A Travellerspoint blog

Queen of the Barrio

Since our last post we have been

- meeting up with our long haired ex-roommates, molly and kevin, in belize
- snorkeling with nurse sharks, turtles, and rays in the silk cayes
- meeting belizian hillbillies at a howler monkey sanctuary
- making squirrell friends who enjoy riding on paige's head
- taking buses on smooth roads in mexico
- partying in playa del carmen for semana santa
- eating crickets
- having tea time in the yucatan jungle with our gracious british volunteer hosts
- jumping into cenotes and swimming underneath bats
- kicking open swinging doors to get some cold beers in a cantina
- watching the elderly community of valladolid salsa in the central park
- drinking don julio in the mexican gulf
- running into our french friend gael
- taking a 20 hour bus to oaxaca
- losing our camera
- drinking mota infused mezcal
- eating agave flower tacos
- walking through a teachers' protest while checking into the english teaching scene
- possibly finding the world's greatest beach town, whose attributes exceed its roster of nude people
- reuniting with our friends from the barrio, meghan and carter
- swimming in high-mountain hot springs during a thunderstorm
- making it from guatemala to el salvador in the back of a truck, thanks to Miguel
- hiking to waterfalls in the rainforest near juayua
- swearing off pupusas
- beach hopping along the el salvadorian coast
- finally getting our hands on some good craft beer
- taking a dip in a cold sulfury lake
- bunking down at a seminary
- crossing from el salvador to honduras to nicaragua as our number of bus rides climbed into the double digits
- being crowned volunteers of the month at the devil's non-profit, Buenas Cosas

We have just arrived on Isla de Ometepe on Lago de Cocibolca to start a month of volunteer work at a permaculture farm. After life on the farm, we are going to start a month of travelling with the honorable Heidi and Charlie Vogel, with guest appearances from Betty and Roy Schindler and Willis Vogel.

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Posted by paigejohn 17:09 Comments (3)

Fat Camp

HOLES

We have spent the last two weeks on the set, filming the Guatemalan spinoff of the Disney movie (and Louis Sachar novel) Holes. This interpretation has just as much imprisonment, suffering, and unfair treatment as the original. The work too, was the same: days spent under the hot sun digging a hole for suspect reasons. The old cast of juvenile delinquents was subbed out for a saintly young couple from Belgium, a French pastry chef, a South African doctor, a 16 year old Guatemalan work-horse and a real horse named Choo-Choo, not to mention the two of us. After filming, we would head back to the detention center and were treated to a few grams of beans and corn tortillas, a bathroom with a sheet for a door (its windy here), and the dirty dishes from the family we stayed with. Please don't donate time or money to Buenas Cosas, the "not for profit" fat camp that misrepresents themselves in order to directly benefit from the hard work and hard earned money of well meaning volunteers.
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Criticisms aside, we actually enjoyed our time out in the dusty Barrio of Bellos Horizontes. We became very close with the other volunteers and spent our time off heading out to a rope swing on the lake, hunting for lost goats, catching lizards, learning new drinking games, breaking up rooster vs. turkey fights and makin it rain on the local 4th grade population during our street soccer tournaments.

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In the weeks leading up to our volunteer project, we were taking it slow in the jungles of a huge water system called the RIo Dulce, which links Guatemala's largest body of water to the Caribbean Sea. Touring waterfalls, floating in kayaks, drinking at hot springs and getting lost on a lake in a fierce rainstorm were our activities of choice. Heading north for our volunteer project, our post "lost boat adventure" quality of transportation followed a similar pattern... a slow, hot, cramped bus broke down and we spent a few hours on the side of the road drinking rum with a friendly Honduran man who was planning on entering the U.S. illegally for the 3rd time, and our next pressure-cooker bus was rolling down the highway with a small village of 97 people on board.

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We are now en route to southern Belize to meet up with Molly and Kevin and experience their gracious offerings of pickles and Thin Mints.

Posted by paigejohn 08:28 Archived in Guatemala Comments (0)

Back to school back to school

After spending 4 days splashing in the warm ocean waves we decided to began to be a bit more productive. We took a week of intensive Spanish lessons daily however, it would be very foolish to allow class to cut into our drinking, beach lounging and body surfing (we learned something in college). We also began to "teach English" to the children of Candelaria, a nearby town. Daily we went to Candelaria to teach los ninos the English language. I am happy to say I feel we learned much more Spanish than they did English. Although, playing duck duck goose and hide and seek with these children was great fun, the real fun began with the hallowed out eggs stuffed with colored confetti for smashing on other's heads. After a week of intense Spanish lessons and teaching English, we explored where the magroved river met the ocean. The next stop was cowboy ville for some homemade rum, cigars and cheese. After 6 buses, 4 vans, 1 truck and 1 ferry we finally made our way to Zacapa but sadly found no rum, no cigars and no cheese, just an abundance of the guatemalan staples: fried chicken and french fries. After many breif stops we made it to the Caribbean coast, home to Garifuna culture and lots of wild animals in restaurants, hotels and roads. Tonight we are hoping to hear live Garifuna music played on drums and turtle shells while drinking the spicy local liquor.

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Posted by paigejohn 13:48 Archived in Guatemala Comments (2)

Retirement

We decided to spend our last few days at the lake back where we started, on the property of an old Mayan man named Don Pedro, a.k.a. Donny P. The language barrier was somewhat serious because, just like us, Spanish was his second language. We still greatly enjoyed our time with him, and found that a little corn liquor is great for taking down barriers of all sorts, including the language ones. We ate and cooked with their family, and went on fuelwood collecting missions in the steep, dusty hills that ring the town. Our time wasn't completely authentic, we found time to eat chilidogs and drink bad beer by the buckets while watching the superbowl.
From there, our mission was to make it out to the coast of Guatemala, a more difficult feat than it first appeared. Depending on who you talked to, there were either no more buses for the day, there was going to be a bus in 2 or 4 hours but it would have to make so many stops we couldn't make it all the way in one day, or they had no idea. There was only one man we could trust, the taxi driver who told us the only way to get out to the coast was by taxi. Anyhow, we ended up taking two days to get out to Monterrico, and are counting our blessings that we chose this to be the setting for our language school and our next two or so weeks.
The only thing that doesn't move slow here are the waves, which are some seriously BIG water. A strong undertow and a near vertical crest-to-trough gradient make it hard to swim, but sometimes it can make you feel like you are walking on the moon (source needed). This works in our favor because the black sand beach is, for all intents and purposes, vacant, and lined with royal palms. The beach spills into the bar at our hotel, and from there it is a quick walk past the pool into town, which seems to exist solely to sell coconuts, fruit, ceviche, and cheap beer.
We are not restricted to lounging and beach life, because Monterrico is right next door to a few National Protected Areas which are great for exploring. We started off today by touring mangroves by moonlight in a small row boat. The wake up call at our hotel (from a one-eyed Spanish speaking parrot named Pirata) helped get us out of bed at 4:30. The mangroves we toured were filled with cows, four-eyed jumping fish, pelicans, caimans, turtles, iguanas, and seemed equal parts Wyoming, the PNW coast, Vietnam, and The Land Before Time.

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Posted by paigejohn 09:48 Archived in Guatemala Comments (3)

Pressure Drop

We came to Guatemala with no concrete plans in mind, except for a hospital visit in Central America's largest city. After some spanglish was exchanged at knife point (the doctor's knife), we set out for a lake formed some 80 thousand years ago by the eruption of a supervolcano. The main forms of transportation around the lake (boat rides and hanging off the back of pickup trucks stuffed with 10+ people) are suprisingly entertaining, which is great because we have called three different places home in the last 5 days. We don't yet have plans for tomorrow, but our next main move is to head to the coast to work on our spanish. Also, we know we will be in Belize City on March 23rd...or something like that... to pick up Molly and Kevin Schoenvogel!!

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Posted by paigejohn 17:24 Archived in Guatemala Comments (3)

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