we like to dance

The Guatemalan currency is called a quetzal, which is apparently a very elusive bird and the chosen mascot of Guate dinero. and i love it. You can pull thousands of them out of your ATM, eat the best meal of your life, buy bracelets and a round of beer for your friends, and only have spent 3 US dollars. Amazing. Traveling in Guatemala is the best thing that ever happened to me. I could easily spend the next three months here. Crazy that we´ve already been traveling for almost a month! It’s our one month anniversary on Friday. Hmm some celebration must be involved. I predict another night wearing a headlamp on my sweaty forehead at the disco.

We left Livingston this morning. We had such an amazing time there. Everyone said it was super dangerous, and turns out it used to be, until the Mafia took over. How funny is that. Apparently they run the Rio Dulce river and recognize that if the town is dangerous, its bad for tourism, and the police cant be trusted, so the Mafia ¨¨cleans up¨¨ the town, aka makes bad people disappear every once in a while, to keep it safe for tourists.  Livingston is quite poor. The people make about seven quetzals a day, which is less that one US dollar, and work six days a week. Purified water is 8Q for one liter, a banana is 1Q, etc., and because its only accesible by water, people have to go on a boat to get something like cheese, and spend a whole day´s wages just to travel somewhere where they can get dairy products.

We made an awesome friend at Iguana, Kenny, the tallest, scruffiest, beglassed nerdy looking guy. He is totally into hip hop and we had a rap off to Warren G and Tupac songs and totally bonded, wearing aviator sunglasses and bandanas on our heads. He went to Berkeley on a full ride scholarship for Mathematics, but it bored him, he just showed up to take the tests, and studied phillosophy and environmental science in his spare time. After school he did Peace Corps in Belize, and now he´s trying to figure out how not to work and just travel forever. He was one of those guys who knows something about everything, and taught us all about composting and organics, vegetarianism, peaceful options, rainforests, insects, and ocean currents and pollution and Mayan culture.

Kenny was our guide on the hike to Siete Altares, where we jumped off high rocks and swam under fresh water springs and waterfalls and battled spiders the size of basketballs that jump at you. I fell really hard on the slippery rocks. Not fun. On the hike there and back we saw things like seven year old boys running barefoot on the beach carrying machetes, and naked Mayan children running around in the jungle chasing each other, and young girls paddling indigenous kanoes out in the water, houses with no electricity or running water, made out of palm trees and banana leaves. It was straight out of National Geographic. Beautiful.

chillin in the river

Of course I´m now the person that everything that is going to happen that is bad, happens to me. I keep falling all over every rock or giant bug that steps in my way, or sitting next to the guy with the worst BO, my heat rashes keep expanding and I am constantly twitching to keep myself from itching all the inappropriate places.

I’ve also realized that no matter how many pictures I take of beautiful things, I can´t capture the colors, the feelings and experiences I´m having. We took five buses today to get up to Coban, and I was sitting next to the open window when we started ascending into the cloud forest, and it was one of the most spiritual moments of my life. The land here is so green, thick with bushes and flowers of such vibrant colors, and the people are tiny, dark, beautiful and barefoot. I feel so so happy and so so lucky and blessed to be on this trip. Everything I see….wow. Wow, God made this world so beautiful and so interesting and all these people who are so unique. I’m grateful to see a small part of it.

livingston sunset

I was really bummed about my ipod and my watch and my rashes and feeling sick. Then Katie was talking to us about the mission trip she just went on to Honduras, where she helped a medical team. There was this tiny old lady who waited out in the sun for hours, having already walked hours to get there, and the only thing she wanted from the clinic were eyedrops. She said she was eighty something years old, and every night she watched the sunset, even though she knew it was bad for her and it hurt her eyes, but that was what got her through the hard times. The story made me choke up and realize that I dont need all these things I think I need, I only need to be aware of the beauty there is, these moments and experiences. Its overwhelming, truly truly overwhelming.
wish you were here.