I’m enjoying a moment of ironic epiphany. Of late, I’m writing once more, which is a great relief since I thought my writer’s mojo had dried up somewhat. The irony is that my current project will be written in the Spanish language, closing the circle I started about three decades, when I was a teenager. I began writing in Spanish, dreaming of perhaps becoming the next Gabriel Garcia Marques… and I’m now doing it again, after oh, so may years.

This story is something I could have easily chosen to write in English, but ever since I toyed with the idea, I had the strongest feeling that language wouldn’t lend itself well to the rather gritty topic, which will be about cockfighting in South America.

The central premise behind this tale is very silly, so I won’t get too deep into it here, but what I wrote so far promises to be my usual writing foolishness, only this time covered with a respectable veneer of prosaic plausibility created by the mere use of the Spanish language. Sigh. I know that in the end no one will ever read it, but no one would have read it in English anyway, so the notion of writing it either language doesn’t matter much. The main thing is that I’m writing again.

Oh, yes. Progress is painfully slow, as I no longer churn out 10 000 words every day as I used to do in the past. Back on those days I had absolutely nothing else to do but write, since I was stuck in the middle of the rainforest. These days I’m more into meaning, rather than bulking my daily output, so it is more like a leisurely pace of maybe 200 or 300 words, 500 tops if I’m able to get into “the zone”, which is the term we writers use to describe that place where we achieve to see every single story detail, event and character with laser-sharp clarity for a brief moment before committing the words to paper.

You know? That was something I really did miss…that instant when my writer’s mind eye is able to take a snapshot of the life of people that don’t really exist, and paint them against the backdrop of improbable places and more impossible times… and yet be capable of making them come to life, fixing all these bogus alternate realities into words.

Yep… I was certainly missing that feeling. I couldn’t wake up that mental eye for the longest time.

All this may not amount to much… but at least I’m writing again…

I’m back in the saddle, which is the only thing that matters…

Edwin Stark
Signing Off

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

One last remaining problem…

For the past month my life has improved exponentially; I came to the United States and married Kathryn. The food store is just a couple of blocks over, not a ten-mile walk away. I don’t need to ration anymore. I no longer need to extract coffee from a safe deposit box prior using it. I don’t have to reuse coffee filters at least a dozen times before having to discard them. Electricity is good and stable. The best of all is that I can walk in the streets without fear of being mugged, assaulted or bugged because of how I look.

You paranoids out there may think that sentence sounds silly; that every stranger you meet out in the street is a potential mugger, blah, blah. The problem in this case that was the absolute truth in my home country: due to the ongoing crisis that the accursed place is experiencing, every man, woman and child  is a prospective menace (even toddlers in baby carriage are a threat; one tried to steal my wallet at gunpoint a couple of weeks before I left the country). Scratch all that. Well, yeah, the enhancement of my lifestyle is vast. Of course, there is the huge responsibility of Kathryn’s kids attached to it, but so far we’re doing fine in that department (I think they kinda dig me).

However, one last problem weights me down sometimes; one last bit of a worry that still ties me to that Titanic of a country that Aleveznue is:

My mother.

She’s still on that sinking ship.

For the past six months before I left that accursed place, I tried to convince her to come along. First, I’d settle down and attain my permanent residency, then I’d get a job and then we’d get her started on all the necessary paperwork to follow me. Alas, she was adamant and refused. I kinda understand her decision; to her, bailing out from Aleveznue* would be conceding defeat and that there isn’t anything salvageable from the entire situation.

But she’s a 78-year old woman and she’s stuck in nearly the exact jam in which I was just a couple of months ago. Very, very stuck… which ain’t decent.

It’s not a topic I like to talk about much; every time the topic comes up in conversation, the general consensus is that hopefully (hopefully!!!) my mom will eventually change her mind and decide to tag along. It’s evident they don’t know my momma at all. She’s the kind of woman who would be up late at night, more than four hours past her bedtime, to fix a particularly pesky stitch that wouldn’t come right at the sewing machine. I mean it; she’s a very stubborn woman. Same situation here.

I know precissely what is necessary to be done to convince my mom to come here. Alas, it would be rather costly and probably fruitless, forcing me into more expensive and time depleting maneuvers to finally succeed. Then I have a look at my available funds and that makes me realize there’s no feasible way (not at the moment) to solve this conundrum.

I guess she’ll stay there for a long, long time.

Meanwhile, I worry incessantly…

Edwin Stark

Signing Out

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

FEDX YOU! (The Great Paper Chase, Part II)

Okay, major update here… My life for the past six weeks or so has been a whirlwind of events that, even when the dust is settling now, I feel my head is still spinning. Some would say that a tornado had just transported me to the magical land of Oz, but let’s leave it at that

In chronological order, now. And limiting myself to a few events/topics at a time

Yes, my interview at the embassy went fine and I got the K-1 visa issued, no problem there.

Yes, I had some problems getting my passport back since the embassy insisted on using a private courier service to deliver this important travel document (instead of reasonably allowing me to pick up at a convenient time). And the local courier services don’t exactly love me, for they don’t care for my convenience at all while still stuck in the jungle.

As an example, during the month before my visa interview, Kathryn and I had to send back and forth a ton of documents through Fedex (hence the colorful title of this post)… and I ended up doing a lot of phone calls and a lot of walking (twice!) as the local branch basically doesn’t want to deal with the problem of delivering the parcel to me.

First, they argued the place I was in wasn’t in the list of “covered” areas. So Fedex washed its hands by relaying all the papers to another courier service… who doesn’t deliver to the rainforest either, mind you. Of course, this led to the initial flurry of phone calls, as the tracking service that this new company offered through its website was vague at best,  and it was basically reporting that they were ping-ponging the whole silly thing between two different services. Finally (finally!) I was able to convince these idiots to drop the pack of documents in a final pick up point so I could be able to put my grubby ( 😉 )little hands onto it.  Of course, this pick up point was in the most inconvenient of places; thirty miles away and with a typical Aleveznuan address that would make Santa swear off of delivering presents forever: Past the Fireman Station, past the Levi’s Wharehouse, next to the Pandock company. (And believe me, I was half considering Santa as my first choice to deliver these documents, but he only works on Christmas and he’s a fictional character… the same as a reliable Aleveznuan postal service is fictional. mind you). This was particularly. Also, a quick consultation of Google maps didn’t yield any results, as the data is severely outdated… or non-existent.

Luckily, one of my neighbors (a guy who sort of lives at the entrance of this abandoned housing development) knew where this place was and offered to drop me off there on his way to work. While he drove me there, I noticed that the Fire Station gave absolutely no indication that it was such, Levi had closed down its warehouse there and that the Pandock company was no more, If I didn’t have help… how was I supposed to figure that out?

Of course, I had to endure this trip (and all the phone calls it represented) at least two times more… with the main difference of having to deal with a wacky official website to get my passport back… I even had to ask Kathryn for some remote assistance for this!)… And some extra poignancy is in order: my passport was supposedly to be sent my way during the days right after Xmas… and a little before New Year’s Eve… when the entire country is shut down for good till January…

(BTW, this Little ordeal added up another 350 miles to my final mileage count!)

Stay tuned!

Edwin Stark

Signing Off

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

I have a very bad feeling about this

I start this blog by titling it with my favorite Star Wars quote (apart from “a more wretched hive of scum and villainy” which I use to aptly describe my home country) because I really have a very bad, bad baaaad feeling about The Force Awakens.

It’s okay if you don’t want to believe me, but I had the same sensation when I went to watch the first prequel. The Phantom Menace, and we all know how “great” that particular mess went, don’t we all? Hmmm?

I still recall the hype and the manner in which most Fanboys were making the Internet hum with excitement the last couple of weeks before the first screening ever… “Ohhhh, a new chapter in the SAGA!!! Squeeek!!!” and all that…. but I particulary recall the way how they blasted Lucas’ latest offering afterwards back at the time… “Childish!” “It sucked ass!” “The pod race is padding!” (though I may be remembering it wrong… perhaps the gut who wrote that was saying the “pod race was pudding” but that doesn’t actually make much sense, does it?)

The thing is that I read the whole bunch of reviews back then and I decided to watch The Phantom Menace in spite of all, midochlorians and all… Yeah, well, it had some Star Wars innit…. The lore… Jedi stuff… lightsabers… laser blasts…. two key main characters in their prime… A younger Yoda…. How the trade dispute with Naboo trigger the events of the original trilogy… But it didn’t actually feel like Star Wars, you know what I mean?

Ok, to wrap it up… I liked it (mainly as a writer, but not as a Star Wars fan) because it filled many gaps in the Skywalker’s Family Saga (just don’t ask me what my thoughts of Jar-Jar Binks are, please) but once more, I couldn’t call actually put my fingers on what or where did George Lucas screw up the whole works.

Now, after seeing all the Fanboy Buzzing that The Force Awakens is generating now, I’m having that very bad feeling about it, reliving it, so I may decide to skip seeing it on the big silver screen this time, thank you. I’m especially uncomfortable with the idea of seeing how the heroes of my childhood have grayed and grown fat, wrinkled or gone balding (Chewbacca must have a great hair transplant doctor or buys Grecian Formula by the wholesale to look that way, almost 40 years later!) as it kinda rattles the feelings I have about my own mortality of late, you know…

I guess I’ll satisfy myself with reading the bad IMDB reviews this time..

Edwin Stark

Signing Off

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Great Paper Chase (Part I)

In exactly six days (and 8 hours) I’ll have to wake up at 2 AM in the morning, as I’ll have to board a bus headed for Caracas so I can go to my Embassy interview and fulfill the last step of the road Kathryn and I started nearly a year ago: my K-1 Fiancé Visa.

Yeah, I know it sounds like a great milestone… but what did it entail?

Well, my inner Accountant has kept track of every detail. It took:

16 failed trips to the local bus station from Jan through May, 2015… mostly done through bad roads and bad weather (I nearly caught a cold a couple of times). And when I mean failed I really mean it. I walked the distance between my house and the bus depot only to find out I wouldn’t really make it: if my bus didn’t get out of the station by 4:30 AM, well, just forget it (I recall mentioning somewhere that if I didn’t arrive to the San José Registry before sunrise to start queue-ing, to pick up one of the only 20 numbers those SOBs distributed to citizens who require a Birth or Death Certificate, it would be completely useless trip). @10 miles each trip, you can add up 160 miles walked.

4 succesful trips to the bus station, when I was able to board a bus at 4AM and it departed Caucagua at 4:15 or less…. But which doesn’t mean that I was able to reach the Registry on time… @10 miles each, equals 40 miles walked, plus 100 miles aboard a bus per trip, it represents 200 miles walked + 400 miles on board a bus, equaling 600 miles of travel.

1 successful trip (May 11th) in which I managed to catch one of those measly 20 spots in queue for my Birth Certificate… YAY!!!   @10 miles walked +100 miles by bus, which brings it all up to 710 miles traveled just for a piece of paper.

Wait! It doesn’t stop there! I also had to request a Police Background Check (30 miles by foot to find a cybercafé to print a letter) + 10 more miles walked + 100 miles by bus just to pickup the actual document, totaling 850 miles (250 walked + 600 by bus).

Luckily, I had most of the other documentation at hand in my house: I had taken care of the boarding passes early on, by making some preventive Xerox copies (though one faded a bit because it was printed on thermal paper), plus my High School diploma to prove they weren’t going to bring a completely uneducated moron into America the Beautiful, plus my grades plus plus plus whatever piece of paper that I could think about…. However, what was missing were my vaccination records, for which I can really thank my dad (the SOB actually destroyed them). Finding a decent place in Caucagua to copy all these paper took me another 5 trips to town, adding 50 miles walked to my total score…

Grand total so far: 300 miles walked + 600 miles by bus = 900 miles.

Well, that sort of covers it for this blog post.

Stay tuned to discover how much mileage I did rack up in the end of this oddysey!

Edwin Stark

Signing Off

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Great Writing Tool

It’s customary about writers to share writing tips with each other; I guess it’s my turn now.

However, what I’ll share here isn’t a new piece of software that will turn the output of what your sorry thousand-monkeys-persona writes everyday into Shakespeare, nor a Grammar-Nazi website that will automatically fix your penchant to confuse ‘they’re’ with ‘there’. Also, it won’t allow you to sell a gazillion books overnight.

However, if you truly are a writer, this is a potential tool that might interest you as it is a YouTube channel that could help you fine-tune your plot development skills, as it deals with the horrible way movie screenplayers write by pinpointing every single plot hole, cliché and false logics of all your favorite films. The channel is aptly named CinemaSins.

I can almost taste what you are now thinking: “Waitaminute… Why should I check this YouTube channel? What I wanna is advice to write better books!

Well, if you are following me so far, you should be realizing now how important plot is for a movie, which is just a visual narrative and an alternate way of storytelling. And, please, don’t tell me now that you were never jarred out of a movie by a glaring plot hole or by unnecessarily killing some character over which you grew fond as the show progressed.

Oh, boy! Are these guys merciless! They will grab your favorite film and tear it a new one, calling out every stupid decision, plot hole and structure flaws that the screenwriter/director may have perpetrated there (you better not watch it if you’re a fanboy or something), liberally granting cinema sins at a rate of at least ten per minute… and you certaily know the movie being dissected is at top shape when its final sin count barely goes up to seven or eight of these for each minute elapsed.

I try to watch Sinema Cins… errr.. CinemaSins every time that my craptacular jungle connection manages to cooperate with me, and this YouTube channel is certainly helping me to develop finer, tighter plots for my own books. You should give them a try.

And, oh Heavens… Am I so glad that these two dudes don’t review books… 😉

Edwin Stark

Signing Off

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

On The Street Where I Live…

Please take note of the following link:,-66.3592356,189m/data=!3m1!1e3

If you click on this link, it will take you to a satellite image of the area where I live. Of course, the picture you will see will be only a plain and bare representation of what it actually means. For that, you can examine the pictures below, which are the same as the abovementioned one, but with a few annotations.

For starters, somewhere below this thick canopy of trees lies my house:


(Of course, if you zoom out and switch to Google’s Map mode, you’ll notice that this place has even failed to make it into the maps).

This next picture shows the land I own down here with a yellow outline (something along the size 38500 square feet!!) … The land outlined in black represent the plots whose neighbors hire me to trim down with just a machete.


The next shot shows the entire extent of the failed housing development where I live… yeah, I know it looks rather civilized at this scale but it’s almost completely void of inhabitants. The green outline marks the virgin rainforest where (according to some detractors) I “claim” to live next to. Again, this is another case of “you must be there to really understand” (and believe!!!)


And the last one shows the walking distance I must travel almost everyday for groceries.


Please notice the highway that would have made me a moderately rich man (it passes just a mile away from where I bought land!)… if only my country political situation hadn’t gone down the drain, that’s it.

I hope these pictures have provided you additional insights of the reasons behind all the rants I publish on this blog.

Edwin Stark

Signing Off

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Jungle Medicine

For the past month or so I’ve had to deal with a very nasty tick bite on my left ankle. It tended to scab up and then the scabs regularly fell off every five days or so, without healing properly and restarting the cycle.

I know, I know… tick bites heal the hard way, but this one was way beyond insidious, so there was the possibility there was still something noxious lurking within. So last week I scrapped the scab with the sharp edge of a blade and then proceeded to burrow deep into the wound and probe with the tip of the tool to make sure. I found nothing, but the reopened lesion began to suppurate a clear substance instead of bleeding, which isn’t a good sign. So I began to squeeze the edges of the injury until the nearby skin began to bruise and blood finally surfaced. Now, six days later, the wound finally scabbed and presently shows signs of healing correctly. It still itches like hell, but it’s well on its way to proper recovery.

Am I mad? Why subject myself to this gruesome treatment? Shouldn’t I go to a hospital and have a doctor have a look at the bite, and then prescribe some sort of antibiotics?

Well, the answers are quite simple: 1) I’m on the edge of a jungle and 2) this is the only available medical procedure I can allow myself to have since A) the good doctors have already fled the country (leaving only a bunch of quacks to consult) and B) antibiotics?!? Ha! Don’t start me on discussing those! (Absolutely scarce nowadays, if you need to know).

It’s not the first time since I moved to the jungle that I had to perform a quick fix up or impromptu surgery on myself.

There was the time I scratched my arm badly with rusty barb wire, so I had to intramuscularly give myself a tetanus shot. And there was the occasion when a lemon thorn went so deep within my thumb that it got infected and then I had to carve an X with a shaving blade across the wound’s lips. And I mean digging really deep, like one-third of an inch to reach the infected spot and help the injury weep.


Of late, I had to hunt down for the Hepatitis-B and Trivalent immunization shots for a week before I was able to get a hold of them (requisite for the plans that Kathryn and I have been arranging for the past ten months or so. BTW, the nurse who gave me the shots had a heavy-handed approach with the syringe when she jabbed my arms with the needle; she even made me bleed from her clumsy stabbings). Do you think is fair that I have to hunt down the last eight remaining shots in the entire country, when you just walk into your doctor’s office and ask for them, anywhere else in the world?

And I’m supposed to be the mad one… *chuckles*

Okay… rant’s over.

Edwin Stark

Signing Off

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

A very bad week…

Last weekend started ominously; I scalded myself with hot water while brewing coffee (I presently sport a niceeee blister in the space between the index and middle finger of my left hand)… next, I spotted a tick trying to creep up on me and attach itself to the one of my calves…

What next, I rhetorically asked as we all know that misery loves company and bad things usually come in threes, don’t we?

Well, at 3:45 AM last Saturday, the answer came loud and clear: the last remaining power transformer of my block blew up, leaving me without electric power for the past 6 days, 10 hours as I write this blog for later posting.

When I bought property in this area, the street had three nice power transformers online, but they were slowly decreasing in number like nice little Indians in a deranged cowboy movie… The first one was killed about 12 years ago during a major storm, when a large tree was uprooted by powerful buffeting wings and the damn thing tore down the power lines and causing a large electrical explosion (I had to hack the branches all by myself while high voltage lines were buzzing all around me, since no one in the power company wanted to come here and shut down the system).

The second power transformer lasted about 5 years before it exploded… Its lid flew 40 yards before landing in dry kindling and starting a brush fire. Back on those days I was without electric power for almost 5 days. Luckily I was then between grocery restocking cycles and was savvy enough to have 4 one-litter bottles of water in the freezer side of my fridge to act as ice blocks to prevent spoilage.

Now, after seven years of praying for the last transformer wouldn’t let its ghost go…. sigh… well, that didn’t work well, I guess. I’m a bit depressed, as this has brought tons of crazy and dire consequences.

First of all, I lost about $200 in groceries that were supposed to last until the end of November. If things were rather bad and lean till now, well, now they look desperate. I have no clue of will I manage to overcome this small economic disaster.

But worse is my current emotional state, as I haven’t been able to chat with Kathryn for almost a week now, being only able to leave brief messages on Facebook as the charge of my battery slowly runs down. I’m trying to save as much power as possible, since I’ve yet to find a suitable way to recharge my PC’s battery.

Gosh… I really do miss her…

Edwin Stark
Signing Off
(Battery currently at 20%)




Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

Normalcy Bias

The last installment of this blog has generated lots of help offers from friends and total strangers to help me by sending money or a care package. Well, I must admit that I’m overwhelmed by all this kindness and I feel grateful for it, but I regret to tell you there’s not much you guys can do to mitigate my current situation.

I even wrote a great blog post concerning the issues behind helping me, particularly explaining why these two options wouldn’t work and I edited the text till I reached the point where it clearly exposed the terrible imbalance between real world prices and the local ones (without risking having to face a firing squad) and proving that it would be useless to wire me money… and that if you sent me a care package, it was more likely it would be confiscated in customs, or that I’d be forced to pay a ton of postal taxes over an empty box stuffed with local newspapers to replace the pilfered items, the same way it happened to my mom about 45 years ago, when my uncle in Germany decided to send her some chocolates and a few toddler clothes.

However, I decided to scrap that blog post in the end after reading it again and again. Why? Due to Normalcy Bias. This is a sociological term which can be pretty much summed up as follows: when you lead a life where the mail shows up like clockwork at your front step and lights are always on and phone line always work, it becomes harder and harder for a civilized person living under such mental framework to conceive a situation where the exactly opposite conditions exists. It’s this same mental framework that causes you to be ill prepared to deal with a catastrophic scenario like a massive earthquake, flood or whatever major disaster you may want to fancy (believe me, it’s rather disturbing to think, giving my life conditions on the fringe of a rainforest, that I’m better prepared to survive a Zombie Apocalypse than you are).

This same normalcy bias thing is what has slowly caused me to stop updating this blog as regularly than I used to.

I mean… what’s the use?

However, there are times when the message gets through in unintended ways.

I just want to dedicate this blog post to the total stranger who, with all the kindness within his of her heart, just went and bought 5 of my books the day after I published my last one.

I don’t really know who you are, kind sir or lady… but you certainly saved my ass that week. 

Yours Truly

Edwin Stark

Signing Off


Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Blog at