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Tuesday, September 10, 2013

DIGGING DEEPER INTO GUATEMALA

DIGGING DEEPER INTO GUATEMALA

One of the very nice things about being a traveler (opposed to a tourist) is you have no set plans.  No schedule other than what you choose to set.  Or what the visiting government has set as their 'Get the fuck out of my country' date.

After a day or two I got bored with Antigua.  While loitering around my 125Q per night hotel, I strike up a conversation with a couple tourists.  They ask the usual questions and are curious as to what I want to do in Guatemala.

"Well, right now I want to relax."

Antigua is pretty expensive for that.  They recommended San Pedro.  For USD 10 and four or five hours of my life I can be there.  Why not.



OH HELL YEAH

You can never tell where a random conversation with a couple of nice people is going to take you.  This one took me to a lush jungle lake town with friendly locals and cheap prices.  They've got quite a good expat community and everything seems very nice here.

For those who don't carefully read every word I commit to the ages,

When you travel, find expats.  They know what you want to know - especially if you are staying in an area for more than three days.  Three or less is a pit stop.



BETTER LIVING THROUGH LYNCHING

Living close to the 'raggedy edge'....

I'm staying in a pretty idyllic town.  Jungle, lake, quiet.

All that was shattered when three natives went into a bar and started waving guns around.  Oddly, they weren't robbing the place.  They were just showing their power.

According to locals I've spoken with, the local cops are worse than useless.

Logan:  "So what will happen?"
Innkeeper:  "Well, they'll be out of here by tomorrow one way or the other.  There might be a lynching, bodies dumped in the lake."
Logan:  "I'd like to point out I've already paid my tab."
Innkeeper:  "We're not worried about you."

Slice of my life.

PS:  Do NOT tell me to 'be safe'.  I know it's an American thing but I'm here for adventure - not safety.



UNSKILLED LABOR, REVISITED

I've mentioned it before with my story from India about the air conditioner repair man.  Had another baffling case of it today.

I'd ordered a custom made shirt for 100Q (about $12).  Got there and the woman told me she had a problem.  Not a problem for me but a problem for her.

Despite having taken my measurements and seen me before she had used too much material on the shirt.  Hence it would cost 150Q if I still wanted it.  I didn't so I left.  She apologized saying it was her problem.

This brings up several baffling questions.

I'd be willing to bet this woman has done sewing and stuff for over twenty years.  How can you NOT figure out how much material and come up with a price for it?

Also, who the hell will she sell it to?  I've not seen any locals my size and the store is off of the tourist trail.  Now she has to sit on that inventory indefinitely rather than sell it at break even or a slight loss?

So when people talk about 'unskilled labor' in other countries, sometimes they are talking about people who have done their job for over ten years and still have no clue what's going on.

Baffling.



SPANISH

So I recently stole a 'how to speak spanish' podcast thing.
Christ, it is boring.
If they had fun phrases like:
"Don't shoot me"
"There is a schnitzel in my leiderhosen"
"Why do you play so much fucking hippy music"
"Where can I find a midget?"

Then it would be much more interesting.

And useful.



LOGAN DISLIKES MUSIC

Why I prefer the sounds of two cats screwing as opposed to music:

If I say I don't like the noise, nobody looks at me as if I'm insane.

Nobody tries to tell me that if perhaps I heard different cats fucking, I'd enjoy it more.

Nobody asks me which cats I like to listen to fuck in a clever ruse to subject me to noises of their preferred cats fucking.

It's softer than a live band.

If you kill the cats, you will just get a fine.

There was no evil human influence behind the cats decision to fuck just outside my window.  If there was, I wouldn't be the only person deeply concerned.

The cats don't expect you to tip them.

Disclaimer:  I have respect for those who can play instruments, have worked hard on them, etc.  Should I pay to go to a concert, I'll be interested in hearing it.  If you come to me with an instrument and just start playing, I'm going to start looking for some 'in heat' cats to have near you while you're trying to go to sleep.



SOME NOTES ON GUATEMALA AND HONDURAS

Within both countries, not many people seem to smoke openly.  It could be a religious thing but perhaps the price of cigarettes (double to triple some countries in SE Asia) keeps people from using them.

Moza is a dark, though not bitter Guatemalan beer popular with Logan.

For somewhere around $150 per week, you can live with a family and take four hours a day of Spanish lessons.  Eventually, this might happen but for now the Laziness Monster is winning.

As with many countries in which the natives don't really understand counterfeiting, old wrinkled bills are often not taken.  They want crisp, fresh and perhaps newly minted ones.

Maximum from ATM machines (both countries) seems to be about 200 USD.  That sucks when you have to pay charges each time you withdraw money.

The cheap meals in both countries (3 small tacos or one extremely deflated burrito) runs around 1.50 USD.

The countries in South America (Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and Nicaragua) once upon a time had a little agreement where you could travel within all of them as though they were one country for a grand total of three months.  For whatever reason, Honduras said 'fuck it' and quit.  Hence, you can go to the other countries for a total of almost three months, duck into Honduras and hey presto get a three month visa.  There is only one little problem with that.  The other countries count Honduras as 'still in'.  When you leave Honduras, they will tell you your visa expired long ago and probably fine you.  The only way out of Honduras overland is sadly through one of the countries still playing this strange game.  If you really need to prolong your visa, check with the expats there - they've got some sort of system involving Mexico down.

While I was in San Pedro, I discovered it was possible to go to another town along the same lake via tuk tuk for 10Q (about 1.25 USD).  Despite the stories of tuk tuk drivers taking their passengers out into the wilderness, killing them and reanimating their corpses to fill their ever growing armies of the undead I went anyway.  San Juan was nice.  Not all that great, but nice.  Didn't have the charm of San Pedro.  Did a bit of walking around and couldn't find a hotel anywhere near the city center.  Later, I heard there was stuff down near the lake but the town didn't look interesting enough to hold my attention for more than a couple hours.

After deciding that San Pedro was nice but not quite cheap enough to save money (too many expat temptations there) I decided to go to Copan Ruinas - right over the border in Honduras.  The five or so hour shuttle ride was hellish.  To continue on toward the Bay Islands, home of scuba diving, will require passing through San Pedro Sula - aka 'Murder Town'.  According to wiki travel, they have three homicides a day.  Hopefully, none of them will be Logan.  While it is easy to say "Well, duh, avoid the town" it's not really possible.  It is a major transportation hub.

Wish I'd not read up any on Guatemala and other countries before coming here.  They make it sound scary as fuck.  It's not.  Bit like living near the worse areas of any town.  Sing it "In the ghetto..."!  Keep your wits and don't get shanked.  Leave bling layin around and it be walkin'.  I'm going back to my hood roots yo.

When I crossed over the border from Guatemala to Honduras, it seemed to get more brown.  Not sure why, it rains plenty in Honduras as well.

Neither country seems to really lower prices during the off season.  Might be part of the reason they don't have more off season business.



NERO PLAYING (This is the LARP, live action roleplay.  If you have no interest in this, skip to next section for pricing in Guatemala and Honduras.)

Disclaimer:  These are all my views.  If you have your own views you can either leave them in the comments section or start your own blog.

Since I get asked from time to time how to play NERO, I thought I'd put some of my advice here so I can simply refer others to this.

There are four kinds of healers:

Templars (they heal themselves):  Don't play until 25th or 35th level.  Being a templar before then means you suck at two different occupations.

Circle healers:  These are usually out of shape people - like me - who sit around the healing circle.  You bring people to them for healing - they don't or can't come to you in time.  This is the class to play for the obese or crippled.  Or those who can't throw.  Again, like me.

Bind-O-Mancers:  These are the people who either chuck chaos or pin/web/bind/confine.  These guys work on taking out monsters.  Sadly, because most plot teams suck at statting monsters, these don't exist that often due to the high number of resists/returns/immune monsters have.

Backpacks:  These are arguably the hardest healers to play and probably the most valuable.  These are the guys who are attached permanently to ONE fighter.  They cast a magic armor on the fighter just as a monster is calling a slay then they call the defense for the magic armor for the fighter.  They pump small amounts of healing into the fighter - just enough to keep him up.  While the fighter in front of them ALWAYS has a sword and board (sword and shield) don't backpack those who don't - you usually lose.   The fighters job is simple.  Never back up and run over the healer.  Never sprint away from the healer.  Just keep swinging those 10's and catch everything thrown at you - never dodge.  The healer should be calling their defenses and fixing everything that goes wrong with them.  A good backpack keeps the fighter going almost indefinitely.

Do's:

A good healer NEVER carries a weapon.  Their weapon is the fighter.  Carrying a weapon slows casting and changes the focus of the healer from casting to ineffectually fighting.  If you want to find a shitty healer, look for one who carries a weapon.  Carrying a two handed weapon (example a 2H staff) in this game system is the mark of a wildly incompetent healer.  If they tell you 'it's for blocking' or some such it is a sign they don't get the game of NERO.

A good healer always keeps count of how many people go out on a mod then counts again when returning.

A good healer always just throws healing at someone rather than uses healing arts.  If a cure light doesn't get them back up, check if they are dead and ask for 'visible effects'.  But first use a cure light or '10 elemental healing' - they might be a couple seconds from dead.  If they call a 'shield magic' hit them again with the same.

A good caster (any) always double taps the target.  If someone casts one spell then waits to see what the call is, they are incompetent.

When any caster first starts out, they don't have many spells or body.  They get to either whine they have no spells or do the 'crap jobs'.  Crap jobs include, force feeding people with 'cure light wounds' potions, gathering packets and giving them to other casters and soaking slays instead of letting them hit the fighters.  Example:  If a healer has 5 HP and something throws a 100 point slay, you have the option of either healing 100 HP of the fighters damage or a cure light on the healer and hey, they are back to almost full HP.

A good healer never heals someone who is up and walking around.  Someone with 1 HP swings just as hard as if they are at full HP.  It is better to let a circle healer get them back to full later and save your healing spells for keeping them going.  The fighter will bitch but tough.  I've seen people who have only 20 body wanting to get healed to full.  That shows they don't know how to play NERO.

A good NERO player always travels to different chapters and learns from their best PC's.  Otherwise, they don't learn how the game is played.  People who never travel inevitably become lame and clickish over time.  Not sure why, that's just how it happens.



COSTS

Cheap meal, 1.50 USD
Cigarettes, 3 USD
Regular meal, 8 USD
Drink at a bar, 1.50 USD
Water, liter, about 1.10 USD
Coffee (not as good as you think it should be for central America), 1.10 USD
Boat across lake to different town, 25Q.  Health and safety nightmare.  If it sinks, you die.
Shuttle, San Pedro to Copan via Antigua (with mandatory sleep over and a three mutherfucking AM wake up), 200Q.
Room in Copan with detached walk through the rain if you want to use it in the middle of the night bathroom and shower, 10 USD after haggling.

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PICTURES

{{2011}} London, GB | Rail N Sail | Amsterdam, Netherlands | Prague, Czech Republic | Budapest, Hungary | Sarajevo, Bosnia | Romania | Chisinau, Moldova | Ukraine: Odessa - Sevastopol | Crossed Black Sea by ship | Georgia: Batumi - Tbilisi - Telavi - Sighnaghi - Chabukiani | Turkey: Kars - Lost City of Ani - Goreme - Istanbul | Jordan: Amman - Wadi Rum | Israel | Egypt: Neweiba - Luxor - Karnak - Cairo | Thailand: Bangkok - Pattaya - Chaing Mai - Chaing Rei | Laos: Luang Prabang - Pakse | Cambodia: Phnom Penh | Vietnam: Vung Tau - Saigon aka Ho Chi Minh City

{{2012}} Cambodia: Kampot - Sihanoukville - Siem Reap - Angkor Wat | Thailand: Bangkok | India: Rishikesh - Ajmer - Pushkar - Bundi - Udaipur - Jodhpur - Jasalmer - Bikaner - Jaipur - Agra - Varanasi | Nepal: Kathmandu - Chitwan - Pokhara - Bhaktapur - (Rafting) - Dharan | India: Darjeeling - Calcutta Panaji | Thailand: Bangkok - again - Krabi Town | Malaysia, Malaka | Indonesia: Dumas - Bukittinggi - Kuta - Ubud - 'Full Throttle' - Gili Islands - Senggigi | Cambodia: Siem Reap | Thailand: Trat | Turkey: Istanbul | Georgia: Tbilisi

{{2013}} Latvia: Riga | Germany: Berlin | Spain: Malaga - Grenada | Morocco: Marrakech - Essauira - Casablanca - Chefchawen - Fes | Germany: Frankfurt | Logan's Home Invasion USA: Virginia - Michigan - Indiana - Illinois - Illinois - Colorado | Guatemala: Antigua - San Pedro | Honduras: Copan Ruinas - Utila | Nicaragua: Granada | Colombia: Cartagena | Ecuador: Otavalo - Quito - Banos - Samari (a spa outside of Banos) - Puyo - Mera

{{2014}} Peru: Lima - Nasca - Cusco | Dominican Republic | Ukraine: Odessa | Bulgaria: Varna - Plovdiv | Macedonia: Skopje - Bitola - Ohrid - Struga | Albania: Berat - Sarande | Greece: Athens | Italy: Naples - Pompeii - Salerno | Tunisia: Hammamet 1

{{2015}} Hammamet 2 | South Africa: Johnnesburg | Thailand: Hua Hin - Hat Yai | Malaysia: Georgetown | Thailand: Krabi Town | Indonesia:
Sabang Island | Bulgaria: Plovdiv | Romania: Ploiesti - Targu Mures | Poland: Warsaw | Czech Republic: Prague | Germany: Munich | Netherlands: Groningen | England: Slough | Thailand: Ayutthaya - Khon Kaen - Vang Vieng | Cambodia: Siem Reap

{{2016}} Thailand: Kanchanaburi - Chumphon | Malaysia: Ipoh - Kuala Lumpur - Kuching - Miri | Ukraine: Kiev | Romania: Targu Mures - Barsov | Morocco: Tetouan | Portugal: Faro

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