This is the third and final flush of random impressions from my last week of travel, this time mostly from Chiapas (Mexico).
This shot is from within a dormitory in a backpacker hostel at lake Atitlan (Guatemala). It’s almost like a tree house :-)
A note in the same hostel: So the news that a particular cash machine was tempered with in Antigua, a city which is about 4 hours away from the lake, reached some relatively isolated backpacker hostel but not the authorities right at the bank? Wow. I guess this is Guatemala :-P
This is how a tourist village can also look like :-). Even though it’s very developed touristically, San Pedro la Laguna has a nice laid-back atmosphere.
This is one of these typical mini tiendas (kiosks) at Los Encuentros – a crossroads where many travellers change the busses. In Guatemala, many shops at crowded places are secured like this. Note the advertisements :-)
In this church, they put Jesus in another pose for a change, not just on the crucifix. To create this radiant effect on Jesus, they tied lots of white (cotton) strings from the center to the border. Gives a nice effect, IMO.
A pimped up VW Käfer in the streets of San Cristobal de las Casas (Chiapas, Mexico). There are loads and loads of VW cars in Mexico, and most of them are VW Käfers and VW vans (T1-T3 – the old ones). I think I saw more VW cars in Mexico than in Germany, actually – VW has a very good reputation here :-). The VW vans are used as public transportation as the so called “collectivos” – more or less taxis with a fixed route and a fixed price which will leave as soon as they are full.
The best advertisement for a barber shop (peluceria), isn’t it? Who wouldn’t like to have a mane like him?? :-D (Who exactly is that, by the way?)
The market area in San Cristobal. I like those shots of chaotic streets with a lot of people doing their business. But this is not how whole San Cristobal looks like, it looks like…
What meat+potatoes is for us Germans, the taco is for Mexico. It’s basically just a wheat tortilla with meat, onions and salsa but it’s really good :-) (at least this one on the picture)
This is the second flush of random impressions of Central America. This time, more focussed on Guatemala.
This guy was selling some kind of water ice shake. The best thing about his cart was the ice-crusher machine :-)
Yeah, what an unforgettable adventure it was travelling with this bus company (Fuentes del Norte)…! I read this poster after I spent one night without any sleep in a bus with no leg-space (I mean, even less than normal! ^^) and with no working AC plus windows that can’t be opened. They “solved” this problem by opening the emergency exit windows a little bit and fixing them into position with screws, thus destroying the emergency exits and creating a wind tunnel in which the wind constantly blew through. I was sitting at the window. So while we stopped, it was unbelievably hot and while we were on the road, a strong wind blew into my face all the time o_o
I finally got to converting and uploading the videos into the blog. You need a HTML5 compatible browser for this. Check out the following updated blog posts:
Falta en tu mente la libertad
Faltan monedas para viajar
Faltan fabricas, falta hasta el pan.
Falta buen día, como te va
Faltan vecinos para matear
Faltan esquinas, falta quemar
Faltan amigos, falta confiar.
Faltan abrazos, falta emoción
Faltan gestos de buen corazón
Falta tu risa, falta el calor
Faltan trabajos, falta un motor
Sobran políticos, sobran políticos
Missing the liberty in your heart
Missing money to travel
Missing factories, missing for feeding
Missing good day, how are you
Missing neighbours to drink mate with
Missing corners, missing smoke
Missing friends, missing trust
Missing hugs, missing emotion
Missing gestures of good heart
Missing your laugh, missing the heat
Missing work, missing a motor
Superfluous are politicians, superfluous are politicians
There is a special truth in that song for Central America, and especially for Guatemala. From the countries I have seen in Central America (so, excluding Honduras, San Salvador and Belize), Guatemala seemed to be poorest, most corrupt and dangerous. In Guatemala, a lot of things seem to be missing. But one thing is certainly not missing: As a taxi driver told me, there are about 36(!) political parties, though he added that “only” about 12 have a realistic chance to get into parliament.
He also told me that currently the country is governed by the wife of the president. And that the same is now getting a divorce just to be allowed by law to run for president in the next elections. As long as they are in power, they can not be prosecuted as the president seems to enjoy some kind of immunity. Why is that important? Here it comes:
The president and his wife have been formally accused to several murders – in a videotaped message of the victims lawyer that was to be released in the media in case of his (the lawyers) death! Sounds like a movie, doesn’t it? – “If you watch this, I am probably already dead….”.
I don’t know about the details of the accusations, but do make a google or wikipedia search if you are so inclined. What I know is that the news of this incident died down within a few weeks and since seems to be forgotten by the media.
I was currently leaving Guatemala City in a bus into the mountains which – as usual – stopped for every passenger on the main road but otherwise was in such a hurry that the bus driver had to overtake all other cars on the road and rev the engine every time he accelerated, leaving a black cloud of smoke. 30km/h limit signs were blatantly ignored. (Perhaps this was because of the fact that his speedometer always showed 0km/h? Well, at least there were no traffic lights he could run :-))
The main street of Guatemala City leading out of the city was lined with election posters that show the many different visages that want to be president after the next elections. The difference between the modern megasized posters which rose high above and the dirty and chaotic street life was striking. The politicians depicted on the posters looked like they come from another world or at least another country – I couldn’t really make out any difference between all these parties, anything they would stand for, anything they want to or don’t want to do when they are in power. I would have thought that in a country with that many problems, politicians would be more outright with what they want to do when in power but the opposite seems to be the case.
The only thing I read were hollow phrases like “Baldizón. yes he can!”, “Only the people can save the people” (Lider), “There will come better times for everyone” (UCN), “Guatemala, I accept you for what you are” (UNE + GANA, the presidents wife), “I love Guatemala, I am a patriot” (Patriota) or, the best:
Another one of these house-paintings, they are everywhere. I heard that this particular party offers that if they may put their logo on your house, they will pay for the paint to paint your house… oh man.
The scenic serpentine road from Solola to Panajachel gave great views onto the Atitlan lake, we came by even a few waterfalls. However, the landscape around the streets has been disfigured by taggings of the logos of the various political parties on the bare rock. Did they try to mark their territory? ;-)
A French student that currently studies in San José (Costa Rica) explained to me hat democracy works differently here. It’s called “popularism” – officially it is a democracy but there is no deep democratic culture or tradition here. One could assert the people just vote for a new dictator every few years here – perhaps that guy who gives out the most presents before the elections?
We got this from some people handing out info on the Lider party. Now, what do you think does it say about what exactly they want to achieve when in power?
Semana Santa is what is for us Easter. However, as the name suggests (=Holy week), it is a much bigger thing in Central America. It is one week full of processions, other religious rituals and a tremendous stream of locals that use the opportunity to have a vacation with the family and rush to tourist locations, primarily beaches. The beaches were incredibly full during Semana Santa.
In Nicaragua, this lead to a traffic situation on the public busses that was as bad as the normal situation in Guatemala. Taxi drivers telling you “no hay autobuses” (=there are not busses) were not even really lying – all the busses were packed!
In the bus Thorsten was ranting about.
However, we succeeded in mostly avoiding the crowd, except for the one or the other (accidental) bump into the processions.
Just to give you a short insight: In a procession, they carry figures of Jesus (normally carrying the cross), Maria and sometimes other saints through the town into a church, where a short mass is held afterwards. A procession is accompanied by a priest, an orchestra of brass players, a cart with a diesel generator to light the figures (“wrwrwrwr…”) after dark and of course lots of people who march together with procession.
Before the procession starts, however, the locals often create colorful “alfombras” (=carpets) out of dyed sawdust along the way of the procession. In Granada, a van with megaphones roamed through the town hours before to announce the procession.