Guatemala Beyond the News Cycle

For so many Americans, Guatemala isn't a place per se. Rather, it is synonymous with drugs, violence, and illegal immigration, since that is what we see in the news. As a first-time visitor to the northernmost of the "northern triangle" countries - or as Fox News put it, three Mexican countries - I was curious…

Tikal and the Mundo Maya

It is hot. Very hot, sitting at an even 100 degrees Fahrenheit. The air is steamy, the humidity approaching 85% and seeping through me. I stand in the shade of a tree, drinking water and sweating it out just as fast, staring at Temple 1, a large pyramid at one side of Tikal's grand plaza.…

The Legacy of Cesar Chavez

California's Central Valley is nothing like the postcard pictures of the Golden State everyone imagines. There are no surfers, no beautiful people sipping designer coffees or juices. This is farm country, some of the best and most productive in the country, and maybe even the world. It is flat, it is dry, it is dusty…

Can a Country Be Authoritarian and Good?

Singapore is a huge contradiction. Western, yet eastern. English is the official language, but you'll most often hear Chinese dialects spoken. It is incredibly modern, yet traditional. Ultra expensive shopping and dining sit alongside kiosks and street food. Gambling and prostitution are legal, but drug possession can carry a death sentence. It is a capitalistic…

Finding Meaning in the DMZ

It's hard to describe the feeling at that first look into North Korea from the Dora Observatory, just outside the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) separating North and South Korea. Through coin-operated telescopes, tourists can gaze toward a North Korean empty propaganda village along the border, and farther to the city of Kaesong, North Korea's third largest.…

Why I Went to Mexico

If you watch or read the news, no doubt you've seen headlines featuring our southern neighbor. The August 2 issue of USA Today read, "Violent Crime in Mexico Vacation Spots." On December 13 of last year, the New York Times published "Mexico Grapples With a Surge in Violence." And of course, we all remember then-candidate…