Blogs from Todos Santos Cuchumatán, Western Highlands, Guatemala, Central America Caribbean


18.5. Die Fahrt nach Coban im Westen Guatemalas ist unspektakulär, das Spannendste ist die Überquerung eines Flusses mit der Fähre. Während der letzten Stunde geht es dann steil bergauf, die Frauen tragen plötzlich weite Röcke und unifarbene Oberteile aus Spitze. Wir werden am Stadtrand ausgeladen, wir sind die einzigen, die hier aussteigen wollen. Der Taxifahrer schmunzelt, als wir seinen Preis zum Hotel akzeptieren – uns erschien er mit knapp drei Franken durchaus angemessen. Nach einer kurzen Ruhepause machen wir uns auf den Weg zu einer Agentur, die, wie wir im Reiseführer gelesen haben, Aufenthalte bei Mayafamilien in der Umgebung vermittelt. Guatemalas Bevölkerung besteht zu 60% aus Mestizos (Nachkommen aus der Verbindung von spanischen Eroberern und Mayafrauen) und zu 40% aus Maya. Diese wurden lange Zeit stark unterdrückt und verfolgt und sind auch heute noch oft... read more
Fahrt nach Nebaj

Todos Santos was the last and most interesting town I visited as part of a six-day trek from Nebaj to Todos Santos, with Quetzaltrekkers, which is located in the back of Casa Argentina in Xela (Quetaltenango). This blog is mainly a cursory account of my trip and a review of the trek. SIX DAYS, INCLUDING TWO DAYS OF TRAVEL. I definitely wanted to get into the Guatemalan highlands, not only for the scenery, but because this area was so deeply impacted by the civil war. I met some travelers who went to Nebaj on their own, and they seemed pretty disappointed. There isn´t much there to see; however, the four or five hour trip to Todos Santos might be worth it, as it´s an interesting, proud, vibrant town. QT calls this a six-day trek, though it´s ... read more
Dog and Me

I was gasping for air and my head was pounding. At over 3000 meters, the air was pretty thin. I took it one step at a time, taking a break every 5-10 minutes. It was the only way to make it to the top in one piece. By the time I got to the top of the mountain, at 3750m (12,300 ft), my breathing had slowed a little but my heart was still beating fast and my head felt heavy. I was not in the best shape, which didn't help, but it was the altitude that was more exhausting than anything. Standing at the peak of the mountain, called La Torre, I was at the highest non-volcanic peak in Central America (Volcano Tajamulco in Guatemala is at 4,200m). Hours before I had left the town of ... read more
Road to Todos Santos
In Todos Santos

I kept getting conflicting information regarding the departure time for the last afternoon bus. 2pm. 2:30pm. 3pm. Depending with whom I spoke, it would take either 1, 2 or 3 hours to get to my destination for the night. Different people also told me the bus was green. It’s blue. It’s yellow. Everyone seemed to be quite certain of his/her color and time choice, but it was becoming quite clear I was just going to have to figure it all out on my own. The important thing, at least, is that I knew where to wait for the transport. At least I hoped I did. Regardless of the color, the time and any other conflicting detail of said bus, by midmorning the following day I should be on my way to the border, sadly ... read more
Fabulous lunch
Local boys watching TV from the open window of the everything shop
Local men's hats

Ever seen water defy gravity? The spurt of hot water from our shower head was today trying awfully hard not to land on our flesh and retreat back to where it came from. Following 6 or so days of sporadic, frigid bird baths, our bodies were well and truly on the soiled side of squeaky clean. The water, which felt like the tears of God himself, eventually did its job, forcing the swarm of flies to retreat and find another suitably filthy body to pester. Quetzaltrekkers, as the name suggests, is a company organising guided hikes throughout the Guatemalan highlands. They have an array of options but the one that best accommodated our haphazard timetable was a multi-day scramble over the Chuchumatan Mountains from Nebaj to Todos Santos. The trek is a bare bones no frills ... read more
Chuchumatan Mountains

Hola, Entry from Theresa: As Dave was enjoying his hike in the Altitudes of "way too high for Theresa to handle", I had some time to catch up on emails, watch TV, and read. Nebaj was a bit of a hole in that it rained every day, it was mucky and dirty, only about 10 C, and close to zero at night, and no place had any heat, or closed doors. I wore my thermal underwear and multiple layers all day and went to the only nice restaurant in town, on a daily basis. I was on first name basis with the waiters by the time Dave returned, 3 days later. Whilst checking emails, I had a time-line due to my hands freezing, so I lasted about 40 minutes. In the hotel room, the room was ... read more
Los ninos
Another Special Sacred Site
A Cemetery in Nebaj

Hola Amigos. Entry by Dave: I decided to check out the Cuchumatane Mountains for myself by taking a guided hike from Nebaj to Todos Santos Cuchumatan. The route is about 40 kms or so and almost entirely above 2500 metres. I enjoyed the hike very much, even though the rain persisted for a decent chunk of the time. The scenery was varied as we walked along small dirt roads and trails through farmland, small villages, dense cloudforest and desolate plateaus. We slept and ate at local Ixil family homes along the way, and played games and shared stories with the many kids that lived in these houses. The photos will tell the story of the walk, which I thoroughly enjoyed, but I would like to share a story of what happened afterwards! After eating a late ... read more
Locals on the Trails.
The Cloud Forest
In the Clouds.

I love the Mayans. Sometimes very shy and reserved, once you get them laughing and aware that you genuinely are interested in their culture, they warm immediately. They have been abused by nearly every outside people that have taken residence here. But they just keep going on, holding to their traditions. I saw young people in Todos Santos wearing the same thing that their parents and grandparents wear, which is a rare thing in this world. Even Hueheu, a bigger town, has a warm feel to it. Guatemalans are very genuine people, warm and friendly, more polite than Mexicans in general. Guatemala is also a very frustrating place in which to travel sometimes. The transportation is slow and not very convenient. But one can experience a lot on one bus ride (I don't really like the ... read more

As I mentioned in our Semuc Champey entry, we wanted to take a couple more roadtrips before we depart this lovely country. Our final item on the list was a trip out to Todos Santos, way out northwest in the highlands. It's considered fairly remote and isloated, so doesn't get a lot of visitors. We decided to time the trip with the visit of our friends Carlos and Djuna, who were visiting us from Seattle, as it's always fun to share these roadtrips with friends. So on Friday afternoon we went, car fully packed, to the kids' school to pick them up and head on out. As Lucas and Grace were getting in the van, Hugo's son Carlos Roberto came by to say goodbye to his dad for the weekend, as we had hired Hugo to ... read more
Lucas and Grace on their mounts
Riding up the hils of Chancol
Kids on the farm

And how do you like your chicken bus? Today was foggy enough for me to finally leave Huehuetenango for San Mateo Ixtatan, the mountain town in which I´ll be spending the next eleven months. All morning I prepared myself for this ascent. For breakfast I ate the best piece of dulce de leche cake, had my last double cappuccino and bought the two best bottles of alcohol I could find. Of course, best isn´t saying too much. Because they were out of Johnny Walker red (Julio had probably ordered the last bottle in Huehuetango) and I had to settle for ‘Black prince Whisky´, a flimsy looking bottle lauding its authentic Scottishness but with tiny print on the back admitting it was fabricated in Guatemala city. With the help of a few friendly Guatemalan men, I managed ... read more

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