Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Back from Antigua, Guatemala

I got back last night from Guatemala, where I was attending the MDLF media forum and also a board meeting. I want publicly to thank Jose Ruben Zamora, editor of El Periodico newspaper, and a longtime client of MDLF, for the extraordinary kindnesses he and his staff showed to all the participants in the media forum, who came from around the world to discuss conditions of independent journalism.

The last night of the conference, El Periodico hosted a wonderful reception, concert, and dinner in Antigua. An excellent string quartet, the Guatemalan Contemporary Quartet, played for the guests. They did some 19th century Guatemalan music, some contemporary pieces by the cellist in the group, and an 18th century classical piece. It was lovely, and then they followed that up by an unusual film, with them playing the soundtrack on the film, but then accompanying the soundtrack with additional tracks live on stage. The film covered a number of highland Guatemalan scenes, places I have been in the past but haven't seen in many years - Sacatepequez, for example. That was followed by a terrific dinner, in which I had very interesting conversations with journalists from Bolivia and Columbia. And I am pleased to say that they complimented me on my Spanish! - not the pronunciation, to be sure, but my "excelencia de expresion." Quite so, I'm sure.

I came back with gifts for the girls. Black jade earrings for Jean-Marie, and a large selection of magazines and newspapers in Spanish to use with her classes - she teaches high school boys at St Alban's in DC, so I figured she couldn't go wrong with sports and sex - Maxim in Spanish. A necklace for Renee, but I had spent so much money on her birthday - Daddy compensation for missing her 15th birthday last week - that I thought I really shouldn't. (The vintage designer dress from 1960 and the 1972 onesie - well, it okay, she doesn't really need college - I understood all of a sudden exactly what it must be like to be a divorced Dad trying to dump material love on a teenage kid.) And coffee - vast quantities of Antigua coffee and coffee from Jose Ruben's coffee farm. Even I, coffee novice, could taste how low acid and sweet it is. Roasted at a little place in Antigua, it is great.

3 comments:

Archana said...

That's great! I just returned from a trip to Guatemala City myself last week, where I also met a few journalists from El Periodico and other media outlets. A co-authored book I wrote on tax evasion was published by CIIDH. Hope to stay in touch about lovely Guatemala, which is possibly one of the most interesting places for legal research on new democracies.

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