Nanciyaga: Mystic Northern Jungle

Nanciyaga is the northernmost tropical rainforest on the planet, and was home to the ancient Olmecas.

The mystique and beauty of this treasured area is evidenced by its lush forests, authentic native culture, and historical significance near of one of the oldest cities in America.

Just 13 km away is Eyipantla falls, where Mel Gibson starred in Apocalypto. At Eyipantla, you can climb down hundreds of steps and bask in the soothing spray of the waterfall.

The comfortable housing arrangements at Nanciyaga perfectly compliment the courteous and engaging staff, many of whom are student volunteers from the local university.

(Ryan visited Nanciyaga in December 2010)

Book Review: First Things First by Stephen R. Covey

This book comes highly recommended, and discusses the importance of prioritizing our lives according to our values, and principles.

It seems that in today’s society, we tend to seek more and more efficient and effective ways of performing our everyday tasks. However, if our principles and values aren’t correctly aligned, then yes we may be moving fast, but in the entirely wrong direction.

I recently visited the Marriott hotel, where I picked up a rather unique notepad. Instead of a To-Do list, it was dubbed an “Accomplished List”.

Perhaps an even better list would be a To Be list. As a young Boy Scout, I learned a list of attributes that I should seek to develop, which are found in the Scout Law. A scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent.

Although you can’t necessarily check these attributes off on a list, you can do your best to become someone better, day by day, by putting first things first.

A Successful Bar

The happiest of men are those who are,
continually raising the bar.

For why be content with the progress you’ve made,
in a morning or afternoon sit.

Not for glory or praise, or a measly raise,
do these men strive for their best.

But rather for self, and family and more,
in order to better themselves.

They accomplish a lot, and see the progress,
all the while keeping it real.

For despite the success in a competitive world,
They set their eyes on the most precious pearl.

Which is time spent, with a family in need,
of loving and caring and joy.

Thus the bar that needs raising, the push for success,
not only is felt at work.

But may we feel the need, of a willing knee,
ready to sit a child, while we attend to every need.

The Prayer of the Children

Can you hear the prayer of the children
on bended knee, in the shadow of an unknown room?
Empty eyes with no more tears to cry
turning heavenward toward the light.
Crying,” Jesus, help me
to see the morning light of one more day,
but if I should die before I wake,
I pray my soul to take.”
Can you feel the hearts of the children
aching for home, for something of their very own.
Reaching hands with nothing to hold onto
but hope for a better day, a better day.
Crying,” Jesus, help me
to feel the love again in my own land,
but if unknown roads lead away from home,
give me loving arms, away from harm.”
(oooooo la la la la etc etc.)
Can you hear the voice of the children
softly pleading for silence in their shattered world?
Angry guns preach a gospel full of hate,
blood of the innocent on their hands.
Crying,” Jesus, help me
to feel the sun again upon my face?
For when darkness clears, I know you’re near,
bringing peace again.”

Book Review: And Then The Roof Caved In

This book, written by David Faber, summarizes the collapse of the mortgage industry in 2007, and details the many factors that created this collapse.

He mentions the creation of an entity and an industry: Fannie Mae in 1938, and the subprime mortgage industry in 1993.

Of the many factors that colluded to cause this financial catastrophe were the following:

  • The inability of rating companies to gauge the risk of subprime mortgages.
  • Wall Street replacing Fannie and Freddie as regulators of the secondary mortgage industry.
  • Alan Greenspan lowering interest rates after 9/11/2011, thus reviving the dying subprime mortgage industry.
  • The creation of synthetic CDOs, mezzanine CDOs, and CDSs, with no contemplation of a decrease in home values.
  • Teaser rate underwriting, and no verification of income for homebuyers.

Definitions and Explanations:

All these are basically inventions designed to sell an untested, high risk product to clueless investors.

  • An MBS is a mortgage backed security, which is a compilation of mortgages sold to investors.
  • A CDO is a collateralized debt obligation, which is a compilation of MBSs.
  • A CDS is a credit default swap, which is insurance in the case of a defaulting CDO.
  • A synthetic CDO is a compilation of CDSs.
  • A mezzanine CDO is a way to turn high-risk mortgages into low-risk mortgages, based on subjective criteria.

My Take

David Faber provides a wonderful synopsis of this catastrophe, however, I disagree with him on the so-called “greedy” Wall Street. Wall Street is driven by profits, and so it was natural for them to take advantage of the situation.

Yes, I admit there may have been a certain level of greed involved, but another problem started in 1938, when the government created an entity to help the market. The government essentially created a new industry, and with their superb credit and government-backed reputation, Fannie and Freddie became leaders in this new industry.

Fannie and Freddie worked well until they were taken out of the picture in 2003, being replaced by Wall Street. When the government created a new market in 1938, they didn’t imagine Wall Street taking Fannie’s place in the distant future.

However, when Wall Street took Fannie’s place between 2003-2008, capitalism collided with a government-created market, and the result was chaos.

The government basically created demand for a product, financed it, and made a profit, but they were the only entity who could effectively manage the secondary mortgage industry. Without their reputation, financing, and non-profit driven ideals, they regulated the industry. Without them, the vacuum was filled by the free market.

Government agencies serve a purpose, but when they cease existing, the vacuum must be filled. When the entity filling that vacuum is un-government like, there is bound to be conflict.

As they say, you can’t fit a square peg in a round hole. If the round holes are capitalism, and the government is square, then my concern is the following: how long until the government stops trying to fit its square pegs, and starts creating its own square holes?

Sounds of Mexico

I’ll be inserting the sounds soon. Please check back later.

Life in Mexico is simple, and here’s why…

  • Need to get rid of your scrap metal? Just listen for the Iron Man. Not Robert Downey, Jr., but rather, the man who pushes a cart around the streets while yelling (insert sound here)


  • Having a hard time selling those christmas tamales? Try this little tune. (insert sound here)


  • This next marketing technique requires a little more training, and I don’t do it justice, but it’s useful for selling lemon flavored ice cream. (insert sound here)


  • Who needs the internet when Imperial Gas is cruising around your neighborhood. (insert sound here)




Jack of All Trades

If you’ve ever wondered how to translate “jack of all trades” into Spanish, wonder no more.

Estuche de monerías

Estuche refers to a box used by surgeons, which carries many instruments. Monerías refers to the mimicking actions of a monkey. Put the two words together, and you get a mimicking monkey with a box of surgical instruments. That scares me.

According to a Mexican citizen in Mexico City, who lives in la segunda sección de San Juan de Aragón,  estuche de monerías refers to someone who is a jack of all trades.

According to the Real Academia Española (the official guardian of the “castellano” language), being an estuche means having the ability to do many things.;
“ser alguien un estuche 1. loc. verb. coloq. Tener habilidad para cosas diversas.” However, Monerías is not officially found in the forementioned RAE dictionary.

According to, monería refers to either mimicry, or to a lovely thing.

According to, a monería is a monkey’s actions.

Since monkeys are good at mimicking, I would assume that estuche de monería refers to the ability of a person to mimic the actions of a wide variety of professions, or trades.