When the sun rises on Guatemala City, the true nature of the city comes with it. In between the staples of North American life, the Taco Bells and the Sherman Williams, is a city of painted cinderblocks, street vendors and beggars. Crowds flock to the square in front of the Presidential Palace where these groups congregate.
The scents of roasted corn and fresh cut fruit permeate the air in the market as vendors shout their inventories to anyone who will listen, and even those who won’t. One man carries a large bag of boiled peanuts while another totes bags of cotton candy. Old women sell baskets while children sell baskets of various fruit. Near the road a man slices the skin off pineapples and sells the cut fruit for about 60 cents. It’s sweet and wet and sticky and a little sticky. A few streets of way under a sign that says Tipicos is the underground market, where hand woven goods meet with various tact types of mass-produced t-shirts. The vendors there act the same, calling out their goods as we walk by. Several say proudly that their goods were made in Atitlan, where we’ll be going on Saturday.
Beggars sat on cardboard outside the large Cathedral de Santiago de Guatemala on another end of the square. Inside, there was a christening and confirmation going on. Outside, in the square, a large stage was being set up for a visit from the most recent Latin America Idol winner. Those stereos duel with a marching band that’s leading a processional for the celebration of a saint.
When we left Guatemala City, it didn’t take long for high rises to give way to the cinderblock slums and automobile salvage yards. Small homes were stacked on each other closer to the city, but as winding mountain roads snaked and hair-pinned northwest to Chichicastenango, homes of brick and scrap wood and sheet metal began to take the place of the cinderblocks.
Driving in Guatemala is like skateboarding down a roller coaster with no harness and no helmet. Buses loaded with people, some hanging on top of the bus, barrel around jackknife turns while swerving around traffic. The road was out in some place where mudslides, the consequence of carving the roads out of the mountains, had washed it away. In some places, the road narrowed to two lanes. Pedestrians, whether children on foot or men on bicycles, traveled the same roads in a way you don’t see too often in the United States. At the end of this treacherous stretch was the city Chichicastenango, a town full of gray one-lane wide cobblestone streets and devoid of the chains that dot Guatemala City.
But the people are the same, which has made Chichicastenengo perhaps even busier of a city than Guatemala. The market may only be open two days a week, but people still line the streets in an attempt to sell whatever they can. The streets are still packed with buses, cars, and any other mode of transportation that can possibly take a person from one place to another.
Most of the streets of Chichicastenango are one lane wide but the natives still drive like an open field. Only now pedestrians are more prone to walk directly in the street. The buildings are concrete or cinderblock and the city can seem quite chaotic at times.
However, the people of Chichi have been like everyone else in Guatemala. They are helpful, understanding and cordial. They run on their own time, a trait that makes it difficult for a person whose life is normally centered on deadlines.
From my limited experience with the two cities, it’s amazing how two cities so different in size and scope can come with the same feeling. The people have, thus far, been friendly and hard-working.
Our next stop is in the mountains. The first village the missionaries will visit is so remote that they haven’t had any medical care in years.
Vacation this year – with the consent of my indulgent husband – was to involve a road trip of nearly 1,600 miles to see the Mall of America in Minnesota.
But when we got the news that our dog has cancer and needs lots of pills, a “staycation” in Oklahoma City was in order. We knew there were plenty of things we hadn’t gotten around to trying.
Our first stop was Oklahoma History Center, with a bargain entry fee of $5 (unless you’re a senior citizen or a student, and then it’s cheaper).
The center, which is across NE 23 from the Governor’s mansion, has a gorgeous view of the state capitol from an atrium that displays a replica of Wiley Post’s airplane, the Winnie Mae.
We studied displays from the early days of television in Oklahoma City, including Danny Williams’ Adventures of 3-D Danny show; a video game that lets you try drilling for oil; a space capsule salvaged from the Gemini program; and a tent mounted atop a vintage car that – so they say – slept four.
Next came a trip to Remington Park, where we ate too much at the casino buffet and played a little video poker.
At the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum, my husband enjoyed the firearms displays; I liked the sculptures and bronzes.
A couple days later we were among the thousands who headed downtown for the American Idols Live concert at the Ford Center. Dinner beforehand was at Falcone Pizza and Deli, where (who knew?) you can get a chocolate egg cream to drink. (Hint: It’s a fizzy New York treat that doesn’t involve any egg.)
The next day, we lined up at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art for tickets to view Roman art from the Louvre, on display through Oct. 12. A guard told me that visitors are pretty respectful of the priceless sculptures, some of which date to the time of Christ. Nevertheless, he said, some people can’t resist the temptation to touch.
Lunch was at Pops in Arcadia (5 miles east of Interstate 35 on State Highway 66). We ordered thick burgers and picked out bottles of grape and black cherry pop. The bottle opener in my husband’s pocketknife came in handy.
Having trouble choosing a root beer? A manager knows the finer points of each brand. There’s a wide variety of other soda, including birch beer, sarsaparilla and even diet chocolate soda.
We bought a bottle of Green River soda for my mother, who remembers it from her childhood. And believe me, it’s scarily green.
At week’s end, we hadn’t run out of things to do. Riding the boat on the Oklahoma River is at the top of our list of things to do next time.
- Chris Schutz, staff writer
‘Know It: Cancer’ is NewsOK.com and The Oklahoman’s first installment of what will become a monthly project on topics that affect the community.
To find the special page, search ‘cancer’ on NewsOK.com.
As well as a wealth of information in videos, articles and links, the page opens the doors to the biggest, fastest growing source of information available: you.
Share your wisdom
Through the interactive message boards on the page, which can be found under the sub-heading ‘Share Your Wisdom’, you can have your say on a variety of topics relating to cancer.
Please share your information on how to choose a physician who will give you confidence, on how the costs of treatment can be handled, on dealing with cancer from a caregiver’s point of view and more. These message boards can be the starting point of just the kind of information you were looking for.
They are more than just a place to give information: They are designed to be the place where people can find support and ask the questions they can’t find answers to. The place where an open, honest conversation can be conducted without judgment or embarrassment.
Find an event
Another exciting, interactive element of the page is the cancer-related events calendar powered by wimgo.com, OPUBCO’s online events calendar. You can see upcoming events like support groups and charity events, and you can find other events in the handy search bar.
Tell your story
If you have a story about cancer – yours or a loved ones – we want you to upload that story to our Web site. Through a simple series of a few clicks, you can tell the world about your experience.
On the page, click the link on the video player that says ‘Share your wisdom. Submit your video’. It will walk you through uploading your video file and within a day or two your video will be on the page.
Maybe you’re just starting chemotherapy and want to give a weekly update on your treatment; maybe you are caring from someone dear to you with cancer and you want a place to share your experience; or maybe you are a survivor of cancer and want to pass along a message to those going through treatment. It doesn’t matter exactly what your story is, this is the place to share your story through video.
In an increasingly interactive online world, we wanted to give you the opportunity to share your story in many different ways.
You never know who you might touch by sharing what you know and what you went though.
- Lindsay Hodges, Web editor
Is retirement going to be a luxury for thirty- and forty- something workers? I increasingly think it will be, and a new estimate from investment giant Fidelity does nothing to dispel that.
A 65-year-old-couple retiring this year will need approximately $225K to cover medical costs in retirement, Fidelity estimates. Let’s not lose sight of the fact that this is in addition to the coverage available under Medicare, which may itself not be available when I and others retire.
The hypothetical retirees will still have to have enough money to live, either independently or in long-term care.
Perhaps what’s even more sobering than the estimate is its growth since 2002 — 41 percent.
The roughly 6 percent annual growth in the Fidelity projection about matches the growth of my 401K fund during a slow year. I know that doesn’t take into account contribution matching and interest compounding, but I think it raises a worthwhile point nonetheless.
And health care costs show no signs of flattening or decreasing.
Does paying for retirement terrify you as much as it terrifies me? Leave me a comment at http://blog.newsok.com/health.
- Creating an individual retirement plan
- Starting early and maximizing opportunities to save
- Assessing health status and becoming a smarter consumer of health care
- Determining details of any employer-sponsored coverage
- Understanding the financial impact of health care costs on Social Security income
Jeff Raymond, Medical Writer
The majority of Americans between ages 57 and 85 are sexually active and view sexual intimacy as an important part of their lives, according to a study in the New England Journal of Medicine. The National Institute on Aging surveyed more than 5,000 men and women. “Its portrait of this aspect of older Americans’ lives suggests a previously uncharacterized vitality and interest in sexuality that carries well into advanced age, which perhaps has not been appreciated as an important part of late life,” said Richard Suzman, NIA official. There are “bothersome” sexual problems for senior citizens such as erectile difficulties for men and low desire for women, and medical problems such as arthritis, diabetes and hypertension can interfere with sexual desire. Healthier older individuals are more likely to report being sexual active, the study indicates. The study stresses that older adults should discuss sex with their doctors. There is this warning: sexual activity among senior citizens poses risks for new HIV-AIDS cases if precautions aren’t taken.
-Jim Killackey, Medical Reporter
I received quite a bit of feedback in response to my blog yesterday about lice treatments for children heading back to school. One reader said she knew a child who received brain damage after using an insecticide meant for removing lice.
While I don’t refute the possibility of this happening, most over-the-counter lice removal products are approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). FDA-approved drugs have been tested to ensure safety, while we all know occasional mishaps occur.
Aside from the use of insecticides to remove those nasty hair pests, one mother told me she used a product called the Robicomb on her daughter when she was younger. The Robicomb is an electonic comb that passes a small electrical charge from one of the comb’s teeth to kill the louse. This mother also recommended using cans of insecticide within the home to kill any lice that may have jumped off the head.
-Lindsay Goodier, Online Editor
The womens’ magazine “More” says too many American females can’t recognize the signs and symptoms of a heart attack — despite the fact that it’s the No. 1 killer of U.S. women. The most-common symptoms, which frequently are different from men, include: sudden anxiety, unusual fatigue, and shortness of breath. Signs include: increasingly frequent indigestion and sleep disturbances. In a magazine survey, only 57 percent of women complained of chest pains. The magazine survey concludes that women are extremely good at downplaying the significance of symptoms and talking themselves out of seeking medical help. Also, women often are afraid of wasting money or being embarrassed at going to a hospital emergency room only to find out nothing is wrong. The magazine is marketed for women age 40 and older.
– Jim Killackey, Medical Writer.
No, I do not have lice.
But last night, I fought lice in a duel called Lindsay vs. the lice in kids’ hair, helping administer lice checks, treatments and haircuts for kids in the neighborhood around NW 10th street and McKinley. All kids in Oklahoma City public schools are required to be checked for lice before returning to school. And while we only found lice in two children’s hair, we were glad that those two children were able to go to school today after receiving a thorough lice treatment.
If your child or a child you know has lice, the Web has a number of resources you can turn to for treatment. There are three different forms of lice treatments:
1. Insecticides, including malathion, phenothrin and permethrin.
2. Thorough combing of the hair.
3. Alternative treatments, including essential oils, herbal extracts or homeopathic tincture.
A good lice treatment also includes a thorough washing of any items that may have had contact with the child’s head, and someone should also check for eggs the first few days after the treatment.
Have any more advice on how to get rid of lice? Let us know.
-Lindsay Goodier, Online Editor
An alarming letter from Cox Communications arrived in the mail yesterday, informing me that, as of Aug. 30, they will no longer carry HBO on the old-fashioned, regular cable but will relegate it to Digital Cable-only status.
They tried to make the offer sweet: three months of Digital Cable for merely $1 a month each, but no matter how kindly an ultimatum is made, I always instinctively resist it.
Of course, that wouldn’t include the cost for a converter box that I don’t want or the eventual raise after the three months. (Sorry, I don’t need multiple channels of HBO. One always has served me well.) I don’t want cable boxes that take over your TV and recording devices, usually leaving it where you can’t tape something and watch something else without an A/B switch (another expense). It defeats the purpose of cable ready TVs, VCRs and DVD recorders.
Know what’s even cheaper than a $1 a month for three months though? A cable bill that will be $13.95 cheaper forever. Sure, we had a story in The Oklahoman today about worries over the eventual switch to all-digital signals that will make old TVs obsolete without converters, but that’s not happening until 2009. I’ll burn that bridge when I get to it. I imagine I won’t be alone because if anything will send rioters to the streets, it will be the sudden inability to watch television, especially for those on the lower end of the economic spectrum who can’t even afford regular cable now.
So, it’s a sad day for me. I anxiously awaited the new season of “Curb Your Enthusiasm” in September and, even more importantly, the final season of “The Wire” in early 2008. At least they waited until after “The Sopranos” finished to pull this stunt.
Scott Schuldt, Staff Writer
Outside of the Bush Administration that is, which doesn’t want anyone to know about anything that they do. I’ve never read any of the “Harry Potter” books, but I have enjoyed all of the movies so far (though I have yet to see the newest), but I do know the twists of the fifth and sixth installments, though I’ve been fortunate so far to avoid hearing about the true ending.
The same, unfortunately, cannot be said for the identity of this year’s winner of the Main Event of the World Series of Poker. For some reason, ESPN doesn’t get around to broadcasting its coverage of those events until months after the winner claims the top prize, which he or she did last week. So far, I’d been lucky to avoid learning the winner’s name, but it got spoiled in an unexpected way as I was innocently reading the quote page of the latest edition of Newsweek and there in the quotes, where I wasn’t even thinking about it, was one from the winner. So, now I know who’s going to walk away with the $8.5 million prize.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve always made a simple request to friends who were about to become new parents: Do everything in your power to keep knowledge of the movie “Psycho” away from your children until they are old enough to see it for the first time. I can only imagine what it must have been like to see Alfred Hitchcock’s classic back when it originally was released in 1960 without knowing that shower scene was coming. What a shock it must have been for the viewer to follow along the story which seemed to be ostensibly about Janet Leigh’s Marion Crane only to have her exit the film early and in such a shocking way.
“Psycho” was ruined for me by, of all things, an old episode of “Saturday Night Live” hosted by Anthony Perkins which I saw before the movie and had the skit about the Norman Bates School of Motel Management. I remember how grateful I was back in 1992 when I saw “The Crying Game” before all the hype about the “twist” took over so that its surprise truly was a surprise for me.
The worst cases are when people reveal things without any warning. I remember reading a review of “Fight Club” where the critic David Thomson gave away its twist without any warning in just a matter of fact way before I even saw the film. Fortunately, “Fight Club” was still great with that ruined and it added a new layer to the viewing experience. I also knew about the twist in “The Sixth Sense” before I saw that, but I think I would have figured that one out anyway. “Fight Club” I don’t think I would have.
Since our world has become so saturated by pop culture (We live in a universe where CNN considers the arrival of the Beckhams in L.A. as “breaking news”), secrets will be harder and harder to keep, so artists need to work hard to make sure that their works are strong enough to stand up even if we know what’s coming.
— Scott Schuldt, Staff Writer