I crossed the border to Guatemala with relatively little hassle all things considered, and caught the collectivo to St Elena. From there I caught a cab to Flores. But only after having the usual argy bargy with the driver over the agreed fare. I remember my friend Claire saying she never tipped cabbies on the assumption they were taking their tip anyways. I suspect she might be right. Got no change, my arse. Fucker.
It was pissing down when I got to the gorgeous rainforesty Los Amigos Hostel (this was the impact of Tropical Storm Harvey who was making headlines and making his way to the Belizean coastline). I was welcomed by London Mike and the two Carolines. Mike showed me where the ATM was, so i could withdraw Quetzales. We agreed it was just easier to call them Pretzels. We got stuck into the drinks, played a few rounds of Pigs and then I snuck off for a nanna nap. Toowoomba Caroline woke me up for a skinny dip. Some people love getting their kit off in public. I am not one of those people. However, I was totally up for a night swim in the warm freshwater that surrounded the tiny island. We later went out for a few drinks at a couple of bars, where we watched an excellent 7 piece band squished into a space that we’d see 3 musos in, back home. I got my first chance to observe the locals. First impressions? The females ‘carry the race’, as my Dad would say. Meaning the girls are much better looking than the boys.
They all left the next morning. Because I am traveling slower than everyone else, I feel like everyone’s always leaving me. I’m getting used to it now. The upside is, I’m constantly making new friends.
I had brekky in a cafe with a vista of the lake, revising my Spanish notes and then spent the afternoon taking photos.
On Monday I got up at 4 to take a tour of Tikal. Of all the Mayan ruins I’ve seen so far, this has by far been the most impressive. I won’t bore you with all the historical details, here. What I will say is this: The area the National Park covers is approximately the size of the Byron Bay shire. It is also one of the locations for the original Star Wars films. Nerdcool!
I retired early after being bored to bits by a very earnest Dutch boy who wanted to talk stats pertaining to world economics. Should have crapped chatted him, but I was so dang tired I couldn’t be bothered.
Next morning I jumped in a tuc-tuc to the tiny airport to get on a tinier plane for the flight to Guatematla City, where I was picked up by a driver from my school to take me to Antigua.
We drove past what seemed like a million billboards for a multitude of candidates running for President. The election is on 11 Sept. One woman has divorced her husband so she can be eligible to run for office. There have been reports of politically related violence including the murder of three candidates since campaigns started in May. Checking the smarttraveller website, it warns I should reconsider my need to travel. Mmmmm.
It’s hard to image why. Antigua is so ridiculously pretty with it’s quaint cobblestone streets and colonial buildings. It’s nestled between three impressive volcanic mountains, which wear cloudy cloaks. This time of the year, it’s mostly Spring-like sunny days with the ocassional afternoon shower which provides a perfect excuse to duck into a very European-feeling cafe. Guatemala has what is considered to be (among) the world’s finest coffee beans and what’s more: they know how to make it here!!! It has its own Central Park, where horse-drawn carriages wait for a fare. Young lovers steal a furtive but passionate kiss. And bored armed policemen watch the girls go by. It’s a big city and from what everyone tells me – it’s not without its problems of petty crime. But there’s a very cosmopolitan international feel to the place and it’s all wrapped up in this old world charm. Yes, there are many expats and tourists and students but still the locals look you in the eye, smile and say ¡hola!
I just know I’m going to be very happy here for the next month, while I undertake studies and training to become a teacher of English to students for whom English is a second language (TEFL / TESOL). Teaching is something that takes my interest as a potential alternative career (I’ve been in marketing for 12 years and prior to that I was a graphic designer). This seems like a good way to test the waters. I’m also hoping it will help my own pursuit of a second language. And additionally it may become a source of income to help sustain my travels for a bit longer. (I just may need to take on my stage name for professional purposes.)
Wed 24 Aug