Guatemala, My Personal Lodestar, Million Mile Walker Dispatch, November 2023

Dear Friends and Colleagues from Around the World,

On a personal note, I have several announcements about my involvement with the Arizona Authors Association. Culture Watch will focus on attempts by the Guatemalan attorney general to prevent the President-elect from taking office.  My Writing and Reviews will highlight my forthcoming book and plans for a Kickstarter campaign and a review of a classic satire about Guatemala and a TV series from Indonesia. Voices in Action will include an insightful quote. What Others Are Saying will provide the latest praises for my forthcoming book, and the Calendar will be updated.

 My name has been offered as a board candidate for the Arizona Authors Association (AAA), the first writers group I joined when I began writing full-time six years ago. Here’s what the editor of the AAA newsletter, Authors’ Dispatch, said about my column, The Million Mile Walker Dispatch: What We’re Reading and Why, “Mark D. Walker has walked this journey with me since the beginning. His Million Mile Walker column has brought a unique insight into Latin American issues and other important topics.”

Click on the Million Mile Walker poster above to access several bonus items. A link to the YouTube webinar, “Publishing Trends and How One Travel Writer Developed His Own Author’s Platform,” and one of the chapters in my forthcoming book, “Discovering the Art of Francisco Goldman.”


And here’s a testimonial about my forthcoming book, which inspired the title for this month’s Million Mile Walker Dispatch:

In Mark Walker’s The Guatemala Reader, the author begins with a truth that all travelers will endorse. There is always one place, culture and country, that becomes your lodestar. Your sense of the world in its ragged variety is guided by it. For Walker, Guatemala is that country, and the careful intelligence with which he has assembled the collection testifies to his deep understanding of the place and the people who live there. The individual pieces are varied in theme and approach. The evocative illustrations are superb. Even the map is just right, identifying the numerous locales in which Walker has worked, lived, and learned to appreciate the complex cultural reality that is Guatemala. This book is for everyone. – Mark Jacobs, author of Stone Cowboy, Silent Light & 180 articles in literary journals.

Culture Watch

Prosecutors of the Guatemalan government continue to obstruct the taking of power of President-elect Bernardo Arévalo, who is a contrast to the military generals, buffoons, and even a clown who have been their last three presidents. Arévalo was interviewed on NPR and Democracy Now, among other news outlets. He speaks excellent English and articulates his political challenges upon stepping into the presidency in January.

Initially, the government banned his party, “Seeds.” Then, after he congratulated students at the local university for protesting, the prosecutor used this as an excuse to ask the court to strip Arévalo and his Vice President-elect of their immunity so the government could press charges. Also, the editor of “El Periodico” newspaper, Jose Ruben Zamora, remains behind bars for trumped-up charges of money laundering. This is a critical time for the future of Guatemala, so we all must be aware of what’s going on and support efforts to allow free and safe elections.

My Writing, Interviews, and Reviews


I’m finalizing the manuscript for The Guatemala Reader, adding some new testimonials, a disclaimer, and a section at the end where I’ll recommend some organizations I’ve been involved with that need support to carry on the struggle to support and empower the leaders and communities who want better conditions for all Guatemalans.

Once the publisher can work on the book, I’ll refocus on rolling out a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign to generate the resources necessary to get the word about the book to as broad a group of readers as possible. I’ll offer special signed editions of the book, bonus webinars, videos, and even some chapters I think readers will be most interested in. I’ll need the support of all my friends, colleagues, and readers because I can only access the funds if we “exceed” the income goal…


 I first heard about this book from a podcast, Personal Landscapes, by Ryan Murdock, who interviewed biographer Julian Evans, “Norman Lewis: The 20th Century’s Greatest Travel Writer.” This caught my attention because Norman Lewis wrote a book about Guatemala. The podcast reveals what made this author and this book unique.

The author wrote a satirical novel about one of the great social divides in Guatemalan society, the division between the Mayan Indigenous community and the Europeanized, Spanish-speaking “Ladino” population. His fictional depiction of some of the absurdities and lack of respect for the Indigenous community is notable, despite them representing over 50% of the population…

The story takes place in an exotic part of the country, outside of Coban in Alta Verapaz, where there are “beautiful women produced by the union of the German planters with the pick of the local Indian women.” Here’s the link to the entire review:


Gadis Kretek (The Cigarette Girl) is a period drama about the Indonesian clove tobacco industry in the 1960s and 2000s. An estranged son searches for a girl from his father’s past to fulfill a cigarette mogul’s dying wish.  An upstairs-downstairs-like story filmed in 7 cities across Java in 100 sets. 5 Stars!

Voices in Action

“Art is one of those few spaces where we can ask unresolvable questions.” Kehinde Wiley

 What Others Are Saying

Some of the praises for the proof of The Guatemala Reader

This book provides a beautiful excursion through the Land of Eternal Spring that will delight “old hands” and “newbies” to Guatemala alike. It delivers hard truths as well as enchanting insights. As a 50+ year student of all things Guatemalan, I can enthusiastically say the book is a modern-day classic! Bob Graham is the author and founder of Namaste Direct and Katalysis Foundations.

This is a great collection of essays by Mark Walker, some evocative of a beautiful country, some quivering with hard facts and descriptions, all fully illustrative of what has been happening in Guatemala for the last half-century and more. These are indeed “Extraordinary Lives and Amazing Stories.” Walker’s connection to Central America goes back over fifty years. He’s read widely about Guatemala and followed the internal wars there, the injustices to the indigenous population, and most recently the massive waves of emigration. He’s been involved through his family and various jobs, and his passion for the country is evident. Whether you know much or little about Guatemala, you’ll learn plenty here about the engaging culture and history of this remarkable near-neighbor of ours. John Thorndike, author of The World Against Her Skin and Another Way Home. Returned Peace Corps Volunteer.


I am hunkering down to complete the manuscript of The Guatemala Reader!

  • December 16th Phoenix Writers’ Club Christmas party at Gallagher’s Sports Bar. We’ll read poems or prose or present any creative project.

You can find my 80 book reviews and 28 articles, plus several videos, on my website, including a reduced price for my new book if you read it and pass it along to your local library: “Follow” me on Twitter—at and Facebook at for the latest international affairs and literature. And, as always, if you’ve read “Different Latitudes: My Life in the Peace Corps and Beyond,” rate it on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and GoodReads, or if you don’t have it, please consider purchasing it or, better still, purchase my latest book, My Saddest Pleasures: 50 Years on the Road, the Best Travel Book according to the Peace Corps Writers Group.


Mark D. Walker

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