Friday, September 21, 2007

Closet Freaks and Tipdrills

After staying 8 days Matt finally agreed to letting me work for just two weeks instead of the usual three months.
Did baring and serving food during the days. on time off Tubaring was had, and night time was full of dancing, adjusting and consigiring.

So what im trying to say that it was the best job ever, and the people and most of the travelers were great.

Semuc Champey

In my three weeks in Lanquin, I made it to Semuc Champey three times. All three times = Amazing.
Natural limestone bridge that is about 300 meters wide with a river going under it. and above it are a series of pools of spectacular cleansing water.

People also jumped off a 12 meter bridge and we took giant swings into the river!

And getting spiritual....

I wish i had pictures of the caves we went into where you hold a candle as you swim through sweet and incredibly dangerous caves. some thing, like Pacaya, that would never be allowed in the states. I guess thats why Guatemala rules!

Election Day Riots

The whole month before the September 9th elections in Guatemala, houses, rocks, and streets had been painted in a variety of colors and signs representing one of the 20 or so probably corrupt political parties trying to get power on all levels of government.
Few people in Lanquin even cared about who was going to be president but were hopping to elect a new mayor, one who did not launder money, bribe other voters, or try to have the owner of El Retiro lynched. But this new guy lost, the incumbant mayor won, and at 3am, apparently about 6,000 people gathered int he town square and torched the municipal building, post office, and broke the windows of the bank.

Everyone's government papers, birth certificates and mail was burned and/or flew away with the breeze.
The streets were still and the people kept silent. an eerie and sad sight to see.

The Lanquin County Fair

on the way to Lanquin, a town in central Guatemala, and a great place to stay when visiting the pools of Semuc Champey, I hop on a bus and see Richard, Michiel, Esther, and Kerin. Sweet.
So we get to El Retiro Lodge, a lot of sweet cabins, on a river, with a great restaurant, bar, music store and sweet folks. First thing im thinking when i show up is, 'I'm tired of traveling and this looks like it would be a sweet place to work for the last three weeks of my trip.'

And even better, we showed up on the day of the annual rodeo and town fair. Now i've seen a few rodeos on tv before, but never live, so i was excited. and let me tell you something....I probably could have 'ridden' these cows just as well as most of the guys, who could barely make it out of the cage on the shocked, kicked and beaten cows.
...but it was cool seeing some dudes getting their ass kicked, an old man serenading us with cheesy ballads, and miss lanquin!
the fair was filled with tents for foosball, taco vendors, trying to get a coin on a plate for a Super Cola, and a ferris wheel operated manually.

all i gotta say is this...Chicken is Nice!

oh shit, and at midnight is was my birthday...word to 22!

Okay...Pacaya, the Active One

A one hour bus ride from Antigua, my group consisted of about 8 Israelis, 3 Spaniards, 2 other Americans, and a sweet guide.

oh here he is...

a 90 minute climb in the afternoon. and then a 10 minute climb down into the crater...

...screw this talking, lets see more photos...

...oh yea, i wanted to say..its really fuckin' that you sign no waivers regarding how dangerous this is and you are allowed to get as close to the lava as you'd like. probably a cool place to burn yourself to death if one feels so inclined.

and an added bonus was this surreal sunset!

Pacaya: The Active One...well a chicken bus story first

Sick of San Pedro's sleaze and excited that I could finally walk easily 23 days after the sting ray attack, I told everyone I was hanging out with that I needed out, especially since it was a perfect chance to climb Pacaya, an active volcano that lets you walk into a crater of extremely sharp, jagged black and silver volcanic rock with pockets of lava flowing around.

A hectic bus ride out of the lake valley leaving San Pedro left me in a bad mood. Knowing that the bus fare should be no more than 20 Quetzales, the dude tried to charge me 25. Now even though this is a difference of 75 cents, I still felt that this act was completely racist and un-called for. Even the old Mayan lady and dude next to me told me that they were paying 20 to go an hour further, all the way to Guate.
So I told the money collector off. He tried to kick me off the bus at an intersection at 4am, and then tried to tell me the cops were going to come on. But im not afraid of a frail 5 foot Guatemalan dude. So I got him where it hurt. Told Him that his actions were unjust and questioned, 'What would Jesus do?'
so he shut the fuck up and didnt bother me again.

oh...i forgot about the volcano

Thursday, August 23, 2007

San Pedro Highlights (other than banan bread)

Other highlights of San Pedro la Laguna include meeting up with tons of buddies from various other places of this trip including Tommy, Dan, Amy, Richard, the Swiss Girls, the Dutch Girls, Michiel, Nur, Moti, Tilly, Ed, and most randomly Rosie.
this is what we call wasting the day away at ZooLa, a mostly israeli hangout with great atmosphere and even better food:
Chillin with Sil(ly Man) who can alway be found freaking out and dancing like crazy at Freedom Bar:

Going on crazy Tuk Tuk rides with Tilly and Steve up and down steep ass hills one didnt think were possible to climb in what to me appears to be pretty much a tiny motorized Razor Scooter with a cover:
We also have seeing some awesome blues band that Dan jamed out with on his soprano sax...they were really, really, really good:
While at a bar dancing to some drum and bass and watching a little local dude paint a mural inside the bar recreating what appeared to be a cartoon Godzilla/Rampage/Power Ranger scene a crazy lone hiker with a full on beard and green hiking backpack rolls in and starts having a conversation with the painter before getting his groove on with all his equipment and his propoganda t-shirt. this was probably the funniest thing i´ve seen yet.
and finally...the market in Chichicastenago, one of the best in all of
central america

¿Pan...Pan de Banano, Pan de Chocolate, Pan De Coco?

Okay, so i know i keep on going off about banana bread, but as soon as I got of the boat at San Pedro La Laguna, on Lake Atitlan in Guatemala, i was greeted by Juanita, the cutest little short mayan woman who was selling none other than Banana Bread! So immediately i pulled out 5 quetzals and got a loaf which was hearty and scrumptious but not the best.

Soon after and during the next week in this town filed with ex-pat hippies, cool bars and cheep food, i realized that there is a whole racket of banana, chocolate, and coconut bread sellers. they all look the same and they all hound you constantly. I havent gone 10 minutes without being asked if i wanted some kind of bread, even when im in a restaurant, bar, or hostel. I asked Juanita who was ¨Él Jefé¨ and she said that her sister and two others are the main cooks.

But the business runs like a mafia ring. If you dont sell enough or dont bring back enough money one´s salary gets cut by the lead Pimp of banana bread. Its a vicious trade.

Friday, August 17, 2007

street fair, real estate salesmen, and trance dance

After not being able to go to Semuc Chempey because of some floods, i decided to meet back up with Jenny and Angharod in Antigua. they werent digging the mild weather wich was a great relief for me so they left me to read in the beautiful Central Park of Antigua, probably the prettiest city i´ve seen so far in Central America--which makes up for the insane abundance of americans ´studying´ spanish.
in the process of reading Collapse (instead of Lolita, since a bunch of kids were running around, and i felt like it was somewhat creepy to read Lolita around kids) this House and Apartment salesman strikes up a conversation with me. and while his friendliness was somewhat creepy, it was great talking to someone in Spanish.
so we go off to a festival in the nearby town and he still is trying to sell me a house as a stare at bootleg CD salesman with the Rosie Odonell Jean Jacket!!!

...and somewhat creepy dude keeps on bumping into me telling me to stop by his office and check out his plans.
instead i went to a bar with a bunch of people whom i had initially met in Utila and wrecked the dance floor with my amazing trance dancing skills. i must give my electro dance skills credit to non other than Alex Toplansky who taught me some years ago to flip out when at lame ass clubs in Montreal.

the banana bread mission

So after aaron introduced me to the best banana bread in the world in Tortuguerro, Costa Rica...i have since been on the lookout for more amazing banana bread...Juanita here in San Pedro de Laguna in Guatemala greeted me with an offering of such bread--mistake was made, i didnt realize she had banana bread with fave!--but anyways, its pretty good, but so far the closest banana bread has come to that of the tortuguerro feast was not hat of Juanita or that used for the hikes in Tikal, but in Rio Dulce.
even this picture makes your mouth water...mmm so juicy and succulent, and went perfectly with a banana chocolate batido con leche (milk shake)