after more than a month of traveling, without a timely opportunity to blog, and a border to cross, i am now remembering guatemala. what a captivating country! the maya, the mountains, the markets. it's easy to see why i was captured for four weeks. i trekked the diagonal of the country, more or less. guatemala city to antigua. panajachel to santa cruz. coban. lanquin. semuc champey. santa elena. el remate. tikal. finally to melchor de mencos, the guatemalan town on the border with belize. taxi rides, tuk-tuks, shuttles, chicken buses, a pullman, and 2-tired-feet escorted me, most times exceedingly uncomfortably, across the country. more than a decade after the official end of the civil war- i found this place to be a country filled with kind people and unique experience, instead of the harsh dangerous realities so many were eager to warn me of. sure, this country has troubles, annoyances, and problems, but being proactive about avoiding danger, i found it easy to explore. entirely possible.
highlighting guatemala is easy.
1. volcan pacaya: climbing a mountain. poking, stirring, swirling lava. melting marshmallows.
2. la iguana perdida and el retiro lodge. simply stated: a sublime backpackers paradise.
3...by far my favorite, the impossible cave at the base of semuc champey. a real spelunkers delight! as if the funky stalactite and stalagmite formations were not enough, the cave is not lit, and filled with water. due to the recent rainfall, rivers, streams, and lakes are higher than they have been in the last 50 years. the cave is no different. it is necessary to swim in many places while keeping a steadfast grip on a petite candlestick, hoping not to allow moisture to extinguish the flame. there are ladders you must climb, slippery every step, and foolish. at the end of the cave gushes a waterfall, and riding the created current from the fall is like being tossed in the middle of a speed boats wake. fun enveloped in danger. just as i like.
today i am in belize, a tiny island called caye caulker just off the northern coast of the country. it is quiet here, picturesque, and reminiscent of my caribbean home. actually, it's much the same. heated, thick, humidity filled air. creole speaking folks. fresh scents of marijuana lifted by the breeze filter across the island. i am anticipating the ocean. the second largest barrier reef in the entire world is here, artfully scattered below the surface.
the worlds shore is waiting.
i'll see you there....