Dec 20, 2012

VIVA LATIN AMERICA -- Always/siempre there thrives a spiritualife, religious enthusiasm and outward displays of authentic happiness are celebrated around me.

Estimados Amigos,

I've lived in Latin America for over 20 years and I've always felt the underlying, as well as surface blasting, passion of Los Latinos while enjoying their great hospitality and earning many friendships too. 

Often there are a great many everyday living difficulties for the folks at the lower wage earning/less opportunity scale to face.  They face their ¨circumstances¨ bravely and work hard, literally from before the sun rises and well into night!

Various cultures in Latin America have larger populations of poor people than others. But, never have I known any group of people in the New World to be unkind or unwelcoming to strangers.  It's all about hospitality. ¨Mi casa su casa¨ is REAL even amongst the most modest of folks.

Never have I not noticed the air-thick amusement, even joy, that surrounds even the most immediate and tiresome of many daily routines from picking coffee to selling melons in the open markets to operating sewing machines in large factories in larger cities.  Most duties are dealt with energetically, humbly and passionately.  Latinos are a forceful, inventive and enthusiastic loyal working people (mostly). Many of my neighbors meet everyday challenges many Norte Americanos, like me, never would ever face, want to face,  or even know about.  Meanwhile, they are working in landscapes that are both varied and breathtakingly stunning from lush forests and endless rural beaches to stark deserts, mountains and even ski slopes .

Always/siempre there lives a spiritualike, religious enthusiasm and outward display of happiness that is celebrated on a regular basis around me.  Celebrated with birth parties, all night death vigils and/or the honoring of Saints and local town patrons, 15 year old ¨coming out¨ parties for young ladies, Baptismal/First Communion luncheons, endless parades, contests, pagents, rodeos, religious processions and everyday anniversaries, endless soccer/fútbol  games and birthday parties!   Even funerals are a major event on the Calle Real where I live with brass bands following shoulder held coffins and mourners in black with them making their way to the main square where there will be a well-attended (often overflowing) mass and then the procession continues to the village cemetery, flowers everywhere.

GLEEFILLED, is the word that best expresses the world around me from Mexico (Viva Mexico), Central America (Viva Guatemala), the Caribbean (Viva Puerto Rico) to Argentina, Peru and Chile.  I am blessed to have lived, loved and participated at all levels of life, social life, business life, everyday retirement life in America Latina. I feel welcome, safe and at home dulce home -- Gracias a Dios! 

Leonardo Ricardo/Leonard Clark, Guatemala, Central America


¨A poll released Wednesday of nearly 150,000 people around the world says seven of the world's 10 countries with the most upbeat attitudes are in Latin America.

Many of the seven do poorly in traditional measures of well-being, like Guatemala, a country torn by decades of civil war followed by waves of gang-driven criminality that give it one of the highest homicide rates in the world. Guatemala sits just above Iraq on the United Nations' Human Development Index, a composite of life expectancy, education and per capita income. But it ranks seventh in positive emotions.
"In Guatemala, it's a culture of friendly people who are always smiling," said Luz Castillo, a 30-year-old surfing instructor. "Despite all the problems that we're facing, we're surrounded by natural beauty that lets us get away from it all."

Gallup Inc. asked about 1,000 people in each of 148 countries last year if they were well-rested, had been treated with respect, smiled or laughed a lot, learned or did something interesting and felt feelings of enjoyment the previous day.

In Panama and Paraguay, 85 percent of those polled said yes to all five, putting those countries at the top of the list. They were followed closely by El Salvador, Venezuela, Trinidad and Tobago, Thailand, Guatemala, the Philippines, Ecuador and Costa Rica...¨ enjoy reading it all, HERE

Thanks to Elizabeth Bell, Antigua Tours HERE

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