Last night in Guate

Just a quick entry to mark my last day/night in Guatemala… Tomorrow I hop on a boat to Belize… where I’ll spend my first 4 days sitting on the beach at Placencia… sunburn or no (I will wear sunscreen tho, Lane… I promise).. just hopefully not as bad as the last time I was there and I had to stay a couple extra days ’cause I couldn’t move, let alone put a backpack on my crispy shoulders…

I’m in Livingston, Guatemala right now.. on the Caribbean coast, but unfortunately without a beach… I met a few people on the boat down the river from Rio Dulce and we had dinner/drinks and then went down to this place where there was traditional Garifuna (Black Carib) drummers.. which was very cool… They’ll be on the boat tomorrow as well as the bus trip to Placencia… so that’s cool… umm.. yeah.. so that’s what’s up… I need to go.. internet is ridiculous here… and it will be for the next 2 weeks so only sparse updates for the next couple weeks…

Lata!

Headin’ out!

Tomorrow I’m leaving Antigua for the Eastern Guatemalan town of Rio Dulce. I’ll be spending a night there before continuing on by small boat down the river to Livingston on Guatemala’s tiny Caribbean coast. I’ll be there until Friday when I’ll be on the first (and only) boat to Punta Gorda, Belize.

Once I get into Belize internet is gonna be a little more sparse and a lot more expensive so I’m not going to update as frequently and probably won’t post any photos for a while. I’ll be in Belize for 2 weeks before I hit Mexico and then I’ll post all my pictures and stuff from there.

I’ve only got a month and a half left of my trip? Where has the time gone? I mean… a month and a half is still an incredibly long trip for most people so I should count myself extremely lucky to have the opportunity that I’ve had… and I am really thankful to everyone who’s made it possible…

Oh.. and to Michelle (and anyone else): send me an email at bestdception@gmail.com so I have your address. And it’s nice to have email from people 🙂

Anyway… this internet place is closing down shop, so if I don’t update for a few days, don’t freak out…

Oh… and one more animation.

Love you all!

Happy Easter!

Hey everyone… hope your Easters went well… I’ve spent the day splurging on all sorts of good food instead of the dry processed cheese and strawberry jelly sandwiches I’ve been forcing myself to subsist on all week to keep costs down…

Pad thai with tofu… ’nuff said.

I tried making an animation of some of the pictures I took of one of the Good Friday processions… you can find that here. Enjoy!

Good Friday

Wow… it just keeps getting crazier and crazier here every day…

I thought the town was overrun when I first got here… but the real flood of people only started arriving yesterday, when pretty much every Guatemalan is given days off of work through Easter. It’s hard to even walk in the middle of the streets in some places.

Yesterday I went to see one procession which actually ended up being a reenactment of some of the scenes leading up to Jesus’ crucifixion. There’s pictures of some of it, including someone (one of the apostles I assume) being dragged off by Roman guards, a woman (forget who she’s supposed to be) who wiped Jesus’ face with a cloth as he carried the cross with the miraculous image of Christ on the cloth, and a couple other guys (apostles again?) who are walking with Jesus, followed by Jesus bearing his (golden) cross on one of the big, wooden processional “floats” carried by a whole bunch of people.

Then today was mass hysteria with all the Good Friday activities. First I attended one of two reenactments of the crucifixion. They both were happening at the same time, so I chose the one at the main cathedral on the central plaza. This crucifixion was of a 500 year old wooden carving of a dying Jesus (wounds and blood and all) made with movable arms and legs for use in the reenactments. Then in the afternoon I found a procession mourning the death of Jesus. There were floats bearing the image of a grieving Mary, and a couple of other people… don’t know who they were, but theres a picture of one dude here nonetheless.. and he looks mighty unhappy.

Tonight was the biggest procession of all, I believe. I just came to the internet place straight from there. I couldn’t get very good pictures ’cause it was dark and the crowds INSANE… but the main float (which was HUGE) had all these angel-like figures holding candelabras… putting off a ridiculous amount of light… and at the top was a glass coffin of sorts holding the same wooden sculpture of the (now dead) Christ that I had seen crucified this morning. All in all it was a very sad event… the marching band playing the saddest music you could ever hope to imagine… and thousands of people standing in silence, frantically making the sign of the cross and kissing their rosary beads… it was very touching… seeing all these people with so much faith…

There are 2 more processions tomorrow and then one on Easter Sunday itself, and I’m sure I’ll check all those out as well. I believe today was the biggest day however.

I’ve also included a few pictures of the elaborate alfombras (carpets) of sawdust, pine needles, flower petals, and fruit that people lay out on the cobblestone streets to mark the paths of the processions. They’re quite pretty.

That’s all for now… time to go eat something.. I\’m famished.

BAH!

Why do the good shows always happen when I’m away from home??

The Bouncing Souls are playing at the Downtown in Farmingdale on April 21st… those of you who are on Long Island better get your asses there and have fun for me… It’s not often the Souls play a small Long Island show…

The Souls are playing a show on May 19th at Irving Plaza too… A “Joey Ramone Birthday Bash”. I’m planning to get home on that date… and people should come with me to the show… and pick up a ticket for me too before they sell out =)

Anyway…

Didn’t do too much today… walked over to one of the churches where there was a 17 hour vigil going on… 6am until 11pm… there’s at least one every day this week… there wasn’t much going on when I was there… just a whole lot of people sitting in the church praying but I must have gotten there during a lull.. ’cause there are other activities that go on intermittently throughout the day…

I’ve become stuck at this restaurant every day I’ve been in Antigua so far… they have this triple-layer sandwich of curry hummus, avocado, lettuce, tomato, and onion… and my god it’s the greatest thing ever… Curried hummus… who’d a thunk it? It’s probably the most amazing combination ever… and I plan to make it part of my diet when I get home…

Semana Santa has Begun

I arrived back in Antigua, Guatemala today after a half hour boat ride followed by a 2 1/2 bus ride.  I’ve only been here a few hours but I saw my first procession already. They started early this morning and there were 2 today… there will be more and more everyday until Good Friday when the whole town pretty much explodes into parades.

So I found this parade as it skirted the central plaza and even though it was relatively small it was still quite an experience. There are these huge wooden floats with religious statues on them from whatever church this procession was for… except instead of being on wheels and pulled by a truck or something, there’s a whole bunch of people underneath… CARRYING these things… it’s quite cool to watch… then there’s a marching band playing music and a whole bunch of people in dark purple robes marching and little boys carrying these huge incense burners that fill the whole street with dense smoke. Along the edges of the procession are lines of men dressed as Roman soldiers keeping people out of the parade area (not that anyone’s trying to get through or anything…)

I’ll be here until next Tuesday morning when I’m heading out to start making my way to Belize. Some nice fresh pictures hot off the presses below. Oh… there’s a picture of this little creature that existed in my sheets in San Pedro la Laguna too… thats kinda amusing…

.Map.

Here’s a map to give some perspective as to where I am… The yellow is where I’ve been, the orange where I’m going… And I’m supposedly a little over halfway done time-wise… but the second half looks like it’s gonna require a whole lot more mileage per day 🙂

MapPrelim

Mas Fotos

I’m now in a town called San Pedro la Laguna… which is on the shore of Lago de Atitlan… “the most beautiful lake in the world” if the locals will have anything to say about it… and who can argue… I haven’t had a clear day to take a picture fully showing how beautiful the lake really is yet… but I do have some pictures from around sunset that I’ll post along with this entry…

I’ve somehow got it in my head that I want to work on a farm this summer… specifically an organic farm… and I e-mailed 3 farms in the Riverhead area and one has already gotten back to me with a promising response… so I’m really excited about that… even if the pay is really bad, at least I won’t be doing something I hate just for the sake of money… not that I’m not going to need as much as I can get when I get back… but still…

Before I left Xela to come here, I visited the Natural History Museum… which is really, really creepy… the room with all the dead stuff most of all… I got some pictures even though I kept getting yelled at by the old man watching the place for taking them… I just couldn’t miss out on pictures of things like the Devil of the Sea… a creature which surely does not and has not ever actually existed… alongside specimens such as a stuffed pair of piglet twins who share one head… and a stuffed dog… adequately labeled “Chow Chow”… the most disturbing of all, however, is a human fetus in a jar… which I actually think IS real… Pictures of all these wonderful things can be found below…

I also climbed up to a vegetarian restaurant on a hill overlooking the city… I’ve included a couple pictures from that trek, as well as a picture from my hotel balcony showing the house where I stayed while I was studying Spanish last time I was down here…

That’s all for now… Back to my heavy relaxation and the arduous task of volcano-watching and tofu-eating…

.Me gusta Guate.

I’m still here in Xela… for one more night anyway… yesterday I made the trek up to the Fuentes Georginas hot springs… far up in the clouds clinging to the side of a volcano…

The journey involved a half hour ride in an old American school bus sitting with 3 indigenous Mayan women (one with a baby in a pouch of intricately-embroidered fabric on her back) in a seat designed for 3 American elementary school children…

The bus drops you in the town of Zunil… which is pretty enough as it is… a very much agricultural town… where this time of year with the lack of rain, the patchwork of mountainside fields on the hills are dry. Down in the valley below, however, an intricate system of tiny irrigation canals snakes through the bright green plots containing all sorts of different vegetables… the scent of onion making it the most pronounced… the scene is completed by men walking along the canals and, using a shovel-like device, throwing the water over the fields… It’s amazing how labor-intensive it is… all day walking along and shoveling water…

Once off the bus, you need to find a pickup driver willing to drive you up the mountain through the fields and clouds… The drive is beautiful as it is on a road which clings to the side of the steep mountain. Theres a line painted in the middle to separate it into lanes… but they are certainly not wide enough even for 2 vehicles to pass without being really careful (which the pickup drivers are not)… Last time I was here I walked the 9 kilometers up with a couple of my fellow Spanish students… and that was a beautiful walk…

Today, however, it was thick clouds a few minutes after ascending from town… so conversation with my driver ended up being the highlight… I was actually really amazed how well I was able to carry on conversation… using only the present tense and my rudimentary Spanish vocabulary. We just chatted about our families and our homes… he going on for some time about how much he loves his region of Guatemala… I sharing my lacking descriptions of the beaches and mountains of New York… and finally discussing how he had friends up in New York working to keep their families going… It was quite a nice experience… as I don’t think people in any other country have been as interested in carrying on a conversation with a foreigner… especially one with only a basic understanding of the language… though I suppose mine is better than some…

Once we arrived at the Fuentes, I went for a soak… the water being actually just barely warm… which was somewhat disappointing… but I found out later from my driver that this is owing to the fact that it’s the dry season… and the lack of rain means a lack of water to be heated in the mountain and drop into the pool from the cliff that forms it’s back wall… The experience was still just as atmospheric as it should be… Though emerging into the cold air was somehow less refreshing and more tortuous than it was when the water was nice and hot…

The drive down the mountain was pretty quiet… as we pretty much used up all the Spanish conversation I’m capable of on the way up… I hopped on the bus back to Xela to ponder the day’s experiences…

Back in Xela I hiked way up a steep hill on the edge of town to this little vegan restaurant with a view looking over the entire city… The food was as excellent as the view… which together more than justified the arduous climb…

I didn’t take my camera along for the day’s adventures so I wouldn’t have to worry about it… but I managed to snag a few pictures from the internet to give you an idea of what it all looked like…

¡Ay!

So I’ve been walking all across the city for like 2 hours trying to get my cell phone activated with a prepaid Guatemalan cell company… ’cause they have rates of 10 cents a minute to the US… which is even cheaper than the internet places charge for sometimes-crappy internet calls… I tried one place and the woman sent me to this other place like 2 miles away… I tried 3 places there… and then came back where I started and spoke to another woman who told me that it would definitely work with one of the companies that told me no… Gah! I’m not walking back there… at least not today… I feel all gross from being kinda sweaty from walking with the horrible exhaust and dust feeling like its stuck on me… like being in Manhattan for a whole day in the summer kinda… Just plain grimy…

Anyway… Gonna go back to my room and shower and rest a bit…