Visit to Guatemala

Hello!

So.. I just arrived at Flores in Guatemala. It’s quite close to Palenque, but not so cheap though. The agency sells you the ticket for 350 pesos, which is nothing, but at the border, you have to pay 295 pesos for leaving Mexico and 40 quetzals for entering Guatemala. Then you have to do the same route on the way back too, which sucks. Wish they could have told me before.. But nobody who where crossing knew that… Guess that’s why it’s so cheap and attracts people to go here.. Anyhow!

Lanchas to guatemala

Lanchas to guatemala

The driver of the boat in the lake between mexico and guatemala

The driver of the boat in the lake between mexico and guatemala

The first bus ride was in a mini-van, then we took a boat over the river for about 40 minutes, and later another bus to get to flores. The last bus was really bumpy, but since I went to sleep around 2.30 and woke up 5.20 to go to Guatemala, I slept like a baby. I woke up when we started to go on a good road, because everybody in the bus started applauding haha.

The bus we went with for 5 hours on the bumpy road...

The bus we went with for 5 hours on the bumpy road…

I met a guy from Chile, Francisco, on the way from Palenque, and we are both going the exact same route and amount of time to see Tikal. It’s always funny to travel solo because you meet other people who travel alone and you make your plans together. So we bought our tickets back to Palenque, and the ticket and the guide to Tikal tomorrow, we leave at 3 in the morning to see the sunrise over Tikal. We also share a room with separate beds at a hostal, because it’s cheaper if you are two, only 50 quetzals per person at night. We didn’t even talk about if we were going to share or not, it was like already understood because it was so much more expensive at the boarder then we already had thought and we talked about finding the cheapest hostal in Flores. This is ok standard, we have our own shower and bathroom in the room at least, haha.

Anyhow. Going to sleep now since it’s early morning tomorrow!

Annonser

Palenque ruins and the unknown Roberto Barrios waterfalls

In Palenque

In front of the Temple of inscriptions in Palenque

This morning, Raul had a tour with some girls at the Palenque ruins, so I joined them at 8 am. Very interesting! Palenque is a medium-sized site but it contains some of the finest architecture that the Mayas has produced. Much of the history of Palenque has been reconstructed from reading the hieroglyphic inscriptions on the many monuments here.

Later after the ruins my host Raul took me and 2 other spanish girls to Roberto Barrios, a Zapatista-village about 40 minutes from here who also has waterfalls.

Looking at us... they are not used to tourists or even people outside the village at all.

Looking at us… they are not used to tourists or even people outside the village at all.

On our way there we sat down at the village and had some snacks, and aaall the kids that passed by us stared at us, so unused to have visitors, even from mexicans! It was a weird feeling being the one who they stared at. But they were friendly :) On our way back, after the baths, they came running down the hills with some stuff they wanted to sell to us. So cute. Haha.

Standing on the edge ;) Raul, me and Sonya

Standing on the edge ;) Raul, me and Sonya

Anyhow, it was really great village and waterfalls to just spend some time. And the waterfalls were huge! Like Agua Azul, but totally unknown, no one was here but the kids from the village who was there trying to sell us things.  In a couple of years it will probably as exploited as Agua Azul, with galleries, small stands, lots of fees and lots of people.. But watch out for the kids that hangs around when you are bathing, they rob you, even if they look innocent.. so don’t bath all at the same time!

By the way, we saw monkeys in the trees!! Yaaay :) Hehe. So cute! They were like 7 of them or something. I’ve been hearing them at night when I try to sleep but I haven’t been able to see them in daylight until now :)

When they saw that we were leaving, they came running to us with merchandise to sell

When they saw that we were leaving, they came running to us with merchandise to sell

On our way back we stopped by the Zocalo and ate some cheap vegetarian tacos, really good, mmmm! We came home around 19.30, hanged a bit at Rauls, and later me and the girls went down to have a drink with Miel and Duilio before the girls headed to San Cristobal.

Palenque and waterfalls

I arrived in Palenque late night on sunday, grabbed a taxi to El panchan where my host Raul lives. It’s in a hostel area, so there are a lot of travelers here. So cool. My host works as a guide here.

I slept for the first time in a hammock :) And I used my sleeping bag too for the first time during this trip. It was soooooo comfortable!! I would never have thought that. The trick is to sleep on the diagonal instead of like a banana. Also, I was really tired, so I really slept like a baby.

My bed in Palenque! A hammock :)

My bed in Palenque! A hammock :)

Next day, I took a tour at 12pm to Misol-Ha and Agua azul. Both waterfalls like on hour from town. Beautiful. Reminds me of Krka in Croatia.  Misol-Ha has a height of approx 30 meters and agua azul consists of many cataracts following one after another.

We stayed there for a couple of hours just relaxing, bathing, eating, chatting. I got to know some Scandinavians and a guy from London, also traveling long-term and staying in el Panchan.

In Mizol-Ha :)

In Misol-Ha :)

Nice day to take a bath! :)

Me and Jack from London, nice day to take a bath! :)

Visiting agua Azul. Paradise. :)

At Agua Azul. Paradise. :)

We came back home around 19 pm, reaaally tired. I took a shower and hanged out with my host for a while. Later me and Jack went out eating dinner at Don Muchos here in el Panchan and ate to live music. Then Miel and Duilio who I met in San Cristobal arrived here too and joined us. :)

Jack, extremely satisfied with his pizza (my pasta was not that good at all...):

Jack, extremely satisfied with his pizza (my pasta was not that good at all…):

Miel from el pais Basco and Duilio from Argentina

Miel from el pais Basco and Duilio from Argentina

Some other pics..

Weirdest and most fascinating church ever in San Juan Chamula

Today I went on a tour to San Juan Chamula and Zinacantán, both small villages close to San Cristobal. In Zinacantán que visited an indigenous family at their home. The mother was 56 years old and had 8 children. I was surprised about how happy they were, I didn’t understand what they were saying since they were speaking Tzozil (a maya language) but they were laughing a lot, telling each other stories or jokes I guess. :)

Mother and daughter making rugs

Mother and daughter making rugs

In zinacantán, a woman is making us tortillas in their kitchen. The white thing on the pan gives them kalcium, because they can't drink milk, they are laktos intolerant.

In zinacantán, a woman is making us tortillas in their kitchen. The white thing on the pan gives them calcium, because they can’t drink milk, they are lactose intolerant.

Later we went to San Juan Chamula, it’s a little special because it has an autonomous status in Mexico, there is no outside police or military in the village, they have their own police force. The church of San Juan Chamula was the weirdest experience I’ve ever had. It strictly prohibited to take pictures there, or even in the town, they can throw you out of the town or in jail if you take pictures. I could soo much have paid like 500 pesos to take a picture there.

Cementary with different colours crosses, representing if you died old or young, or if you are a woman or a man

Cementery with different colors of the crosses, representing if you died old or young, or if you are a woman or a man

The church of San Juan Chamula from the outside

The church of San Juan Chamula from the outside

The church is like a catholic church on the outside and with some similarities on the inside too, like there are catholic statues but with maya clothes instead. There are no benches, instead the floor of the church is covered with green pine boughs. Families kneel on the floor of the church on the grass-thing in front of hundreds of candles who are stuck on the floor with melted wax. They sing songs and pray. They drink cups of Posh, a liquor they have here, or some soda, like coca cola or pepsi. Every family has a lot of soda bottles, like coca-cola, fanta and sprite too, which they splash on the candles and also drink themselves… There are medicine men who helps curing ill people there too. They can do it with candles of specific colours and sizes, specific flowers, petals, feathers, or even chickens. I saw one medicine man help a little girl, he sort of swept the chicken around her body to take the illness away, and then he killed the chicken! Right there, in the church. It was so weird. I could have stayed for hours just watching, it was so rare and fascinating.

San Juan Chamula – picture taken from http://www.lavueltaalmundodebeayjordi.com/

After that, me and Giorgio, and italian guy who also was on the tour, went together to Chiapa Del Corzo and met up with Elena, the italian girl from yesterdays tour. :) We went together on a 2 hours boat ride through Canyon Sumidero, it was beautiful. We saw 2 crocodiles too!!

Canion Sumidero, Chiapa de Corzo

Canion Sumidero, Chiapa de Corzo

Cocodrile!!!

crocodile!!!

Canyon Sumidero, Chiapa de Corzo

Canyon Sumidero, Chiapa de Corzo

After that, I was really tired, I got home and slept a siesta. Then me, Erika and the two italians went out to a mezcaleria where Protestango where playing (an argentinian-spanish band). I met up with some people we got to know yesterday too, a Spanish guy, Miel, and a Argentinian guy, Duilio. They are also traveling the same route as me so we’ll probably see each other in different cities along the way :)

Casa Na Bolom

Hola! 

Today I walked around San Cristobal. I ate again at Tierra Madre, their menu of the day, so I had a soup of vegetables as first plate, and rice and aubergine-thing for second. Drink and bread included, for 66 pesos (33 SEK). Good price! I’ve never managed to cook food even if I bought quite much. I only eat breakfast and yoghurt and avocados at home when I’m hungry. It’s so cheap to eat out here that it’s not even worth to buy food to eat at home actually. So I’m not going to do that anymore.

My lunch at tierra madre

My lunch at tierra madre

Later I went to Casa Na Bolom and with a guide, and he was so good! I got really interested. Casa Na Bolom was the home of archeologist Frans Blom and his wife, Gertrude Duby Blom, a journalist and photographer. Casa Na Bolom is a non-profit organization dedicated to the protection of the Lacandon Maya and the preservation of the Chiapas rain forest, it is a museum and a hotel too.

Gertrude above and some of her first pictures of the Lacandon on the side

Gertrude above and some of her first pictures of the Lacandon on the side

The Lacandon are one of the most isolated and culturally conservative of mexicos native people. When the spanish took over Mexico, the Lacandon fled to the jungle and never got conquisted. If a Lacandon leaves de village to marry someone from the outside or to live outside, they are getting expulsed of the community and are not welcome back, so they are very few Lacandons today, about 400 people. Back in the days, they lived polyamorous, and a man could have up to 4 wives, but today they are so few that it’s rarely. They also have genetic problems because they only marry inside their community, resulting in albinos and deformed body parts (around 5% has some genetic failure).

Lacandon clothing and ritual things

Lacandon clothing and ritual things

You can go in there for 40 pesos, or with guide 50 pesos, and it’s totally worth it. This money goes unshorted to the foundation and to help the lacandon. This house is theirs, so if they are sick and need medical assistance, they are welcome to stay at the hotel in Na Bolom for free and get doctors help for free too, thanks to this organization.

I felt so welcome here, you can eat dinner with them there or sit in the library reading, they have like all books about the maya people there is to have. Very interesting. I’m thinking about volunteering there in the future.

Me at Na Bolom

Me at Na Bolom

I met a italian girl there, Elena, who also was couchsurfing in San Cristobal. She had a meeting later with another couchsurfer, Liceo. I joined them and we went to a place called Kinoki, where you can have both beer or coffee, and you can also rent a room with a projector and sound system and choose a movie to see with your friends, like a private cinema, so cool.

With Elena and Liceo from couchsurfing at Kinoki

With Elena and Liceo from couchsurfing at Kinoki

Erika met us up there and then we ate some dinner on our way home, I ate a Chalupas (6 pesos) and a Pan Compuesto (9 pesos). Both very typical from here and vegetarian. :)

IMG_1048Then we went home to change clothes and to go out to a restaurant where we ate the day before, Aztlan, they were going to have a party there to celebrate 3 years in business. They had a live band there too :) We went home quite early, around 2.30, because next day I had a tour that started at 9.

 

Visiting the market and shopping Chiapas-handcrafts

God morning!

My room at Erikas and her familys place. :)

My room . :)

I started this morning by doing the work-out I usually do with my coworker Jenny at lunch at Ljud och bildmedia. Felt good! Mostly because it’s reaaally cold here and I was freezing when I woke up so the excercise did well . There is no heat inside, so it’s outside temperature inside, I would guess 8-10*C at night. I slept with my union suit, my fleece jacket, my skii socks, and a thick woolen blanket. This night I’ll be sleeping with two woolen blankets. :) You could say that it’s lika s spanish winter here in the mountains. It’s 2200 metres above sea level. But during the day it’s around 15-20*C so it’s ok :)

Anyhow, after my work out I had a shower and later me and Erika went downtown.


Street of San Cristobal

Street of San Cristobal. It’s completely surrounded by mountains.

San Cristobal is beautiful, very colonial and picturesque. It’s surrounded by mountains and the air feels so clean here too.

We walked to the main market and ooooh, so many nice things here. It’s really beautiful, and there are so many, all home made, organic, ecologic etc. It’s really beautiful artwork, and so cheap. I’m actually thinking about opening some sort of webshop with artwork from Mexico, both Oaxaca and Chiapas have beautiful things, from clothes, quilts, rugs, jewelry, furniture, bags, everything  that at least I really would like to have, and I think lot of other Swedes would enjoy it too.

Really beautiful work with all these bags.

Really beautiful work with all these bags. One of the small handbags on the table costs about 80 pesos (40SEK), and everything is made by them!

Eating the best falafel I've ever eaten!

Eating the best falafel I’ve ever eaten!

After the marked we ate lunch – Falafel with pita and hummus – and damn, it was the best falafel I have ever tasted. Sooo goood!!! The place is also called Falafel and it’s on the street Maria Adelina Flores.

After the falafel we walked around for a bit but we were both tired and went home around 17, to relax. For dinner we ate Enchilladas, and tomorrow the restaurant is celebrating 3 years so we are going there for their aniversary party. :)

So, good night!

 

Fiestas grande de enero, Chiapa de Corzo

I arrived around 10ish this morning in San Cristóbal de Las Casas, and went to Erika, my host. She was going to leave for the fiestas in Chiapa de Corzo and asked me if I wanted to join, so I just put on my lenses and went along with her. :)  It’s about 1 hour bus ride, close to Tuxtla (which I just had passed on my way here, haha).

We walked down to the Plaza del 31 de Marzo where we met up her friend Itsam and walked to the bus station. The economic bus costed only 25 pesos! Before the bus left the station there were a couple of vendors who sold some fruits and candy, and we bought fruits, 10 pesos for a box, and they were delicious. I love all this exotic fruit. mmmmm!

On our way to Chiapa de Corzo, in the economic bus that costs 25 pesos :) Itsmal and Erika, with our fruits we bought from a man who sold them in the bus just before departure. So fresh!

Excited and on our way to Chiapa de Corzo, in the economic bus with our fruit boxes :)

When we got there we passed by another couchsurfers house to leave our bags and also change clothes, because it’s much warmer there (Erika was all delirious about it). They live in Montebello, such a beautiful area, all the houses have different colors, it’s like lego!

Erikas friends lives in this area, Montebello, so beautiful small colourful houses everywhere!!

Erikas friends lives in this area, Montebello, so beautiful small colourful houses everywhere!!

The Fiesta Grande de Enero is a celebration which joins a number of events which all happen in the month of January, they are hold every year 4/1-23/1 so today was the last day, when there is a parade of dancers, the most known are the Parachicos. They dress in a mask, a helmet or wig, and a serape. They also carry a type of maraca called chinchin to make noise. The mask is carved of wood and decorated to mimic a Spanish face.

Me and 3 parachicos, the traditional mens clothes :)

Me and 3 parachicos, the traditional mens clothes :)

This tradition refers back to a story in the colonial era. The legend sais that a rich woman had a son who suffered from a mysterious illness which no doctor could cure. She travelled around to find a cure and arrived here to a local healer and the boy was miraculously cured.  To distract and amuse the boy, a local group dressed up as spanish people with masks and began to dance ”para el chico” which means ”for the boy” in spanish. According to one version of the story, this is what cured the boy. The tradition of these dancers began in 1711.

We went with two other travelers who were there, Raphaelle and Baptiste, yes, from france :) Erika had hosted them before too. We walked around, bought sweats, food, had some coffee, saw the parade and so on. It was a very pleasant evening!

In the market, trying out the typical Pozol de Cacao from this area

In the market, trying out the typical Pozol de Cacao from this area

A young parachico with the chinchin on the street.

A young parachico with the chinchin on the street.

Traditional dresses for the women, the tradition is also that the father borders the flowers to them

Traditional dresses for the women, the tradition is also that the father borders the flowers to them.

We went home at night, all together to San Cristóbal de Las Casas. We went out to eat some dinner and then home to sleep. Raphaelle and Baptiste where leaving 5am in the morning for Guatemala next day, they are also traveling around South America until august, so hopefully our paths will cross again :)