A Group complex: INSIDE 12:29. #35-37 clockwise: A-2, A-3, A-6 12:31. Roll 18: #1 Lizard 12:34. #2 BACK of A-6, "Lintel." #3 A-3 closer. #4 ANGRY ants 12:38 (and Mario had to keep stamping to get them off his LEGS). #5 archaeologists "pulled plug" on reservoir 12:40. #6 Farewell view 12:48. 12:52 pee. 12:56 lunch to 1:16: ham and cheese sandwich, piece of spice cake, some hibiscus drink, pieces of fruit. Dynasty was 331-859AD. Museum 1:17-1:34. #7 maps 1:23. #10 Cohune: oil palm, young one; older a tall tree. Leave 2PM. #11 road 2:45. 2:55 take Valium. 2:56 arrive at Army post. Bob to pee AGAIN (as he did once from road, stopping bus just for him) (reminded of asking Arnie, "What's with Bob?" and he keeps asking for DETAILS, saying he was an only child, got no attention, and thinks himself unattractive, and does these things to get attention). Elias off 3:30; I give $4. #12 carlieve (?) 3:33. Dinner 6:15. To hotel 3:42, onto tram down 3:43. Down by 3:49. #16-17 falls 3:52. #18 ginger (?) 4:04. #19 Dave and me 4:07. #20 Bob and Arn and me 4:11. Pee 4:16. #23 downstream 4:25. #24 David and Pat. 4:27: sit and listen to falls---Peter and Sherlyn going up. Coming down empty. Me up alone, Bob and Arn, and David and Judy last pairs up. I go up alone 4:25. #24 up, #25 down 4:37. To top 4:38. #27 our cabin and moon 4:42. To room 4:45. To shower 4:52-5:20, water eventually warm. Start typing 5:27-6PM (not NEARLY done). Dress and to dinner 6:15. Tomorrow bags out 5:30, breakfast 5:30, leave 6AM, three-hour drive to airport. Buy duty-free in Belize, PACK in checked luggage BEFORE transferring it in Miami. We get PINS, Mario gives instructions 6:15-6:44. Questionnaire to 7PM. #28 Victor and Mario, giving Victor $15 cash. Dinner: poor pork, rice, and $3 for second Belikin beer. Goodbye to afternoon leavers, Carl especially warm, Arn demanding a hug, Bob pecking a kiss. I back to room 8PM. Start typing 8:03-8:41, Dale constantly interrupting. Now to PACK! Cut three more "note cards" to 8:48: MADNESS! Pack SURPRISINGLY efficiently to 9:15PM, ALMOST ready. Finally put bag by door, everything ready but BED by 9:20PM, alarm set for 5:15AM, just less than eight hours. Bed 9:30PM. More comfortable without fan on, but it starts warm and ends cooler, as last night, and maybe get to sleep like 10PM.

THURSDAY, 11/22/07: Pee at 2:47AM, then just can't sleep. Since alarm is at 5:15AM, it's too late for a sleeping pill. Try starting Actualism, but can't quite get my mind around it: debate doing an Ego Rescue for the Actualism denier ("It just isn't WORKING!"). Look at watch at 3:50AM, 3:54, 3:57, 3:59, and think I must be dreaming or hallucinating: the time just isn't PASSING. Then drift off to sleep and wake at 4:44AM with SUCH a bizarre dream that I get up, answer, "Not yet," when Dale asks, "Is it time to get up yet?" And pee and start typing dream at 4:52AM. Finish typing at 5:02 now, I guess to be permanently up rather than endure the fuss of trying to get under the mosquito net in bed again. 5:09AM: Fussed in the dark to find my water bottle and shoulder bag to take a Valium, and get out to debate what to do and Dale says, "We might as well get up now," and I say, "I was hoping you'd say something like that," and I put on my light and he goes to the john and I type this to 5:11AM, into the day for better or worse. 5:20AM: dress, look at pills I left OUT and think I've mistaken my NIGHT pills for my DAY pills, but look in my shoulder bag and find in fact THOSE are my night pills, and my day pills mysteriously lack my little white ZETIA pill: it could have fallen out when I transferred them yesterday, or I could have left it stuck in the pillbox, now ensconced in the middle of my suitcase, so I just conclude that missing one Zetia isn't going to be catastrophic. Dale complains about his phone being dead, and is confused about other details, so this morning is a confusing seeming-extension of my hallucinatory DREAM! Type this to 5:23, earplugs safely in my jeans pocket, cool enough to put on my jacket, and almost time to put the bag out on the porch for 5:30AM collection. 5:28AM: Guy already took our luggage, as Dale noted, "Three and a half minutes early." I get out my comb, Dale using the john, and check that the plane leaves Belize at 12:50PM, later than I thought, and gets into JFK at 8:35PM. Now 5:30AM. Leave room 5:32, LAST to breakfast with EIGHT of us. Good pancakes, butter and syrup, fruit, and coffee for breakfast. We eight leave at 5:42. I gave Mario his envelope of 735Q + $10 as he greeted us at door. Finish breakfast and to john 5:52, grunting out a few final turds by 5:55. Bus goes 5:52, me in FRONT seat in COLD A/C, so I put jacket on, to take it off later. Have noticed for the past few days that my cold is FINALLY blessedly over. Driver pronounces it Shun-NAN-tunich, which means Lady of the Rock. 6:50 to PAVED road. Gas station in San Ignacio 7AM. Gas for 80B = $40US. #29 Hawkesworth one-way suspension bridge over Macal River 7:05. Great Orange Gifts shop 7:20-7:30, but no Zip outside whole calendar. Speed bumps called "Sleeping policemen." To airport 8:47, tip $2. At 8:55 buy Belize cashew wine for $7.50, which I pack, hoping it doesn't break and won't be confiscated. $95.50 left. Buy ZIP pendant, "Maya stone," for $6.50, $89 left. Start typing 9:24. Find that we can check through security then RETURN to upstairs Sun Garden Restaurant, which has a good lunch-burger menu. Finish this at 9:32 and decide to finish proofing file 4 9:32-9:46. Start proofing file 5 9:46, but check-in starts at 9:47. Line to check-in ends at 10:18. Bag is 31.1 pounds. Up to "lunch" 10:20-11:10 with Victoria: bacon cheeseburgers with fries and uneaten coleslaw and tomato and lettuce. I had a $12B Tequila Sunrise. Total bill, which I Visaed, including hers, was $56B. Through security 11:21, paying not $34, not $39 (as on two OAT forms) nor $36.25 (as on airport sign), but $32.50, for whatever reason. Type this to 11:28 and start proofing file 5, finishing at 11:47 and going to proof file 8: dreams, to 11:58AM, waiting room crowded with people waiting to board at the announced 12:05PM. Put this away and resume whale-rescue article. Board 12:30, JUST behind wing. 1:30 flight. Back out 12:47, off 12:55. BEAUTIFUL greens below. #30 colors 1:03. Over TINY end of Cuba after miles of featureless, waveless blue, but Keys are clouded and then lots of Everglades and Miami. Land 2:20, 1:31 flight. Change watch to 3:20. Off 3:36, get through immigration, get bag among first, and bag GONE to JFK by 4PM. Pee at 4:20 and sit to read a bit before Thanksgiving dinner before 6:10 boarding. Now only 4:30. Nacho dinner, with chicken and cheese and beer, for which Victoria pays, to 5:45. Board 6:13 and I switch SIDES. 2:16 flight. Move back 7:02, off at 7:16. Puzzle and read, land at 9:27 (2:11 flight), seeing lots of lights below from Florida and New Jersey. Off plane 9:42, get bag, take cab at 10:12, home 11PM for $42 including tip. Four phone messages: two from Blanche Blanders (Schindler); one from Ken that we GOT El Bulli on 9/9; one from Susan Hason: use MY projector. Record Charlie Rose, weigh bags at 33 and 9 pounds: 42 total up from 30 total. Wash face, shit, weigh 192, and bed at 11:43.

FRIDAY, 11/23/07: Wake 4:54, doze. Wake 5:58, pee. 6:12 up to j/o to 7:12. Phone Mildred 10:30: LW; phone Charles 10:31: LW; phone Marj 10:32-11:10; phone Arnie 11:10-11:47. Talk to Mildred half an hour. Get Times from Bill P. Tired. Bed 12:50, but up at 1 to j/o to 1:45. Place order for next week for Healthy Meals. Phone Shelley 5PM: LW; phone Carolyn 5:02: LW; phone Sherryl 5:04-5:27, who invites me to lunch tomorrow; dinner, go through MUCH mail, bed at 11:47.

SATURDAY, 11/24/07: Pee 4:25. Pee 5:10, think of adding travel to St. Pierre and Miquelon, or maybe to Las Vegas with Fred, to actually make SIX trips in 2007, but then I think I can consider PATAGONIA as part of 2007, since a) I wanted it then, b) I paid for it then, and c) Japan in March through Patagonia in January is less than the SPAN of a year. Then I can comfortably come down to FIVE trips in 2008 between February and December. Then I thought about the trip to El Bulli: 1) use my frequent-flyer miles, 2) maybe stop at the Azores, 3) maybe a side-trip to Corsica and Sardinia, 4) maybe a side-trip to the Balerics. 5:33, make do-list: 1) Odyssey brochure to Dale, 2) check St. Pierre and Miquelon, 3) check Azores on way to El Bulli, 4) get Capitoline Museums guide, 5) order more slide film, 6) call Susan Hason for Tuesday, 7) call Blanche, 8) unpack, 9) finish journal and calendar and summary and slide-list, 10) that "late" Citi pay? 11) update Century Club list, 12) update future-travel list, 13) order Carl's camera, 14) check my digital camera, 15) check Sony camcorder warranty, 16) finish old Times puzzles, 17) finish NEW Times, 18) Resubscribe to New Yorker. Type dream, shit bit at 7:08. 7:20 start j/o to 8:15. TV to 8:40. 11/11 Times puzzles to 10:20, quick. FINISH 11/11 Times. Charles on phone 12:45-1:15. Sherryl's for lunch 2-5PM. Do most of mail. Bed 10:55, exhausted; eye-weary.

SUNDAY, 11/25/07: Type dream after peeing at 5:24AM, j/o AGAIN. Start OLD puzzles. Start 11/18 puzzles. Finish 11/18 Times. FORGOT to go to gym and to water plants. Rita calls. Tris calls. Bed 10:15.

MON,11/5: Fly NYC-Miami 12:10-2:45PM (2:35). Off plane 3:52! Lunch at Jose Cuervo Tequileria of a Gringo sandwich and beer. Fly Miami-Panama City 6:17-8:57PM (2:40). Drinks in Crowne Plaza Hotel; start Ciprofloxacin; bed 11:25PM.
TUE,11/6: Hotel breakfast; Farmacias Arocha for Tylenol and Theraflu for $6.95. Panama Viejo Museum and Old Panama walking tour. Lunch at Mi Ranchito on Amador Causeway. Miraflores Museum and locks. Bus to Gamboa; dinner in hotel and bed 10PM.
WED,11/7: Breakfast with MasterCard salespeople, bus to markets and Embera Village for tilapia and plantain lunch. Dance. Titis and ants. Orchidarium walk. Bus for possums and 7 capybara. Dinner of chicken sandwich; bed at 10:15.
THU,11/8: To Monkey Island IN Panama Canal; dredgers. White-faced and spider monkeys, sloth, iguana. Serpentarium and Butterfly House. Bus to Culebra Cut and French cemetery and locks. Ancon Hill over Panama City. Niko's Cafe lunch. Plaza Herrera, Simon Bolivar Square, National Theater, Plaza de Francia.2 Crowne Plaza drinks and dinner at Tinajas.
FRI,11/9: Walk to church; Tierra Firma Four Seasons pizza at airport, fly Panama-El Salvador 4:31-5:28(San Jose at 4:28) 5:46-6:36. Bus with Mario Soto to Hotel Sheraton Presidente and meet roommate Dale! Talk, pizza, bed at 9:36PM, early.
SAT,11/10: San Salvador cathedral, Joya de Ceren "Pompeii" village, Rancho Allegre lunch on Lake Quetzal Teque. Guatemala City Hotel Marina Grande dinner.
SUN,11/11: Copan grounds, tunnels, and museum 9-12:30 (71 slides). Hotel Marina Copan lunch poor. Las Sepulturas 2-3 (4 slides). Archaeological Museum, Casa K'inich Children's Museum, DVD show. Dinner in Hotel Marina Copan. Bed at 9:30.
MON,11/12: Museum in Estanzuela in Zacapa Province, cactus tour along Motagua River, tombs, lunch in Restaurante Sarita El Rancho on double burger. Antigua Guatemala for Las Antorchas Restaurant dinner with awful duo. Bed at 10:10PM.
TUE,11/13: Breakfast in Porta Hotel, good. End of Powder on TV. Casa de Artes for costumes. San Luis Pueblo Nuevo school and lunch. Jocotenango for Azotea Coffee and Music Museum; jade factory. Dona Luisa Xicotencatl dinner; roof moon.
WED,11/14: Santa Maria de Jesus tour. Santo Domingo Museums for Glass and Galeria books. Donde Monica for Hibiscus, Horchata, fabulous Pepian de Pollo, plantain cooked in chocolate dessert. Drinks with Arnie and Bob. Dine at Lili's Cafe. TV for end of The Company, with Neve Campbell and James Franco, to 10PM, then bed.
THU,11/15: Waitress/waiter-carries-tray race. San Andres Itzapa for San Simon. Lunch at Cabana de Don Robert. Fog to Solala, to Hotel Porta del Lago, roof photos. Stroll town to Casablanca dinner, back to Notorious on TV to 11PM.
FRI,11/16: Boat to Santiago Atitlan: Maximon; Apostle Santiago Church funeral. Truck to San Lucas Toliman; lunch in Restaurant Toliman. Boat to San Antonio Palopo for weavers hut. Soak in jacuzzi. Dine as 6 at Circus Bar, very lively.
SAT,11/17: To Reserva Natural Atitlan for Cables X-Tremos, 6 zip-lines! Lunch at Cabana de Don Robert: tortillas and FABULOUS chocolate cake. To Guatemala City: Miraflores Mall and Best Western Hotel Stofella. Xmas tree lighting and fireworks! Tre Fratelli dinner: great group; Dale and I talk of travel together!
SUN,11/18: Tiny breakfast. Guatemala City tour: Columbus Monument, Our Lady of Anguish Church, "Eiffel Tower," National Palace, Central Park, Mario's house. Casa Chapina lunch. Fly Guatemala City-Flores 5:37:00-6:07:07. To Hotel Villa Maya cabin, stopping at local store for water. Good burger dinner at Hotel.
MON,11/19: Spray for mosquitoes. Howlers and croc at hotel. To Tikal 8:15-12:06 (83 slides), lunch under palm-roof in rain with tamarind gallon, Museum half-hour, buy two books for $34. Write postcards and pack. Dinner: soup and spaghetti.
TUE,11/20: Walk lake, breakfast. Yaxha 10:17-12:07 (30 slides). Lunch off main road at "Portal de Yaxha." To Belize border 2:35-3:02. Tarantula on road. To Five Sisters Lodge in Cayo District for dinner, then uncomfortable mosquito net.
WED,11/21: Bus to Rio Frio cave, then toward Caracol 9:32-10:27. Caracol 10:40-12:48 (54 slides). Box lunch as picnic. Museum. Leave 2-3:42. Down and up tram. Shower and dress for final dinner 6:15-8PM. Type. Pack. Bed 9:30, to wake EARLY.
THU,11/22: Poor sleep. Bag goes 5:28AM. Bus Belize City 5:52-8:47AM. Buy cashew wine. Sun Garden Restaurant lunch/Victoria 10:20-11:10. Fly Belize-Miami 12:55-2:20PM. Sports Bar nachos Thanksgiving 5PM. Fly Miami-JFK 7:16-9:27. Home 11PM.