May 7th was my first full day of playing catch-up. I spent the morning listening to a parade go by, knowing I should be out there filming it but not willing to shower and get dressed in order to do so. Instead, I continued to write the content that would accommpany the video posts that I intended to upload later in the day.
Meanwhile, Sue’s mission is to go to San Marcos and check out the chocolate ceremony. You can read about her experience here: If Willy Wonka was a Hippie: Spirituality and the Cacao Connection.
Crappy Equipment is Proving Costly
I’d edited a couple of videos shot with the highly-recommended FujiFilm FinePix JX620. I was initially impressed with this camera as it takes high-resolution photos/high-definition videos and is compact, lightweight, and affordable
Once I started to edit the videos taken with the FujiFilm FinePix JX620, however, my opinion changed drastically. The videos are excellent but the audio is so poor that it is jepordizing the entire project. Each track contains a noticable mechanical noise; three clicks in rapid succession, reoccurring randomly. I hope someone skilled at audio editing can remove them, or at least reduce them so that they’re less conspicuous.
Ideally, once more sponsors are involved, the budget will allow me to add a third member to the crew: somebody to shoot and edit videos while enroute. Finding local hires isn’t easy when on the move constantly, although I will attempt to get someone here in San Pedro as we will be stationary for a few weeks.
In the meantime, if anyone knows what is causing that clicking sound, please let me know. When I get around to writing it, my review of this particular camera will be scathing.
Living Like A San Pedro Local
We intend to spend a couple of weeks in Lake Atitlan so that I can catch up on the copious amounts of work that I’ve been selectively ignoring and so that we can co-write an article on the rising water levels. We have thusly rented a house for the occasion. It is in a predominantly local neighbourhood, which is hugely beneficial for us to get to know the Mayan people, their customs, and their culture. A bustling produce market is a mere three blocks away. Furthermore, we have decided to dedicate a substantial amount of our time here to learning Spanish. While traveling as a naive tourist makes for interesting content, it is far easier and safer to explore Central and South America with at least a working knowledge of the predominant language. Fortunately for us, we have a Spanish immersion experience right outside our door while still being a five-minute walk from the city centre and its tourist haunts.
I suspect that we’re more fortunate than our neighbours in terms of amenities. Our two-story is typical of the properties surrounding us, yet we have a new refrigerator, microwave, gas stove, television (with cable), computer (without internet), and hot water. There are no laundry facilities but, considering many of our neighbours wash their laundry in the lake, our built-in tubs are a luxury. I’ve been assured by John, director of a non-profit project that introduces solar power to rural communities throughout the country, that most Guatemalans do not use gas since they cannot afford to pay three times what gas costs in the USA. The acrid smell of burning wood each morning and evening supports this claim. As for the microwave, Sue suggested that we use it as a bread box (can you tell that neither of us is capable of cooking a decent meal?).
We’re paying at least double (if not triple or quadruple) what a local would pay, although it’s still extremely affordable at $240/mth, and the place is reasonably clean and well-maintained. There are copious electrical outlets (except in the kitchen, whose walls are bamboo and threaded with enterprising plants) and, amazingly, they all work. Sue discovered two large spiders that had claimed the shower as their territory. I thought I’d found another spider of freakish size, although I wasn’t wearing my glasses, and Sue later identified it as a cockroach. So far, it’s been the only one–though I spent the evening scoring the lower floor for more.
Cockroaches actually don’t faze me, but spiders really creep me out. I’m of the opinion that eight of any body part is a superfluous amount, and spiders’ existence imply that tiny aliens have already invaded our planet and are awaiting their opportunity to exterminate us and take over.
Missed Opportunity… Again
We’re here to write about, photograph, and video the rise of Lake Atitlan’s water level. To document the speed of the swell, we decided last night to place a marker in the lake today. Of course, first thing this morning the sky cracked open with a deluge of rain–enough rain to cause a noticable rise in the level of the lake, I estimate. It would have been awesome to have a time-lapse video of the water rising. I’m sure some person/organization has been tracking the swell all along, so we have to inquire after that. Of course, we’ll conduct our own research as well… once the rain stops.
Also planned for when the rain stops is a hike around the lake’s coast. We want to document what has already been lost to the rising waters, as well as what is in immediate danger. I learned yesterday that it takes only 8 to 10 hours to completely circumnavigate the lake on foot, and that there are only short expanses where there are no well-worn paths. I’d hoped we could rent a launcha, but there are numerous areas near the shore that boats can not approach because submerged trees and structures make it too hazardous. I’ll have to looking into renting a two person kayak to be able to get up close to the shoreline.