Monthly Archives: March 2010

BOATS!!! Rio Dulce to Honduras

After a three-hour bus ride coming back south from Flores, we caught a boat from just outside the Castillo, which was built, like so many of the castles in Central America, to keep English Pirates from raiding inland stores.
フロ-レス島から3時間のバス移動の後、そこからボートに乗り換えて約2時間程のクルージング。最初に目に入ったのはサンフェリペ城砦だった。カリブ海沿岸付近は、本当に城砦が多く、当時どれだけ海賊が多かったのかが窺い知れる。

We passed through several small inlets to let people off and on the boat, which is the only line of transportation between the Guatemala and Livingston, even though Livingston is not an island.
途中サギやウなどがいる小さい島や宿、温泉の湧き出る休憩地点、また個人の家らしき場所まで寄ったりして、このボートは此処に居住する人々の足として大活躍しているようでした。


Along the way, I picked up a coconut and enjoyed not only the luscious juice, but the delicious and incredibly difficult-to-eat meat. It’s quite tender when fresh!
休憩地点では、同乗者だったドイツ人の旅行者にココナッツを貰い、何とか身を食べようと試みましたが非常に硬く四苦八苦しながら無理やり食べました。

After 2 hours in transit, we arrived in Livingston, which is home of the majority of the Garifuna people (called Black Caribbeans by the Spanish). It’s a strange little town, struggling with the changes that the tourist trade is bringing to their society. We saw signs deeper in some of the barrios posted by the government encouraging the locals to be “the tourist’s friend”. This painting I thought was quite interesting, though I’m not sure if it is a comment on the tourist industry.
2時間のクルージングを十分楽しんだ後、やっとついたリビングストン。ここは、多くのガリフナ族(ポルトガルの奴隷船でアフリカから連れて来られた黒人達が流れ着いて、後にカリブ族との混血が進み生まれた民族)が居住している場所。ここでは、英語やスペイン語の他ガリフナ語、また先住民たちの言語等色々な言葉が混ざり合っていて面白い。また、店から流れたり、道端で大声で歌うガリフナ族の音楽は、まさにアフリカをイメージするものが多く、今でも故郷を思うガリフナ族の姿が印象深かった。

……………………………………………………………….

The next morning, we rose before everyone to catch this boat to Puerto Barrios, taking us an hour and a half from Honduras.

翌朝早くまたプエルトバリオス行きのボートに乗るため、今日はいつもより早めに就寝。

We got there at 4:45, because we believed it was leaving at 5am, but when we arrived, the crew was still asleep on the boat’s benches. We waited till 6:30. There was a whole mix of people on the boat, most of them taking merchandise to sell in the much larger town across the bay.
出発時間15分前の4時45分にバッチリ準備して待っていたのだか、一向に出発する気配ナシ・・・ん?乗組員船内のベンチで寝てるし・・・まっいいや、これもラテン時間ということで私も同じく、しばしお休みタイムZzz。。。結局6時半まで待ってボートは出発した。

Kaori kicked her feet up and fell asleep early into the voyage. Don’t believe it’s because she was tired from the early departure…she sleeps on anything that moves. 😉

After arriving in Puerto Barrios, we were soon discovered by a bus looking for people travelling to Honduras. We arrived at the border in an hour, where the copilot took our passports and did the entry paperwork for us in this shack! What service!
プエルトバリオスに無事に到着し、国境付近行きのバスを探していたら、ちょうど同じくグアテマラからホンジュラスに抜けようとする人たちを発見し一緒に着いて行く事に。グアテマラのバスには運転手の他にお金を集めたり、お客さんの荷物を運んだりするバスボーイがいるんだけど、そのバスボーイは何とイミグレーションで私たちの代わりに並んで手続きしてくれる。私たちはバスで座って待ってるだけ。そのサービス精神にあっぱれなり!!

In another 30 minutes we were in Honduras! Brrrraaah-haaaa!
この後30分後にはホンジュラス入りを果たす!!

国境にて記念撮影。二人とも顔疲れてますね。。。

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TIKAL!

Kaori and I made our way on a really shady overnight bus from Guatemala City to Santa Elena, where we defied tourist hustlers and got a ticket to Tikal for $3.10 as opposed to $10. We arrived, checked into the campsite and took a nap to catch up on all the sleep we had missed on the bus. Besides, if you enter the park after 3pm, your next day is free!!

治安が最悪と言われているグアテマラシティから夜行バスでサンタ・エレナに向かった。早朝5時に到着し、そこからティカル遺跡行きのバスを探そうとするが、どのバスも高い!10ドルとか言ってくる。。。何とか10ドルから3.1ドルに値下げ交渉してバスに乗り込んだ。夜行バスの中では二人ともほぼ寝れなかったので、今夜泊まるテントでしばしお昼寝タイム。ティカル遺跡は午後3時以降に入場チケットを購入すると明日も使える事を事前に調べていたので、2時半までゆっくりしてた。

We found our way into the park and climbed up what temples we could (Tikal is one of the few major sites that still allows you to do this). The door on Temple V above was about a foot, or so, taller than me, just to give you an idea of proportions.

高度な技術と多くの謎を秘めたマヤ文明が造り上げた密林の中に忽然と姿を現す巨大遺跡、”ティカル”。二人ともグアテマラに来た一番の目的は此処に来る事だったので、期待いっぱいでこの地を訪れた。入ってすぐに熱帯雨林の高湿度を感じ、立っているだけでも汗が滴り落ちてくる状態。。。ジャングルの中は、さまざまな鳥やサルなど動物も多く、各神殿を繋ぐちょっとした距離も全く飽きること無かった。またティカルの良い所は、他の世界遺産の遺跡と違って実際に登る事が出来るので、登ってその当時のマヤ人達と同じ景色を味わった。上の写真は、第5神殿を正面から撮ったもの。高さ57mと非常に高い!

From Temple IV, we watched the shadow of the tallest temple in the complex stretch across the jungle as the sun set.

これはティカルの中で一番高い第4神殿の頂上から撮った写真。高さは70mもある。此処から見た夕日は最高に素晴らしかった!!

video

The next morning, we woke up at the crack of dawn to the roar of howler monkies. Listen to the sheer volume as I approach one group near some of the ruins. The quiet as soon as they catch sight of me. (will try to get this video back up soon!)

翌朝3時半(深夜?)に起きて朝日を見る予定だったのが、曇りのためあえなく断念。。。入場時間の6時まで待って遺跡内へと進むとホエザルの群れがものすごい声で泣いてた。(この声はビデオに撮ったので近いうちに載せます!)

The Jaguar Temple above.

大ジャガーの神殿

The tree below is full of air plants that make it look all fuzy and nice.

これはエアープラントという植物で、ここ中米ではどこででも生えてた。違う木や電線にも生えてる生命力の強いヤツ。

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Semana Santa in Antigua, Guatemala

When we woke up this morning we headed down to the central park just in time to catch a beauty pagent in process. Feast your eyes on this one guys!! This early 90s Sentra is quite a catch.
今日は起きて朝食を食べた後、パルケセントラル(中央公園)に向かうとちょうどミス・コンテストに出場する女の子達が一人一台ずつ車の上に乗って選挙活動みたいなのやってた。私たちが手を振ると素敵な笑顔でプリンセススマイルを送ってくれた!
Down a few alleys, we found the alfombras, which are pictures made of sawdust, flowers, pine needles, and all manner of fruits. Some locals informed me that these “carpets” are laid to soften the path Christ must walk bearing the cross.


Early on this last Sunday before Easter, the streets of Antigua were already filled with people busy preparing for largest procession of the Semana Santa festivities. People were everywhere. About half of them were dressed in purple robes, marking them as members of the procession.

Following the Roman warriors were portraits detailing the last days of Christ.

The Christ is carried through the town on a float by more than 100 men at a time, and when negotiating the tight corners of the narrow Antiguan streets the float and its carriers overflow onto the sidewalks. I could literally reach out and touch it.

Following Christ was the mornful virgin Mary.


The procession continued on until 2am…all were tired.

The holy mother finally finds her way back to the church whence she came.

When we woke up this morning we headed down to the central park just in time to catch a beauty pagent in process. Feast your eyes on this one guys!! This early 90s Sentra is quite a catch.
Down a few alleys, we found the alfombras, which are pictures made of sawdust, flowers, pine needles, and all manner of fruits. Some locals informed me that these “carpets” are laid to soften the path Christ must walk bearing the cross.


Early on this last Sunday before Easter, the streets of Antigua were already filled with people busy preparing for largest procession of the Semana Santa festivities. People were everywhere. About half of them were dressed in purple robes, marking them as members of the procession.

Following the Roman warriors were portraits detailing the last days of Christ.

The Christ is carried through the town on a float by more than 100 men at a time, and when negotiating the tight corners of the narrow Antiguan streets the float and its carriers overflow onto the sidewalks. I could literally reach out and touch it.

Following Christ was the mornful virgin Mary.


The procession continued on until 2am…all were tired.

The holy mother finally finds her way back to the church whence she came.

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Jesus Towels and Miraculous Meetings in Santiago Atitlan

Hoping on a boat from Panajachel, Kaori and I went to a nearby town sandwiched between three volcanoes.

We had been told that this town was the least touristed, so that’s where we headed. After pushing our way through the walls of tuk-tuk drivers crying “Maximon!! Maximon!!!”, offering to take us to see the current home housing the local deity, we made our way up to the local market place.

There we miraculously ran into a couple that is traveling Central America by bicycle. We met them in San Cristobal and knew that they were in Guatemala, but what are the odds?! I think that it’s divine power chanelled through the Last Supper towel found in the local market that is due thanks.

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Laguna Chikabal and Chichicastenango

The day before my birthday, after coming back from Chichicastenango, when my body temperature shot up from normal to 40 C in about one hour and the smell of my fountain-like diarrhea filled our hostel, I knew it was time to go to the hospital. SO, now that my intestines have recovered from the rather intense infection that put me in the hospital where Kaori recovered from pneumonia, it´s time to talk about the fabulous two days that helped the bugs in my gut put me in the hospital.

On Saturday, we went to Laguna Chikabal, a lake in a volcanic crater and sacred site for the Mayans at some 3,000 feet about sea level. Bare branches and flowers decorated the lake shore creating little altars.

Mayan families gathered around to fish and enjoy the cool weather in the crater. We enjoyed our lunch here in the shade of the trees.

(The owner of Taka-House, Taka-san. He likes Cheetos.)
The wailing of women in a gathering of Apostalic Protestant Mayans on the opposite shore reminded me of a similar gathering Kaori and I had participated in at a local church the night before. I was again at once surprised and perplexed at how mixed the two cultures, the original Mayan and the colonial Christian, had become.

Chichicastenango
The next day, at one of the major tourist spots of Guatemala, Chichicastenango, we saw multitudes of colorful Mayan clothing and a special dance that they perform over the Easter week celebrations depicting a Spanish bullfighter.

From masks of what look like very caniving Spaniards, to the local deity, Maximon (see the post on Zunil), the strange acceptance of the Spanish culture by the locals is if anything perplexing.

On a nearby hill, religious ceremonies performed by the Mayans now revolve around a crucifix, though the content of the ceremony is far from Christian. The crawling on the ground that we saw here was identical to that in the local Catholic Church, a clear indication of the merger of the two cultures.

Mayans also puff on cigars (kids included) as a method of cleansing. During the thrity minutes we were on the hill, this family of three smoked around 10 cigars. Why not just burn some insence?

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Neumonia…all you have to do is add a P and you’ve got what Kaori came down with, only in Spanish

After our wonderful trip to the hot springs in Zunil, Kaori came down with Pneumonia. How in the world? We may never know. But! We now know that pneumonia and diarrhea are the number one killers in Guatemala. Luckily, Kaori managed to wriggle out of their steely grip.

That meant she was able to enjoy her tortillas, beef stew, and sweeeeet tea (we’re talkin’ have a little tea with your sugar) at nearly 90 degrees!

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Robin-Hooded Encapuchados of Guatemala

The first time I saw Encapuchados, or “the hooded” in English, as nearly bumped into them as I rounded a corner in downtown Quetzaltenango, I thought I was about to be robbed. But they walked by, with only their eyes showing through their dark cloaks. I later found out that the Encapuchados are college student vigilantes, Robinhood types, who “collect donations” with big sticks as a threat for non-payment. These donations are collected for poor people who need help, medically, economically, or otherwise, but can’t access the help they need. They stop traffic, collecting from buses and cars alike, and even charge local businesses and then give them reciepts that they post in their windows to show they have “paid their dues”. McDonalds has never paid the dues, and has accordingly been painted black with motor oil several times. Other establishments have met the same fate…most just pay.

We were intrigued, and when Sindy, the college student who was boarding at my homestay, offered to introduce us to her friend who is a member, we jumped at the chance to learn more.

At the college, there were all maner of “revolutionary” paintings adorning nearly every wall of the University. It reminded me how recently Guatemala had recovered from intercene warfare, and how fresh the ideas are in the mind of the students. Portraits of “El Che”, who came to help Guatemala with their revolution, and is universally loved, were on nearly every building. Equally prevalent were painting decrying present government corruption.

When we arrived at the headquarters of one branch of the Encapuchados, we were questioned through a small window in a large metal door. The interogator then closed the window to recieve permission for entry, and a few moments later the door opened and we were led to a small room where we were told to sit and wait. Pictures of “martyrs” and various political propoganda lined the walls.

Our hosts, who remained cloaked for the duration of our meeting, were very friendly and explained that Encapuchados exist to defend those who have no defense. Poor people with grievances, cannot approach the police for fear of repurcussions. Although medical care is free to all, including foreigners, in Guatemala, often procedures are not covered. Encapuchados, they explained, put their saftey on the line in collecting money–one of our hosts had had a gun stuck to his head more than once by a disgruntled citizen–and in confronting the local police as the voice of the voiceless. They often have parties where they charge and entrance fee and require canned foods and/or dry rice and beans, which will be delivered to the hungry.

(The pink color is for a female group, though females in other groups are not distinguished by color.)
Certainly, not all citizens are pleased with the Encapuchados. Some claim that the money they collect is only used to fund their drinking. However, when they oiled the delinquent McDonalds, Sindy told me that they were surrounded by locals who believed in their cause, cheering them on. The hosts’ parents both were aware of and supported their son/daughter’s participation.

We bought two T-shirts, thanked our hosts and were on our way.

Muchas Gracias, Sindy!

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