Posts Tagged ‘antigua’

I have been retreating to old patterns, returning to look up old things on the internet. and an entry i meant to write came to me – one about perception and the shoe shine boys – how what you look at defines your world, and you notice what others don´t but are blind or partially sited to what others see.

The central square in Antiqua was filled with shoe shine boys working the area – not the stable stands that are here set up in place. They walked around carrying their kits, looking at peoples feet – eyes cast down not out of humility or sadness but to look – what type of shoes are they wearing – sandals and runners are no good, and just might your shoes need a shine. And that is what they saw, how they witnessed life in the zocalo – yes, lifting the head for more, but it was the focus. And for a while i followed thier eyes – looking down at those who walked by or who sat on benches – and what i saw was another world. The shoes said so much, – new, worn, quality, fitting the feet and so much more. And i realized how limited my perception can be – what do i notice and what do i focus on and what do i fail to see at all – unaware of what is there. And i do it, and it is time to let go and broaden my perception – yes something that travel does, but you still see through the filters of your eyes and more importantly mind.

And it is not just the shoeshine boys but all of us. Just what do we look at when we travel – or when we stay at home – what are we oblivious too? When you talk with others you begin to notice – yes there is the square or the ruin or the falls or the church or the lake, the main attraction that draws us in. But do you notice flowers or birds or beggars or the clothes people wear or the hairstyles or the food – it is all part of the focus, the lens that defines your world, a lens you may not be aware of. And it is through others that the filters are revealed or through a return to filters you had cast off. What did i notice today or did i. i look at the women selling combs and other goods in the square – they size people up as well – will they buy and how much will they spend. When i am hungry my focus is on food, can be blind to all else, or to define a place by where the shade is, or look to see who might be selling a cigarette and not notice what else is in their basket or what is in the other baskets. I know the churches here, but not the restos.  The focus can be long or short term, but for now, to open my eyes and not keep them cast to the ground or turned inwards to myself. Remove the glaze for life is rich.

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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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Antigua is becoming like another fishbowl, a small lovely town of cobblestone streets, restos and cafes, of churches and ruins – and it is comfortable and feels secure. I wander around, at times though feeling that i am in a cage, pacing. But it has the comforts and to an extent the familiarities i have desired – part of me wanted to go home, and this is as close to it as it has come. But, like with many places i feel that something is missing – i sleep in a comfortable bed – spending more than i should 13 for a private room – i eat well, i have time to write, and i eat different foods. It is like the much needed but very long sleeps i have had, i lay in bed in that in between zone in the morning, comfortable in my dream world, not wanting to awake, to crawl out – and here the days start later – i sleep until 8 or 9 – the cooler mornings here are chilly, and the heat of the day not as intense – so there is less of a need to get out early. And as i pace the streets here, i also do not want to leave, to venture forward, captured in the comfort zone.

But i see the hills and volcanoes that surround the city, the green expanses that claim me – but i cannot walk up there alone – it is not safe – too many armed robberies. And while i have been in several colonial towns where you can climb the volcanoes i have not wanted to – or do i just resist. All walks here involve a tour with a guide and a police escort for security. And there are so many tour agencies in town offering not only transport, but guided climbs, tours to coffee and macademia nut farms, but i crave the green ad become overwhelmed by the choices, too many to choose from, just take a pick i know, but do i really want to climb up there.

And i do not know why i resist the necessity of a guide and a police escort for throughout my life i have wanted a guide, someone to hold my hand and show me the way as i venture out of my comfort zone into new and unfamiliar territory, someone to guide me and help me along the way, and yes to protect me from the dangers that might be lurking out there, not to walk blindly, not really knowing what i am doing, but pretending to be sure and more confident than i am, feeling that i am supposed to know what i do not. Feeling lost and alone much of the time. Where the pressure is to stay safe, a return shuttle offered, but not a guide along the way. Do i resist because i am just too accustomed to doing it all on my own, of having no other choice. But do i really want to climb the volcano, to hike up there, al long climb that is more the feeling that i should than a want of my own – or maybe not – it is what you are supposed to do in these places. How to venture out to other places? I look at the one cross up i a park just off the edge of town, but you cannot go there alone – no guided tours from what i see. Or do i just head out to the lake that has claimed my imagination, where i have wanted to go for a long time – book one of the many shuttles there – and how to chose, more decisions to make, yet, i yearn to see it.

And so many tour agencies, some legit, some less so, and to make a choice is so hard – i become overwhelmed, my mind begins to swim. And the language schools here – so many over 50 i believe, of all ranges of quality – do i want to study here of elsewhere- do i want to spend my days learning spanish – yes, i want to learn and study but history and geography and spirituality and change – to join with others in that pursuit, but i do not know how. And how to negotiate my way through the maze of choices, of schools, of destinations i do not know how.

But have learned to do it on my own, taught that i must do it on my own, and here is a place that i cannot walk out on my own – travel the country yes, and meet and join with others. I will go back out, check out the market and more, come back to write and decide on what is next.

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I arrived in Antigua Guatemala last night after three days of intense bus travel, passing through many zones that i still need to write about, or transfer my writing to the computer – but those places feel so far away now for Antigua is a different world, not really feeling part of the Central America i have experienced, but then again i did not expect that – it is a tourist town, old, preserved with cobble stone streets, hotels, restos, mayans selling crafts, spanish schools and travel agencies promoting tours and shuttle transfers – i no longer feel out of place, so many gringas around and people walk solo and sit in the park. The cuisine is international – with restos from around the globe – all nicely preserved behind colonial facades. It somehow does not seem real for it is a place apart – more expensive than where ive been but still cheap compared to the north – like an old montreal, the walled quebec city, a cheaper santa fe – the infrastructure is here. And it feels calm (for a city( and safe compared to the larger places the megacities i was through on my travels up here – it feels european and north american – the look more european – and all is controlled – tourist police around to help protect the place, with pistols instead of the intimidating rifles of the city, smoking is banned indoors, there are public bathrooms and garbage cans and trash is picked up off the street, good coffee and croissants and yoga and spas, and yes, places selling sushi, and the weather is more temperate – wore my fleece last night and was cool this morning, and am thankful that the shower was hot (the first since i left Monteverdi costa rica) though it is hot at midday, and the traffic fumes you can smell though the town is small it is in a bowl of mountains which i believe hold it in. Still, it modern and ancient in a more developed way, has the things that we like but i feel that something is missing, as i walk around in the fishbowl.

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