Spanish language school. Murder next door. Time on the coast with sea turtles and a shaman.

Travelogue Guatemala 2000

September 11th, 2000, Estoy en Guatemala!

Hello dear ones!

I arrived safe and sound in Antigua. After a rather long flight with an almost missed connection I landed in Guatemala City last night and was brought to my family in the rain (it’s rainy season here). The family (recommendation from my dear brother) seems really okay. During the night it poured with rain, but in the morning the clouds were gone and now it is quite warm and maybe a bit humid. I’ve also had my first morning at Spanish school and it’s all coming back very quickly and I’m already back to the point where I have to concentrate when I’m supposed to speak German or English. Right now I’m planning two weeks of school and then a trip to the jungle (if it’s not all bogged down) and the coast for diving and snorkeling.

You will hear from me again and I would be very happy about mails!

Best regards to Europe,


my host family in Antigua Guatemala
Francisca, two gringos and a small part of her grandchildren

September 13th 2000, Things happen …


When someone goes on a journey, he gets to know new things, often things that he otherwise only knows from television. Let me start by saying, that, if someone forwards the contents of this mail to my mother, before I am back, I will light a fire under his / her ass 😉

There I am sitting at the table yesterday after an excellent dinner with my host family (better my host mother) and Alice and another Spanish student and we are chatting a bit when there are four bangs outside. Alice: “Gunshots?” but I didn’t believe it because we all know from TV that gunshots are nice and loud, clear and nicely styled by the mixer/sound designer. Bad luck, they were shots. My dear brother recommended me to go to the bar across the street (El Paso), there were always very strange guys he said and one of them is now dead, another one just lost a lot of blood. What had happened was that two men (all involved were locals) entered the bar, wished everybody a good evening and ordered two beers.

Bar "El Paso" in Antigua Guatemala
Bar “El Paso” in Antigua Guatemala

They didn’t touch the beers and immediately ordered something to eat (the bar is only about ten feet by ten feet) and the owner disappeared into the kitchen. When he had left the room, one of the two guests pulled out a rather large pistol and shot one of the other guests, a neighbor of my family, another guest who was trying to protect the first victim also took a bullet. The two then took off and were not seen again. Probably this had something to do with drug trafficking, so they say in the neighborhood, fortunately something that is not directly dangerous for tourists, no robbery or anything and it’s also the first person shot in Antigua in two years. Anyway, we only heard the shots, no screams, then the ambulance arrived, then the police, the man who was shot was taken away covered in blood and later in the evening I was able to take a look at the bar, where it was quite red. There were also two gringos in the bar who told us what had been going on. Alice got the whole thing on video.

Don’t worry about me though, Antigua is safe and I’m doing great. After sending this mail I will go to dance lessons in the language school.

Take care and see you soon.

Best regards from Central America,


September 17th, 2000, Few news

Dear people at home and dear travellers!

Not much has happened here, nevertheless a short status report. In school I am now back to learning new things and will probably spend the next week with the subjunctivo, which is the subjunctive without which good Spanish is not possible. In the family I am quite alone right now, as Alice, a friend from Munich, has left and the other student is away for the weekend. Other than that, though, I’m having a blast, especially with our host mom’s THIRTEEN grandkids, and I’m eating my way to the top. Yesterday I went to the market with Francisca to see how shopping works. If I had bought the same stuff, I probably would have paid at least double. Who would think that for 6 marks you could get a giant basket full of stuff so heavy that I had trouble lugging it home (on my head, of course, in true style).

Volker with his host mother Francisca shopping in Antigua Guatemala
shopping with the gringo

I do not want to sound like Julia, another language student who only talks about prices and with a quite strong Swabian accent. Be informed that the Swabians are in Germany what the Scottish are for in the UK. Nevertheless, I would like to say that today I treated myself to something where the price-performance ratio is particularly good by our standards. I took the bus to the neighbouring village and had a head-to-toe massage for an hour in a clinic, costing twelve marks, which I will probably treat myself to once or twice more. Otherwise, we just had national holiday here, where the city is quite crowded, but not as much as during the Easter processions.

Best regards,


September 25th, 2000, Leaving Antigua

For the time being last greetings from Antigua!

I finished my Spanish lessons last week and I’m quite fit again, at least as far as Spanish is concerned, otherwise I’m plagued by a flu that I can’t really get rid of, and who wants to spend a week on holiday just in bed. Anyway, I was in Monterrico a beach on the Pacific coast this weekend.

I had decided to do this at short notice, as a group from my school was going there and I didn’t want to take any killer trips into the jungle due to my state of health. There it is sunny, the water has 28 degrees and is very wavy. In addition, you can eat there excellent fish until it comes out to your ears again.

boat trip on the way to Moterrico, Guatemala
by ferry to Monterrico

Yesterday I met a group of very strange people there, or rather quite normal people around a very strange man, a kind of medicine man, shaman with regular training in traditional medicine. Especially for me as a scientist this is of course very strange, but somehow it was also very interesting. That’s why I decided to pack my things today and return to Monterrico for another week, especially since I’m still not fit enough to travel around. I’ll tell you about it then. Since I don’t know yet what I’ll do afterwards, this could possibly be my last mail, but I’ll probably manage to get back to you before I return.

Best regards,


big sea turtle at the beach of Monterrico, Guatemala
The turtles lay their eggs at this time of year.

October 8th, 2000, Back from Monterrico

Hello dear ones!

I am back in one piece, have heard many strange things about gems, auras, chakras, spirits, demons and several miracle healings of the shaman Bill for two weeks. Well, one can believe that or not, as a scientist I am very sceptical. But I also read a lot, learned a massage technique (about 1h, full body, looking for victims not to get out of practice), had a lot of fun and interesting conversations with very nice people, unfortunately only few of these conversations in Spanish.

lessons of the shaman Bill in Montericco, Guatemala
lessons with the shaman

Will be back Tuesday night, look forward to seeing you soon!

One last time best regards from Antigua,