A Travellerspoint blog

Tranquil spirituality to market chaos

sunny 24 °C
View Journey of the Wide Eyed Wanderer on chris89's travel map.

'Your toes are the antennae to the spirtual world', claimed my yoga teacher. It was news to me!

But then so was a lot of things. For a start I had not anticipated that it would be a 2 hour long yoga session, nor that the yoga would have such spiritual undertones - as illustrated by the 'moon and sun salute'. Try as I might to be open minded about the yoga practices and the beliefs behind them, my lack of flexibility, coupled with the thought of what everyone at home would think of me if they could see me now, left me feeling sceptical. I enjoyed the warm down session far more though - I promptly fell to sleep!

As you will probably have guessed from my yoga experience, San Marcos is a tranquil, spirtual place. Indeed, the only noises breaking through the constant buzzing of crickets is Lake Atitlan lapping the shore and the more alarming screams coming from the 'monkey chant' classes that are claimed to help wellbeing.

Following the yoga I spent my days in San Marcos on a rocky outcrop by the water that I had almost exclusively to myself to swim and sunbathe.


The only problem with San Marcos is the vast number of wild dogs that roam the narrow pathways. The majority ignore you, but some have to be treated like corrupt guards in order to get past them. Consequently I have had to throw some food in the opposite direction, run away and hope the dog doesn't return to give me rabies. Apart from this, the town has a wonderful 'Robinson Crusoe' feel to it!

I have now left San Marcos for the relatively cosmopolitan Panajachel which acts as a transportation hub to the surrounding area. Today I visited the bustling market town of Chichicastenango. It covers a huge area selling a massive variety of goods. The only problem is that I keep banging my head on the poles that hold the market canopy together!


Early on Saturday morning I plan to travel to Honduras. Adios Guatemala!

Posted by chris89 15:03 Archived in Guatemala Comments (1)

Breaking out on new (and often hot) ground

sunny 24 °C
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I have to admit I am a bit of an oddity in Guatemala.

As very few Guatemalans are remotely near 6ft I am on the way to becoming what all travellers yearn to be - a valued part of the community. Despite most of the native population struggling to reach the upper shelves of supermarkets, shops continue to stack their trade high and as a result I have become an unofficial shop assistant, reaching the items others cannot, much to their amusement.

My crash course in spanish ended on Friday and after watching the 'Quema del Diablo' (The Burning of the Devil) festival from the roof of a fire engine and visiting the frenetic market, I followed the advice of other tourists and headed for the active Volcan Pacaya (pictured in my previous post). I'm glad I did as it proved to be the highlight of the trip thus far.

As I walked over the solidified lava, irregular blasts of hot air hinted at what lay below, with further clues provided by the points where the surace lava had weakened, creating holes directly into the molten lava below. In these holes we toasted bread and cooked marshmellows.


Nevertheless none of this could prepare me for sight of flowing lava. I wanted to have a picture of me (looking my best...) to prove I wasn't making it up!


The beauty of this was heightened by the fading light which provided a beautiful backdrop of the surrounding volcanoes.


The return journey (made in the dark) went without incident except for when the group managed to literally bump into a herd of snorting bulls - particularly disconcerting after we were already on edge having read numerous reports of bandits existing in the area.

The following morning I walked to the 'Cerro de la Cruz' for a magnificent view of Antigua.


After bidding farewell to the family I had stayed with for the past week I travelled to San Pedro de La Leguna on the far side of Lake Atitlan. It is a gorgeous area and San Pedro is an interesting town with a curious mix of hippies who have settled and a few visiting tourists. Later today I will visit the very different San Marcos - a town with a holistic, rather than bohemian reputation.


Posted by chris89 09:24 Archived in Guatemala Comments (1)

Every start must have a beginning...

sunny 24 °C
View Journey of the Wide Eyed Wanderer on chris89's travel map.

I'm finally here.

In the end, the magical feeling I had yearned for so long was rather missed on me as I'd managed to have fallen asleep before the wheels of the plane had even left Heathrow. Indeed the monotony of the journey was broken only by joining the Mile High club (only joking! or am I...?) and the more mundane requirement to fill out numerous visas.

I can't claim to be a big fan of Miami airport either with its lack of terminal entertainment leading only to terminal boredom. The layout for connecting flights is also confusing, particularly the baggage handover. This confusion, compounded by the number of baggage controllers who spoke only disdainful Spanish (all of them) left me slightly concerned that my bag may not join me in Guatemala. This fear developed rapidly as I watched the crowds of travellers disperse from the conveyer belt whilst the same, uncollected bags, circled aimlessly. I could feel the dying embers of hope within me being replaced by the far more flammable emotion of sheer panic as I considered the possibilty of my first few days without my belongings.

And then there it was! My bag! Words could not express my joy. Trying to look like a world weary traveller who had always maintained the faith, I cooly picked up may bag and walked towards the throng of people waiting outside Guatemalan City Airport.

An hour later I arrived at my spanish school very tired from 25 hours of travel, yet nevertheless impressed by the lack of lane discipline of the Guatemalans who drive with an attitude of 'who dares wins'.

I had hoped for a reasonable sleep before my spanish lessons began the following day but the persistant honking of horns on the road outside at 6 30 am crushed that 'dream'. As did the cold shower that followed.

Eventually I met my excellent spanish teacher. During the 6 hours of 1 to 1 teaching I have with him everyday he pushes me hard. Already we have discussed the relative benefits (in Spanish of course) of Fabio Capello becoming the next England manager (we concluded he is a good technical coach, if a little defensive) and the UK joining the Euro (though I think my explanation of the UK's rejection of the '1 size fits all' interest rate may have gone over his head...).

The weather is good, the scenery stunning and I have made some great friends. All I need now is a warm shower...



Posted by chris89 15:40 Archived in Guatemala Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

Departure day draws near

rain 14 °C

So this is pretty much it.

After two years of saving money and planning for my trip, at 8 o'clock on Sunday morning I fly out of Heathrow to Guatemala via Miami, leaving behind all my home comforts. No more episodes of Spooks or Scrubs in the comfort of my living room.

Having worked numerous jobs since August, and been taxed to high heaven for the privilege, I am struggling to comprehend that the moment I have worked towards for so long is finally nearly upon me. My kit is laid out needing to be packed into my bag which will become my home from home for the next seven months - a group of belongings that appear relatively meagre yet will no doubt weigh the equivalent of a small child.

As the days have grown shorter and the time before I leave has got closer, I seem to be in the centre of a vicious circle, one moment being deliriously happy that I do not have to work (in the UK at least) for seven months, the next my crest of excitement and eager anticipation is replaced by anxiety and the fear that something should happen to me or my belongings along the way. Either way I'm increasingly restless to leave, even if it does force me to say goodbye to everyone.

From this post you can probably tell I'm all over the place at the moment (just like most of my tickets and visas!) so I should probably get back to shortening my increasingly desperate 'to do list'.

I'll write next to let you know of my arrival in Guatemala and if my Spanish is improving with my 1 week crash course.

Posted by chris89 03:38 Archived in England Comments (6)

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