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Published: November 11th 2011
Finally the rain stopped and I could take a picture of the volcano
I am now back at home, in Kuujjuaq, after a few weeks in Guatemala. I didn't write much on my blog during the trip as I didn't want to spend time in front of a computer at all! But it was a nice trip and here are some of the stories and highlights...
After I last posted something on the blog, the rain did not stop for another week or 10 days. It was amazingly humid and cold, not that 15 degrees is that cold for us northerners, but it is a very different story when you have no heating system in your house. Nothing dries, and it feels like your bones get cold too. I ended up getting a stomach flu for a few days and later a cold... So much for coming to the tropics to see the sun after a summer in the arctic! But I also realized that even if I felt sorry for myself, it wasn't a big deal compared to the consequences for the people who actually LIVE in Guatemala. More than half the roads and crops were partially destroyed, not to mention flooded houses and washed away bridges.
But eventually things improved
and with the sun came beautiful sceneries. Nice to see the volcanoes around Antigua. I did a short excursion on Pacaya, one of the active volcanoes near Guatemala City. I also did many tours around Antigua to visit schools, coffee and macadamia nut tree plantations, and a few surrounding villages (should I mention I had bought some organic nut butter to give to a friend and it was removed from my luggage at the airport, with my soap bar... Indeed everybody knows that soap and macadamia nut butter are a VERY dangerous mix).
My Spanish lessons went well, although I didn't feel like I improved much as my teacher didn't seem to like doing grammar. We basically talked for 4 hours each day for 2 weeks, but that gave me a better understanding of life in Guatemala. The situation is really sad, with a lot of crimes and corruption, we hear stories, and although we generally felt safe in the country, one also realizes that the reality is not as simple as it may seem. Let's say I wouldn't trade our situation in Canada. We are very privileged. I also watched the movie El Norte, an oldish movie but
very good to understand the situation. Highly recommended.
The last week of the trip was really nice, Rachel and I got out of Antigua and for once I really became a tourist. We booked a tour so we wouldn't waste time and energy planning anything. We went to Tikal, where we had an amazing guide who was like the "Godfather" of the Park and we were "allowed" to go up to one of the temple at 5 am to hear the fascinating sound of the howler monkeys in the dark, see the mist slowly rising up from the jungle, and eventually see the light coming over the Mayan temples at dawn. Magical. We also got a guided tour of the other temples and spent the night in a nice resort in the park. The food was not good and expensive, and the little cabin we stayed in was full of ants, but it was a lovely area and very comfortable place. The next day we visited Flores and the Peten Itza lake, where we did a really interesting tour with another amazing guide who really gave us tons of information. One thing I really liked about Guatemala is just
that: all the guides seemed to genuinely enjoy what they were doing and gave good quality information every time. Actually all Guatemalan people were very friendly.
Then we went to Lago de Atitlan, a very sweet place with again another extremely comfortable hotel with a balcony and lots of flowers everywhere, not to mention the fabulous food and the real hot shower. Utz Jay was the name of the hotel. We toured the lake and visited 3 villages (like most tourists do) and we agreed that it would be a nice place to spend more days. But we had to go back to Antigua as we had planned to stay at Earth Lodge, just up in the mountains near Antigua.
Again, this was amazing, small and comfy cabins in the hills, with fabulous food, a place run by North Americans. Hammocks, sun, great view and nothing to do, that was so perfect to end the trip. I now feel totally reenergized and ready to enjoy the winter in Kuujjuaq. Too bad I didn't have much time to shop around for fabulous handicrafts, but I have good memories of this nice country.
I spent a really nice day
in Montreal when I came back, sunny and warm, it felt like late September with still leaves in the trees, but once in Kuujjuaq, it was definitely winter, with fresh snow. But I am really happy to be here now, and like most people here, hope we get more and more snow soon so we can start skiing soon. Life is good, my house looks like a grocery store with all the things brought form down south, and I am ready for the next few weeks before my next holiday!
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