All Work and No Play…


A man can go insane here… from great expectations to feelings of pointlessness, the emotional rollercoaster at work is taking me for quite a ride. Just as I was getting excited about this bootstrap entrepreneurial adventure, I got my hopes handed back to me on a plate.

Things were going well. Our new brand name, Luz del Bosque, was registering well with our customers. With a generous interest-free loan from Banco de Quínton, we had all our marketing materials ready for a Christmas sales campaign. My first forays into client prospecting met relative success. Things were looking up and I was excited about the possibilities.

Then, I finally got to hear the story of The German.

I will omit the details here. But, suffice to say that The German was The Founder of Ecoquetzal. Now, he’s our competitor. And, the problems that Ecoquetzal faces are more than just economics. There are politics. And, I need to avoid getting involved in that. If I get sucked into their world, I will lose focus playing their game of thrones. I will forget that the mission of Ecoquetzal is to help the communities, not to help the privileged maintain their pride and vanity.

Why can’t we just get along and work together? Why compete when both our missions are to help indigenous communities and protect the forests ‘n’ the birds?

I figure that I should continue improving the candle sales. Enough safety checks are in place to prevent embezzlement. So, I can be confident that the money that comes in goes back to the families that sell us the arrayán wax. Meanwhile, I should keep my eyes and ears open and see just exactly how deep this rabbit hole goes.


You may have noticed that I’ve been spelling my name “Quínton.” That’s because the Spanish spelling is closest to its pronunciation. I introduce myself as “Quínton” like the number “quinto” – which is Spanish for “fifth.” My family here also asked about my last name. I explained to them how my real last name is “Chiang,” which means “ginger” in Chinese. So, they gave me my nickname: Cinco Jengibre (or, “Five Ginger”).

Although “Cinco Jengibre” sounds pretty cool rolling off my tongue, I like its translation into Q’eqchi’ even more. My Q’eqchi’ teacher this past Tuesday taught me that Five Ginger is “oob’ xanxiwr” (pronounced OB SHAN-sheew-rrr.) There’s a trilling of the r’s at the end, like the sound of a cat’s purr. I love it.

Learning Q’eqchi’ with Qana’ Flori is loads of fun. The challenges of learning another language through a second language can be very frustrating, but my teacher and I end up laughing a lot during our lessons. So, learning is a lot easier. For instance, I found out that “chu” means “bad odor.” Many Chinese people would appreciate that, I think. The Q’eqchi’ word for “foreigner” is “kaxlan’ winq,” which literally means “chicken man.” They use kaxlan’, or chicken, to denote anything foreign since the chicken is a foreign animal to Q’eqchi’ culture. When I saw a textbook that she was using to teach indigenous communities Spanish, I asked, “Why is this book about how chickens talk?” The subtitle of the textbook was kaxlan’aatin, literally “chicken words.”

Learning Q’eqchi’ is slow going. My Spanish still needs improvement. Sometimes I would learn a Q’eqchi’ word, but not know what it means in Spanish. So, I would have to run to my dictionary and translate it into English. Despite the difficulties, being able to speak a few phrases really helps with the confianza-building. It makes the Q’eqchi’ people smile and laugh. That’s enough encouragement, really, for a guy to keep on trying.

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