Guatemala´s on my mind...
Rio Dulce Travel Blog› entry 60 of 103 › view all entries
... this country never lets me go! It is so densely packed with all kinds of things to do that I´m almost lost why at all I would go anywhere else! Having spent the last three weeks in the selva of Peten and Alta Verapraz, I hardly had a chance to update my friends on where I was and what was on my plate. And here´s a brief summary of my 'travel incidences'.
Meeting and befrending Guatemalans is good of a reason to visit the country. Juan Carlos (aka TravBuddy john 1112) and his beautiful friend Carla became my guarding angels introducing me to the hidden jewels like the very first Guatemalan capital Iximche and the most contemporary parts of Guatemala city.
Juan and I trekked to the lava flows on Pacaya, the truly active volcano near Antigua. For the first time in my life I saw rivers of lava so close that my ears were turning into tortilla chips and my hiking shoes got melted.
Just yesterday we went to check out the ruins of Quirigua, the Mayan city that once defeated the mighty Copan, and spent the afternoon in the wonderfully restored Spanish fort El Castillo de San Felipe in the town of Rio Dulce. Recently I got so serious learning more and more about Mesoamerican history that the two Guatemalan hearts had to work hard to get me back into human sanity. Imagine three adults playing water guns among the largest known Mayan stele! I felt like I was six again. You know that inexplicable ''lightness of being'' when you are fully in the moment not caring about how much sense it makes or how adult it looks.
In between Pacaya and Rio Dulce I had a chance to play a real explorer and ventured into a 7-day / 6 nights selva trek visiting 4 different pre-Classic Mayan sight. September is the peak of rainy season in Northern Guatemala so that the 99 km loop in virtually virgin selva turns into a muddy swamp. Six bravehearts from 6 different nations (France, Germany, Norway, Russia, Turkey and United States) walked that distance in four and a half days in rubber boots ! Just imagining covering 60+ miles in rubber boots makes me sick, but once you are there you have no other choice but to fully enjoy the experience. Blisters and terribly fierce mosquitos (some as large as my thumbnail) could not spoil the beauty of the jungle-covered ruins, magic sunsets and sunrises, amazing fauna and a terrific company of fearless minds.
Stine Mari (aka TravBuddy zmagatha) from Norway is basically the Godmother of our El Mirador hike. She found most of us and made sure that the brilliant six get together as a team! One night we had a night of cursing and bitching in six different languages - that was quite a show! I have to admit that Norwegians do a better job than anybody else expressing themselves in stressful situations. Though, the manner of Turkish cursing is much sexier while French bitching sounds just beautiful.
Anyone who is curious about Mayan and other Mesoamerican cultures would have a blast doing this trek. El Mirador rivals the grandeur, the age, and the importance of Teotihuacan. Climbing El Mirador still selva covered pyramids gives one a feeling how immensely powerful and populous Mayan world was in the pre-Classic times.
After scorpions, snakes, palm-size spiders, crazy monkeys, and rainbow colored birds I wanted a little break from the jungle.
And now I´m about to leave for Livingston, the heart of Guatemalan Garifuna culture, where people live on the Caribbean coast, speak a unique mix of English, Maya and Spanish (called Garifuna), have only boat connections to the ''mainland'' and dance to raggae rather than salsa and merengue.