How would you like this as your view from your front door, or more accurately about 12 steps outside of your front door? Those are the main volcanos of Guatemala. My friends’ friend’s farm is so high up!
I am dressed in my nice new skinny jeans for the first time on this trip. Blue jeans, white shirt, makeup, the necklace my sister-in-law gave me for the trip, a bracelet I bought in San Marcos de Laguna, and as always, the bracelets my good friend Andrew gave me to wear and think of him. On my feet are the flat black bit-of-sparkle-on-the-strap Aerosoles that I bought in NYC for this trip. It is fun to be dressing up for a night out. I came to Guatemala City to meet Jewish Guatemala – and Motzie Shabbas found myself at Pelicano’s tropical style rooftop seafood restaurant having Margarita on the owner while my friends were the band to which everyone danced. On another weekend visit I actually danced. Salsa, me. Life never ceases to amaze me when I give myself the liberty to say “sure” or “I’d love to” or […]
I was privileged to visit some new Guatemalan friends in their Lake Atitlán home. This family is not from the lake but moved here a few years ago. They rent this home from the landlord who lives next door. This home is off a paved street that is rather wide, has a proper car area and a sidewalk (albeit narrow) that is more of a height that someone in the US is used to as opposed to the very high (you need steps) sidewalks I have experienced in Honupduras and Mexico. Stepping out of the tuk-tuk we stepped up onto the sidewalk, then through the gate onto this property, then down a step inside the gate. Directly ahead was one home, the landlord’s. This home is beside the landlord’s closer to the road, so we walk along a short dirt path toward the right that followed the sidewalk’s line, just […]
Today I am online thanks to the iPhone of a Guatemalan friend and his Tigo data plan.
A recent reflection… Being from the suburbs of the USA, I am used to homes where people put their best foot forward, so to speak. The inside of a home might be a mess, might be in disrepair, or might be void of furniture due to lack of money, but the outside that the world sees tends to look good or look its best. In some of the countries I visited long ago, it was the opposite. The public saw a simple wall. Only when you walked through the oft-closed gate, did you discover that inside laid an open yard and perhaps a marvelous home. I am now in Latin America, specifically Central America so far, and again I am seeing some of this. Often, to drive down a road is to see nothing but walls. Most of these have been stone walls or walls of corrugated metal or flat […]
Why don’t we have these in the United States? (You may have to click the headline above to see the photo.) This light is in Guatemala City and is common there. A fellow traveler tells me they are all over Lima, Peru as well.
I have a personalized Guatemalan alarm that ensures I get out of bed by 7. It’s my alarm fly. At 6:45 it starts buzzing around my head, then lands on various parts of my body. It simply won’t stop. By 7 I have had enough of the twitching to get it off so I get out of bed. (Maybe it isn’t a single alarm fly, but an alarm fly team. I haven’t asked.) I am not retiring my iPhone though as I don’t expect that flies re so well trained every place I will be visiting.
I am sitting outside in perfect air, talking and hanging out with some traveling friends. They are enjoying Ron Botran – 12 year old Guatemalan rum, 80 proof, loving how smooth it is. 1/2 of a 5th cost 50q here, about $7. One friend here, Kevin, just recorded my Computer Talk Radio segment with me, talking about his Nook. Wi-Fi is slow here so instead of Skype we recorded on Voxer on my iPhone. My iPhone battery was fully dead so my Scosche battery ran the phone. (I have lost count of how many times that Scosche battery has kept me going.) We are also enjoying a lightning show in the distance. I am so happy that I heard from my great Los Angeles friend Andrew tonight.
This lake is so beautiful… From the coast at San Marcos On the boat between towns
I am a guest sitting in the last chair in the middle of three rows in a 5th Grade schoolroom in the Jaibalito public school. (This was at the invitation of 11-year-old Sirena, a California girl who is attending school here for a month and spoke to her teacher to have me join them.) The students here all live within walking distance and are Maya. Jaibalito is a small village of approximately 1,000 people, mostly children. There are no cars, no vehicles. You arrive to this village by launcha (boat) or by foot. I have my iPad with me but don’t take it put as it would be a distraction. I write on a sheet of paper torn from a child’s notebook with my single non-electronic writing tool, the 3 or 4 inch stub of a child’s pencil. The morning started with cleaning, sweeping of the floor. A wall chart […]
This is what I walk out to in the morning. It is the view from the dormitory of Posada Jaibalito. (You can have a similar view from a private room, too.) Morning is 6 a.m. for me here — and I love it! The smell of smoke from the homes of surrounding Mayan families greets my nose. The air is full of chipping and other animal sounds that are better than music. The sun comes up behind a volcano mountain so it doesn’t get bright and warm until close to 8. Before that it is a bit of a romantic hazy light and its own warm color. I love it all! Morning is laundry time. My clothes dry in the fresh air. I love the view from the roof — these rooftops and the hazy smoky sky being one. I don’t recall what time of day I took each of these […]
I have heard over and over that the best cocoa beans are in Guatemala. Staying here among the lush vegetation in this volcanic region in the rainy season I can understand why. But I was not finding the people behind the chocolate and am not into taking a paid tour. Today I met the former neighbor of “Chocolate Bob,” the man behind ixcacao — so now maybe I will have to change my plans to go see him.
If you are looking for a very nice looking, comfortable hotel in Copan Ruinas, have a look at Hotel Camino Maya right on the town square. I discovered this hotel as I walked past it and just had to stop and admire the stained glass window that graces its lobby and, happily, passers-by on the street.
I didn’t get to stay at Don Moises Guest House in Copan Ruines because I didn’t know about it, and I did like my hotel, but from what I saw and heard I recommend it. I actually discovered it because I bought my ticket for my micro-bus to Antigua from the very nice owner and his son. The next day I met some guests. I was impressed enough to take a few photos, which I will post when I have bandwidth. (If you are traveling in the area, you definitely want to see these ruins — with the best guide, 75 year old Antonio.)
I had planned to spend at least my first night in Copan Ruinas at a hostel as I was traveling into the town alone. However, I met a British doctor who was sight-seeing before a volunteer stint so we decided to share a room. Even though I had this roommate, I asked our tuk-tuk driver to first let us see the hostel that had been recommended. It was nice, but the people there didn’t excite me, nor did the prospect of another top bunk, so we moved on to see the hotel our driver was recommending. I stayed at the Hotel MarJenny, a family-owned and run hotel with much promise on a nice street just two nice blocks from the town center. My hotel (on the left) when walking from the town square:
It is the middle of the night, the pre-dawn hour of 2 a.m. and Wednesday, June 6, 2012 is is its first hours. Crickets chirp outside under the full moon. The sky is clear. I love this time of day. In NYC it was always my favorite time; back in my 23rd or 24th years I would often be walking home at this hour and I loved the sky, the emptier (not empty) streets, the relative quiet of the city, and it’s maybe “new” energy at the 2-3 a.m. hours. In Los Angeles the air was often cooler at this hour and I would finally wind down from my day, feel I had had enough of my Mac, and would finally get outside for a cool, calm walk. Tonight, in the town of San Marcos on the shore of Lago De Atitlán in the Highlands of Guatemala, I am not […]
Claro in Honduras will tell you beyond all doubt that their card will function fine in Guatemala and in El Salvador. They explained to me that all if my unused data may be used in these neighboring countries, but that I will not be able to add to the Honduran card and will need to purchase a new card in each country to gain more time. This is incorrect. The moment I crossed out of Honduras into Guatemala my iPhone alerted me that the phone number had changed. Perhaps I could have done something if I understood the Spanish. However, there was no text message about this, so no way to know the message, issue, or fix. What I do know though is that the network name appears perfectly well, that I am told I need data roaming and that turning roaming on did nothing to give me data. Local-living […]
Looking at things to experience along the coast of Guatemala, I was excited to see that the beach town of Monterrico offers whale watching — until I saw the price. Products Mundiales’ whale watching is from 1250Q per person. That is US$178! In Redondo Beach, California, whale watching with Voyager Excursions is around $15. I will be doing my whale watching in Redondo Beach.
I am sitting on a wooden chair on a stone and tile floor, outside in the cool mountain air of Guatemala’s Lake Atitlán. Surrounding the lake are volcano-shaped with what I imagine are perfect pointed peaks. They were, in fact, once volcanos. I only say I imagine their tops because the actual peaks are hidden from my view as they are encircled by soft fluffy white clouds. The clouds somehow perhaps look both light and fluffy as well as rain-heavy. I am at a loss to describe their beauty. They seem to dance around the mountain peaks, dressing the mountains in a magical covering. Some of the mountains in view along the lake are vivid green. These mountains closer to my view are a soft blue-grey, veiled lower down by the mists of the clouds. This is the first time I have felt cool air since I left Los Angeles. […]
I had planned to take the Hedman-Atlas bus from Copan Ruinas, Honduras to Antigua, Guatemala ($43). Their busses are so comfortable and fabulously safe. In Copan though, I kept seeing signs for the $20 van (micro-bus) and was told they were safe and didn’t stop to pick up other passengers so baggage was safe lashed to the top of the bus or inside. So, I decided to book a seat on the van. When I went to book my seat at the place Lonely Planet recommends, where many of the travelers hang out, Via Via or something like that, the girl told me it wouldn’t go without two people. That remained their story for the days I was in Copan. After a couple of days I inquired across the street at another place that did van bookings, Don Moises Guest House, a father-son business. There, the father called the van […]
Many a traveler or backpacker is acquainted with the challenge of having enough money to cover his or her costs in a country while leaving with as little spare currency as possible. We will often play the where-are-you-going-wanna-swap-cash game with other travelers. That gives us a bit to get our first bus or cab inn the next country. From Mexico to Belize I had it measured perfectly, but then ended up with extra pesos which I swapped with someone Mexico-bound — and that gave me the perfect amount to depart Belize with. From Belize to Honduras I thought I was perfect but later found a couple of extra dollars so I changed them upon arrival to Honduras — which gave me money for my first bus. Leaving Honduras I thought I was doing well, then realized I am a whopping 74 Limpera (under $4) short on my share of the […]
My new adjustable length turquoise teardrop and seed necklace and the man who made it. (150L, US$7.50. I did not haggle.) Friends and I stopped to look at some of the work if the fine local artisans that have tables in one street by the central park of Copan Ruinas. I loved much of what I saw. I don’t mean string brackets. Real jewelry My necklace is on string but is not one you tie forever, then cut off. As I am allergic to metal clasps, I love this.