Sunday, October 4, 2009

Guatemala, Day One

Every time I go someplace, the first day is always full of first impressions that are great for blogs. Guatemala is no exception. By the time I get someplace where I can sit and write something, I'm never quite sure where to start. There's no way you can record everything. But... let me try.

For those of you who don't know where Guatemala is, it's just below Mexico. (I'll admit, I didn't know exactly where it was until I realized I might be visiting and I looked it up) It's not big, but it is geographically very diverse. There are jungles, mountains, fresh water lakes, volcanoes, and beaches. This morning I was riding a bus through a cold mountainous area, wishing I had a sweater. Now I'm resting on a hammock in a hot, humid, jungle-type area.

Just off the highway by Kyle's house. He said there's better stuff around the corner.

Guatemala is a center of Mayan culture. I don't know much about it, yet, but it seems very interesting. The women wear traditional clothing, mostly everywhere. They put a lot of effort into their appearances, even if they're just going to the market or something (which makes shabby bus rides a colorful experience). We've stayed mostly out big cities, but everything I've seen so far has been very clean. The air is fresh, trash is minimal. I've only had one person come up to me and ask for money. If you've traveled at all before, you know how crazy that is. Of course, perhaps I've just been in a nice part of the country...

Kyle, looking over Lake Atitlán.

Yesterday morning I arrived in Guatemala City and Kyle (a friend I've known forever from Elgin) picked me up at the airport. We took several buses to go up the mountains to meet some of his Peace Corps friends. They've all been here almost two years, so they know what to do and how to have a good time. We went hiking, swam in a beautiful freshwater lake, ate pizza in a hippy town, went back to a house that looks over a mountain valley, cooked fresh tortillas and apple pie. Very cool. Very fun.

Public transportation by the lake

Me and Kyle at Lake Atitlán

Kyle, jumping off a cliff

This morning we started the bus trek to Kyle's place, which is at the base of the mountains. I suddenly feel like I'm in rainforest... well, for good reason. It's so nice to travel to place where I can leave my stuff and settle for a bit. Now we're just chilling. I'll be here for at least two weeks, so I'm in no rush.

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