A Quetzal for my Thoughts
Flores Travel Blog› entry 7 of 14 › view all entries
Fri Nov 9, 2008
I could barely concentrate on work in the morning because I was so excited to leave for
I was excited to be challenged using my Spanish skills. Tanya doesn’t know much Spanish, but can fluently speak French, which helps out a bit.
The ride to
Most of the passengers departed in Santa Elena. It was already dark when the driver took the last 3 of us to
The hostel is like walking into a sanctuary. There is no roof in the main area, so we could view the stars as we walked through. Inside there are gardens, pets (dogs, a cat, and 2 macaws) and hammocks. The woman at the reception counter in the back of the restaurant area also takes food orders. We asked for beds and the only ones available were in a private room. Just what I was hoping for! For 53quetzal ($7US)/night, we had our own private room with 2 full-sized beds, and a personal bathroom complete with a shower! We were in heaven. Our room was twice the size as the one in
After unpacking a bit, we went in search of a restaurant. Bethany and Tanya, seeking inexpensive food, looked over the menu prices and passed up a lot of restaurants. To me, it was all inexpensive. However, a dinner for $10US was more than they wanted to spend. We finally chose a place with specials for 30quetzal ($4US). I ordered the meat with vegetables, which was a delicious and filling meal. Then, we walked up and down the narrow streets until we found our hostel again. As an after dinner drink, I ordered the hibiscus iced tea, which was served in a glass chalice big enough for 2 people. It was incredibly sweet and tangy. As Bethany and Tanya stayed up late talking to the Israelis, Americans, and a
Sat Nov 10, 2008
Sat morning, Tanya, Bethany and I headed out to find the bus for
The three of us joined 3 other American travelers and were guided by Noe. Gratefully, the tour was in English. Noe was very thorough with the tour. We learned about the 29th ruler as Noe explained the engraving of him. Interesting fact: turkeys were the only domestic animals the Maya owned.
Also during our visit, we spotted a handful of wild animals. My favorites were the howler monkeys, especially a mom who appeared pregnant and had a baby on her back. She swung through the trees just as quickly as all the other monkeys. The other species of apes living in
After 4 hours of viewing the sites, we made our way back home. I loved passing the rural areas on our bus ride. It’s not everyday you see horses grazing in soccer fields.
In the afternoon, we did a bit of shopping. Then, we ate vegetarian dinners at the hostel. The Ay Caramba burrito plate is sooo huge and delicious. I licked my plate clean. Also, I had one of the specialty drinks, an avocado and banana shake �" a meal in itself. That made up for missing lunch.
There were several backpackers at Los Amigos. Along with the people we met the night before, we also chatted with Australians and Germans. At the end of the night we watched a Mayan documentary directed by Mel Gibson. It was too gory even by my standards. We all agreed it was quite horrible, but at least we had more of a sense of the Mayan culture. It seemed like more than less of the film was made for
Sun Nov 9, 2008
I woke up at 5:45am, planning on going to church in
I continued walking clockwise passing the bridge to Santa Elena and retracing some of the walk from the day before. A few more people were out and about, taxi drivers, travelers eating breakfast, and locals relaxing and talking. The west side of the island was quiet with homes and a few hotels lining the coast. The sun had not fully lit up the western sky, and the clouds were so low, they appeared to almost touch the water. Across the way was another island. To the north of
By 6:45am, I had walked back to the center of the island where the Catholic church is located. The gates were still locked and only a couple maintenance guys were around. I was disappointed, having wanted to see one of the few statues in the world of a Black Jesus, but I would have to wait. I walked past the large Christmas tree adorned with Gallo national beer ornaments (the company that sponsors almost everything in
Not long after crossing the bridge, I came across the Santa Elena Catholic Church, whose bells had tolled as I woke up. The service was just beginning, so I popped in right on time, at 7:15. I was excited to listen to a Spanish-spoken mass. Of course, I could only understand bits and pieces, but I always knew what was coming next. The building was octagon shaped, with an extension to seat more people. There were few pews and most people, including me, sat in plastic lawn chairs. When it came time to kneel, only half of the congregation kneeled and the rest kept standing. There was just the tiled floor to kneel and the backs of the chairs to place our hands on. When the time came to give each other the sign of peace, there was the awkward 10 seconds, as I just stood watching everyone hug each other. Then, the people around me shook my hand, simply saying “paz.” The music was not at all what I would have expected. It was light and airy with notes on the lower end of the scale �" very unlike the folksy sounds at the Belizean mass. Since lines were repeated several times, I joined in, not entirely sure what I was singing. I also noticed that they say “Padre” in replace of “Lord,” such as “Las palabras
After mass, I met up with Tanya and Bethany. I drank a delicious aloe vera drink from the hostel. It was light and refreshing. Then, we set out to going swimming, but we came across a fisherman who said the swimming was no good. (Even though there is a designated swimming area.) He talked at length (in Spanish, of course) about the oil from the boats passing through and how it was bad for the skin. He also tried to sell us a ride across the way to a better beach, but we refused, saying we had no money. We learned the there was also a good zoo over there as well as a few other touristy things. Finally, we coaxed him to let us continue our walk. We took photographs and shopped for hammocks and skirts. All the tourist shops were similar, and stretched out on one of the main roads.
After our purchases, we decided to spend some time in Santa Elena. We photographed some amazing graffiti art and then went in search of the large market. Along the way we found “la cemeteria central.” It is the most decorative cemeteries I have ever laid eyes on. One would think I have a fascination with cemeteries, but even my roommates were awed by the space. The length of the cemetery consisted of several walls adorned with flowers and wreaths and painted in various colors, with engravings of the deceased. A large majority of the cemetery included individual buildings, (about 8ft high and 8ft across-but all diff sizes) made of concrete, tile, and/or plaster. There is a little prayer room within them with a locked gated entrance. Both outside and inside are adorned with flowers and ornaments. Each one is unique. I was so amazed �" these buildings are better constructed than some Belizean homes! Of course, not all of the deceased were buried in these buildings. Some were buried underground and were marked with small monuments or crosses. Bethany and I could have spent hours in the cemetery, just taking photographs.
The locals we spoke with highly suggested the market 10 more minutes down the road. To our disappointment, we arrived at a mall and large supermarket, instead of the outdoor market we were expecting. We took our first Guatemalen taxi ride (10quetzal) to get back to the hostel. The next taxi driver wanted to charge us 15quetzal to go the shorter distance from
On our taxi ride we passed the outdoor markets we had wanted to find. In the bus, we stopped for 10minutes at a locals market where there are small shops with merchandise. A flutter a kids came up to the bus and bombarded us with fruits, candy, hot foods, chips, and refrescos. One of the boys had packages of cashews hanging from paper suspenders. Some guys were even trying to sell some type of medicine. After we declined several times, other child vendors would come up to the window and into the bus (a.k.a. minivan). Another boy who had open sores all over his face was handing out candy nut samples with tongs. Since I hadn’t eaten lunch, I bought a small plate of chicken and rice for 5quetzal. I knew it had been sitting out for a while, but I was hungry from skipping lunch and we had a long ride ahead. Luckily, I didn’t get sick.
Along the ride back, we saw a bunch of baby animals including piglets, chicks, and baby turkeys. They were so cute. As we left
Weekend trip cost: $80US