January 2009 Issue: Bad News, Good News

If you want a happy new year, don’t read the news. Apparently, mediajan09 hyper-coverage of the economic downturn is actually making things worse, setting a tone of collective panic that is feeding on itself. Yikes. Here at XelaWho, we provide balanced, responsible coverage for the uninformed traveler. For each piece of bad news about the world, there must be a piece of good news to go with it.

The bad news is, some predict that the global crisis may become so severe that several large, unstable nations will fail completely. According to The Atlantic’sMarc Ambinder, “A worldwide demand crisis could lead to social unrest in countries like Indonesia and Malaysia, Singapore, the Ukraine, Japan, Turkey or Egypt (which is facing an internal political crisis of epic proportions already).” That sounds pretty messy. The good news is, Guatemala does not appear on that list, and seems to be hanging in there, more or less.

The bad news is, animal shelters in the U.S. are filling up with pets abandoned because of home foreclosures. Some hard-pressed pet owners are just leaving their pets on the streets or in the houses they must vacate, sometimes with a supply of food, the Boston Globe reports. The good news is, Guatemala already has a strong community of homeless dogs. If abandoned pets are willing to make the trek, they can find support and camaraderie here in the streets of Xela. They can also find food and important work in the waste disposal system.

The bad news is, the job situation in the U.S. may be even worse than unemployment figures suggest. According to the New York Times, 251,000 workers lost their jobs in November, driving the unemployment rate to 6.7%. But “unemployed” only describes individuals actively looking for work, and the number of Americans “outside the workforce” (not job-hunting) rose by 637,000. The good news is, Guatemala is an ideal place to be newly laid off. You can survive on a $400 monthly unemployment check quite comfortably. Once you’ve officially shifted from “unemployed” to “outside the work force,” you can do some informal job-hunting down here. XelaWho pays for articles. Or, teaching English is always an option. My roommate is earning around $10/hr teaching English online.

Panic about the coming year will only make things worse, so put down all credible news sources, take a deep breath, and enjoy your time here in Guatemala. This may be one of the least bad places to spend 2009.

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