Archive for January, 2010

bussing it again

I like to ride the buses here in central america – it is a place that i feel both relaxed and alive – on the different types of transport- even in north america i like to ride public transport – one of my idiosyncrasies.
I took my four buses and one boat to get from xela to san marcos de laguna and each experience differed and along the way i met many helpful people that helped to temporarily overcome the distrust that i sometimes feel here with talk of crime everywhere, and the few that try to gauge you – i think others go out of their way to prove that not all Guates are like that – and are more than helpful.
I left around 9 am – after a sleepless night full of bad dreams, and a nervous tension that had claimed me for days – went to the school said i was going – thankful to get a refund for the unused days – and felt bad about leaving the hotel as there were no problems there it was me – a note left for the woman who ran it – had paid for a week but only used 3 days.
worried about getting to the bus station as taxis are expensive in this country and was not sure of which microbus (the minivans that function as public buses) to take – but i walked down the street and found one at the corner that called out terminal and waited for me to cross the street – and helped me in with my huge backpack – it was not full yet. More got on, and then was crowded, the guy next to me offered to put my small pack on his lap – at first i was distrustful (the good old dont accept help from strangers) but my camera was buried at the bottom and all my cash was on my body, so i did – talked to him some and he was just being more than helpful. I got off the bus at the market – he and others helped pass my bags out and i was not sure if it was 1.25 or 1.5 quetzals so gave the latter and the bus helper (there is always a driver and a second person who takes payment, gets people off and on, calls out the desitination and handles baggage (which on chicken buses can mean climbinh in and off the roof while the bus is in motion)). A good feeling.
Had to cut through the market Minerva to get to the ¨terminal¨- a dirt parking lot with three lines of buses that passed through – did not know the time – the market was packed many cutting though to the buses, and produce and other goods being moved through on large dollies that took up most of the narrow dark walkway- all human traffic stalled as the wooden dollies tried to pass each other, bodies crammed to one side of the path, (i a head taller than the women and half a head taller than many of the men) – followed a few down a side aisle where veggies were being cut and prepared, then back to the main aisle having bypassed the traffic jam – after about 10 minutes i had passed through and came out into the sun and the busses – now to find the one to Pana (panajachel.)
A nicer bus was pulling out – calling guate, guate (guatemala city) it waited for me – i did not know if i had just missed the bus to pana which only ran every hour of two, i said no pana – he aqui, mas rapido – and that the bus for pana had left (it had not i later realized but it ended up ok) – i got on anyways – a nicer bus – more a pullman (and old greyhound type bus rather than an old school bus) – my big bag went underneath and i got on – a single reclining seat to myself – the curtains were drawn but i could see out the front window – stopped for a while at los caminos as vendors got off and on the bus, i heard the luggage compartment open but could not see out, about 10 minuted there as they hope for other passengers – the ride was quick and comfortable and you did not slide around as much – and the fare was the same as for the school buses and the ¨ideal¨ fare listed in the books. Again saw the good.
Changed buses at los encontros for the bus to pana – the helper called my at the stop and showed me which bus to take on the other side of the road – back to the school bus – this one only a plain yellow not painted with wild colours as many are. I crossed the highway ignoring the pedestrian walkway overhead as did all, and the bus was ready to go – solala they said – pana? si – would need to change again. Fairly empty – only 2 to most seats – almost all mayan rather than a mix or maya and ladino as on the previous bus. Wound down the narrower twisty road to the next town – got off at the end. Where to find the next bus i ask as we stop in narrow side street. One block down and 2 to the right they say – traffic heavy and i beat the bus to the corner. The block filled with police and others directing heavy traffic – i not sure whether to walk or not – ok i pass down but see no buses only crowded narrow sidewalks – i try to ask one or two – am ignored as they try to pass through (not sure if it was the language – for many maya in the country speak little spanish) another block and then the market and more cops directing traffic – it was market day but i wonder if there had also been an incident. Two buses with pana-solala pull in – i walk up to front – one departing and the most crowded but i have been on – three to a seat and others standing – as you hang off the seat on the edge, it is hard to let others pass through without standing – i have my daypack on my lap (main pack always on the roof) and the woman next to me has an infant – as i semi stand to let others though i try not to hit the baby with my pack – we talk a bit – thankfully only a twisty 8km. one man says sorry in english as he shuffles by in the aisle. Not sure where off – the end of the line i think – all so helpful – a woman (again 90% maya as on most of the chicken buses here) speaks to me in english.
I am in pana and then to the lancha – over crowded with no lifejackets -ran into Norman fron santa crus and i am there.

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I left the city yesterday – abandoned what i had started – and feel guilty but had been called to the course that i am about to take for years. I feel like a quitter, but i think the problem is that i had not listened to myself in the first place – ignored the hunches, feelings and callings, trying to supress them with endless amounts of caffeine, nicotine and sugar in the form of pastries. and so i left, and wonder about my decision – yet, the city began or continued to overwhelm – and i became a person who i do not want to be – nervous, stressed and increasingly critical and problem finding – could not admit what called – more practical to study spanish than meditation and esoteric philosphy, but the latter was what called me here in the first place. will i regret my decision – i do not know.

I had found a room in xela – a simple but decent cheap room in a quiet hostal run by a very nice mexican woman – a shared simple kitchen, a truly hot shower, and a courtyard, and the only other guest an italian woman working in xela – on a quiet side street near the centre of town. but nightmares and dreams, yearnings and callings kept me up at night.
I went to another spanish school – enrolled after shopping around more, walking the blocks, becoming increasing stressed and indecisive – but did not want to lose what i had started. The first day – a wierd feeling from my teacher and then the music began from the store on the street – loud heavy music and i could not think – it rattled my brain – and i know i am sensitive but it was too much. The noise of the city, the cars and pollution, the lack of green all closed in. I had to go – i dropped out and got a refund for 3 or the 5 days – paid for one day i did not attend. And i feel wrong – but i was becoming a nervous wreck. I want to keep the spanish i have learned, but i had to escape. Even the afternoon trip up to the natural steam sauna which relaxed me was not enough for i dreaded going back to the place. and though i miss the routine i know a new one will begin tomorrow and although i miss the familiar narrow cobble stone streets, the bakeries, the place i went for coffee and the book shop that i knew, it was to much – and maybe it should not be that was but it is – and i need to stop focusing on the shoulds – i should have this feeling (that i dont), i should like this, i should desire to engage in this etc – and hopefully here i will learn to listen to my being more – stop feeling bad and unacceptable because i walk to a different beat, and learn to walk to my internal beat because it is truly the only one that i have.

And here in san marcos i feel different but the critical energy still remains – the prices too high, a gringo enclave (i liked the fact that xela while having a gringo community was more intermixed, the maya, ladino and gringos interacting more, and it not being about tourism – could go to the market, ride the bus etc and be the only one while at the same time not being a strange sight – like leon in Nica, it is a real city, a lived city where people carry on their daily lives) and here it is a bit of an unreal zone, a hippy enclave, but hopefully has what i need for a moment though i know it is not the type of place where i am to live out my life. The 2 narrow walkways with the paths that join them that make up the lower town where i am and will be, the green and trees, but the lack of a market or a store. I hope i made the right decision.

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Central America is noisy. I have known that for a while, and before i came. I should not be surprised, for i remember my trip to Mexico three years back, and i found the same thing there. Since i am ultra-sensitive to noice i find i have a hard time, and want to , at times, hide away beneath the covers – like i did for a while today. I know it is part of the culture and the fabric of life – loud music in cafes, volume turned up on tvs and stereos – it is the way that it is – a culture of extroverts – somewhat though not sure about the indegenous population, but not really a culture for us spectacle wearing introverts. And in the city it gets to me – i feel the stress bubbles in my back – the nodules that grow firm when i feel under attack. And it is not just the city, for in the country it is there – the hotels and hostels with the bars, and the nightly parties and at times drunken voices, a place to party, let loose and enjoy, and it is not just here, for back home i noticed it too, every time i would return to a city – the hum of traffic in suburbs beside the highway, frustration at neighbours who could be heard through the walls, fear of renting a room in a wooden home due to lack of soundproofing and who will live there.
And at times it makes me want to cringe, to crawl inside to disappear, or overwhelms, breathing rapid and i cannot think. Or i begin to cry, can take it no more. Once i am asleep i can blot it out, so i try to sleep. Unfortunately, another sensitive area is my ears, i dont like them touched and i cannot stand to put anything in them – earplugs or those tiny headphones to create a world of my own. And how to cope with this i do not know. And here noise is so much a part of the culture.
I prefer the chicken buses, or 2nd class in other countries, for the 1st class or delux have movies shown, volume turned up full blast. A small parade, the van with the loudspeaker in front, like those vans or trucks that drive through many a town announcing events at full blare. An evangical church next to where i stay, the singing and service so loud the walls vibrate and rather than hear the word of god, i turn away and block my ears. Turn away from the celebration and from many. A restaurant the other night, as is often the case, the tv turned up, and the talk loud, could not concentrate on what was said – and it overwhelms. The building constructed out of concrete block around a courtyard, amplifying the volume. Even at home, the background noise of a tv or popular radio station can drive me almost to tears, crowds me out. And the confusion, of many at once, the bus terminals and markets where all shout out the destinations or their wares, but it is normal and welcomed. i become overwhelmed and all becomes a single blur – a cacaphony the individual sounds not made out. Do i need a monestary, a silent retreat – and i know i am over-sensitive, and while maybe i should not be, the fact is that i am.
A place in nature – here the hostels often lively at night – fun for a while, but it overwhelms,. and is not just the visitors – on Ometepe i remember the noise from the tiny home – a step above a shack where the tv is the prized possesion, turned up full blast, speakers set out, of the 20something son, who loved the heavy music in the afternoon when i wished a siesta miles from anywhere, or the truck in santa cruz down by the dock, the locals who waited and listened to music – who am i to complain – it is louder here – or maybe in another fashion – i do not know. But even when wwoofing in Canada, my dread of those who wanted the radio as we worked in the fields – i love the sounds of nature which can be loud, rain on a tent, the wind that howls, the roar of the ocean (which at times can overwhelm like frogs on the pond).
But to work with it – to find the balance and the peace.

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homestay – ill at ease

Part of me feels like a nervous wreck, and i know that i should not complain. My current homestay is in an upper middle class home with a nice family and good food. Yet i feel nervous – i don´t know how to act or what to do. Yes, some of it is cultural differences and language problems, but as i remember, some of it is also being in someone elses home and not knowing your role or understanding expectations – something that i am not very good at. Here they serve you – hide in your room, wait to be called for meals, not wanting to ask too much, help not really wanted and definitely not expected – there is a housekeeper for that and it is the womans role and i feel nervous. I was told by the school to expect a key, and when i asked i was given one, but then found out that the daughter no longer had one of her own and had to ring to get in. And to know what is polite, when to ask, when to accept and when to refuse – to say yes or no to an offer of more food, or to ask for more toilet paper for the bathroom
And where i am the tv is loud and the radio and i feel out of place and it intensifies for i am often not comfortable around others, and because of that i know i am not the ideal guest – i cannot relax. And it is hard after the bad experience of 2 days in the previous place, and i wonder about my perceptions.
Today i met a woman from school – actually her last day was my first, only saw each other briefly but exchanged emails and then bumped into her this morning as i went into the central park with my mcdonalds coffee (only place open on a sunday morning – my family did not serve coffee) and she had left my old place the day i arrived, and we compared notes – she just had to get out of that homestay, and has found a room and left the school and talking to her i know my feelings were not solely my own. However, she had not had to go through it by herself – another girl – also left the school – was there with her, so could share the experience.
My current place is nicer but i am ill at ease – something i have heard others say about families – some bond easy, but other times it is so hard – being served, a paying outsider, and not knowing. I think of wwoofing in the past, and i dont think i will do the family thing again – to accept the fact that i am socially awkward, and not try to fight it, to live with it and accept it, and choose environments that suit me more, and not feel that i have to be a certain way – a way which i am not.
And in the homestay, i slept long, partly because the morning air is cool so you lay under the covers for as long as possible, and also because you do not know what to do before breakfast, hide in your room, like at night – a good night, and your room is nice, better than most cheap hotels you might find yourself in, but you do not feel free to be you – yes some do, but not i. And in my bed, still a bit drained, the tears and emotions overcome – my difficulties with language, and of trying to become what i am not – focusing on compensating for shortcomings, or seeking out areas that are hard for me – but which i should enjoy – like group activities and a large social scene – instead of accepting who i am and playing on my strengths. A few more days with the family -i fee that i will not bond though the woman is so sweet, and the little girl – dulce – is so cute and precocious.
It is difficult conforming to another place – and while language gets in the way – it is not new- i was nervous about beginning it, glad i tried, but to move off on my own again next week – yes practicing spanish is good, but when one is stressed one learns less, and throughout my life i have found staying in other´s places stressful, yet i have no place to call my own, a place to breathe and unwind.

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It has been several days since i have written – recovering from a bout of tourista and i feel drained – emptied out – not only of my bowels but of myself. And i find the energy of the city intense and want to block it out – resisting what is here.
My bus journey of 5 days ago seems like another lifetime – riding the chicken bus up the americana from Antiqua – a more touristy city, but much smaller, crammed 3 to a seat in a school bus, holding on as the bus swings around the many twists and turns over mountainous landscape hoping not to fall into the aisle or into your neighbours lap. Yer, it seems that was the last time i felt calm and at peace.
Dont get me wrong – xela is a nice city, narrow streets that are thankfully labelled as the diagonals mess up the grid system of avenidas and calles. And streets that are thankfully one-way as at times the traffic, some belching black fumes that clog the nostrils is heavy on the narrow streets with the even narrower sidewalks. And some historic buildings remain in the centre around the park, buildings that have withstood time. and it is a place with a nice balance of ladinos, maya and gringas, the latter mainly language school students like y self or volunteers, and all go about their lives and the boundaries are more fluid here – not the separation i have seen elsewhere.
I arrived into the terminal late Tuesday afternoon, a dirt lot full of school buses next to the market minerva on the edge of town. I had felt off that morning and the morning before and a little the morning before but i made the trip in one piece. I had already delayed my trip by one day as i had felt wiped out and slightly off the day before. In Xela, i Took a bus (a local mini-bus – really a large van) into town and a woman showed me to one of the places i had been considering – which is good – for in this town i have gotten misplaced more than once – a rarity for me. The place – casa argentina was cheap but not too clean, and that night the movement began, and in the morning i shit my pants. Still that day i dragged myself out of bed and did more language school shopping, visiting different schools, trying to get the feel for each because on paper the programs and costs are so similar and i became overwhelmed with decisions – which is best, which is right for me, had several recommendations from others, and a few criticisms, my head spun a bit, the traffic and air pollution seemed more intense as the chill of the morning turned to the heat of midday – yet i picked one, based on my first impression and paid the 150 for a week with homestay and started on Thursday. I barely ate all day as my stomach churned and returned to sleep at 6pm. I slept for a few hours, and then was up every hour to run to the bathroom without toilet paper using up my own stash of kleenex and paper (and flyers from tourist companies) in the cold of the night. Dreams were intense as i felt a demon grab at me and want to coming crawling out of the self, tongue sticking out, hands as claws ready to attack the world. My skin felt itchy – was i getting bedbugs? A low fever? My stomach churned as never before and ever hour the soupy brown liquid spilled from my body. Should i sleep in and miss school, can i get a refund? I went to school.
The owner was nice, went to a local pharmacy (they are everywhere and you rarely need prescriptions) -bought some rehydrating powder, drank it and felt better – not well but better – still i blanked at the placement test, and much of my poor grammar flew out the window. Still i did not want to wander or go back to where i had stayed or look for another hotel. It got calmer and better, but as we sat on the rooftop terrace in the sun to combat the morning chill (the concrete buildings hold in the cold so it is often colder inside than out in the day) and as the sun intensified it became too much. Went inside and got through my lesson-
Got to my homestay after class – an old woman in a depressing place – but i was tired and gave it a try – my room was large and the bed did not sag. I forced down the soup of leftover pasta, overcooked veggies and a piece of chicken and went to sleep. a hard sleep where the creases in the sheets that i wound around myself marked my body. Went for a walk -felt a bit better – but bought antibiotics anyways- the heavy duty ones that travellers usually carry pricey here but still less than at home – but decided to wait. Got more suero the rehydrating drink, ate some cake, and went back feeling overwhelmed by traffic and craving green, walking a bit on the uneven sidewalks. Dinner was slightly more palatable – until after i went into the kitchen – kitchens are often small and dark here, and food is left out more than in our over-cautious society, but the floor was grungy and i felt gungy – still i was exhausted and went to sleep for the night – or once again until 348 am where my stomach started up and i began my trips to the toilet. My dreams were almost as intense at the night before.
Took a pill the next day and felt better though not well. Could focus in class, though felt out of kilter. The afternoon returned for lunch and a nap and a much needed hot shower (yeah) for i had sweated the night before. Not sure if it was the pile of blankets (it gets down to around 5C/40F with no such thing as indoor heat in concrete buildings) my stomach acted up again. Got a glass to mix my drink and the dirt overwhelmed – dishes were done, but it was the collecting grime of many years on the floors and walls and the cupboards and food dropping and food onthe floor – the dirt of an old person who no longer sees or notices, i looked more my room, bed was clean, table was dusted, but old tile floor was dirty as was the moldings on the walls, the bathroom mirror – i had to leave.
Walked around- wanting nature but finding none.
At night went out to dinner with the school – a friday tradition at most schools – cook together or go out on fridays- at beef but that night my stomach was improved. Still in the resto i felt overwhelmed by the noise -something that i notice more and more, it makes me a bit crazy but that will be another entry – the discomfort in crowds and cities and sensitivity to noise.
Today a new home – much richer – very nice room and home (even by north american standards – though got picked up in a ¨beater¨a 1970s panelled station wagon – but it is a family that owns a car), good food – similar but better prepared and clean – not perfect – but clean. Still i realise that i am not comfortable in family situations – my old problem of not knowing what to do or how to act that has always plagued me – a very nice family but i feel awkward. more about that later. And then before lunch the stereo began, and it is one of those latin american homes with a central court where all bounces off the walls and intensifies. Still nice.
I should not complain – for i am grateful – yet i am tired and emptied out. Wish to exercise but so low energy and the energy around is so high.

Still, this illness makes me appreciate good health and energy – something that i have been lacking and that i failed to appreciate when it was there. and it begs the question how much do i fail to appreciate and show gratitude for – for i know that god looks after me and has helped to knock me down for in my criticism i have fallen off the path – though i also wonder is it because i have fallen off the path that i have become more critical and what is the relation between the two. And i failed to live fully each day and now though my bowels have calmed i still lack the energy to do so – to climb a volcano or go to the hotsprings or book a tour. I will walk and nap and be thankful for all and try not to get overwhelmed by the city energy outside.

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The earth shook today

The earth shook today, and i feel that the energy has changed – something in the air or in the earth that has been released – something that feels different, and i wonder if there is more to come.
I had overslept this morning, was to take the chicken bus to Xela (Quetzaltenango) but lay in my bed in that in between zone that has claimed me of late, and i puttered, had breakfast, and was packing up, standing in the dorm talking, wondering if i wanted to take the journey, feeling it is time for another place, but not wanting to deal with the getting there, so chatting with a girl from ireland around 10am, the wall to my left shook, thought that someone was banging on it, something had fallen, looked at each other and started to talk, and then the walls around started to shake, we stood chatting, i think this is an earthquake, not moving or doing anything, just watching the walls, then hit us to step out of the room into the courtyard and then it stopped. Sat in the courtyard chatting to the woman who owns the hostel – not one that strong in a while she said, mini quakes are frequent here in this city, but that was strong, the volcanos around, we get alot. Still, this was something, we stood there for a while and knew nothing more so went back in. Was later, so stayed another night.
Went outside later, a guy had looked it up, was a 6.0 and i was surprised that it was that strong, first real quake i have felt (have experienced small tremors a few times) and while the building shook, nothing was destroyed – and then i learned it was near the montericco, which is a beach town on the Pacific – so it was not related to the volcanoes, and was a deep quake what ever that means.
So the energy feels different. In this seismic zone, often surrounded by volcanoes, and having come from an area that had been devastated by a hurricane a few years back, and in all cities i have been in, seeing the remnants of historic shells, churches etc destroyed – often multiple times by quakes, and knowing that so much has been knocked down and rebuilt – or not, i have been conscious of the earth´s movement. many nights as i lay in bed, quiet before sleep sets in, i have felt a slight rocking or shifting of the earth, like being in a boat on a calm sea, and now i believe that it was nt my imagination, for the earth is alive here.
Last week as i was walking around, a few large churches which i visited, but they only shells of what stood before, the ruins you can visit at the back of the cathedral on the main square, at the back of the san fransisco church and old convent and those that stand as reminders around the town. How little permanency all has. And having come up through the zones, cartago s many cities in costa rica, managua without a centre, everywhere. And of course the shock of Haiti last week, a country where you expect more natural and human disasters, but nt a quake, and that was a shock and brought it more to mind – especially since i had finally seen the movie 2010 a few nights before.

But the quake was good, as we all were saying, a release of the energy contained inside, as tremors are helpful, not let it build up, release it slowly, but how much is t go. I still have not been up the volcan pacaya, where you can see the lava flow, a bit less close these days as there are more rocks shooting out.

The earth shook today, and it will shake again, and i believe i will feel it. And now the air feels more alive, intense, like after a lightning storm, when the crackling breaks the heat and stillness of the sky.

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I am back in Antigua as i write this – fled the lake yesterday, and not knowing where to go, or being stuck in an energy vortex of sorts, one that i had to pull myself out of, wonder if i should have but i did.

Lake Atitlan was supposed to have been wonderful, a place of spirit a place of growth, but in the end i found it was a place where i could not be still, indulged, saw the beauty of the mountains, water, evening clouds, and it is a land of seekers – and i found myself seeking and not finding. the critic coming out, feeling removed from all i saw and felt – it was supposed to be one of the best places, but i left feeling disappointed and alienated from all – questioning my role here on earth, not liking what i was doing or what i have done.

The lake as i wrote earlier has many towns and villages connected by boat, and each has a different feel, yet in some ways there is a similarity. I like most first arrived in panachel, the transportation gateway, the place where most shuttles take you, the main gate to the outside world. It is a tourist zone, like most of the lake, with restos and travel agencies and mayan linens and crafts lining the main street – cheap food and hotels – thought of staying there my last night but i did not – should have – would have been cheaper now that i realize just how little money i have left. There is a town, refreshing a bit after the ¨village¨where i stayed – but the whole thing feels so temporary and as all the guide books say it has not developed beautifully – a park down by the water but one where you cannot sit without being peddled scarves or bracelets or necklaces or blankets, and cheap restos with good views where they all try to call you in – i should not be critical but i am. Maybe i should have spent the night there – would have made moving on easier but i am tired of moving on. An ex-hippie not just tourist town.

I stayed in Santa Cruz where the expats had the lakefront – the few hotels, dining-in more connected to reality where i was as the main dock was there, It feels so far away now – reminded me of the oregon coast in a way – a retirement community yes, ex artists, hippies etc who made money and live there now in nicer houses, but the seperation of them and the mayan community immense – it is the latter that does the work, and i feel that i do no work, and want to but do not have a place to. A community art gallery opening, the art that i seen elsewhere – my eyes are jaded. At the hostel people nice but several canadians who let it be known how superior they were to americans and questions of career and what do you do and i the old lady on the backpackers side – no longer see myself as one, yet too young to be a retiree.

I went to San Pedro – the other bigger town on the other side of the lake – the one where you get off the lancha and the first thing you see is a sign saying the buying and selling of drugs is illegal though as you walk though the lower town – by the water – where the small hotels, bars, restos and language schools are connected on a narrow twisting street and a dirt path by the water – you feel that not all obey the sign – a bit of a grungy feel among the interesting menus and patios. I am gone from there and i cannot explain. Up the steep hill, the regular town, with the market, a church, traffic, people, mainly maya, selling fruits and veggies on the road, and the small dark shops with the junk food and goods. And i did not feel part of the place, visited a few language schools, with the desks set out on patios or lawns, but did not see.

San Marcos i also wrote about – the holistic healing village with the narrow paths in a jungle like setting.

The lancha rides across the lake in the afternoon, when the lake got choppy, only one childs life jacket on board one of them – the lanchas the one place all go ride in the same boats sit on the same benches.

In some ways i felt like i had gone home to the west coast – yes a lake rather than an ocean, but that feeling of not belonging returning though i chatted with several people. was it being in a contained environment, a low brow resort, a group environment, that i cannot relate to, the nervousness i feel in groups, the nt getting the chit chat and more, or of an opening or a party never knowing what to say or how to act, not really enjoying them when surrounded by those that do.

Did i draw the boundary around me – yoga three days that i was there but i only joined in one day – felt awkward in a downward dog or a twist, as the locals around did the work, and there is more that praying and meditating. As i change my clothes as the sun goes down, and the temperature along with it, novels of the british in south africa, or whites in the south on their plantations – changing several times a day and for dinner – come to mind. And i wonder, is this not just a new form of colonialism that i am engaging in. And other questions – in north america we often complain that those who come from Mexico or further south, cling to their language – and their ways and people, forming sub-communities –  but what do i see here – a tight knit gringo community, employing some locals but also foreigners, speaking english, clinging to more holistic, alternative north american and european ways, providing some emplyment, but driving up prices and buying the best land, and how much money stays in the area, how much is put back in – and how many of the local ways are adopted and to what extent to the expats blends in and to what extent can they – yes some community projects, and an appreciation fr the maya – assistance a bit with development – but how many times do i here ¨why dont they….¨especially when it cmes to environmental concerns. So confusting, conflicting emotions – a new paradise, found, bought and used up? i dont know 

I wanted to go home. but the alienatin i had felt has returned big time. disconnected but did i just shut it out. An observer of what goes on.

In antigua i felt a little at ease for a while but as i tried to sleep to the nightclub outside i felt like i had entered Babylon again, the drunken cries, and the good life gone bad – the three groups intermingle a bit more here – the grings there are many, the well healed from the city (guatemala city) on the weekends, and the maya – not all who just sell. I walk the town, use the internet, go to see a film.

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