Art, Apartments, Armed Guards & Curry Home Cooking…

Armed Guards….

It doesn’t bother me that there are armed guards in front of every store, parking lot, apartment and community. “Every” is probably misleading… “Every” store, parking lot, apartment and community in the areas where we have traveled thus far. I am certain that there are areas with less protection, less security. We have not seen them yet… but we are sure they are out there in one of the zones where it is suggested we do not travel through. It is commonplace though… to see armed guards keeping watch from their post. There is no specific type that i can see. They are as young as nineteen… perhaps as old as 40… male, female. Some have pistols, most have shotguns. Some stand, some sit, some have a booth, some are behind a darkened slit of a window in a building, some are on the back of beer trucks, others as the passenger in the truck cab. When we first arrived… it was pretty daunting. After a few weeks we are rather accustomed to seeing them… we pass them on the street, or on our way into the bank or a furniture store… we breathe “buenos” or “dias/tardes/noches” and nod our heads hello… they respond with the same.. occasionally a smile. You never forget the shotgun strapped to the front of their militant uniformed bodies. I recall seeing a skateboard tucked behind a candy machine in a pharmacy… likely belonging to the very youthful boy at the door… and not the pharmacists in their aging gray hair and spectacles. You get used to it quickly… and at times marvel at the fact that you are used to it. Not everyone gets used to it… but most people do. You never forget, however, that they are there.. and perhaps feeling more secure as a result… you never take it for granted.

Art Supplies…

There were no security guards in front of the Art Supply shop we sought out, James and I, via taxi in Zona Uno. I imagined we could have walked, from our hotel, into the other zones, towards our destination. We could have, if it had been Toronto. It would have been a good, long walk, with lots to see… But, without really knowing our destination, it is safer by taxi. I was only vaguely aware of the location of the shop… I had a radius of a few blocks to narrow it down… we drove around and around trying to recognize an alley where, in the first week, James friend, Amy, took us out for drinks. The streets were packed.. busier than even zona viva on Friday nights… Occasionally someone would approach the cab, try the door handle, yell “Hola! Hola!”, knocking on the windows… we were glad we hadn’t walked….not just yet.

We eventually described our destination to our taxi driver with a simple drawing of the street and alley we were looking for… we didn’t know the name for “alley” (I don’t really know much of anything in Spanish yet – James is more fluent) – but were able to translate this in a drawing.. pointing at the alley and saying “cantinas..” The driver understood… if not from the map I drew, definately from James remembering the name of one of the bars in the alley. He spat it out in jubilation and the driver threw up his arm… he understood where we were going.

We arrived at the art store.. pleased that the trip was not a complete waste. We asked the driver to wait for ten minutes.. which they will do, without any dispute. Many have asked the drivers to walk with them through markets as a guide which they often do quite happily. We went into the shop. It was dark and sparse… mostly filled with frames for framing pictures. I was relieved to see rolls of canvas as soon as we entered.. knowing that, in a pinch… there is canvas to be purchased here. We inquired about prices, and James jotted them down cleverly on a business card from the shop. The supplies were more expensive here than back home… but not expensive enough to not buy something if I run out… My goal in finding art supplies was less to get a deal and more to know that what I need is available if I run out. I scanned the shop and made a mental note of the other products available. We left, James smashed his head into the low hanging doorway that I passed under with ease. It seems, I am of the average height here… and James.. well.. James is taller.

We got back into the taxi… thanked him for waiting for us, and returned to the hotel. When we arrived, we decided to head down the street to a deli I had been dying to try for lunch… We both ordered hamburgers.. James was cooked nicely, and mine… for the second time.. was under cooked… under cooked being an understatement. Mine was raw. Raw. I sent it back.. and it returned… exactly as I had sent it back… thumb prints in the bun, a bit out of it… this time.. the meat was piping hot… and glistening. I broke it in half… and there in the center… still raw… I returned it and explained that I was no longer interested in eating… we left and I went back to the hotel and had a nap.


As briefly as possible… apartment hunting was exciting and frustrating as I previously mentioned… we finally decided on one that was everything we had wanted.. with one exception – no balcony. The balcony, was number one on our list… of must haves… unfortunately, under our particular circumstances – the need for space for my studio.. a good view… a safe neighborhood and an over all clean home with a nice large kitchen… we could not find anything with a balcony that suited all of these things… so.. we sacrificed the balcony for all of the others and wound up with a really large, sprawling Spanish style three bedroom apartment with a huge kitchen and new appliances… large windows let in lots of light and a view of a park directly out front, and the hill side in the distance… It will do well I think… and we are both excited (and growing impatient) to get into it and start cooking our own meals. As it stands.. we are waiting for the paper work to process and for word from out real estate agent as to what is happening… it seems that as soon as you say “I will take this one” communications come to a crawl..and we are all left wondering if we will even have an apartment to move into. This of course is emphaised by our growing desire to get out of the hotel… and get into something more permanent before I return briefly to Toronto for my exhibition. I leave here September 3rd and cannot wait to come back here… although.. I am reall, really looking forward to some home cooked deliciousness… eating out every day is not as great as it sounds… we really miss cooking for ourselves… and I certainly miss Iniyals wonderfully delicious curry dishes.

Curry Home Cooking…

A wonderful invitation from Jen and Jim to come to their new home for dinner was graciously accepted by us last weekend… Jim is at the school, a colleague of Iniyals. His wife Jen, in the same situation as James and myself – pretty much left to our own devices during the day – is a friendly and kind person whom we easily get along with. Their children, Emma and Abby have started a new life at a new school here in Guatemala. They found a lovely home, built on the edge of a ravine… overlooking so much greenery that it appears they are living in a jungle..

They invited us over for dinner, and Iniyal jumped in to help with a quick chicken curry dish. The meal was wonderful… fresh and delicious… such a nice change from the restaurant lifestyle.. We were all in high spirits and enjoyed the company thoroughly. We look forward to returning the dinner enjoyment as soon as we are settled in our home…


I have been.. over the last few weeks… been concerned with my career and my successes and failures, what they mean and how to get over them, get stronger and move forward… illuminating any negative influences from my life as quickly as possible. One of my concerns was that of finances.. what finances would I return to in Toronto this September.. waiting patiently for me to find them in my P.O Box. I carefully considered every angle and consequence… knowing that I would need to find yet another plane ticket for the December to March leg of my trips between Toronto and Guatemala… since, when returning to Guatemala after Christmas, I will need to have a return flight for the International Art Expo in March… and if I can swing the time just right… hopefully the attendance of our terrific friends wedding celebrations… Chantal and Justin. I sadly missed my old comrades wedding in B.C this August.. Mr. Tate… since I had been scheduled to come here at the same time…

back on topic…

ITCH 2007 Oil on CanvasMuch to my surprise and relief… all but one of the pieces I had submitted to the Square Foot Exhibition in Toronto had sold… so.. there would be a few dollars awaiting for me when I arrive that will help greatly. To an even greater surprise and coming at the perfect time – I was informed that I had been named “Peoples Choice Tern Art Award Winner” which was a second place finish that awarded me a gift certificate for art supplies at Tern Art in Toronto…. something I needed quite badly to spend money on before my return flight back to my new home in Guatemala. Thanks everybody!

Its nice to receive good news from Toronto… I really hope that my plan to provide my galleries with as much work as they could hold would mean a few sales over the course of the months ahead. Every little bit counts…

Needless to say.. I cannot wait till my show is over (though I am really looking forward to it) so I can return here and begin my new paintings. The new paintings will be giant figure works that I have been carrying in my head for a few months now… along with more Landscapes and other treats for the Toronto Art Expo next year. Its a long way away… but an important show for me to keep myself in peoples mind and keep my supplies flowing in. A career in painting is not a particularly profitable one.. the occasional sale can mean the difference between moving forward towards the next checkpoint – no matter how hard the climb… or, giving up and going back to a money making vocation that ultimately leads to frowns and sleepless nights. I have a wonderful wife whom I love and adore, a career that I love and couldn’t quit even if I wanted to… and generally dig life… more than at any point in my life I would guess.

I miss my family. They are in the wooded mountains in B.C… they are policing the streets in the lower mainland… I wish I could see them more often than I do…and look forward to their planned visit here next year.

We also miss my extended family… in Toronto.. the last place we called home. I miss curried ribs and their good company.

..till next time..


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