maandag 2 september 2013

The Curse from the Maya's

Another "old note" about my travels in Central-America, April, 13- May, 3 2011
I was going to visit my friend Sarah, who was doing an internship in Honduras for 4 months, and together we would take a diving course... Trust me... the most crazy story - THE CURSE FROM THE MAYA- happens in the end...

April, 13th-April, 17th: Guatemala... or guatever
The first task was to get ASAP out of Guatemala City. I arrived there in the late evening, and it was not really my desire to explore the night life, certainly because a lot of people warned me that the only thing to do there is to get robbed. Or worse. So I took a taxi to Antigua. My hostel -A Place to Stay (5a Calle poniente 42- callejon landivar)- was really a warm big house, owned by Raul and Fernando. In my room I met Beta, a talented photographer of Bariloche. This sweet girl invited me to join her the next morning (too early maybe, but worth it!) to the aguas calientes. Later, we walked together in Antigua, a really cosy town, drinked mojito in a nice bar called Frida (after Frida Kahlo). I love the colors, the cobbles and the sun of this small town!  In the afternoon we signed up to join a small expedition to the summit of the Pacaja volcano. I was disappointed I didn't see lava, but I was happy as a small child when I could melt marshmellows there in the fire. Also the heat in a cave was... unbearable! Descending the volcano was quite... difficult, due to the twilight and the pyroclastic sand. There was so much dust that my nose started to produce black... uh... stuff. The day after Beta, two friends from Israel and I went to an outlook post -cerro de la cruz-. I read in a lonely planet's edition of the nineties that it was the place to be to be robbed, but due to the tourism police it's now quite a relative safe place (or what you can call "safe" in Guatemala). In the afternoon Beta and I spent our time in the market, talking with small kids, doing photoshoots... and admiring the handicrafts. And dancing with the ladies from the handicraft shop haha. Beta  makes great pictures. She has a great photograph I will later about. It is just so touching... She worked in Haïti, after the big disaster...

The third day I went alone to Lake Atitlan. I took a shuttle, where I met nurses from Spain. We hired a small boat and visited Santiago, the hippie town San Pedro and San Juan. In the last we visited a community of weavers. Of course, we used the tuc-tuc once, to experience it. In the way back to home, I met a French guy who lost his group of friends. I helped him to find his friends in Antigua, and discovered with them the night life of Antigua. The last day in Antigua was the first day of Semana Santa (week before Eastern). All the men are dressed in purple clothes (mental note: look up the meaning of it), and they made alfombras (covers made of flowers, vegetables... some of them are really beautiful) on the cobbled streets. Raul warned me for the kids. Especially during Semana Santa there are a lot of robbers, mostly kids. Antigua became a little bit too overcrowded, so it was really time to move to... Honduras!

April, 18th: The shuttle Antigua-Copan
I know that Central-America is ... more... than the other countries I already visited. The corruption is quite obvious. When Suha, a girl from the shuttle, wanted to enter Honduras (you have to cross 2 borders (and pay -"of course"- in both immigrantion offices. I want to thank again Richard to lend me some money, because atm I didn't have any money there, and there was no atm... oops)... but ok, when Suha wanted to enter Honduras, the immigration officer noticed that she was in honduras during the coup in 2009, but has no stamp that proofed that she left the country. She could go to a small office, where they showed her a list of terrorists. She said that she only had 100 quetzales (10 euros), but that was ok to let her go. Money solves everything here. If you are a tourist. Everyone has a gun, or a machete. Really. In the first days i was really nervous because of all the weapons you saw, but after some days you get used to. If you want to protect something, you don't have to think the police is going to help you. Hello, for a salary of only 200 dollars? No, the only thing they do is to suck money out of the tourists. So, are you safe, is the next expected question? no... yes... it's difficult to say. I was heading to Copan, a real drug town. I heard that 80% of all the drug trade from Colombia to USA goes through Honduras, and 20% of this 80% goes through Copan. So it's a real drug town... but protected by the drug lords. If you don't mess with them, you are relative safe. they also protect the tourists, because they don't want all the paperwork, international attention... I heard stories about poor people stealing from tourists... who suddenly disappeared. So you don't have to be afraid of the drug dealers, more from the real desperate people here.

April, 18th-24th: Copan and surroundings
  Finally it was time for the big reunion with Sarah. We talked, talked... talked. About everything. I met her friends -from the local drug dealers to the rich archeologists-. She showed me Copan, La Pintada - a village where they made special dolls, and Sarah and I met the kids Brenda , Lily and their friends who became our photographers and hairdressers... real nice kids!  
We also visit the maya ruins of Copan. They call it "versailles of the maya world". It was really impressive. Sarah, her friend and I went in the very early morning, so there was not so many people, and the mist makes it more mysterious.  

memories from Copan, Honduras April '11

 Sarah has also to work, so if I was not playing the lonely girl hanging on the bar, I hooked up with Suha, and guys I met in the shuttle, or other guys I met in Suha's hostel. With Suha, I visited the Macaw Mountain, drunk beer in the bar of the German guy Thomas, or just walked. Sarah and I also went to papa chango, the local disco, with her colleagues... Also a visit to the river with Americans (where I almost get killed by thousand mosquitoes), eating the amazing carrot pie, visiting a finca (sort of coffee farm)... made this week remarkable. Finca El Cisne was really a nice day... but I burnt my nose there (what causes some problems later), with a big lunch (me encata pastelito de platano con frijoles y fresco de tomarindo!!!), the occasion to admire an amazing view whilst horse back driving... Did I already tell you that I love banana trees?  

I also visited the hot springs, where I gave myself a mud treatment. I think the mud is from volcanic origin, but I am not really 100 % sure. 

April, 25th-30th: Utila, pirates of the caribbean 
- or the PADI open water diving course
In La Ceiba we met Jonas, Sarah's brother, who traveled before in Nicaragua. There we took the boat to Utila, a caribbean island. The atmosphere is really different than in Copan, or somewhere else. I think that Jonas' comparison of this place with the fisher's village from the movie Forrest Gump is really appropriate. There  are a bunch of old guys. Once I talked with them... I immediately felt in love with the 70y old black Thomas. He was really cute. And very witty. 
He asked my age. I said "22", more often, because he always said: "So... 52... " I gave up. 
Then he asked me from which country I am. I said, like I was starring in some Southern American soap, with an accent: "I am from Belgium, sir, where they make the best beer in the world."
"Oh, that explains why you look so good for someone who is 52," Thomas said. 
I laughed. I like the Caribbean way of living... 

We also took diving courses in parrot's diving center. . Niv Silberman was our instructor. In the beginning I was a little bit scared. Underwater breathing is so weird. I know how it feels to be Darth Vader for sure! You also have to do some exercices, as to take your regulator (you breath through this thing) out of your mouth and exhale. I really thought: "no waaaaaaay. I am here... under water, hello? I am not planning to swallow the whole ocean"... but after some peptalk of the instructor and some other master divers (you've open water divers- advanced divers- master divers- assistant instructors- instructors...) I finally decide to go for it, so now...I am a certified open water diver. Bruce Willis Ruins All Movies. And that kind of things have now a double meaning for me. Open water diving is really exciting (apart from the fact that you know that you can swallow whole oceans, get decompression sickness, have to deal with the pressure, have limited time... and blablabla), you see a world you never saw before. I am not passionated, but I plan to do more dives... (and please... without sharks!!!). In the last evening, we celebrated our certificate with our new friends -the really funny couple Petra & Paul, and Ida- and went to Treetonic (or something... one of the hottests bars in the world, according to lonely planet... and in fact, it's really cool. You've to see it with your own eyes! the whole bar is a masterpiece!!) 

April, 30th- May 3rd: the horrible journey
 I already told you that I burnt my nose. Yeah, apart from that, I also moved out on the boat after diving (I miscalculated the weight of my tank. In the water you are kind of weightless... buoyancy blababla) and got a nice wound. The joke that I was bitten by a whale shark. That's one of the reasons why Niv always will remember me, Sarah said. Ok... I had some wounds... in the last days I got blisters everywhere, and kind of pimples... who all changed in wounds with yellow crusts. Also some liquid came from my wound. And in that condition I left Utila for Belgium. I really planned to see the docter asap when I was in Belgium... but ... I seemed cursed. The bus from La Ceiba to Guatemala City broke down in Copan, before the closure of the border. Fortunately -after I almost cried that I really had to be in Guatemala for my flight- they "found" a shuttle. I arrived earlier in Guatemala City than I expected, so I had to look for a hostel, because the airport opens at 4am, not earlier. So, I had to trust the taxidriver (who asked too much money) to bring me to an appropriate hostel... I paid quite a lot for the quality I got... but it was in the only safe quarter of the city. And that's the most important. Also my wounds didn't disappear, but more appeared. In the airport of Guatemala I heard that I was not in the database of the passengers, so i had to look for some people with a laptop to find my e-ticket, write every detail in my notebook and with the help of an old Canadian guy I forced the lady of the desk to give my ticket. I was in the database, but the line of my flight Guatemala-Miami was not complete. So finally... I got in Miami... where I heard that the flight has been delayed for another 20 hours. Great! I should see back my luggage in Brussels. Read: my first aid kid. So, I looked in the whole airport for a pharmacy... and the bloody Americans wanted to bring me to a hospital, where I should wait at least 4-6 hours before I can see a doctor. I preferred to sleep in a proper bed and went to my hotel (iberia paid of course, it's not my fault the staff delayed the flight). When the gay behind the desk saw my wounds on my leg (I showed him to explain that I need the first aid kit of the hotel), he almost fainted. In Madrid I looked for a doctor, who told me to go to the hospital in Belgium. He thought that I had a disease. In Belgium -30 hours later than expected- I went straight to the doctor (after my mother really got almost a heart attack by seeing my face) and he told me that I had impetigo. In the hospital I stayed for 3 days in an isolated room (the disease is very contagious... sorry fellow passengers!!!). I really hate baxters... and it's so weird to take a shower with a baxter, iron thing... and I didn't know that there was somethign as isobetadine soap. After 10 days treatment of antibiotics I am a very healthy girl, working on her master thesis about "sustainable management in national parks in Belgium", and dreaming about her world travel within 4 months.

from the world,
with love


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