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Published: February 7th 2008
Home, sweet, home
The slow noisy buses, the driver´s accessory gut hung out of the bus through the always-open bus door, most of his body in the air, outside the bus; The amazing dramatic mountainous scenery of green steep slopes; The sweet Mayan children, always amazed to see me passing with the bike; The beloved spanish; The liveful simple Central-American music.
As if everything was waiting for me during the 3 years which passed since my last visit here.
PSULEY TZILUM Here
is my Hebrew list of PSULEY CHITUN.
And here´s a list of PSULEY TZILUM - people which you should refuse to watch theirs photo albooms. PSULEY TZILUM
1. People who use flash while taking pictures of items which are at distance of more than 5 meters from the camera.
2. People who don´t filter and drop at least 70%!o(MISSING)f the photos before showing them to other people.
3. Friends who show pictures of theirs family event.
4. People who show banalic pictures of themselves in the center, smiling to the camera, with or without scenery behind.
5. People who take close pictures of other people without asking permission first.
Any further ideas
Guatemalans cyclists and the consumerism culture
After crossing mighty Rio Cahabon, the unpaved road climbs a long uphill. About at the middle of the uphill, I met 4 kids of about 12 years old, riding their bikes. I suggested them to join me, and we rode together by the pass. It was really fun. Every time we passed a little house on the way, people welcomed us with ¨Good afternoon¨,
They were really good. I find it very rediculous, that Guatemalan kids who ride deffect bike, ride much faster than most people I saw in large bike events in Israel, who own bike which cost 20 times more.
More than any other "product", bike demonstrates the ironic in the consumerism culture. The most beautiful thing in bike is its being so chip and simple. The differences between top-end bike and budjet bike relating to the most important issue - the efforts the cyclist should dedicate - are fairly small. Many many Israeli cyclists I know could be excellent sportmen, had they only dedicated to really cycling only half of the time they dedicate to talking and chatting about bike models and buying new equipment.
Einstein (Albert, not Arik)
Two things are infinite: the universe - and the number of Guatemalans who may stand on a pickup.
So typical: Ofanan, alone, naked in the jungle
Laguna Lachua is a beautiful, almost perfectly round, tourquise lake in the middle of the jungle. The arrival is through a wallking trail (unpassable for bike) from the (unpaved) road. There´s a very basic hostel on the lake shore.
When I got there I left my bike and bags at the park´s entrance, and walked to the lake, taking with me only a little bag for one-night stay.
I was the only one there that night. By afternoon I sat on the lake shore with my little Spanish grammar book and a camera, took many pictures of the sunset and learnt Spanish. It was really great.
Slightly before the sunset I entered the lake. I swimmed to one of the streams, which take out the laké´s water. The stream wasn´t deep - one could stand there - but it was quiet strong. Stupid as I´m, only after I let myself flowing downstream for some dozens of meters, I realized that it´s actually quite a strong stream, and if I don´t come back immediately
, I may find myself stucked totally naked and lost at the middle of
the jungle by night. As you guessed, I suceeded to walk back upstream peacefully. As usual, more luck than brain. Los Ofer Hermanos
Who said that I don´t take care of the family when I travel abroad? I didn´t cancel my Google news alrert before the flight, so that I still get daily alerts for new corruption scandals of my beloved Ofer Brothers
on a daily basis. Furthermore: a media abductee as I´m, I frequently read local papers, in aim to improve my Spanish. So actually I´m already in the details of the local current corruption scandals. Each country and its own Ofers.
# Well, in some countries it´s indeed the very same Ofers. Have a look here
One day, the honor will kill me
The Lonely Planet guidebook contains a list of all the dangerous and annoyances which await you on the way: Starting from jetleg, through malaria and diarrea, and finally being robbed.
All - but the most dangerous and most frequent one: the honor problem.
The known idiom says, that the closer you are to the mountain's peak, the larger the dangers you are likely to take.
It´s a well known problem: while in Israel,
I decided to give away travelling in some parts of Guatemala alltogether, due to the dangers of robbery and malaria - though the chances something would happen to me are, say, 0.01%! (MISSING)Even it´s a very small probability, why to take a risk? there´re enough safer beautiful places.
But, if I´m 50m from a mountain´s summit, and you tell me that if I go on, there´s a chance of 50%!<(MISSING)/b>
that I would fall down from a clip - of course I shall take the risk.
This is the honor problem.
The rules are cut and simple: deciding to arrive somewhere by bus, cable car or so - rather than by bike or hike - is not very honorable for itself, but it is acceptable, if you have a good excuse (i.e. the road is very busy, or there´s no any marked trail and you don´t have a map).
But stopping cycling in the middle a way which was originally planned to be done by bike - is a shame. No matter what happens, one should continue riding.
The good thing with the honor is that this is the main way to have a really good shape and a strong soul. Do not bullshit me with excuses (rain, being tired, technical problem with the bike, dark), man! simply keep on riding!
The bad thing is that, this is the cause #1 to taking risks.
The usual story is that I start to ride or hike too late, due to my famous slowness at mornings - and then enter the dark. And don´t stop.
In Chile I was stuck for the night all alone on my way down from the summit of a mountain, in a forest. In Croatia I found myself stuck by dark on a cliff, with no water or food. In my previous visit in Guatemala - alone in a single track in the heart of a jungle.
At my first riding day in Guate, it happened again. It was already almost dark when the bus of Israeli tourist, which I met before, passed over me, and the driver suggested to hitch me. It would have been, of course, the smartest thing to do - but also the most unhonoted action. To hitch in a bus of Ashkenazi toursits because you rode too slow! what a shame!
From the same reason, I didn´t stop either any of the many taxis which passed on the way.
Please recall: in Guatemala, roads are very dangerous at dark, due to both traffic accidents, and robberies.
But the honor, Oh, the honor.
So I rode for a long time in the dark, using the moonlight (well, I have torches, but moonlight is always better, when you have it).
The honor. The reason for my success to travel at all - and the thing which would kill me while travelling, one day.
ROCK KASACH (Spit on the graund)
Thursday morning I wake in Nenton, at elevation of 800m, and started to climb on an unpaved road. And climbed and climbed and climbed.
At 13:00 I arrived to Yacultac, at elvevation of 2400m. The last section was really hard, and I took a break every 50m or so.
The views from Yacultac are amazing, but the village itself is a very poor and primitive one, even in Guatemalan terms. It is actually merely some dozens of little poor houses on the slopes on both sides of the (unpaved) road. From 14:00 and on, till the day after, the only traffic on the (unpaved) road was pigs, chickens and occasion locals of all ages, carrying heavy bundles of woods or vegetables, or barrels of water.
Due to the honor (see previous entry), I preferred to go on riding, of course, and not to take the bus. Anyway, as the next large village, San Mateo, was still quite far, and I could hardly stand on my legs, not to talk about continuing riding, I had to find a solution#.
The houses there seemed so poor, that I realized that no family there would have a spare blanket for me, not to talk about a spare bed. I started to small-talk with the locals, asking them whether they know a family with having a large house, which would let sleep for some money.
Finally I found out a bus parking near one of the houses. I realized that the driver must either go out of there, or spend there the night too. I found him near the bus, and he indeed organized me a place to sleep - actually, in the house of the family of his wife.
The house was very typical, with little barrel of water (frequently there are no running water in houses), and many cats, chickens, little children and other unrecognized animals walking around within the house. What I liked the most is that the locals frequently spit on the floor; as the floor is merely ground, there is no need to clean it.
At the night, at the bed next to me slept a whole Guatemalan family - grandparents, and 2 children, all together, in the same bed.
After 20 consequencing days of either biking or hikinig every day, I took a bus to touristic Antigua, to rest for a while.
While in Antigua, I visited many museoms, churches and ruins. As usual, these touristic places were full of Ashkenazi tourists, taking monkey pictures of themselves smiling.
Well, I guess these tourists found me much more annoying and strange than I found them. my main issue in these places was windows. My mithological X-gf, Tally, tought me that everything looks great when you take its picture via an open (and, preferably, broken, old and ruined) window. Well, everybody looked at me stragely: WTF this stange guy bothers so much just for taking pictures of ruined window, which interests nobody?
Itamar - Xylophone
My veteran readers probably remember the famous story about tragic try to play 'Jonathan the little' in a church in Croatia.
Well, yesterday I entered the half-ruined Convento de Nuestra Senora de la Merced in Antigua Guatemala. In the inner backyard I found there about 20 Guatemalan kids playing different instruments - violins, guitars, marimbas (a kind of a Xylophone, which is Guatemala's national instrument) etc. It turns out that this place is currently used also as a little music-teaching center.
In one of the room I found a large collection of instruments, including some Marimbas. Of course I didn't miss the chance to play 'Jonathan the little' also on Marimba.
The kids were separated to groups of 3-4, each playing a different instrument, and were practicing a short and simple (about 30-seconds-length) part of a religion song.
I asked politely their teacher to have a guitar play with them a little and he agreed. It was simple enough, so even though I'm not an excellent guitarist, I learnt it very fast and practiced with them. A few minutes later the teacher organized all the orchestra together, and we were playing this song. Well, it surely didn't sound like Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, but it still a very nice experience, to play with them.
Spicy orange and falling cocounts
Almost every day here I enjoy the best meal: 2 bananas, 2 little mangos, 3 little tomatos, 1 avocado and fresh orange juice. Occasionaly I add a carro or a coconut. I eat them at the best way fruit should be eaten: as they are. No salad, not even fork and knife (until recently I was used to eat even the avocado by hands, but, shame me, now I use a spoon for that - and feel very ASHKENAZI, doing so).
As usual, the Guatemalan habbits are rather helpful. You would find just everywhere a stand selling ready-to-eat fruit. for 10 cents you get an orange without the pulp, cut in the middle and having salt and hot pepper on it. Sounds like a strange combination, but it works out great. In many stands you can buy a coconut - they make a hole in it, and let you drink for drinking its juice; upon finishing drinking, you may ask the seller to open it for you, so that you can also eat it. And this reminds me the most frightening warning in the guidebook about Peninsula Paria, Venezuela - my earliest bike tour: it was said there that you shouldn't hung your hammok below a coconut tree, as a coconut falling on your head is not a nice experience. I wish all the problems in the world had been so exotic and romantic.
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