Laguna Chicabal, a sacred volcano lake, or: How I Learned to Stop Being Impatience and Love the Slowness

The evening before our trip to Laguna Chicabal, we watched a cartoon called Zootopia. Don’t judge! When spending all day going to Spanish classes and trying to cram as many irregular verbs in your head as possible, we all need time to cool down our slowly sautéed brains. For those less educated in animated films, Zootopia is about Judy Hobbs, a rabbit from Bunnyburrow who tries to make it as a police detective in the big city.

Assigned a case about a dozen missing predators, Hobbs and her unlikely partner Nick Wilde, a red fox, head to the Department of Mammal Vehicles to have a plate run. Alas, the department is staffed entirely by three-toed slots which are stamping and stapling forms at a speed that would make the latter Pope John Paul II cringe. It’s easily the best scene of the film, and I laughed my head off. But Anete, as ever more prescient, asked: “Would you be laughing if it happened to you? Continue Reading →

9 Things to do in and around Xela, Guatemala

Xela has it – the city surprises people and attracts them to stay longer. Its architecture is grand, and life is bustling and exciting.

Chances are that, when you first arrive here from other parts of Guatemala or Belize, all you want to do is walk around and suck it all in. And walking in the city is excellent, every turn leads to a new square or a building that you didn’t even think could exist anywhere in Guatemala.

There are quiet little parks with a couple of benches to enjoy the sunshine, a theatre and big city squares that remind you of a mini Times Square. At least, if you have been away from big cities for a while. In the evenings it’s all lit up, and during the daytime, magnificent blue volcanoes frame the town. Continue Reading →

7 Things to do in and around Cobán, Guatemala – coffee, crocodiles and orchids

For most backpackers, Cobán is no more than a stopover on their way from the Guatemalan highlands to Semuc Champey, Tikal or Rio Dulce. But it’s not the worst place to stay for a couple of days. The capital of Alta Verapaz was our first proper stop in Central America with a slightly bigger city feel – sorry, Belize City, you don’t really qualify. We breathed in the cold mountain air and ended up staying for a week. These are our favourite things to do in Cobán. Continue Reading →

Climbing Tajumulco, Central America’s highest mountain

The young Dutch woman in our group plops down on a set of rocks next to the ninth station of the cross, titled Jesus falls for the third time. She huffs, puffs and curses everything, including herself. “Fuck, I should stop smoking! I can’t do it any more. How much further is it?” I’m too focused on my own breathing to experience any Schadenfreude. O wait, did I say breathing? Desperate gasps for air describes it more accurately. Continue Reading →