A Travellerspoint blog

Guatemala

Livingston


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Under the weather today, so we didn't do much but walk around and eat, although that's all we ever do when we stay in town.

Tomorrow we begin our long, multi-stop journey to Roatan, one of Honduras's Bay Islands. I'm dreading the move, the drudgery of bearing our heavy packs in the relentless sun, but then we will be still again for a few days, exploring the sea.

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Posted by chschen 16:00 Archived in Guatemala Comments (0)

Caribbean Coast


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We rose early and wound our way out of the mountains on an unpaved road. Some online accounts had called the ride "bone-rattling," and the phrase would not leave my head. The glimpses I caught of the scenery seemed to be lovely, worth paid tours or the effort of climbing, and yet none of us paid any attention. We slept or chatted, stared at our knees.

We saw Julie (whom we met in El Remate) again, on the road from El Estor to Rio Dulce. We are destined to meet again and again we think. Happy in our brief encounters, light-hearted in leaving again, assured of another meeting. The backpacker circuit in Central America is a well-worn path, every traveler clutching her worn Lonely Planet. And those who eschew the guide (like those French musicians), preferring to receive their itinerary through word-of-mouth recommendations, are only getting the guide second-hand. Saves money and space, I suppose.

We're in Livingston now. Caribbean coast. The weather has been drab and decidedly untropical. At night I wear long underwear, and Chris and I shiver together under the single sheet that typically serves as a blanket here. The cold shower is almost unbearable, but it does its job, cleans the day off so we don't go to bed wishing to be away from our bodies. I haven't yet learned to be comfortable with dirt.

I am looking forward to tomorrow. Nothing planned except to wander and eat. It seems a long time since we've had such luxury.

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Posted by chschen 16:00 Archived in Guatemala Comments (0)

Caves


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Caves are warm, moist places. We went to two today: the first an underground water park lit by candles, the second a still, dripping steam bath filled with bats. In Grutas de Lanquin: alone and with nothing to light our way but our dying headlamps. And everywhere a motioness mist clung to our vision. Later, when tour groups came in with their torches, candles, and noise, the place changed character--grand, but in the way of ordinary caves. No longer frightening, mysterious, deserving of fairtyale phrases such as "impenetrable darkness." We stayed to watch the bats come streaming out at twilight, their shadows clotting the cave walls as if all the souls from the underworld were fleeing into the open brisk night air. We stood mouths agape, wondering how they could fly so close that we could feel the wind from their beating flight, and yet not once did we detect the brush of rubbery wing on our skin. We walked home by moonlight, the quilted sky so large it came down to our feet.

The Kan'ba Caves, by contrast, were a thrilling, touristy, manufactured adventure that Chris and I both agreed was our favorite part of the day. Nonetheless, my account would be no different from dozens of others found on the internet. It makes me wonder again, what is traveling for, and life, for that matter? Once more it seems that the best times are not often the most notable times ("Happy families are all alike," etc.).

It was a full day.

Posted by chschen 16:00 Archived in Guatemala Comments (0)

What I Wanted


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I'm afloat. Also, miserable. As if, cast out on a boat in the middle of the ocean, a fine, cold drizzle has begun falling. It seems as though I have always felt this way, but I remember that only yesterday I was cheerful. We are sleeping in attic storage space above the hotel restaurant tonight. From the bed I have a fine view of a curtain of cobwebs in the rafters. For the privilege we pay Q100 (~$12.50), the same price we paid in Flores for that hole under the stairs. No internet here, and no free water. Oh, and no door.

I think Chris is a little taken aback by my sudden fatigue. I want to pull myself together for him, but I can't. I need to wallow for a while in self-pity, as Princess-and-the-Pea as it may seem. When I realize we only had one meal today (and some bananas) I want to laugh for no sane reason. It doesn't matter: food and rest are overrated. Soon I will climb into the mosquito net tent--a space narrower than a twin bed that I share with Chris.

I feel about ready to weep, but I can't. There's Chris, steely beside me, saying with his silence, "Well, this is how you wanted it, isn't it?" All right. I'll keep quiet.

Posted by chschen 05:00 Archived in Guatemala Comments (0)

Unstuck in Time


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Our room in Flores. That's not our window you see but our door. At least it was discounted!

* * * * *

Lost all sense of American time. Can't be late November because I'm sweating and jumping into the lake and batting mosquitoes. The towns have all strung up their Christmas decorations, but I have a difficult time believing in them.

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And all the people I know seem indistinct, as if they belonged to a different reality, a virtual one of pixels on screens forming words forming notions of people. They come and go as they please and so cannot be real; nothing I do can command them. And what concerns, what true concerns, can we express in these textual snippets? "Hello" is barely registered before "goodbye" comes galloping at its heels. Or, more often, simply silence. The cessation of being. So you see you cannot blame me for doubting their reality.

El Remate especially seems far from anything. Just placid lake, smooth as glass, a handful of tourists, and restaurant after empty hotel restaurant. Also, hundreds of fireflies twinkling in the grass--more convincing Christmas lights than the loud store displays.

Met another American who is traveling "indefinitely." Out here we're a dime a dozen.

* * * * *

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Went on a hike and got devoured by mosquitoes :(

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Do I really want to go in to the mosquito lair?

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Oh well, we did, and we got a nice view

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Sacred ceiba tree with some torture spikes

Posted by chschen 05:00 Archived in Guatemala Comments (0)

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