Travelogue Central America 2001
There are hardly any pictures from this journey as my camera broke down.
April 4th, 2001, Greetings from Mexico
Hello to you all from Mexico!
At very short notice I decided to fly to Central America again, and would like to send you short reports again. I would love to hear from you.
On Tuesday morning I flew from Munich to Paris and after the first chocolate croissant on the plane I realized that a trip to France is also long overdue. So that I can stand it for a while without the excellent pastry, I first bought 4 croissants at the airport and ate them away, I felt a bit sick and I can now probably stand it for a few months without getting on the night train to Paris Est.
By the way, I can recommend Air France. The food was excellent for an airline and even as an economy flyer everyone had their own little TV. Unfortunately, all the movies (even the American ones) were only in French or Spanish, so I didn’t understand much, because my Spanish skills are still not good enough for movies. A second point was quite a disappointment – I was happy as a snow king that you can play backgammon with these screens (a great passion of mine), but the program played grotty and you couldn’t even play with doubling cube. So I had some time for my travel guide, because of course I could not really sleep.
Accordingly tired I arrived with some delay in Mexico. First adventure: through customs with a whole mountain of potato dumplings. Potato dumplings? Well, my first stop was supposed to be Puebla, where I stayed with a family friend, Miguel or Michael, who works at a German school here. Once you’ve been abroad for twenty years, potato dumplings are one of the best specialities you can imagine, Easter and Christmas are simply nothing without them. Luckily, I was too tired to be really nervous at customs. Normally it is not a big problem if they pull you out, then the things are gone (and end up at the customs officer for dinner), but I had stated (signed with an oath) that I had no food with me and I am the first time in a country where the guidebook recommends NOT to contact the police in case of problems, they would only make things worse.
Bueno. Everything went fine and I went with really good service from Mexico City to Puebla in the bus (including video, free snack and drink), was picked up there by Miguel and brought to his little house. We talked until one and, among other things, rearranged my travel plans. Originally I wanted to fly to Guatemala, but I only got the flight to Mexico, so I just wanted to take a direct bus from there to Belize, dive there and then cross the jungle to Guatemala. I have stopped Belize for the time being and would now like to go via Veracruz, Catemaco, Villahermosa and Palenque directly to Guatemala, so that I also see something of Mexico. After that I want to spend a few days in the jungle and then make my way to Antigua and Lago Atitlán, but I may well change my plans again.
This morning my biorhythm woke me up already at 5:45 and so I didn’t sleep much, but I can use this day to the full and leave soon for Veracruz.
Best regards and see you soon!
April 6th, 2001, Greetings from Villahermosa
Hello to you all!
Very briefly, a status report. I’m doing a little Mexico hopping and haven’t stayed anywhere longer than one night yet. From Puebla to Veracruz, a pretty city of millions with flair. Continue to Catemaco, a small town on a beautiful lake. I let someone row me to a tiny island that was all overgrown. Great, fantastic view, unfortunately my camera has been on strike since then, probably got some moisture off after all. Fuck electronics, a normal camera would at least take pictures now, even at the risk of having nothing but black film. (Note: actually the shutter was broken, so there are only pictures from Veracruz and Catemaco from this trip) From there I went at dawn back to San Andres Tuxtla and by bus to Villahermosa, where I just arrived. Looking for a hotel, I stumbled across this Internetcafe and am happy about the air-conditioning and annoyed about the loud music. Tomorrow I continue to the jungle of Palenque to look at pyramids.
April 11th, 2001, on the way to Guatemala
Internet cafes are really everywhere now, everywhere equally cheap and slow. Mexico gives me the impression of being much richer and also more organized than Guatemala and Honduras. Riding the bus here, for example, is quite comfortable. Even if you don’t have air conditioning (2nd Class), at least you have your own seat with enough room. So far the hotels have been much better too, but I’ve also paid more (for $10 comes you can expect some comfort, but no air conditioning).
About my trip: In Villahermosa, which is not only called hermosa (=very pretty), but surprisingly is pretty (at least in large parts), there is as a main attraction a small jungle in the city, where you can admire large stone heads and the like, remains of a very ancient culture, the Olmecs, also a nice little zoo. From there we went by bus to Palenque, where the largest Mayan city in Mexico is located. When I visited the ruins it was incredibly hot, so just right for climbing steep stone steps in the blazing sun. The location and architecture of the complex are fantastic, the buildings partly very well preserved, nevertheless Tikal fascinated me more. The temples there are simply much taller and rise above the trees, the forest there is also denser, offers more shade and seems more alive. But of course it could be that the Mayan site you see first is always the most amazing to you.
Today I went at nine to Agua Azul, a series of waterfalls in the jungle where you can swim. The visit almost failed because Indiginas (descendants of the indigenous people) had blocked the road to protest against the fact that they are still not connected to the electricity grid. My minibus then turned back and I made another attempt at twelve. With considerable delay we got through, first visited a nice but not unique waterfall and then arrived in Agua Azul. There it was incredibly beautiful to swim in clear, cool river water. The current is sometimes considerable and you have to be very careful where you go. Then it suddenly started to rain heavily, very unusual at this time of the year. It was great to lie in the water and be sprinkled at the same time and finally, after all that heat, to freeze (!) with chattering teeth (!). Unfortunately it didn’t rain in Palenque and my hotel room is about 50º C.
Tomorrow morning I leave at six for the border to Guatemala. There I want to go to Poptun, a small place in the middle of the jungle and do a jungle tour for several days. Let’s see if it works. Due to lack of time I would probably go straight to Antigua (maybe I’ll be there in time to see the one or other Easter procession, but the main part actually happens by Good Friday at the latest) and then I want to go to Lago Atitlán, where I want to meet my shaman.
Best regards from Palenque
April 11th, 2001, Otra vez en Antigua
I set off for Guatemala on Wednesday as planned. Early in the morning we took a VW bus towards the border. That should have been done in three hours, but we waited the same amount of time for strange reasons. The only relief was a watermelon truck that came by, so we filled our stomachs together with the driver’s family and a Mayan woman and her children who were there selling jewelry. The border itself is a river at this point and there I went briefly into the warm water, which was nevertheless very refreshing. In general I got to swim surprisingly often these days, the highlight in this series follows below. We continued 30 minutes in a boat upriver to Bethel, the border town in Guatemala.
Entering Guatemala: Everyone had said it would cost $5, but I figured I could at least ask for a receipt.
Border agent: “There are no receipts”.
Me: There always are.
He: The fee is for the stamp.
Me: Well, then I’ll just ask in Antigua.
He (gives me my money back): If you don’t believe it, you can pay when you leave the country.
Pure rip-off, the money (a fortune by local standards) goes into the pockets of the border guards and of course their superiors and their superiors ….
Unfortunately I could only ask one of my fellow passengers to do the same, the other 20 paid.
Next part: we had paid for a direct bus to Flores, but there simply wasn’t one. Finally a real chicken bus again, ancient American school bus with appropriate seat spacing and three passengers on a 1 meter wide bench. I do enjoy such trips, and it wasn’t that slow. In Flores I got directly a bus to Poptun, a small town in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by jungle. Probably the town lives from fincas, arable land and livestock. There I got off and took a taxi to Finca Ixobel. This former farm is now purely tourist (almost exclusively backpackers), at least 50 at a time. They have fantastic food, it is a a nice place to relaxe for a while, which in general is not really my thing. Unfortunately no other tourist could be found for a jungle tour of several days, but I visited two caves. On the first day we left at 9:00 and arrived after two hours at a cave. You could take almost nothing with you, because it was a choice between leaving it outside (at the highest risk of theft) and taking it with you and letting it get wet. Accordingly I had nothing with me except swimming trunks, T-shirt, my hiking boots and a flashlight, I left hat and water bottle in front of the cave. Right from the start we were waist deep in water, I guess about 20° C, quite pleasant, but at times one got really cold. There were parts where we could walk, at others we had to swim. In total we went about one kilometer into the mountain. At the end we came to a place where you could jump 4 meters deep into a small lake. What I unfortunately didn’t see was how one could go even further through an underwater tunnel into a huge lake. I didn’t catch that, as I jumped a second time and then made my way back as the first of the group. The guides had placed candles at certain intervals and there was also only one way. So I had the sounds and the darkness of the cave (with lots of bats) to myself. Sometimes it was quite scary when one or two candles had gone out and everything was completely dark. This trip was really great and is highly recommended. I’ve also learned that a decent (and often also a cheap) flashlight will work underwater, at best it will even be waterproof. The other cave on Friday had great stalactites, very interesting, but again there are no photos because my camera is broken. I also cuddled a little monkey and tried to teach a parrot that can say “Hola” (“Hello”) “Hola, como estas?” (“Hello, how are you?”). But I guess time, my talent or the parrot’s talent wasn’t enough. Also, he wasn’t concentrating properly because the parrot and monkey were very jealous when I was interacting with the other of them.
I then phoned a second finca in Poptun who also offers tours through the jungle. They would have given me a tour all to myself, and I stayed there one night as well. This is a pure family business with the main goal of environmental protection. The mother and her daughters were extremely friendly. Unfortunately someone in the family of the guide died in the night from Friday to Saturday and we could have started on Monday at the earliest, which was too late for me. That’s why I took the bus to Antigua in the morning, on the other finca there was a rumour that there would be no buses over Easter, maybe to prevent the guests from leaving.
Since yesterday evening I am here, back “at home” with Francisca, where I already stayed last fall. Yesterday I saw the last real procession. I’ve heard that my shaman is in town until tomorrow, so I may see him already today.
See you soon and best regards,
April 29th, 2001, Back from the Shaman
Hello my dear ones at home and around the world!
The report about the last two weeks is a bit shorter, because at least in terms of action not so much has happened. I went to Lago Atitlán two weeks ago on Monday together with Bill (my shaman from USA/Canada). There I met a lot of dear friends and took care of my psyche, which is best done in beautiful places. I’ve massaged a few times and been massaged too. I had the opportunity to massage the Grand Master (about 2 meters) Martini and also be massaged by him. This has given my technique a decent push forward, with the downside that an average massage now takes an hour and a half to two instead of an hour. Apart from that there were lessons about Spirit-Soul, Left/Right Brain, Ego, Auras, Chakras, Demons, Angels, Miracle Healings and similar things and so you listen, broaden your horizon and pick out what you believe and where you remain a bit sceptical.
I will tell you more about the last two weeks on request.
Once again I have changed my plans a bit and have just arrived in Antigua and am now going to take a quick two day course to get Reiki Level 1 and I am very curious to see what I will feel and what will happen.
Love and all the best,
May 6th, 2001, Back in Munich
After a few relaxing and wonderful days with friends and a Reiki course in Jocotenango near Antigua I made my way back to Puebla Mexico. There I spent another two days relaxing, slowly coming back (first thoughts about all the work back at my office appeared) and finally took my flight back (Air France recommended).
Greetings and thanks to all of you who I met on my journey. And I am looking forward to seeing all those of you soon who live here in Munich and Germany.
All the best,