Old and new friends in Guatemala

Last week I left the sweet fields of Guatemala, and if I though I would have vacation these weeks, I must admit I thought wrong. Guatemala is one of the most diverse countries I’ve ever visited, specially regarding the size of it! From Pacific to Caribbean, from Mexico to El Salvador, this little miniature world will surprise you with everything from picturesque small towns, mountain villages, untouched jungles, volcanoes, canyons, hot spring waterfalls, rivers, crystal clear lakes, caves, natural pools, Mayan ruins, reefs etc etc. I have climbed, jumped, hiked, paddled, swum every crook and ninny of nature available, at all the different hours of the day and night! Finishing each day with rum in different combinations, I’m gonna need a vacation after this vacation! Happily at least I realised I’m still in rather good shape, even if my running routines haven’t found themselves yet.

Not just the country is beautiful, the people are also in general mostly easy going and relaxed, it’s obligatory to greet everyone you meet with a “buenos” – no matter how far from civilisation or deep in the jungle you are. If you need to argue with anyone of them, they usually give up before you and things sort themselves out. The hours spent on the road is usually an endless remarkable show of tree covered mountains, coffee plantations and untouched nature. Even at the most touristic sights you can still walk alone, and for hours you might be the only tourist around. Dinner with a Guatemalan family is not a culinary delight, rice and beans and guacamole is the standard, but the joy and hospitality is warm enough to reach the last little cold corner of your Swedish heart, and the term private space is something you have to give up around these areas. Hugs and kisses are fluctuating and curious kids might put a finger on your tattoos with a shy smile. Happiness here is definitely “only real when shared”. I’ve been lucky too to find my little family constellations to travel with. I had Amanda for two weeks all in all, one of the most sociable and hilarious people I ever met with a bizarre and direct sense of humour. She could probably fit in in any social situation and where I can be sceptical towards others, she ties good people to her instinctively. A perfect travel companion who kept me laughing for days at end. Another Jess and Tom had their second honey moon – Jess quit her job to go travel instead; marriage doesn’t necessarily equals settling down with a house, dog and kids. In Antigua we picked up Shawnee and Tim (unrelated) for some typical St Patric’s days celebration, and had some crazy nights out. Antigua is a really fun town and holds many ex-pats and “settlers” which makes it really easy to meet people of all kinds. From there our little trio of Amanda, Tim and me went on to Semuc Champey – heaven on earth where we mostly swam around in waterfalls and caves, did some slack lining and hiked a mountain. Tim is the typical adventurer who’s been cycling or walking around Europe, did his time in the peace core in Turkmenistan as a yoga teacher, and who naturally was close to jumping toward his death in a water pool filled with rocks had not me and Amanda freaked out and stopped him. It’s both challenging and stimulating to be around people more physically “out there” – sometimes you just want to sit around and stare at the sun, other times it’s good to be dragged away to altitudes you usually don’t consider. I think you don’t really have to be the same kind of person to get along really well, if you’re just in the same state of mind right there. During all these days travelling with other people I was blessed – never did we have a single argument, hardly even a disagreement. We were all still travelling solo, following our own plans together, which allows you to stay free from obligations towards one another. Sharing and caring becomes more direct, cause subconsciously you know, this is only now and here, now is only here, and that is all that’s relevant. Keeping up relationships and friendships is what is straining them, that’s when you start counting favours and disappointments. On the road you rarely have the time to build anything more sustainable than the present, which makes it direct, pure and free. So after gins and tonics, rums and colas, mojitos and gallos, it wasn’t really hard to split up, the positive energy of meeting good people in this magical surroundings far surpassed the feeling of loneliness. And you can’t really be lonely in a country packed with good people, whether they’re locals or travellers, escapists or seekers, coming or going, in or out of motion.

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