ici, Paris

Paris, France I performed at the Paris Poetry Slam. The French are gracious and know more English than Americans know French. In other news, doesn't it seem like neanderthals really loved camping? We start moving west again soon. I'm performing in Phoenix on the 26th, info on the shows page. Here are some poems. In English.

Paris Gossip II

And you, Saint, came from whereever you came and slayed the dragon that grew each night from the prostitute's house.

For this, people were able to leave their houses at night. For this, you eventually were made into stone and placed next to Jesus.

Paris Gossip III

And you, Bishop, left, your head in your hands, after being beheaded by the dancing Pagans.

You, Bishop, holy, stood from the guillitine-- too holy to die there, picked up your tall hat with what it contained, and walked from this city,

to die where you chose, leaving the blade questioning itself and the people questioning their faith in the blade.

(Now, in the place you chose to lay your head for good, there is a fountain. Women who drink of it will always love their husbands.)

parisian heartbreak

paris, france broke in a great city national day of hangover after worldcup loss (header to the chest) sporatic violence and fire sher ner pall pah fransays in good health, lots of ink even this keyboard speaks french home soon

ps; if you are paris julie slamcoach... email me pps; even if not, email me

the trip told in matches

Barcelona, Catalunya From an email I just wrote to my wonderful friend Melinda:

The night of that game [Brasil v. France], the Catalans in here in Barcelona put up with more pro-France frollicking than I imagine they ever have. Throngs in the streets, bouncing and screaming France songs, climbing statues and monuments and draping them in the French flag (!), painted faces, the whole bit.

One could, if one wanted, tell the whole story of this trip in World Cup matches.

For instance, we were supposed to be in France for tomorrow night's semifinal. But apparently the French railworkers have gone on strike and no trains are running in that country right now. So we are effectively marooned here in Barcelonatown holding our Eurail passes in our sweaty, American fingers. Sure, we could take the bus, but we have these passes, bought & paid for already. We're entitled, damnit.

So likely we'll be here for France's semifinal victory and more rioting in the streets.... really, either way, since you figure Spain is the meat in the Portugal-France sandwhich. And what a delicious sandwhich, anyway.

We would've been in Paris for the final match. We still might be. Jesus. The pot is starting to boil.

(The pot being europe, the water being the europeans' tempers, the fire being el fut... and the sandwhich still being the sandwhich, which is to say, delicious.)

There's more where that came from... drunks in Ireland cheering for England until the crowd broke into 'god save the queen'... a drunk in Barcelona shouting '¡viva franco!' which was the name of Argentina's goalkeep during the penalty kicks in Germany v. Argentina, also the name of Spain's former dictator... etc...

Stranded in Barcelona, broke and taking notes. Never mind that the press mentions nothing about the strike, nor have we heard it from anyone else... could be a practicle joke on the part of the Barcelona train station... we weren't on that metro train in Valencia that took a dive at cost of 41 lives yesterday, at least theres that... the internet is too expensive here for me to be posting much... the fotos of the caos will have to wait to be posted until I'm stateside again maybe...

snowmen in cataluña

Barcelona, Cataluña, España

So these two snowmen are standing alone out in a field together, a little bored. Then, one turns to the other and says, "Hey, do you smell carrots?"

A John Kofonow joke via Nick Fox.

All the longing in the tourist ghettos, drinking and questioning, little worlds wrapped in a big one.

We can't afford anything and aren't worried.

la mezquita

Córdoba, Andalucia, España The doves & the sparrows dive, curve, sing over narrow puzzle streets.

To be born here is to understand the streets.

To have wings here is to make the streets your own.

españa venga

Madrid, España Spring Winders. Nick Fox. Logan Phillips. Between us, everything. Before us, even more. Spain spreads out as a twisting desert, yellow and orange after the green burning of Ireland and England. A twisting desert, a desert having a bad dream, tossing and turning all through the day, trying to sleep as the sun falls hard all over it.

We sleep with no air conditioning. The old streets hold no reason only rhyme. Romans, jews and moors. We wander and tear vivid fotos from our eyes. Below the city, sitting in tunnels, the women flick open their fans, rocking their wrists back and forth, sending a breeze across their glistening faces. The wind in the subway, trapped, searching. The men talk quickly.

Picasso's Guernica looms huge in my face while I try to fall to sleep, until my face rearranges, my nose falling backwards, my eyes sliding downward, searching for the sky.

Tears held by long strings a windchime in minor key. We surround ourselves in it.

Walk and write, walk and write. Blink too much, squint. Everywhere graffiti, the good kind, the street poems, the molotov portrait stencils. Still nothing like London's Banksy, a hero, but still. Lay some ink down.

North African gypsy music on the streets, the smirking streets.

Madrid is La Habana without the neglect. La Habana is Madrid, hot. This, América Latina turned inside out. Or vice versa. Vice on the streets, the vivid streets.

The cop cars speeding through pedestrian zones. Children fleeing.

These notes while running. Reading more Galeano. Sitting at Garcia Lorca's bronze feet. My tongue remembering how it loves to move.

Old. World.

London, England Kicking and alive. Ireland was good. Words to come in the July NOISE. Spain coming. A lot more soon, check back.

London Gossip II They say if the ravens die in the fortress, the kingdom will fall. If they leave the tower, the same. So first, modern paranoia-- they clipped their black wings. Then, a postmodern twist-- birdflu spread across the world. So now, to protect a legend, the birds are kept inside.

3,000 Miles

Austin, Tejas, The United States of North America 3,000 miles into this tour I realize maybe I should be writing something about it. It's more clear now than ever that the North American Southwest is my home, northern New Mexico is a meditating landscape, southern Arizona is bandito territory, west Texas is the thick beginning of the south, etc. And what is travel but a parade of beautiful faces? In no particular order, I should mention that the Central School Project is quite possibly the best performance space south of Tucson, that Spring Winders is the best printer in the goddamn world and her recent show in Flagstaff deserved much critical acclaim, Don McIver of Albuquerque has a new book out called the Noisy Pen and is constantly writing, his better half Mindy is wonderful too. Emily, Tanya and all of Amy Biehl High School are right-on. Gary Mex Glazner is pushing the limits as usual, leading 'hippy love circles' with high schoolers that rock any slam team. Word is that his new book should be out as soon as he finishes it. Paul White is an artist in Santa Fe who has a wonderful house and hospitality and whose portfolio I can't remember the URL for. There I met many wonderfuls. And Liz hooked it up with Lila Downs tickets, Liz and Lila Downs are awesome. Then sleeping in west Texas in the back of my truck...

Rich is not Mexican. He's from Austrailia. He lives in San Anto. Get it right. He has a budding show at the new Ruta Maya and Bonnie smiles, nods, and doesn't let anyone get away with shit. Ft. Worth has an art community that doesn't yet know it. There's many Awesomes there including Tammy (tejana spitfire), Claudia (teatro as ritual) and Ken (musico and thinker, listener & laugher), each of whom is Involved. Meanwhile Suzy is training to fight fires instead of causing them on microphones...

More to come.

tour 2006

TOUR 2006

After being gone so long, it's time to see what this country of mine has been up to.

The 2006 Poetry Tour: 1 April 2006 — 6 June 2006. I’ll be coming through Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Nebraska, South Dakota, Colorado and California and performing at poetry slams, schools, retirement homes, radio stations and other venues. The main event of the tour will be the 2006 Austin International Poetry Festival, where I'm a featured poet. I'll be participating in readings, a slam and an interesting forum. The full schedule can be found on the tour page.

The shows on this tour are going to be a bit different from what I've done in the past. Fewer 3-minute slam poems and more of the unexpected. There's a lot of new work, there's been a lot of life lived since the last time I performed a poem.


Casa del Sol, Arizona

Armonia, Mexico DF

Amid snowstorms, desert rain, a wake, drowsy U.S. Customs officers and a grieving family, I am back in the States. There's a lot to tell, and a lot of time to tell it. Just about a week ago I was still La Habana--Cuba being "the great unknown" of my farewell post almost a month ago. For those who worried when my "three weeks" stretched on & on, I don't apologize. We must get used to trusting each other again, even if I don't have a cell phone number. I'll arrive. And then I'll leave again.

Goddamn there are a lot of cars in this country. In the next few days I'll be hitting the keyboard hard, transferring many of these cuentos out of the notebook and out into internetlandia. There's several gigs of pictures to post as well.

Cuba? Well, Castro's Cuba is a crapshoot, the hardest traveling I've ever done in my life. Bartek was right, I wrote more in three weeks than I had in a month and a half up to that point, I think. I had to write small to make it fit. There's a lot to say. I'll be posting a series of articles on Cuba very soon, along with the fotos. I'm also working on melting down the 24 hours of audio I recorded on the road into the "ambient mixtape:" street sounds, church choirs, footsteps, horsesteps, street musicians, poems, interviews, stories, shouting, evangelical preaching, arguments, waterfalls, ocean whispering, it's all there.

I'm back a little earlier than expected, that's true. My grandmother passed away while I was still living in La Habana, I got out of the country as soon as I was able and rushed back for our family's wake. She is the last of my elders to go. It's up to us to continue the story now. Read about this amazing woman, the kind that's rare to find anymore.

Hasta pronto.

Another Bus Another Border


We all get on the bus before the sun gets on the earth. It's four fifteen A.M. in the dusty Guatemalan city of Santa Elena in El Petén, best known as being the service city to the Tikal tourist trade. The bus station is open all night but the ticket counters are all closed, so most of us are milling around back behind the station waiting for the bus to show. It does, another big, busted out old school bus painted in bright colors. They start calling out its destinations as it coughs and sputters, backing up to the curb. "La Técnica!" is last but not least, it's the one I'm waiting for along with most people on the curb, I think. The back door is thrown open, the same door I used to practice emergency exits from in elementary school. I grab hold of the bars on either side and pull myself up, my bags bumping against the sides.

Buses, Huehuetenago, Guatemala

It's dark inside and there are only a couple other people aboard when I get on. The bus has filled up a bit more by the time we pull away at five, but most people are still sitting one to a seat, an incredible luxury around here. Most of us have hoods pulled around our heads, our heads that hang from our necks as we try to sleep and our heads bounce with every bump in the bad road. Me, I'm just trying to get up to Yucatán the cheapest way possible (avoiding border taxes in Belize), to drop my things and start planning the next leg of the trip. The rest of the people on the bus, except maybe for one very lost looking female tourist, are on very different journeys. Even though it's obvious, I haven't slept solidly in days and I don't fully realize what most of the men are doing here until around three hours later.

Bus, Guatemala

We leave the pavement somewhere shortly after dawn, while the mist is still hanging low on the deforested land like the lost souls of harvested trees, their bodies now smoke and furniture. I'm not one to let the world pass by the smudged bus windows without learning where I am, but this morning I'm content to wait out our half hour stop at a small town on the way without even asking its name. Most of the people in the bus, especially the two thick groups of men sitting up front, have gotten off the bus and disappeared into the comedores on the edges of the mercado. This is probably the last chance to eat a solid meal today. It's definitely the last chance on Guatemalan soil.

I get a good look at them for the first time when the board the bus again. They don't look like Guatemalans, but I can't be sure. They're certainly dressed a bit diferently, in hoodies and collared shirts. I'm sitting near the front of the bus, as far away from the wheel wells as possible, and I notice their fresh haircuts.

Bus, Guatemala

Before we pull onto the dirt road, a plainly dressed man has filled the seat next to me. We're off, leaving the fighting dogs and steaming atol behind in the blinding dawn. Again, one by one our heads begin to bob in half-sleep, and the bus continually stops and starts, picking up and dropping off more people. Even when it is moving, it's never moving fast. There's a young kid working the door of the bus, he's the one that's yelling "¡jále!" over and over, letting the driver know when the person and their luggage is off or on the bus. Several women enter, loaded with radishes and other greens that were probably all picked that morning. We continue on.

I figure we're about an hour away from the Río Usumacinta, which forms the Guatemalan / Mexican border here when the bus stops and doesn't start again right away. Government men are entering the bus quickly, some dressed in simple polo shirts, other in full law enforcement gear. The shirts read "MIGRACION." They ask me for my papers, which I luckily have, and have close. I hardly think they gave them a glance at all. One official is waiting on the other tourist as she fumbles through her bag, while the rest deboard several men from the front of the bus.

Bus, Guatemala

The man next to me is chuckling. We exchange looks and I tell him that I've never seen a Guatemalan bus boarded by officials once during my three week stay. He obviously has ridden this route more times than me. "No es nada," he tells me, "solamente quieren algo de los mojados." Of course the men riding on the bus were not from Guatemala. They were from el Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua, still on an early part of a very long journey that wouldn't even end and the far opassite end of México, but of course in the United States. The migration officials see their type everyday and were just manipulating them for a "small bite" of the money the workers had brought with them for the trip. This isn't the first time it has happened on the trip, and certainly it will happen countless times more in the two foriegn countries yet to come.

They're back on the bus, their pockets a bit lighter. "¡Jále!" We're rolling. I watch the officials move back under the shade of a small tree, under which their cars and a moto are parked. On the other side of the road, we pass yet more former jungle that is now pasture land for the endless clustures of huge steer.

Bus, Guatemala

I lose track of the migrants somewhere near the border, when everyone starts thinking only about their own trip. No one on the bus had thought to let me know when we passed the Guatemalan border station, so I missed my chance for leaving the country legally with an exit stamp. Oh well, I should have been more awake. I should have asked. I cross into México the way everyone does from here: for 10 pesos in a long and skinny motorboat lancha that speeds across the muddy and wide Usumacinta.

In México the woman working the border station is content with just laughing at me, after I tell her a story about how there "wasn't anybody at the office when we passed and the bus wouldn't wait." She doesn't make me return to Guatemala. Somebody bless her.

These "mojados," as everyone calls them here, travel in small, tight groups. There's another group with me in the collectivo van from the border up to the Mexican city of Palenque, Chiapas. We all eventually head our separate ways and I have no idea where they sleep, even if they do sleep, out there somewhere tonight.

Immigrant Remittances Top US $20 Billion

Palenque, Chiapas, México From the Mexican Solidarity Network:

Family remittances from Mexican immigrants working in the US topped US$20 billion in 2005, according to the Bank of Mexico, an increase of 21% over 2004. Family remittances represent an important source of income for about one-quarter of Mexicans families. Remittances are Mexico's second most important source of foreign currency, behind only petroleum sales and well ahead of tourist income.

Letter to Youth of the Peaks


As Mike 360 said, as Leslie Marmon Silko said, as Rigoberta Menchú Tum said, as Miguel Angél Asturias said, as Simon J. Ortiz said, as Blackfire said, as Gloria Anzaldúa said, as Youth of the Peaks screams now,

¡Qué viva la cultura! ¡Qué viva la lucha!

Hello Youth of the Peaks,

my friends, I write you from central Guatemala, Sololá department. I write you on the occasion of your February summit, hoping that you are all well and that snow has blessed the lands since I left. I should be more specific: just enough snow for the trees, not enough for Snowbowl to open. Snow from the sky, and not what we call here "agua negra." Though I feel very far from the mountains that I have called home, I have been reminded of Flagstaff and especially of you all often on this camino. I write you hoping to pass on some of the things that I am seeing in my travels.

Outside San Cristóbal de las Casas in Chiapas the most humble cement neighborhoods have spraypainted signs that read "AGUA ES VIDA, CUIDELA." Here the traditional Maya people consider their flesh to be made of maize. Foreigners like me are of course "wheat people."

The people here have also seen changes grow strong in the last years: "where culture and economy collide," rings true here as well. On the Lago Atitlán, one of Guatemala's most-touristed places, las milpas (fields of maize) still grow on terraces down the shore. Here too the peaks are sacred: the three volcanoes that form the walls of the lake hold the clouds tight around them, and café and maiz are grown in their soil. In the northern jungle along the Rio Ixcán, la tierra is so fertile that it gives harvest twice a year. Elders still wear the ropa tipica (traditional dress) and new hotels are built every year.

The thirty-six year-long civil war officially ended in 1996 when the indigenous, mostly Mayan highlander guerillas signed los Acuerdos de Paz with the government. Over 200,000 people, mostly indigenous civilians were killed or disappeared. Most of the tourism industry has developed in the last eight years, along with government infrastructure. The central government continues to build and improve "services" in the jungle, leading to a large influx of poor ladinos (guatemaltecos of mixed blood, no longer folllowing traditional ways) onto land that had been of the Chuj, Jacalteque, Kanjobal and Ixil. With the war ended, lives are generally safer but traditional ways of life continue to be in danger. Like in Flagstaff, here they also try to disguise the cellphone towers as trees. For the past 500 years the people here have been made to work, first as slaves then later for pennies on the foreign-owned fincas (plantations) of café, algodón (cotton), and azúcar (sugar). Now the practice of leaving the mountain aldeas (villages) for the coastal fincas to work for 4-7 months a year is becoming less popular than leaving to the United States, often for years at a time. When I tell people here I'm from Arizona, they know exactly where I mean.

When I tell people here that a group of jovenes indigenas (indigenous youth) from northern Arizona have organized politically to protect their cultural beliefs, they're not sure what to say. During the war, organization was very dangerous. In the early 1980's the government adopted a "scorched earth" policy against the guerillas, entire aldeas were massacred and buried in mass graves as punishment for allegedly supporting rebel groups. Currently things are safer for civil society, but still not like what we know in the States. People here smile when they hear of you.

Sometimes it seems that all I'm doing by traveling is searching for perspective. Sometimes the farther away I get, the clearer things become. Sometimes it's the opposite. I'm writing you to share these things I'm learning, but also to tell you that from here, removed from your area, what you all are doing seems yet even more incredible. You have like-minded people all over the continent that share your vision. There are many in this world who value culture before money. Like the graffiti in San Cristóbal says, "¡VIVAN LOS RESISTANTES DEL MUNDO!" The first indigenous president of Bolivia, Evo Morales was just inaugurated wearing ropa tipica, and indigenous groups around the country came together to hold a ceremony naming him as their leader, the first time they have held the ceremony in about 500 years. Part of his inauguration speech from just a few weeks ago:

The 500 years of Indian resistance have not been in vain. From 500 years of resistance we pass to another 500 years in power... We have been condemned, humiliated ... and never recognized as human beings... We are here and we say that we have achieved power to end the injustice, the inequality and oppression that we have lived under... The original indigenous movement, as well as our ancestors, dreamt about recovering the territory.

And tell J.R. Murray and Bruce Babbit to listen to guatemalteco writer Miguel Angél Asturias when he says “la tierra es ingrata cuando la habitan hombres ingratos.” They say Snowbowl will go out of business due to the drought. "The earth is ungracious when it is populated by ungrateful men."

I'm honored to be counted among your friends. Remember that no judge will ever decide what is sacred or what isn't, as human beings we each reserve that for ourselves. Congratulations on all that you've accomplished and don't stop planning the next thing. Keep in touch.

El pueblo unido...

logan timoteo phillips Cobán, La Verapaz, Guatemala 06febrero2006


San Pedro la Laguna, Sololá, Guatemala

I wear striped pants Numero cuarentasiete La milpa ama a la orilla Numero diecinueve they all shout and clap fill the afternoon hammock on the cieling los sonidos del pueblo llora llora la bebe el grupo empieza a tocar los chavos a bailar numero cincuenta sies the bus's pistons run like disjointed reggaton "a dios sea la gloria" el grupo sigue sigue las guapas a coquetear numero diecirubio El milagüero, super heroe capaz de todo como comer chilaquiles sin parrar. De aviones no hay la hormigüita se encuentra por el techo del cuarto piso suena el autobus llora el gallo read the horizon like a bar of music scream the mountains para el milagüero no hay pedo.

Thunderclouds made from the bus's tailpipe the laudry is calm as it hangs the elotes are calm as they bounce in the bag hanging from the old man's neck. The horizon is occasionally out of tune. Every line must bend sometime. Sometimes, rap is like talking with mechanical lungs. Ink blot snow drop. The viejitos sit in their boats on the edges of the fishing nets dancing in the glass water. Their hands make prayers with invisible lines. They also bend. You understand, I have to write small to make it all fit. For instance, men here park busses like well-lubricated jigsaw puzzles, one after another. I promise that the birds are not talking shit about you, even though they are talking spanish. Most of them, anyway. The blue bus is named Windy. It waits for the alley. The woman who rents the boats is named Jesus. She told me so.

The fish sigh in the bottom of the boat. Some words are more popular than other words. This is how we communicate. The mechanic sighs as the last bus rolls into the alley. The driver yells "¡sale!" into his rearview mirror. Hands of the mechanic are black, from throwing ink blot snow balls and cursing, banging. All the dogs ever talk about is barking. Black heads walk down the street, blonde heads up, mouths usually open. I feel like there should be more lighthouses in life. The busses have each been cut down the middle of the chest, sparks flying from the welding. "¡Sale!" is a very popular word. It is how we survive. By agreement. Saludos a todos. The king wants to put a sheet over the clouds to hide their nakedness. Haven't you seen the vulgar sky? It's hard to say no. Sometimes our rulers look like constipated stuffed animals, filled with twenty dollar bills. Sometimes the dictionaries are stuffed with pesos. Mosttimes not. But it's worth looking into, like cocaine in the bible. We are each smeared in the ash we burn. I once met a man with a mouth full of carbon. It stumbled out black when he smiled. It's usually a song we already feel like we know. Familiar like él que amanece.

Three Days Without Pavement

Cobán, Verapaz, Guatemala To understand this, you're going to need a good map. From Todos Santos Bartek and I headed even higher into the Guatemalan altiplano highlands, through endless fog and rocks to a dismal little town called San Pedro Saloma. It took us an hour waiting by the side of the road in Tres Caminos to flag down a bus. I played guitar and drew a small crowd, most of whom were laughing at me, which is never a bad thing. Then this local kid brought out his cheap Mexican classical that had never been tuned. I put it to the pipes, got it ready and we jammed for awhile, him on the one chord BOOM-pah-pah BOOM-pah-pah and me soloing like the constipated gringo rocker that I am. Full-on antics.

The bus was driving too fast for the narrow road, the driver all hopped up on the blasting spanish gospel music. HEY-SOOS DIVINO, DELIVER ME UNTO THE MUDDY STREETS AND HONKING HORNS OF SOLOMA, I prayed because I was moved to.

Soloma, en medio de la nada, is a Little America. So many men leave from here to work in the States that you'd think you were somewhere near la frontera instead of centroamérica... Western Union offices, llamadas internacionales, VIAJERO DE LA FRONTERA written on the windshield of pickups and men who smile sly when they slip words of engrish into conversation, because they can, pues.

The next morning we caught the first chicken bus out of there. For those unfamiliar, the chicken bus is a unique concept in transportation. They're old school busses from the States and Canada, sold off after they were deemed too old and too scary for white kids. Now they're in Guate, painted evil circus colors, and crammed with over 70 people usually. Riding one of these things up a road that is more potholes than not is really almost like its own Xtreme sport. Sitting over the wheel wells, you should see how much air you can catch at a time. I'm talking spine-compacting, gringo-flipping, diesel-fuming, XTREME ACCIÓN.

This road is that place you've always wondered about: where the sky comes down to meet the earth and talk things over. All around the bus, the clouds were so thick it was impossible to see more than three or four meters. Mud everywhere from here on out.

Four hours of chickbus xtreme hell. We arrive in Barillas, a wet frontier town that I only know through foggy windows. We were stopped long enough to buy a bag of peanuts, four oranges and 40oz of agua pura. Then we piled into the back of a Toyota Landcruiser, along with nine men and two little girls, all covered by a metal frame and canvas.

The road from Barillas to Playa Grande was only built eight years ago, though some of what was some of the most untouched jungle in Guate. It still doesn't appear on many maps, but for 35 quetzales (around four bucks) it's possible to make the five hour trip. This is far, far off the "gringo trail" of tourist Guatemala. During the civil war, especially during the early eighties, this was where some of the most bloody fighting took place. Organized guerillas were supported by little pueblos, and then the army would arrive to masacre, kidnap, rape and tourture people from these little towns for supporting the "communistas." It was a tug-of-war game played on the bloody backs of indiginous peasants.

After the peace accords were signed in 1996, the country entered a new era of hope and the government undertook many rural development projects, such as the road we were on. This can be seen as the government finally coming through on its promises ("Obras, no Palabras") of aiding rural peoples, or it can be seen as creating the infrastructure for greater control of the countryside by the central government. Either way, it meant a boom in rural settlement, with poor ladinos (mestizos, mixed blood) moving into areas that had been home to only indigenous peoples. The land is fertile here, and milpas (maize, corn fields) follow the road for its entire length. So fertile in fact, that there are two harvests a year.

When we dropped out of the clouds the rain stopped and we peeled back the canvas so we could all stand up and feel the wet air on our faces. We were a motley group, the farmers, the traditional indigenas en ropa tipica, the sketchy government official, the kid who worked for national health, the viejo, the young kids and the two gringos. In their eyes, we of course had no reason to be where we were: "¿Están aquí para trabajar? Ai, ¿pasear y nada más?" We were entertaining though, and the half-naked kids on the sides of the road would point as we flew by. Things got even more interesting as we passed the half-way point and I started to notice empty beer cans being thrown out of the cab of the truck.

We arrived in Playa Grande at sunset and collapsed onto cheap beds in a cement room. It was raining. Again. Playa Grande of course means Big Beach. There is neither a Playa nor is the place Grande. There isn't much to tell. It's famous for a laguna, but we didn't have the ganas to go look at more water, especially in the rain. Bartek reported that he actually saw some foriegners on his way to use the satillite internet connection, which really wasn't much of a connection at all.

Yesterday we took a microbus the hell out of the jungle. A microbus, it begs explaining, is a small, boxy, Toyota van. It is also a miracle that the thing does not fall to pieces as it is crammed with 16 people and driven at high speeds over more potholes and through deep mud. It is, however, preferable to the chicken bus as it is faster and may (or may not) have a shred of suspension left. The driver was a total pendejo who tried to charge us for bringing our backpacks with us, but he was an ameture at gringo-jipping, I shot him down with a couple well-placed, quick sentences, in front of everybody. Jaja, fucker. Hablo una chinga de español ya.

I have never in my life been so happy to see pavement. I fell asleep in excitement. Cobán is a good place to be. It's a real city, repleat with ATM's (in the nick of time), gallon jugs of agua, food besides pollo y arroz, night life and turismo. It's still a pretty meditative place, surrounded by fincas de café (coffee plantations) and clouds. Kinda romantic, makes me with Bartek was less Polish and more my girlfriend.

And that, cabrones, is three days without pavement. I stink.

foto: bart pogoda

Guatemala me llama

Hola a tod@s, I'm writing from San Cristobal de las Casas, the colonial capital of the Mexican state of Chiapas. Since leaving on the sixth I've been following the route that I left off on two years ago: from the Oaxacan coast down to Chiapas. The beach life was good, but the mosquitos are thick as thieves and it's just too easy to stay in the hammock, even when there's so much out there.

When I got to San Cristobal, I turned in my clothes to the llavanteria (clothes washing). Little did I remember the red cotton pants that I bought on the beach. Si senor, every piece of clothing I brought with me on this adventure now has a varying degree of pinkness to it. There's worse things that could happen. I guess.

I brought with me a minidisc recorder with a killer mic, I've been making field recordings of all sorts of things: churches, caves, pozos (wells), german folk songs, cafes, protests, new songs of mine, etc etc etc. The plan is to make a killer mixtape upon return.

I am travelling alone, which really is the best way to go as far as I'm concerned. It's not as if I really spend too much time alone though, there are a lot of people to talk to. In fact, tomorrow I'm taking a series of collectivos (cheap van transportation crammed with people) across the southern border of Mexico into Guatemala, in the direction of a small town called Todos Santos in the highlands. I'm meeting a new friend of mine, Bartek from Poland, who is a professional fotografo / traveller in Todos Santos. (check out his site, http://bartpogoda.com/ amazing pictures, even some of me tocando guitarra) I think we just may go across the jungle highlands by chicken bus. It was the area hit hardest during Guatemala's long and dirty civil war. Not that anyone will mention that in conversation.

A few days ago I rented a horse from this old vaquero and rode up into a village outside of Cristobal. It was only the fifth time I've ridden a horse IN MY LIFE, and the dude liked to run. Crash course in horseback riding. Turns out it comes pretty naturally to me. That is, somewhat naturally. Right after I started the horse realized that I didn’t know jack and decided to take a break by the side of the road and much grass for five minutes. The old women across the street got a big kick out of the scene, as did the horse. There was nothing to do but laugh. That is, until I discovered whipping the horse in its big ol beehind with the rope. I learned a lot.

I went fast, definitely the fastest I have ever ridden a horse. The town, called San Juan Chamula, has the only 'catholic' church I've ever been to that doesn't have a christ. There the majority of the people speak only mayan dialects, some have spanish as a second language. In the church (which was built in the 1520's as part of la conquista) there are glass-boxed saints wearing mirrors and thousands upon thousands of burning candles. The heat and smoke and sound of christmas carols (from those xmas lights that play annoying tunes, a new addition) is really intense and very conducive to hallucinogenic exchanges with whatever god you prefer. Cameras aren’t allowed, and I even was told by a half-blind mayan man that writing isn’t allowed either… which of course I was doing, sitting next to a saint. He didn’t speak Spanish very well, but he was afraid I had written the names of the saints, which would steal them from the church, as would a camera. It made me think a lot about what it would be like to live where there is so much poverty that the people are forced to invite foreigners into their community as one of the only industries. Would you like to be photographed praying?

So tomorrow starts the real unknown. Through Guatemala, through Belize on the way to Yucatan, the caribe and more Mexico. I don’t know how much time I’ll be spending in cyberlandia, but shoot me a line if you get the chance. I’m safe, mostly sane and healthy. I hope everybody is doing at least a little of something they love. I’ll see you on the other side. Now go outside and look at the sky.

Much love desde el sur.

logan timoteo

Fotos & el aprendizaje


Hopefully by the time you read this, there should be a new set of dirtyfotos up online. There are several subfolders, be sure to check the bottom of the page. This is thanks to my friend Bartek of Poland, who is a professional traveler / fotografo who has with him a little laptop. Check out his weblog, he is amazing. A friend of his also travels the same way, taking fotos and such. Currently this guy is riding a motorbike from Cairo to Capetown, Africa. These are travelers.

Here's more on San Cristóbal:

I'm staying in a hostel, which I don't like to do, but I've become very comfortable and have made good friends with the manager, Luis, from Oaxaca, who is into Macs and mota and music and many good things. I'm paying 50 pesos a night for my bed & use of the kitchen, not a bad deal. On the finances tip I'm doing pretty well, I figure I'm spending about 200 pesos a day, not including long bus rides.

San Cristóbal is a very tourist-centered place. Sitting in a café on Real de Guatalupe, every other person walking by is a foreigner. For me, this sucks a bit and has led to being a bit insulated in the hostel culture... not that I'm complaining. Playing music and chess with Bartek, Jocham (Belgium), Luisa (Germany), Miguel (Mexico) is not a bad thing at all. The other night it got very cold and rainy, so we went out and bought dry wood and three bottles of tequila (87 pesos each), closed ourselves in the kitchen, made a big fire and got down to business. Looking around the table, it's like afterhours at the United Nations. I do miss Querétaro though, where tourism barely exists and where I spent most of my time with Mexicans. Ah well. I still speak mostly spanish.

I spend my days going to museums, writing, taking pictures, playing chess, conversating. A few days was like a trip into Happy Loganlandía: I found Taller Leñateros, an collectively-run indigena print shop, owned by Mayan women. They make their own paper by hand out of recycled boxes, corn husks, coconut shells, whatever is around. Then they print indigenous poetry, prints, etc. and sell them the world over. So that obviously blew my mind, especially after talking to the women for awhile. ç

I went from there to Café Museo Café, the museum / café about local Chiapas coffee, where I learned el dueño de la montaña es dueño del café. This, combined with I, Rigoberta Menchú, has really opened my eyes to how much conventional café (and cotton) gets to US homes. Through native blood.

Within the week I'll be in Guatemala.

Shade & Burning

San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas, Mex. What didn't make it into the last story was exactly where I was staying in Mazunte. First I headed up to this spot called Posada Arquetecto which has a palapa for hanging hammocks overlooking a huge, beautiful beach. It was still on "high season pricing" (Dec. 1 - Jan. 15), 50 pesos a night (5 bucks) which seemed to me at that moment to be ridicules. Plus there were some Chilangos up there pumping los punchis punchis (techno music), so I said forget it and went across the street.

Juan Carlos is an insane but mostly harmless gringo carpenter who has made his home in an RV about 30 yards from the beach sand. There's some convoluted story, but he's "just watching over the place."

Enter Maura. She's from Holland, speaks five languages, is a little over forty with a great tan, blue eyes and dark hair. Lucious eyebrows. A tired look in her face, probably from living away from home for too long. I met her on a collectivo (pickup truck full of people going between towns) on my way back from the regional hub Pochutla (ugly, dusty shittown). She seemed nice but eccentric, we didn't talk much.

Turns out she's staying with said Juan Carlos. Let's just say I don't think she pays rent. She was my "in," though, when I went across the street to ask JC if I could hang my hammock under his mango tree for 30 pesos. They said sure, and tried to upgrade me to this cool old Airstream trailer out behind the RV, but I'm crazy for hammocks. Nevermind the mosquitos.

The next day (yesterday) I woke up to explosions. No big deal, but the birds flew away anyway. JC was off building a wooden deck. Maura is also, like him, insane. She just got blown out of Honduras by Hurricane Gamma and is again in Mazunte where she lived for four years previously. She explained many things to me, including how she only gardens with a knife, and I could not figure out if she was trying to get in my pants or not. Turns out she wasn't. Alls well that ends well.

Last night, all night bus to San Cristóbal, heart of Zapatista country. But now my hour is up at the internet café. I gotta pay my six pesos and go.

The Beach Life


I was on the bus for hours and hours from D.F. to la costa de Oaxaca, where the beach faces south and the sun dances a long dance of tag with the ocean and always ends up winning. On the last bus I met a very lost Australian who didn't speak hardly a lick of spanish... she was headed to Zipolite too and ended up following me, which was a good idea because I have no idea what would have happened to her otherwise. I stumbled onto the beach to find, right in front of me, the scraggly group of my American friends, on holiday in Zipo. Bisquito, Craigasaurus, su Rachel, Miguel y Daniel... they were good medicine for my first night alone out in the world.

So it's been la vida en la playita for the past five (?) days, I'm writing from a slow connection in Mazunte, a little beach up the way. The Scragglies left today towards Puerto Escondido, on their way to various airports and lives. That means the sweet prelude to the adventure is over, and me encuentro solito...

I just wrote this on the beach:

Se fueron mis amigos. I went back to the hostel and watched dolphins . The dolphins made me feel better. Craigcito querido amigo mio me presto su guitarra, that made me feel even better, la guitarra es buena amiga mia.

Los italianos nos permitieron salier sin tratar de chingarnos.

I bought my ticket to San Cristobal for tomorrow night at a quarter to eight. Me costo 309 pesos, a 12-hour all-night feat.

En Mazunte sueñan los hippies. No le conozco a nadie aqui.

I went to stay at the Posada Arquetecto but I didn't have a lock for the locker, so I went across the street and hung my hammock outside a wierd gringo's RV. I told him I'd pay him 30 pesos for the night. He told me he has candles. He also has an improbable girlfriend.

I went for a walk. They say all you need is love. I thought to myself what good is a beautiful place without love? Somehow places can't make up for people.

I should go play some beach volleyball. I should go record some birds.