Monday, December 21, 2009


After a lifetime of hustling to work, appointments, meals, etc, it's hard to shake off the efficiency and time-management stuff that so many of us are accustomed to. When I first left the US for south of the border, it was combat mode to get somewhere. Where? I don't know, but I felt I had to be moving. I had/have no place to go and I can take as long as I need to get there. It sounds easy, but our culture is ingrained in us and hard to shake off. A lot harder than you might think. When I first planned this trip there was no way I ever considered staying in one place more than three days. I had a goal of Tierra del Fuego. My paradigm has shifted now though. For example, if I end up staying in Guatemala until my money runs out and make it no further than here, well... so be it. I won't feel like I cheated myself or anything.

When I was planning my trip south, I had many friends, who'd never been out of the country, warn me, "man, those Mexicans will kill you! Are you sure you want to go?" In Mexico I met people who told me that the Guatemalans will cut my throat just as soon as look at me, and probably right away at the border, too! Indeed, I was apprehensive about it because part of me listened. And even locally, people will tell you "those people in the next villiage are a hateful bunch and will probably kill you." It's never worked out like any of that so far. I've had nothing but positive experiences in Mexico and nothing but positive experiences in Guatemala. If anything, the Guatemalans are even more kind, generous and hospitible. So far I have not had a situation where I felt uneasy or even unsafe. Thats not to say there aren't areas where I wouldn't want to be in, that's for sure, but it's like any other city. Tucson is a safe city for example, but if I want to get myself in trouble or even killed, I could get it done in a short drive from my old house. I reckon that applies to any city in the world. All it takes is a little common sense.

So yeah, settling into a city or town for a bit is pretty cool and you definitely feel like you can explore more. Today for example, I was smoking a cigarette outside the school and I saw two women stirring and pouring some kind of liquid between two pots. If I were just blowing through a city or something I may not have taken any time to investigate. Today however, I walked up the them and asked (in my Tarzan Spanish) "Hey, what are you guys doing and what is that?" I learned that it's some kind of drink that consists of pulverized corn, a little milk, some water and some other stuff. Sugar is optional. They offered me a cup after explaining it, and when I asked how much, everybody is telling at me that it's nothing, it's on them, don't worry, etc. You have to laugh. Awesome. I asked if I could take a picture and all of them said of course, but you'll notice the two Mayan's turned their back

But yeah, great, hospitible, friendly, gentle, etc. Actually, one of my favorite pasttimes when I go walking down the street is to see someone who looks especially serious, and as I get close I go "buenos dios!" and watch their face light up as they return the greeting.

Oh, and finally, how I find a spot? Well, it's hit or miss in the beginning. What I did was go straight to El Centro and just rent the first hotel I see. It gets me off the crowded streets and allows me to relax and orient myself. I spend that afternoon walking around looking for hotels. I go in and ask:
  • Do you have hot water?
  • Do you have internet?
  • Do you have a secure place to park my bike?
After that they will offer to show you the rooms. If I like it I say I'll be back the next day. I got lucky here in Xela though because this casa was recommended by athensugadawg. It was in an area I wouldn't have explored. It's super nice here and super cheap.

It's awesome here.

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