Alegría, El Salvador: The road to happiness leads through hell

I know that most travel blogs are just a glorification of all things travel. And I understand. Travel is magical, most of the time. Besides, no one really cares about the time you spent on a bus to get to that picture-perfect waterfall. Yes, it’s annoying when the bus is four hours late and when you’re squeezed between a box of chickens and a man with a body odour that’s considered a biological weapon by the United Nations. But just don’t go on about it. You’re not in the office sweating over some report that has to be filed by noon. You’re not hungry. You’re a privileged fucker on his way to a picture-perfect waterfall. So just accept it and shut up about it – the bus, the chickens, the body odour. If you can’t stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen. 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 →

7 Things to do in and around San Ignacio, Belize – gateway to jungle, caves and Maya temples

Back when we spend five weeks weeding on the Stardust Sanctuary Farm, 3 kilometres out of the nearest small village, San Ignacio was our go-to metropolis. Don’t get me wrong, San Ignacio is in no way a big city. Coupled with twin Santa Elena, the city barely has 20.000 inhabitants. Despite its small size, visitors will not be bored. Here are 7 things we really enjoyed in San Ignacio. Continue Reading →

Hiking in the Cuchumatanes near Nebaj: lessons about the horrors of the Guatemalan civil war

“I was 2 months old when I lost my father. He was killed by the army.”

We haven’t yet properly met, only exchanged names and pleasantries when Francisco, our ever-smiling guide, drops a bomb on our path. A muddy path at that, because we have just set off for a two-day hike through the Sierra de los Cuchumatanes, the highest non-volcanic mountain range in Central America. We have left Nebaj, the biggest city in the Ixil Triangle, one hour earlier on a chicken bus that dropped us off in a village so small that it surprised me that it is even on any chicken bus schedule. Continue Reading →

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 →