Archive for the ‘guatemala’ Category

I have crossed into Mexico. I did so yesterday via the back route from Flores to Palenque on another 8 hours journey via shuttle, boat and collective, through the back roads of El Peten to Bethel, a few minutes up the river, and then a collectivo to here, in land where hills return, many of them reminding me of pyramids and making me wonder what they contain.

While the crossing was yesterday, i felt like i was in Mexico when i entered into El Peten, the flat lowlands of northeast Guate, and had to keep reminding myself in Flores, that yes, i was in Guate and not Mexico. Had my mind left already onto my next destination, or are national borders misleading, not representing the borders between zones. For El Peten was very different from the other locations where i had been in Guate, and reminded me more of the Yucatan in Mexico, and Flores is at the crossroads, people travelling in and out from Mexico and Belize. The land was low, flat and hot, so hot. And the women in traditional Mayan costume disappeared, replaced by those in ¨regular¨ clothes, and the road was straight, and the homes had awnings, and many, even in rural areas, were painted, not the grey that dominates so many indigenous peublos in Guate – at least in my memories. And once in Santa Elena, the road was wide, and just seemed Mexican. And in Tikal, or perhaps it was that i had seen other ruins on my previous visit to mexico. I don´t know

And driving to the border, stopped in small town, mainly men to be seen in the early morn, a reverse of the usual woman filled towns, and through villages where dogs, chickens and pigs wandered down the dirt road on which we drove, oh so slowly. Isolated, few trucks or buses or collectivos around, a flat land, full of fatter cows grazing, with the white birds that accompany them. Woos homes with dirt yards and laundry hanging spread out, a papaya farms . As we approach the river, some hills, finally some texture to the landscape.

It was peaceful – i felt calm though i know this corner is used to smuggle both people and drugs to the north and there were only 5 of us in the shuttle. Get exit stamp from guate then enter the in between zone of the river that divides the two countries – exited one but not yet entered the other – on the river on the narrow lancha as clouds became thicker. Land on the other side and walk up the hill to get new stamp – out of guate, of the C-4, into a new huge country. Didn´t seem that much different,

Drive the lonely road in a collectivo – now not just us 5 gringas who got on in Flores – some locals just off another lancha, The driver stops, talks to man in back, do you want to get out, they go outside, just up the road a checkpoint, and the family in the back seat is sent back south, decided not to go for it on the road. A few more check points on the road, some immigration, some military,  – were none on the other side, the flow is northwards, a baggage check several kms up the road, cursary, dont check main bags, dont seem to care, put in face time, a brief glance, but that is it.

The town of Palenque is more north american then i remembered – signs, organized bus terminals with shiny buses and more.

Where is the border really and what does crossing mean. Yes, entry into a new nation, one with new possibilities. But we draw borders in our minds, and to cross over can be stressful . I always nervous with border crossing – will i be let in and for how long. In my dreams there has often been a bridge that i could not cross, but i did a while ago. And this border is only a river, a dirt road on one side, and up river a paved road on the other. But once you cross, can you turn back on the journey. What does the border represent. Who put it there and why. And how many borders do we have in our minds.

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I walk in this small town of Flores, a day of relaxation and sinus clog. It is a tiny circular island and i walked its perimeter several times today. Coming to Tikal and the last place on my journey, i was going somewhere new, to places i had never been, have taken longer walks in the ruins and in the park of semuc champay, the walking i had been yearning for, but in each it was a somewhat circular route, both times at the end returning to my favorite place before leaving, returning to what was known. And while these are new locations, in the past week and a bit i have been on the traveller route again, visiting, and seeing, and interacting with other travellers, but am i just going in circles, returning to a familiar way of being. Or am i somehow creating a spiral. I am not sure.

Tomorrow morning i head off to Palenque – in Mexico – a place i visited three years ago, a place i have wanted to return to, but is it a circle, going back to what is known?
And yes it will be different, i will see it through different eyes, and the eyes of memory which influence what we see, as returning to a place brings back memories forgotten, memories of a time ago.

And i wonder if i was right abandoning the process of change at las pirimides though it did not feel safe – or am i continuing a journey of growth. For in leaving there i initially returned to places i had been, not travelling on in a line (however crooked or meandering) as many do on their journey through the Americas. For i have back-tracked much, and ended up in a few loops – loops that i create – the urge to go back to the familiar rather than push forward to the knew. And how much of it is the process of growth at play and how much of it is retreat.

For i think of my journeys back and forth canada, east to west and back, and across the us and up and down the west coast and my desire to go home not having a home, but to go back to what was known and did not serve. and now i am due to go back to the usa in just over 2 weeks and i hesitate, do not have a place to return to and do not have a drive to go to a certain place. Yet i craved the west for so long, and now i see it differently as i remember some of my time there.

And i think of when i went back to santa cruz on the lake, only for one night, comfortable, saw it in a new light and came alive, and then was glad to leave, felt my time there was done. Then a third return to Antigua, like my second, because i did not feel ready to take a leap into the unknown, the backroads and as i felt a bit ill that morning. When i got back there the town felt right, and in the first two days i discovered new places, the ruins of a church and a museum, a few new parks, and some new churches with ornate facades. But then i got into my wandering, and paced back and forth through the town trying to make a decision on where to go next, collecting too much information and delaying my departure by a day, retreating to old behaviours and in that losing the high zone i had felt myself in.

And how often do i return to old behaviour, ingrained patterns, which come up in a place. And while my last day there i felt that i had worn it out, i must remember that less than 2 months ago it was unknown. And why do i run back to the familiar, crave the known, not move forward, retreat, for that is what some of it feels like, a comfort, and there did not branch out and climb the volcano.

Is it that i leave before i am ready, that i cannot let go, or that there is something i need to grasp before i leave.

Tomorrow i go to Mexico, a country where i have been before if only for a week or so. Is it a new part of the journey, will i take my flight out of Guate and thus do a loop, or will i press northwards to where i wanted to be, but now am no longer sure. I feel different than when i arrived in Costa Rica months ago, so maybe it is a spiral.

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i made it to Tikal today – the ruins in the middle of the jungle with tall temples rising up high, visible above the canopy from above. It was quiet there, few people on the grey day (which thankfully kept it cool) – the sounds of birds and the rare howler money could be heard as i and then with the people i met strolled the forest paths from group to group. Even the central plaza was quiet and empty as i climbed the temples to observe the scene below. It was wonderful but also made it hard to imagine the city in its prime – full of people, probably mainly deforested, and noisy i am sure. The life that exists there now is different from what was before, over a thousand years of existence, and now only partially reclaimed from the forest. The temples large, but with little decoration or sculpture – at least that remains.

The area that spoke to me the most was the Mundo Perdido, the lost world, with its large pyramid (rather than temple that were in the other groups) dating back to 500 bc. I came from the backside, seeing a hill, and a bit of exposed stonework at the top, ¨hey, this must be a pyramid¨ i said, i climbed down from my perch and walked around, and on the other sides it was exposed, it was. And it made me think of the pyramid shaped hills i has been seeing over the past few days. And as we walked around the main excavated area, we saw many more hills, which were structures, still unearthed, and others partially exposed.

And i began to think about how many sites of previous people there are, as yet Undiscovered and unknown to us. There are so many smaller sites, and so much of even Tikal that needs to be explored. And how rich is this land, not only in Guate, but all around the americas and elsewhere in the world, discoveries of previous cities, found, and how many have been built over, and what secrets does the earth hold. What have we forgotten, and what has existed before, only to be covered over and forgotten, only to be called up from the jungle or forest or lands again, and what knowledge and spirits and memories are enclosed in the land. And what does it mean that we have ¨found¨them again, and what are we calling forth in reclaiming them.
In Lanquin, where the land felt dear to me, a special edenesque feeling, i noticed that the lower hills in the valley reminded my of pyramids, so many of them, with a special feel, mainly uninhabited, and i wondered if they were in fact ruins, and i think it is more and more possible that they could have been. There was a feel to the place. And in the river, near Semuc Champay stood a stone with a face, and it looked so much like the stella in these sites.
And it is possible that people lived and built so many more places than we know now, for after all, what is known today is different that 100 or 200 years ago. And on the long bus ride here, between coban and sayaxhe, there were more of these hills, not only in the mountains but going into the lowlands, and i sat staring out the window wondering what lay beneath.
For what we know is only partial. and at tikal, with many partially reconstructed temples and buildings, we have made interpretations based on what we have found and know. And likewise with the sculptures. We dont really know what was there for sure, we can only imagine as far as our imaginations will stretch – Tikals heyday was at least 500 years from 400-900 ad, though it existed for so much longer with new structures built upon old, and changes made. And it was only known to the outside world in 1848.
And what will people make of our ruins, a discussion of north american homes with the large ornate bathrooms and kitchens, toilets as fountains or home temples, and the eco-construction in a few in guate – with plastic bottles filled with plastic garbage used as filler in concrete walls etc.
The land is rich with what is not known and there is so much that has not come into our vision or consciousness. What is really hidden below.
I walked the site with some others, in the jungle, nature reclaims and all changes, the natural and human (or beyond human as some will say) lives both, an interplay, and i climbed up the temples to look below at the jungle stood below looking up, different perspectives, and looked onto the central plaza from the north and south, and from the highest temple, number 4, only the peaks of the other main temples were visible, but was once afforded a view of the entire city.
And it is an amazing site – but still today was the first dat is over 6 weeks that i have not been surrounded by the mayan women in native dress who live today, only saw 2 – with families as tourists, snapping photos as well, all is change and so much is unknown – how many civilizations are still lost and how many of those hills are buried structures. I wonder if a piramid really exists under lake atitlan (see previous entry) I will stretch my mind forward and past and now.

(photos to come)

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I feel that i have reached a corner of the garden of Eden, or one of its semblances here on earth. I took my camera out again yesterday, in new location, though the internet is very slow and i will not be able to upload anything for some time.
I am in Lanquin in the centre of Guatemala, a beautiful place, the most beautiful i have been to for some time. and yesterday i went to Semuc-Champey a place that i have been hearing about on my travels and it is a beautiful as the people say though the sky was grey all day.
Words do not do justice to this place – green, green, green, a river here at the hostel in lanquin, mountains of trees, and some bare with the greenest grass and cows grazing. More tropical – bananas, corn and lush trees. The sound of birds, and yes mosquitoes. You feel embraced by the mountains, gentle and giving, rich with life, saying yes to live, nuturing.
Ride in the back of the truck to Semuc Champey – 9km down narrow good dirt road, i smile constantly even passing though the town. Every curve has amazing vista and it feels good to stand and feel the moist fragrant air on the face. pass through town and the along road a few simple homes, with thatched roofs, and dirt yards amongst trees, bananas, coco, fruit and of course corn.

I did not do the tour – I walked alone, yes alone on the trails and it felt wonderful – commune with nature – quite in the morning, a few others were in the park, but i sat by the river and the rapids below the pools and small waterfalls by myself just communing with nature, then up by the aqua pools with little fishes, amongst the ferns, the mountains shapely, a group came through, and another, crossing over the shallows, rock formations and more rapids above. I did not swim but the water kissed my feet.
I Hike up to the mirador. Up and up, on good trail few people, little caves, rock formations, two monkeys playing in the tree, The view down below actually looked like the one in the brochures, it is quite here and the rocks speak to me.
I walk back to the pools – more here not, and out by the river and to the parking lot to wait for my truck back to the hostel. Kids sell homemade chocolate, and a guy sells fruit – o eat mango. I walk back to the bridge, past maya working in corn fields, a guy with a machete, and walk out onto the bridge, look up river, a few dive off a large boulder, and the one below has a face.
The drive back as magical as the drive there – duck for a few branches as we pass another truck on the roads.
Today i went to town – lanquin – small but with market today – trucks and tuktuks (and the few SUVs and collectivos (make their way around the people – i one of a handful of gringos – mainly maya – and the dogs and the occasional chicken and as i walk out of town the pig( An old church – packed to the brim mainly woman and the service in the native language (though most also speak spanish(. the town condensed – a few tiendas, the trucks, churches, school, other stores, internet cafes, ans a few restos – the sky is still grey but it is so green, a new vista in every direction, hills and valleys, small farms and trees. Lush, lush, lush.

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I had a long bus trip the other day – from Antiqua to Lanquin – over 8 hours – on a shuttle that ran from place to place and it was wonderful and i remembered why i like riding buses. For me it is a meditative practice. You sit in your seat – and i always try to get a window seat – and let the landscape pass by – letting it pass through – simply observing – as you ideally do with thoughts in a sitting meditation. You have nothing else to do for the time you are there, yes, you may be able to chat with others or read a book or something, but it is nicest to pass through, engaged in the journey and not merely the destinations.

 And on a bus ride, especially on twisting mountain roads, you cannot cling to what is there, for it is constantly changing, you turn a corner, and what you passed through is no longer visible, and on a journey you have not taken before, you do not know what lay ahead, what is on the road between you and your destination. And often there are delays, especially on the roads in Guatemala, and there are crazy drivers, and the trip always involves some element of risk, but you have faith that you will arrive. And you look and pass through, still – at times you drift away, into memories, stories, plans, worries, sleep, but then you look outside and see what is there. And here in Central America the landscape changes quickly.
The shuttle drove around Antiqua for over half an hour from hostel to agency to budget hotel, picking up people, going around in circles, circles i had walked many times and you wondered if you were ever going to leave. A feeling i have had before. You get on the road to Guate, the road you passed through on the first day in this country, so green then, still green, but seeming more built up – car shops, restos, buildings, people. It takes over an hour to cross the city, wide boulevards chock full of traffic, trucks – a few with armed guards visible, buses, cabs, cars, people walk along, it is busy and confusing, a pick up at an exclusive hotel in zona 10, armed guards and security, all alert with machine guns on the streets here, protecting the rich, then back out the other side of the city, traffic lessens, you think of the danger for a minute, you watch as the shuttle chugs up a hill. The land is drier, you head out along the road for the Caribbean, longer to the turn off than you thought, construction – people selling drinks and food where the blocks are. Enterprise central american style. Not flat yet, thankfully you turn north again before the flat lands, you see the litter on the side of the road, at times noticing it more than others.

The land is barer, lower, much cleared and logger. The earth seems like lifeless dirt. Scrub, corn, then for a while almost desert with cacti, You climb again after a break, a chance to pee and eat, traffic less on way up to Coban, you see the signs for biosphere de quetzal, the land is still dry, as you climb, the pine trees return and the road twists, life is coming back. you watch it all pass through, at times passing into judgement, i like, i don’t like, and then return to stillness. It twists more now, vistas, you look and admire,

You pass through coban, on the outside of town where malls and chains exist and then through narrow streets of centre, trying to look more, will you stop back there, another central american town narrow sidewalks full of people, mayan dress different here, the blouses of another type, vendors and the like, you do not go past the central square. You pull out, back to the green, lusher here – the sky has been blue all day. Relieved to be back out on open twisty road, stop for break and then adventure begins, road narrows to languin and semuc champey- all is lush, so lush, you feel like you have reached heaven, you smile at each turn in the road, mountains softer, kinder, greener, you stare out, smiling, looking, narrow road as you branch off again, calm – a day spent on the bus – others say wasted in travel but for you it is a journey. You arrive, happy to stretch your legs, and eat. Mind calm –  you  are not where you  began, yet you are in the same  seat,  you have  journeyed in the present, and a  slice  of the  world had passed through you.

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i escaped the clutches of the lake, or that is the way it feels. Felt it dragging me to its depths at times, to that which lay below and within. At times it shown brightly at me, like the day i watched the sun or something sparkle upon it, in lines and geometric designs and across the shore, lighting up strands of light in the morning sun. I would visit it several times a day and it would reveal its mood to me, at times still and calm in the morning, other times dark and choppy, in the afternoon. Still there was something powerful there, something that left me ill at ease, and unsettled energy, and something revealing its depths. A wierd swirl? A container? A vortex? or just me?

It was an old volcano, and i saw one at the bottom, something down there something waiting, coming up, something more. She, the woman who runs las pirimides meditation centre, had asked us to visit the pyramid at the bottom of the lake, one that exists in another dimension. While i never visited it, in any type of travel, i believe and felt there was something profound there. But as i said in my previous blogs, something about the energy of the place felt out of kilter, and brought up alot in me. Or was it the town of San Marcos, or the centre of Las Pirimides, or my room or me or as i believe a combination of both. And the lake, surrounded by mountains and several volcanos in the mountains itself acted as a container, for the energies above and below and within.

The lake has become polluted, still used for swimming and irrigation and water and more, and the algae bloom that threatened it had died down but it is not clean, the water no longer pure. and it is not just the physical effluent that comes into it front the towns and villages that surround, but also the psychic effluent that comes in, from the history of the place, and from those who come to clear their energy, or party and live hedonistic lives, dumping it into the lake, and it has become magnified. Depending on the day, you can feel both. But there is also something more.

My world shattered as i stayed at the centre one where i feel that the energy has been removed from and the critic in me came out. The place seemed off kilter too, and it ws not just i who was – the garden seemed to lack life, the plants did not seem vibrant through in the main area the foliage was bright. And i felt caged of sorts, the lush plants blocked out the sky – both the sun and the stars – a mini-world from which you did not look out. The energy of the retreat, exploring through yoga, metaphysics and meditation, encouraging one to crawl inside while reaching for the light, and crawl inside i did – at times to my room, a larger dark room, with a single low watt lightbulb, stone floor, wood walls, and windows that faced an outside wall, i would crawl into that world, hiding beneath the covers in my cocoon, creating another container.

At times i would sit on my bed, watching the flame of the candle, making designs, beems of light in star formation, sending the light to me, or angels in the flames or pairs dancing, or a pane of ochre yellow with primitive designs and bubbles – it had its moods, like i and the place.

and i yearned to leave and i wanted to stay – the energy of the lake wierd, at times rough and choppy, dreams intense and my emotions bounce like the lancha on the water in the afternoon swells, other times solidity seemed to vanish as i entered another dimension, or the place did, in san marcos and in other communities – the ground less solid, i sway, all sways, time changes – slows and quickens, i cannot describe it all now. The day i went to san pedro and time stopped, and all became a blur, or the other day when i rode across to pana and the hills glowed in psychedelic brilliance, and i sat still, so still, mesmerized by the beauty and crispness of it all, apart looking on like in a film, a film set, but so much a part of it at the same time.

I went to the lake, down the narrow pathways, and sat to smoke (cigarettes only – despite how wierd this seems no drugs are involved in any of these perceptions) – by the dock in the morning as the sun rose and the sky turned pink or in the evening as darkness descended, and to my other spot, where i once watched light play, and sat in the sun at 9 am. Still, i never entered into the water, never the urge, though occasionally feeling that it was the thing to do.

And i sense the energies – not all clear, not all benign. The clash between the town above where the evangelicals would broadcast the gatherings on loudspeakers, many were annoyed, but i loved the alleluia and the praise to the senor dios, the womans unique voice calmed me even more than the aums (oms) we would sometimes chant. And the dogs in their own world, the barking at night, at nothing or something, the doggie spirits. and we practiced looking at another one day in meditation, staring at the third eye, and then seeing past lives of the other – i was sceptical, but then faces began to flash in front of my eyes, quickly, variations, some not quite human (and this happened to us all) – but taking off my glasses to see energy (as i often do out in nature) i began to see other faces or faces of others transformed, and it was not always wonderful, at times i wonder if i saw the other side, other variations of people or what we came from. Yes, talk of atlantis and angels, and i could see beyond out dimension more than at any time in the past. And where were we going, and was this in the name of god or not?

But for most of my time there i could not see the energies of plants or the mountains, except for the few brilliant flashes, and that bothered me, for i often can when i sit calm, look with my real eyes, and not the lenses that cover them to enable me to see form crisply. But my eyes were clouded much of the time there, as my ears were and at times my heart and soul. But i also had knowings and strange fears and emotions. Something awoke and something broke. Still it did not feel entirely safe, a safe place to explore that which i had been longing to for so long.

An i processed so much energy from within – my body rocking back and forth in meditation a swaying that i was doing – unconsciously – that seemed to take hold of me, and a twitch or loosening in the shoulders, and movements felt in the brain as pathways becoming restructured, and the blinking to clarity that i had only experienced in one other setting after sound healing and the movement of energy within and without. And occasionally a stiffening. My last days i felt sick and i knew it was not just some bad food but all that moved within me.

The day i left i descended to tears – ¨i dont want to go, i dont want to¨ i cried to myself, my bowels gave out so i did not go for a long walk to san pedro with others, i felt heavy and deadened barely able to muster a word, drained in tears, feeling alone, caught in some wierd vortex.

But once i left i felt a release. I did not know where i was going -to pana i thought, but as we crossed the water, i could not go back to noise, so got off in santa cruz where i had stayed before. I felt brighter and lighter. In santa cruz i saw the birds fly around a corn plot, and butterflies in the trees, and more birds singing and the plants and hillsides seemed so much more vibrant and alive and so did i. I was back in a different zone, saw the small gallery and in it some paintings that reflected the energy of nature, and at night i slept in the open dorm, feeling the air upon my face, the life pass through, and a cat crawl in with me,

I pulled myself away from the lake – back to antigua and saw some beauty i had not before.

Was i transformed, was it a wierd vortex, a container of energy? the energy of the place, or me, the interplay between it all.

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I am back in Antigua. Yesterday the walls moved again, the earth shook for a short while, as i stood in the same room where i had been almost a month ago when the shaking was longer and more intense – but this time i did not fear, the movement of the earth, something in perpetual motion, only most of the time we do not feel it, but as of late i have been feeling something, a shifting of sorts, in the air, in the dimensions, is it always something that is going on, is it part of the earth shift they talk about with 2012, is it me. but i have been feeling the solidity unravel beneath me and around me at times, on the lake (Atitlan), or walking down the street where suddenly all seems slightly wavey or ultraclear.

At times in my bed, here, in san marcos, in xela and elsewhere, i have felt a subtle rocking, like on a boat on a calm sea. Wondering if it is the subtle movements that i feel. or if there is a greater change in place. a few weeks ago in San Pedro La Laguna as i sat on the internet (no not on the internet, but on a chair in front of a computer) the time shifted, became slow for a moment, slightly unreal, the power flipped, and it seemed an eternity, but when it was over only a few minutes had passed. I had been at a retreat at las pirimides in san marcos, where discussion of dimensions and more was common, so was more open to feeling this, or more specifically to owning the feeling – for i have sensed it before – but been afraid to voice or type or write it.

And the earth moves, and there are so many dimensions of existence, which we are not trained to see, and actively deny, but i cannot not write about them any more. Are we shifting to a new dimension? How does the energy shift and move, become contained and flow.

One day on the lake i saw all crystal clear, glowing, enhanced 3-d and then on another all seemed less solid –
more questions than answers but i have so many posts not written from the past month, that i will send this one now.

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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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