November 6th, 2003


(no subject)

Now that I have the icky men off my mind, I can go into the better part of the trip: scuba diving. When I got to Roatan, I was so in the mood to just relax and not have an agenda that I considered skipping the scuba course. I thought, hey, I can rent snorkelling gear for much less, and then I keep all my free time and do what I want, and am I really going to LOVE scuba diving? I thought that I would probably LIKE scuba diving, but that after getting my certification, it would be one of those things that was a "glad I did it, and it`s good to try new things, but not gonna do much of it in the future" kind of thing.

Anyway, I ended up deciding to go ahead and do the open water course, figuring that, indeed, it is always good to try new things, and what the heck, I might really like it. (cough)

The course was three days, with two "real" dives each of the second and third days. The confined water portion was kinda weird because we were just in the shallow water in the bay, but visibility SUCKED, so as we were practicing skills, the instructor couldn`t see all of us at once, and had to move around a lot and do each of them with each person individually. I think that made him more cranky than he already was.

I was VERY concerned about being able to clear my ears, because I almost never fail to have trouble with that when I`m on airplanes, so the first two real dives, I went down on a line, hand by hand, clearing my ears every foot or so. I had no problems whatsoever, to my great surprise, so the second day, I decided to try decending without a line, and that worked fine, too, so... so much for preconceived worries! :)

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And in the meantime, I guess I need to get a really thick wetsuit for diving in the northeast...
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    bouncy bouncy

politics, election, guatemala

The presidential elections here are happening this Sunday, November 9, as I´ve mentioned a few times before. My plan has been to be an observer, working through a local organization here in Xela, probably going to a more rural community for Saturday night and the day of voting on Sunday. Now, it turns out that the organization may not need everyone they have, and so I´m an "alternate", which I found out yesterday. This makes me a little cranky, mainly because of timing; at this late date, it´s a scramble to try to find something else.

So, I may end up not doing observation, but it´ll be an interesting time to be here, anyway. There´s a new law, just passed by congress, that everything needs to be closed Saturday, Sunday, Monday, especially news organizations. This is pretty fishy, as you might imagine, and there´s a fair amount of resistance to it, but people are stocking up on food and other things, just in case everything DOES shut down this weekend.

A local independent journalist spoke at the school earlier this week, and gave us some insight into politics here and how that interacts with media. Needless to say, like anywhere else, one hand washes the other, and the "leading" candidate, Oscar Berger, happens to be related to people high up in one of the two major news organizations in the country, so all of the coverage he´s gotten is a tad suspect in that context.

There are also some people who are fairly strongly expecting there to be a coup around this election. The journalist pointed out two things this week when he spoke: First, Guatemala has had a coup of the government every 9-11 years since 1944, and the last one was in 1993, so we´re about due. Second, there has already been a "technical" coup in the fact that Rios Montt has been allowed to run, despite the fact that the current constitution´s stance on who can run in presidential elections was practically written specifically to exclude Montt.

So, it´ll be an interesting next week or so. Stay tuned. I´ll be very interested to hear what kind of coverage all of this gets in the US, so folks should email me things you may hear (I´m betting there won´t be a lot of coverage there, actually, but, hey, I´m still curious.) Also, if the law shutting everything down does go into effect, I expect I won´t be able to get online, and maybe not phone, from Saturday - Monday, and, depending, of course, on how things go AFTER the election, maybe not afterwards, so be prepared for some silence from me this weekend, in that case.
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    curious curious