12 hours in Tikal, Guatemala: a plunge into the world of the Maya

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Anete and I sit on top of the second highest pre-Columbian structure in the Americas – Temple IV in Tikal, aka the Temple of the Double-Headed Serpent. Our gaze is directed eastwards, where a couple of stone colossi stick their necks out of the jungle. Minutes earlier, we’ve stared a spider monkey straight into the eyes. A couple of Olive-throated parakeets skim over the canopy. We remain on our throne for an hour – not speaking much, solely admiring the view. Anete tries to meditate, I climb up to the highest step of the staircase to check if the view gets even better. Any minute now, we’re expecting a group of tourists to join us, but they never arrive. We have Tikal all to ourselves. It’s a magical experience, a highlight of our trip through the land of the Maya. What a difference a day makes. Continue Reading →

Laguna Lachua, Guatemala: paradise on earth or unpleasantly smelly water?

Two pots of water are reaching boiling temperature in a dim hut. Five pairs of eyes are fixated on the pots, waiting hungrily for the first bubbles to emerge. There’s us and there is a Guatemalan family, smiling shyly. The Guatemalan mother opens a spaghetti package, throws its content in the water after which the package flies into the fire. Tom’s eyes grow big as plates: “No, don’t throw the plastic into the fire.” Two Guatemalan women look at him, then at each other. The father speaks some English and explains them in Spanish what Tom has just said. They all laugh. Continue Reading →

7 Things to do in Antigua Guatemala – a gem of a city in a country of cheap junk

The streets are dusty and charmless. Chicken buses squeeze themselves through the hospital corridor-sized streets of busy markets, whilst bus boys shout out destinations. Hawkers sell cold, mushy fries and breaded chicken, individual candies, fruits in plastic bags and bottled drinks that are kept cold in an ever-melting ice bucket. There are so many taco stands that you wonder if people eat anything else. At least they have a choice between beef and chicken. Music blasts through speakers at eardrum rupturing volumes. Shops don’t sell anything but Coca-Cola products and dozens upon dozens of different mini packages of corn chips. There are a million pharmacies and hardware stores, but not a single bookshop, nor a café where you can drink a non-instant coffee. Trash lies on every street corner. Continue Reading →

El Remate: the best sunset in Guatemala

The best things in life are for free and often I don’t take time to appreciate them. I have gotten accidental glimpses of the most amazing sunsets riding home on a city bus. Why didn’t I jump out of that bus, lay down a blanket and have a picnic while watching the sunset? Because I had no time.

It’s a bit different when I travel. In El Remate, the sunset became an event to look forward to. I made sure that my watch was accurate, bought a cheap beer and walked to the end of a pier to check it out. Sitting and talking on a little wooden bench with Tom, all of a sudden we fell quiet, realising that we didn’t need words, didn’t need movies, TV or any entertainment. Continue Reading →

Workaway at Finca Ixobel: how we became carpenters in Guatemala

We dab through the mud under a starry night when our tree house comes into sight. Soon, we can fall down onto our bed. And soon, we will enjoy the relaxing evening cabin life. Soon, yes, but not quite yet. Because all of a sudden, Anete says: “Damn, we forgot to fill our water bottles.”

Thus, we have to postpone our repose for half an hour and hike back to the main building in search of the necessary hydration. It is our reality at Finco Ixobel, as ours is the furthest tree house of the lot. Mundo Perdido, quite literally the lost world. Continue Reading →