Lake Atitlan- San Pedro (South Guatemala about 2 hours away from the City)
This is the little city by the volcano lake that we spent a night at and woke up early to watch the sunset. You could imagine what the sunset was like but I´ll just show you the pictures...they are just breath taking. After that we met up with the Guatemalan kids who had helped us the night before and they brought us to this kayaking place that charged us 15 Quetzales for an hour of kayaking in the lake (thats 3 CAD dollars). So it was Amira and I in a kayak paddling our unexperienced way around this giant lake
. It was our Life of Pi moment. It was really early out, about 9 am, but this is the best time for clear skies and the sun! So we paddled out to the middle of the lake and just layed in the sun splashing volcano water around....it was already a good start to the day! And then after that, the guys had horses waiting for us to take us around the island through a trail and to the black sand beach! Anyone ride horses¿¿¿ ... well not me, I was bouncing and trotting and scared for my life because I was in flip flops. But it was so much fun trotting first through the little village and than easing my horse into a canter..or at least that what I was told it was called....kinda like 3rd gear in a car....with some advice I got used to riding the rhythm of the horse, which my friends is quite hard to learn while you ass is slamming into the saddle. Then we just rode as the horse walked through the mountain´s forests to the beach area. I was freaking out because along the way it was like a rainforest and the spiderwebs were not spiderwebs, they were spider mansions. And the plants had these GIANT beatles that were the size of my thumb, black with red stripes. The kind that Pumba would eat because they´re probably too juicy....AHHHHH...i´m so proud I didn´t scream everytime. We finally made it to beach after a hike down and it was so gorgeous. The water was cold but with Amira´s help we all got wet anyways and then we just floated around inbetween the mountainous landscape. I didn´t have a bag or else I would have collected some of the black sand for Jon
. But dont worry Jon, I got some sand from the actually volcano that we went to the first week. We sat on the beach for a bit, there were a lot of Mayan people around because I think there are a lot of indigenous villages nearby. Then we rode the horses back...my horse was stubborn and eagar to come back, so the second we got off the hiking trail, he decided fuck first and second gear, were getting this foreiner into fifth and there I was, my moment of glory, Julie on a horse that was galloping.....I was doing okay riding the rhythm with only the reins and my legs..and then they feet slid out and I next thing I know my life flashed before me and I´m hanging on the side for the horses neck....BREATHE....ohh geez.....thank god I was able to gain control for the rest of the fifth gear horse ride back. But man, that is an adrenaline rush! And the pain in my legs the next day proved to me that I was working real hard!
Sunday of Last Week
Chichicastenengo- This is village a little bit further up north of the lake where the giant market is. It is known for its fine Mayan art and cheap prices...if you know how to bargain!
So we get there and its a riot. There are so many people in the market pushing and shoving you, especially the elders
! Its like Square One on Boxing Day. And then we went off looking for souvenirs and such, bargaining with the vendors. I got some really nice purses for my girlfriends...I hope they like it...but my tastes might be altered because of South American indigenous culture...ahh well. Its the thought that counts. I didn´t by anything for myself except a headband for one dollar. Never was a shopper...but I really wish I could have gotten more souvenirs for my friends. Only thing is, who really wants a Guatemalan T shirt?? So if I run into the right things, good luck to my friends...ahhh theres plenty of time! But the main point was to experience the market life and see how pushy these people are, it is annoying, but you realize this is their way of life, this is how they survive and support their families. This is how it is day in and out, setting up your tent and hoping that you sell enough to pay the rent. Its tough to say no to someone, but empathy is all I can afford.
And then we came back! The week flew by with the routine Antigua life clases and school.....and as I said off we were again. This time to Coban in Central Guatemala.
El Retiro - Lanquin
I mentioned how beautiful this place was already
. Basically all we did was sit in hammocks and watch the mountains or the rivers and go on day trips hiking and such. Just sitting in my hammock, I was thinking how I´m enjoying my life, and my trip so much more than I would have expected to. My purpose of coming to Guatemala was to volunteer and learn spanish, but I didn´t expect to meet so many friends and spend every weekend travelling for the hell of it. I really feel like Che Guevera...I´m at the part in his life where he´s stuck in Guatemala and influenced by its recent politcal dangers, Che begins to form his political thoughts, moving away from his SNIPER nickname. Anyways, the first night in Lanquin we went on a cave hike, and stupid me, being the idiot that I am I forgot to bring my hiking shoes. But in my flip flops I do it anyways. It was a 50 million year old cave with icicles of limestone hanging from the roof. This cave is an historical site for Mayan sacrifical rituals and home of millions and millions of bats that I got to see. I thought of how scared Lil would be if she was here. They´re so ugly, all bald, light brown and tiny. We got to a really steep climb area that lead to the actual bat caves where they sleep, but it was too slipper in my shoes so I decided to head back on my own. And like every turn of bad luck, it has a meaning. For the first time in a while I was back on my own. A 50 millon year old limestone Mayan bat cave is nothing like the busy streets of New York, but once again, I was discovering the world on my own
. You´ve never known silence until you´re alone in the cave and the group of people you were with are all gone. Its cave silence, dripping, splashing and isolated echos. I took my time to hike back, every once in while getting lost in pitch black darkness at a dead end. When I got a nice limestone rock or crystal deposit with a view that went into vast darkness spiralling downwards, I would sit down and taking in the beauty. I was really proud because I was never scared, except that I would slip and knock out my teeth, but other than that, I think I delt with the darkness and my fear of heights quite well. Everyone came back out by 6 30 which was perfect because that is when the sun sets and the hundreds of thousands of bats come swarming out of the cave. We got great seats by the opening of the cave in front of the waterfall that comes from the cave. I was a litte disappointed when it happened because I thought it would be a swarm of black, but the bats were so fast that you could just see wisps of brown going by. Ahh well, I loved it anyways because the bats eat all the mosquitos and at night I´m bit free. Ohhh the wonderful ways of nature and how it effects the life around. I really felt like I was part of an ecosystem and either interrupting or watching the ways of nature, I can´t decide which is better.
At night we had dinner all at the same time with all the other people staying at El Reitro. Backpackers are really a whole other breed of people, they´re absolutely crazy fuckers. So after dinner everyone started drinking and dancing all over the place...so after a couple of shots of Baily´s there I was dancing and drinking....it was a perfect night. I took a cold shower afterwards and sat out in a hammock until 4 in the morning to wear off the drunkness.
Day 2 at El Retiro - Lanquin
Early morning we caught a bus out to Semuc Champey, which is known for their natural fresh water spring ponds. I could try to tell you what it was like, but you gotta see the pictures that I have to upload at some point in time. It was just ponds and ponds of water one lower than the other so that there are little waterfalls that float all the way to the river. We were able to lay around and swim in the water, sit on rocks from the middle of the water, jump off rocks, climb the insides of caves and best of all, we climbed to the top of mountain that overlooked the ponds. It was hard and tough and the damn sign at the botton didn´t say -Rock climbing experience required- basically there were areas where we had to ditch our shoes and grab onto tree roots and hope that they didn´t break. But I made it to the top, where they built a flimsy looking fence that overlooked, AT A DANGEROUS DOWNWARD ANGLE, the ponds. It was AMAZING!!! ....the funniest part though was that Amira lost her flip flops because they fell ALL the way down...HAHAH....but she was tough and made it back bare foot. She´s my new idol. By that time I was COVERED in mud and still had adrenaline rushing through me for putting my life at such risk. We went back to the ponds to wash ourselves off and swim for bit and headed back to El Retiro. I sat in the hammock completely exhausted for the rest of the afternoon. Oh...and I almost forgot the most important thing...a girl got bitten by a scorpion who snuck into her bed....AHHHH.....man I was freaking out with the bug spray the whole time I was there.
I realized this trip, being exposed to backpacking life, that I dont like it. I love to travel, I love to backpack, but I´m not in it to meet people and leave people. Its interesting all the people you meet so breifly but its the usual routine. Everyone is just out there to tell their story, and I listen and tell mines. Perhaps they need to do this exchange, perhaps you have so much to tell and no one to tell it to. But I´m happy without saying much and just listening. However, I realize now that a weekend is all I can take, I want to live in different cities with a purpose, not just pass through them aimlessly. I am so glad that my home is in Antigua, I´m so glad I´m learning there and will be working there. I am so glad that I´m home back in Antigua now. And I am most glad that I can call Antigua home...lately I haven´t been comfortable enough to call anywhere home. Even my house in Canada is not home, for the past 3 years I haven´t lived there for more than a continuous month. And in New York Sprout was my home, but I never what bed I was sleeping in.
Finally up to date....so here I am, doing my super long update......PHEWF...life is amazing.....and back to sweet Antigua life...its a holiday here so there music and people everywhere!
....I think very soon my life is going to change...and I am so excited!
Okay...I need to catch up on my updates or else this Guatemalan life is going to fly by and I´m never going to remember what happened.