El Jefe Leads J-Crew to Guatemala

Thirty seven J-Crewers toured Guatemala over break with 19 splitting off to get some R&R in Belize for four days. When you spend 24×7 with your classmates, lots of interesting things happen. You get to know people a little better, you coin nicknames and you get very, very silly. As always, some of the fondest memories of Spring Break 2002 come from the unexpected happenings. For fellow trip-mates, my short list includes taking over the bar in Guatemala City, salsa lessons with Rico Suave, racing to the top of the pyramids and, best of all, the infamous joyride to Temptation Island. You’ll hear more about Belize next week, though, because there is way too much material for one column. Be afraid, J, be very afraid.

Sectionmate, Diego Syrowicz, organized the trip to Guatemala and deserves a lot of credit for a great time. Word to Section K/Negotiations 109 – despite his egregious reputation as a hard negotiator, Diego, now known as El Jefe (“the boss”), used his talents to get us discounts on hotels, airfare, dining, tours, etc. So, call it what you want, but I want Diego on my team! We were also very honored by the efforts of his entire family, including his younger and much more charming brother, Gabriel (just kidding, Diego!). His parents hosted a dinner party at their home in Guatemala City, allowing us the opportunity to try “typical” Guatemalan cuisine. Judging by the fact that the family had to make a run to refresh the bar half way through dinner, I would say that J-Crew also quite enjoyed the “typical” Guatemalan drinks as well. And when the photo albums break out, you know there will be trouble. Luckily for Diego, we are all greatly indebted to him, but we’ve got the picture just in case he ever turns on us! What were you doing in that hammock, Diego?

Not surprisingly, later that night was one of the more rockus nights in Guatemala. For those who remember: Mel’s infatuation with red pashmina, “Rebecca Y Pamela,” flaming shots from out of nowhere, sweaters left behind, shoes missing, locals dancing on the bar and a whole lot of salsa dancing – or at least what we gringos called salsa. And we didn’t even have to buy four bottles! But, of course, we didn’t get special dedications for “los amigos de Boston,” but we also didn’t have a police raid. And finally who can forget Andrey Dutov’s valiant efforts to get the group in to the hot tub and pool in the middle of the night. So, if BATNAs don’t get you anywhere, Andrey will be happy to teach you about the tactics we didn’t cover in Negotiations class.

So, you ask what did we see in Guatemala? We toured the colonial city of Antigua, we danced the night away in Guatemala City, we took a boat ride across Lago Atitlan to an indigenous village at the foot of three active volcanoes and we toured the Mayan ruins of Tikal. We took in many sites, sounds and tastes of Guatemala and learned a lot about their culture. We bought Jade and silver and bargained at the central markets for colorful cloth (Mel will probably never have to blow dry her hair again). And, most importantly, we dug up information on the United Fruit Company, so we could look really smart in Dr. Fear’s BGIE class on Chiquita. Louise Hulme, however, went a step further in that class, offering up information on the drug trade in Belize. I was with her, though, and can confirm that our taxi driver really was an ex-drug enforcement agent, and it was not really a field study on her part. Wait for next week to hear more about Belize, however. Let’s just say for now that Section J became fairly well known in San Pedro – to the point that random people would stop us and ask if we were “that group” and where we were going that night.

And a very special dedication to Jim, Anthony, Jeff and Magnus – Party People Make Some Noise!!! Magnus, I was thinking about auctioning off a ham sandwich tonight at the charity auction – I assume you will be the high bidder. Trust me; “it’s awesome.”

April 1, 2002
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