It was August of 2009 and I was going through a serious life change. I had sold the company I had started from scratch 8 years earlier, “American Latino Syndication” and after producing over 300 episodes and nearly killing myself in the process, I was no longer beholden to schedule that meant managing almost 30 people, working with dozens of TV stations and advertisers, distracted by an almost 24 hour desire to grow something bigger and bigger and bigger until….. I had sold it. I had done it. I was a success… or so I thought.
For the first time in my recent memory, I was able to sleep in. I had quit caffeine and had noticed how out of shape I had become. I began sleeping more, working out more, eating healthier and the phone was not ringing and the email box was notably less busy.
I should have been happy. Instead, I was angry and sad. For some strange reason, despite the fact that I had just succeeded at something that at the time was the hardest challenge I’d ever attempted (growing a TV production, distribution and marketing company from scratch) and breaking new ground (successfully producing and syndicating the 1st ever English language programs for U.S. Latinos). Yet I felt a HUGE void.
Shouldn’t there be more? Shouldn’t I feel really fulfilled and really satisfied? Shouldn’t the phone be ringing off the hook from big media companies asking me if I could PLEASE come work my magic for them? Shouldn’t newspaper and magazine writers be intrigued and want to interview me?
Yep. I had mistakenly believed my own hype and it was a tough fall back down to earth. Without a business to run and something to preoccupy my time, I now had time to think about what I’d just accomplished and it just didn’t seem that important. Eight years of brutally hard work and very little time for anything else and for what? not much. Some money? Really? That was it?
Suddenly, I felt kind of stupid, unimportant… and depressed.
I decided to get out of my own head and out of NYC for a change of perspective. I jumped on the web to see what inexpensive last minute airfares were available.. and there was one so cheap to Guatemala City I couldn’t pass it up.
It was cheap, fast and I’d never been there before. Perfect. I booked the trip and a few days later found myself in Gaute (Guatemala City) in my hotel room googling “Punk music” out of curiosity to see what I could find.
To my pleasant surprise, I found Warning Band and Hector M., who is considered the Godfather of Punk in Guatemala.
Hector spoke no English and my Spanish was survival Spanish at best but Felix, the guitarist in Hector’s band had lived in California and his English was flawless and he served as a translator when my street Spanish wouldn’t suffice.
Hector, Felix, and other bands like Union Stricken, Sudor de Huevos (Ball Sweat) rolled out the red carpet for me. I had my little video camera and I interviewed the guys. They took me to their rehearsal space and gave me a group tour (the only safe way to do it at night) of downtown Guatemala City at night.
I hung around for a Saturday matinee punk show before heading out to Antiqua, the beautiful but touristic old city just outside of Guate. The show was an incredible display of DIY determinism. Same instruments, different bands… very organized and community based. I was impressed and forever changed.
I had intended to travel to the black sand beaches of Guatemala’s coast but I never made it due to spending so much time in Guatemala City with Hector and company… not what a typical tourist would do at all.
4 years later I returned to Guatemala City with a film crew, this time taping for another high stakes project… Raw Travel. The guys once again rolled out the welcome mat for me and put on a concert in downtown Guatemala.
We had a great time watching Warning, Union Stricken, Sudor de Huevos, Neuro Toxico and other bands play. We got turned on to a new western-surf-punk band called Los Tiros (the Shots) who would supply music for the soundtrack of much of the 2nd half of our 1st season of Raw Travel.
I fell in love with Guatemala my 1st time in 2009. In 2013, I fell even deeper… and now on April 26th-27th, I finally get to share some of this with the world.
We’ll feature the Guatemalan punk scene on Raw Travel’s – Raw Guatemala but we’ll also feature other more traditional reasons raw travelers will find Guatemala as charming and wonderful as I did.
Travel can be very personal. In 2009, I was searching for something that I didn’t find…. myself. I’m still looking and I have a feeling it may be a lifelong search.
But I found something I wasn’t even looking for… friends, punk music and most importantly, a rewarding and deeply different perspective on life. In effect it led me to create Punk Outlaw and laid the groundwork for what would eventually become “Raw Travel”.
I hope you tune in next week. I hope you like what you see.
Here is a little web only segment from our travels to one of the villages around beautiful Lake Atitlan. Basically a Nahaules is like a Mayan horoscope but as you will see, in order to ward off death, I needed to make an offering to the creator… which of course, I did.
Yes, I’m still alive.. even if I wonder “why” at times.