Journal de bord
June 13 – 2011 : An insight of Guatemala
Entering to Guatemala, I’d say that we entered into another world and apparently a far much poorer world. Indeed, the contrast was big between Mexico, Belize and even Cuba; this later seemed even wealthier than Guatemala.
Immediately we saw bumpy, run down and dirty roads and a kind of “human jungle” running everywhere through some market stalls full of tasty food, vegetables, fruits and all kind of clothes and so on…
A little after having crossed the border separating this new country from Belize, we took a “minibus” – they called it “chicken bus “ - and we were immediately dived into Guatemalan’s reality. Its just amazing the number of people they are able to stuck into a small bus. We were squeezed into each other and we are really glad carrying such small backpacks. I really wonder how the guys carrying big ones can do. Here carrying a small bag is really a question of comfort and serenity. My bag is no bigger than the one you could use to go to your gym or the swimming pool at the corner of your house and I really wouldn’t be carrying that big stuff that lots of guys believe irreplaceable….
On the other hand we could spot through the window that the country was unspoiled, wild, filled with stunning wildlife and lively people, colorfully dressed and still living their rural way. We really love all those women carrying their little chicks on their back made out of a kind of colorful scarf. Here, we are plunged into the Maya world which is really more impressive than the one in Mexico just because they are still living their traditions. Actually, the Maya’s women are mostly dressed in their traditional outfits which are very beautiful and so are the kids. Those people are very engaging, gentle, helpful, friendly, smiling and lowly. They are always kicked to help you and to answer any requests you might have.
So we visited a few towns and a few draws. A few kilometers from the border (63 kms to be precise) we hit the turn off of El Remache. The driver dropped us there and we went on walking to get to El Remache which is a stunning village settled alongside the lake Peten (in the province where were beheaded 27 farmers a month ago by some narcos). The lake was enchanting and the views out of our hostel were lovely. We spent a few hours walking alongside the lake spotting some lovely horses and some kids boating the lake onto their little gondolas. The place is really wonderful. Perhaps the most beautiful we saw in Guatemala. We were hosted by Erwin, a very nice guy, who knew a lot about the country history and told us a lot about the civil war and the corruption that is still spoiling the country. He was our guide to visit the day after the amazing Maya site of Tikal. Got up at 4.30 AM to spot the lively and stunning wildlife(mainly monkeys), we saw the jungle getting awake through the old awe Maya’s temples. Some of them are 50 meter high and out there the view on the canopy and the noise resulting from the wildlife are amazing. Those Mayas were really living with and in the middle of the nature. It’d have been really impressing to see those cities at that time. Tikal is really huge. It took us 6 hours just to walk through a small part of it. We met there two nice travelers Petra and Tamara from Austria, two doctors trying to find another way of living in a different kind of society.
After we left El Remache, we visited the small island of Flores on the other side of the Lake Peten. It’s was a lovely stop. We could spot the lake out of our hostel and we even swam into the lake with some kids. The weather was still warm out here.
After a couple of days we grabbed a bus to get to Chemuc Champey. It took us almost 10 hours in a small bus to get there because the place is so far away of everything. The road to get there was simply unbelievable : kind of downhill (during 2 hours) you ‘d never have done with your own car or even with a rented car so it was steep and filled with big stones (One hours to drive 8 kms). Guys, when it’s raining here, it’s a kind of nightmare for a driver or a kind of heaven for the local people. Everything here is typical and it’s really refreshing to see that there are still people that can live here. It’s really another life and all the locals were simply gentle. We took a kind of hostel there (with no electricity between 9.00 PM and 11 AM and only the rain water to have your shower). Here is Guatemala living through the jungle, the steep mountains, and the corn fields and experiencing heavy showers we can even picture). In the middle of the jungle and after having walked alongside a steep path climbing and hauling down something crazy, we hit the heavenly cascades of Chemuc Champey. We could swim through natural pools filled with deep rain water. We have never seen so lovely pools ever. We could swim through it climbing and getting down as if we were rafting alongside the river. A wonderful place.
After having ridden another 10 hours through a winding road we hit the famous city of Antigua (where I’m writing right now). The country ancient capital (hence its name). Actually the old city is a colonial one and its streets are filled with old cobblestones. It’s the typical Guatemalan city filled with churches overlooking the valley and surrounded by a couple of amazing volcanoes. Everything here is pure beauty. Actually the city is worldwide famous for her innumerous Spanish schools (filled with open-minded “Norteamericanos” or “stiking gringos” trying to articulate some Spanish words (like “gracias “or “de nadaww”). They are really speaking like Spanish cows, guys, with such an American accent that we could never guessed where they are from – ok, I’m kidding guys…Not too lost so far from your buggers buddy ?).
Although we have decided to take up a Spanish course, we moved out of here to find a less touristy place to study (because here they just speak English all the time…). We took a another rows of “chicken bus”, squeezed as ever and after another 5 hours ridding (I really thought that Nath ‘d puke), we hit Panajachel alongside the Atitlan lake. A wonder surrounded by three majestic volcanoes. We took a small boat to cross over the lake and hit our final destination - San Marcos la Laguna – a lost place in the middle of the jungle alongside the lake. We took a “cabane” in a lovely Hostel and we stayed there in the middle of “small visitors” like bugs, spiders, small lizards and so on …and waiting endlessly for the end of some heavy showers we could not picture). We are in the middle of the rainy season and it’s raining A LOT out here ! However, nice place with wonderful views on the lake and some nice hikes and trails. We meet there some lovely travelers and had some endless chats about the world and politics (specially the awful role of US in Central America). We meet Michelle and Ruri two lovely and nice Irish travelers and we formed a friendship swapping some travelers advices which is always nice and very useful.
Then we took another bus to get to Quetzaltenango (Xela to be short). We went there to take up a Spanish course in one of the innumerous Spanish schools We took a one week formation (5 hours a day face-to-face with a personal teacher, from 8.00 AM to 1.00 PM ). We worked a lot and we certainly improved our level. According to the teachers we are “intermediate level students”. The city and the surrounding where nice but the weather was so rainy that we spent almost our after afternoon classes in our hostels.
Nous y avons rencontré trois sympathiques voyageurs français (Celia, Grégory et Balthazar) avec qui nous avons partagé quelques discussions interminables au sujet de ma passion immodérée pour Cuba et de sa chevauchée historique unique au sein d’une région du monde où la corruption organisée par et pour le gouvernement des EU règne en maître.
Para terminar esta historia pequeña de nustro viaje a Guatemala, debo decir que la problematico mas grande del pais es, por supuesto, la corrupcion de los politicos y la calidad miu pobre de éstos.
Con la mayor parte de la poblacion viviendo en una pobreza miu grande, hay que preguntarse como es possible que son bastante los partidos de derecha que dirigen el pais. Aparentemente el pais es dirigido por unas familias que tienen mucho dinero y aqui hay que hacer la politica con sus dineros.
Las proximas elleccions seran en septiembre y entre los cinco aspirantes mas importante a la presidencia del pais, ningunos es opuesto a el envio de tropas de Norte America par luchar contra el narco-traffico…Efectivamente despues los asasinos de 27 campesinos en la provincia de Peten en el mayo passado (por algunos miembros de groupos de narco trafficantes) , los Estados Unidos han decidido de enviar unas troupas de soldados para luchar contra el traffico. Es certamente una lastima por que la grande parte del cusomo y uso de las droguas son realmenteen el territorio de los Estados Unidos y aqui no.
La verdad es que esta nueva intervencion de los Estados Unidos en la vida politica del Guatemala non es un acto generoso sin cargo. Para cada dollares que van a invertir los Estados Unidos aqui, Guatemala va a tener que reembolsar 3 dollares.
Creemos que la intervencion de los Estados Unidos aqui es un grande lastina y que eyos no van a poder hacer algo contra este traffico. Es solamente una manera para los Estados Unidos de encontrar un medio par finanziar su actual colosal deficit al detrimento de Guatemala.
Sin embrago este situacion difficil, ningunos de los aspirantes son contra el intervencion norte americana. Sin embargo es una grande lastima para la soberania del pais y para su finanzas publicas ;
Creemos que finalamente, el intervencionismo de los norte americanos es como un pesadilla que esta continuendo siempre hasta hora pero si nungonos de los aspirantes son contra esta entrada de las tropas norte americanas es por que aqui no puede hacer politica sin el « apoyo » de los Norte Americanos.
Ademas, la justicia parace corrompida tambien. Segun las ultimas estadisticas 95 % de los crimines no encontran una solucion a Guatemala. Dedse hace 5 dias el poeta y cantante argentino Facundo Cabral fue asasinado en uno bulevar de la cuidad de Guatemala para sus ideas de paz. El poeta tenia 73 años ! La repugnancia y la ira son general en todo LatinoAmerica y compartimos la dolor del pueblo de Argentina.
Esperamos que el gobierno Guatemaltaco va a encontrar los sicarios que son responsables de este crimen y va a entender para quien estos hombres fueron trabahando.
Podemos soñar un poco, verdad ?
Mañana vamos a salir para llegar a El Salvador, a la cuidad de Santa Anna.
Hasta lluego, amigos
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