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Volcanoes, pyramids and lakes. A trip to Guatemala

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Martí Micolau
@martímicolau
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It is difficult to think of all that a trip to Guatemala can do. leave you. Today I want to tell you about my journey with the hope of being able to convey part of the beauty of this land ...

1 day

6 December 2004, 8.30 am
After the checks, at gate C 24, I reflect on this new adventure. Guatemala.
The inevitable friend called me last night:? And what do you do in Guatemala ??. So, from my calculations, the planned two weeks of travel should be barely enough for three of the country's many attractions.
Of course I have the intention of not damaging my soul to spin like a top but, after all, this? the kind of approach to travel that I intend to pursue.
I thought and said that I must find peace and time to devote myself to the contemplation of my navel.
Two sentences of career women, recently read in interviews that appeared in Business and Finance, really struck me. In one, the top manager on duty, in front of the interviewer who remembered her curious past as a television quiz champion for a few hundred million lire, wanted to specify that the gold tokens of those winnings were still at home , in what? I can not enjoy there? that I got without commitment and effort? (!).
In another statement, the scion of a rich lineage of fashion creators, placed at the top of the company by mournful events that had struck the family, affirmed that in order to have a quality? of a decent life, even in a respectable working context, it was necessary to go to New York why? in Milan everyone always runs even without strict necessity? and no one knows exactly behind what.
Here, although I commit myself not to make my life a blender, I often have to enter those of others since I still have to perfect that degree of working autonomy which, in the hope, should allow me to modulate even more? my days.
I changed the fate! I had been assigned an aisle seat on the plane to Newark but I asked for another one, after all, there? where the rows are of two and not of three seats, avr? done right?
From the point of view of modernity? I'm not in bad shape. I listen to my compilation from my i-pod purchased on the internet and programmed following a substantial update of my desktop stopped at windows 98.
I get ready to write notes and notes even on my PDA and to shoot places and moments with the digital camera or with the reflex camera or with that of my new mobile phone.
Vab?, However, I have a certain capacity? not to get bored in the least to travel alone and I want to see if this time too the rule will be? confirmed.
21.20 pm Italian. While waiting to leave for Houston I note, we land only 50 minutes before the theoretical restart. Monstrous queue at immigration where they register me and take my fingerprints (may they have them!). While I stand in line I ask an imposing security guard who regulates the traffic of? Immigrants? what a hope I have to take the coincidence. He reassures me, but a moment later the passport control guy tells me, candidly, what? a habit for those of the Continental to lose connections!
Very frantic race, absurd recovery of the baggage and then re-embarking it, I hope I have left it to the right ones. New breathless ride to the terminal reported in total ignorance about being on time or not.
As I face the last row, two elderly Yankees also ask me why? I'm in a hurry. IS? done, I'm on board!
And I couldn't capture the horror. Along the corridors of George Bush International,? the name of the airport, on the left stands a statue of at least three meters, copper-colored, of the father president, in a cowboy outfit with boots and a hat? ..





2 day

27 December.
I have my Guatemalan breakfast in a place near Parque Central in Antigua, don't I? the one suggested by the guide that I could not find. But let's go back, I arrived at 22.40, after having feared that I had lost my backpack, which is not? long seen upon arrival baggage.
A fantastic flight Houston - Guatemala city: black steward named Clay. He looked like one of the fat characters played by Eddie Murphy and was very kind and thoughtful, a blast.
A local couple greets me outside the terminal and my name? crippled in? Becchio? on a sign. They have two children even though they seem very young and the 7 (!) Year old girl calls them on their cell phone worried about their absence.
The "P? beauty of the trip to Antigua is said when, upon arriving at their destination, they briefly show me the Parque Central, illuminated for the holidays? but practically deserted. Quietly I inquire about whether it is late (? Sunday) for the classic evening walks. I am told that they are very Catholic, that even in the city? there are six churches and what? really a large number for a city? small like Antigua? .. ok ??
The bacon and egg sandwich is discreet and accompanied by a curious cappuccino. Now I try the coffee? local that is said to be very good, unfortunately I did not ask for an espresso and they bring me a broth! I drink it, don't I? bad.
IS? full of internet centers and phoned via the web for 4 quetzales (half dollar) in Italy.
After some photos and the organization of the transfer on the road to Tikal I make the first stop at the Cathedral of the Parque Central.
IS? consisting only of some remains of the, I would say three, naves of the original construction which collapsed due to various earthquakes. Of intact c ?? the facade that d? on the square. In visiting the ruins, what are some? behind and quite spectacular, even if they present strange and inappropriate attempts of restoration, I am guided by Oscar who harpoons me on the entrance and does not let me go anymore? since his kindness doesn't make me brusque.
Now, however, that I am going to eat Mexican at Frida? S I feel on average cheated by my impromptu guide, but it would not be very serious if the bank had not absurdly told me that after a certain hour they do not change anymore. dollars!
In short, he showed me some interesting things, such as the Franciscan church and the curious Mayan faces drawn on the walls of the ancient university. But in the end, round and round, Oscar took me to a large emporium-para museum (!) Specialized in the processing and sale of jadeite of various types. I was also able to buy a stone, jadeite and gold, for a probably disproportionate amount and destined for my mother, but after what will I have? passed a quality control? Roman.
I want to clarify that they seemed enormously more? serious about those who used me in Cambodia and the place was full of foreign tourists who, obviously, were buying.
Sar? a pendant to certain paintings by Frida Khalo, full of disturbing anatomical details also reproduced on the walls of the room, but one of the two televisions in the room? tuned to a terrible program of operations and interventions on patients in desperate conditions!
But here comes my reckless order, Nachos Mixtos. A huge plate on a bed of classic crushed tacos, a quantity? embarrassing of melted cheese, two types of meat, red and green peppers, onions and salad. And I wanted to keep myself light! Just a snack! In one of the rare circumstances of my life I no longer consume? 1/3 of the dish, which is excellent (at least now, we'll see later?).
I forgot to say that, to confirm the pitiful state of my nerves, last night I dreamed of several legal arguments that woke me up more? than once, let's see how long it lasts ?.
After leaving Oscar I went up to a building overlooking the Parque Central to enjoy the view and then move to a sun-drenched bench and continue my meditations.
The place ? beautiful, definitely beautiful, the North American contamination, also present in certain shops and prices, does not seem to have caused any upheavals. I would say that, in short,? clearly perceptible a specificity? local. By the way, nobody speaks English, only Spanish? good!
The afternoon spends partially in the sun on the aforementioned bench, studying itineraries and reading Marai's curious novel, The Right Woman. With considerable calm I then go for another stroll in the afternoon light and I must admit that the facade of Santa Clara earns a lot of it. like the fountain with washerwomen in front of you.
Are other places I would like to visit closed being Monday? and, then refer to tomorrow. Unfortunately among these? the Casa Palopo what? closed until early January and that my guide points out as something truly worthwhile? sar? for the next time!
Around five o'clock the return to the hotel is somewhat accelerated by an intestinal emergency. The sensation ? that, as the sun goes away, the temperature drops well beyond the forecast. And this feeling will be? confirmed.
I leave at 20.00 to go to the Escudilla where I take care of a cold start in my own way: mojito and chicken soup, I add a half portion of noodles with shrimps (discrete) and I leave in the night to see the Parque Central and the restaurant perhaps more ? in, the Casbah.
Built among the ruins of yet another collapsed building in Antigua, I would say that not? not bad but desolately empty, yes and no 21.30.
I go back to the Escudilla whose continuation? the Rickis Bar, another local more? small and quite crowded where I consume my second mojito. Every now and then pickups with very powerful stereos cross slowly, I don't know if to be heard or why? the irregular cobblestones impose such paces, but otherwise the streets are not very animated. Just some guitar strummer tries some unlikely warbling in the gardens of the Parque Central.
Beautiful, peaceful and restful. Good night.



3 day

28 December.
I d? a strange sensation walking among the gigantic ruins of the Franciscan convent. In particular, I catch what looks like a smile on the big face of a fat Guatemalan who is alone with me in this fallen space. Could it be revenge? Soon you will see? the Mayan site par excellence, or almost, Tikal and even if at the arrival of the conquistadors it was already? abandoned, it was they who massacred and enslaved the Indians. So, the fact that successive earthquakes have reduced this to rubble? so many buildings raised by Europeans could be read as a sort of compensation for the misdeeds committed?
Well, the morning had begun with a good breakfast at the Escudilla followed by the peaceful search for the cigar shop reported by the guide who, however, already? compared to 2002 it has changed position. In the end I find it but? closed.
I manually update the guide and plan to review.
A stroll in the messed up market to the west where the best? represented by stalls offering red grapes and fireworks.
I go back to Parque Central where I meditate on the next steps. The first, as mentioned, will be? the Franciscan church. Moreover, I have a lot of expectations from a shot of the Agua volcano captured passing through Parque Union. IS? the second square of the city, rectangular with a large fountain for washing at one end.
Then I move on to the beautiful Capuchin convent, the digital camera is reset by itself I hope that, as on other occasions, the photos taken are recoverable.
I wander between courtyards and a strange cylindrical building containing the nuns' residence cells, the top? a very grassy garden full of flowers where, take off my shoes, I spend half an hour more? relaxing of this beginning of the journey.
I commend myself for beating the guide. I smelled the deal and now I have confirmation. I stopped for lunch at Antorchas where tomato soup, lemon chicken and espresso are perfect, very cordially served in a relaxing garden with a central fountain.
Despite the onset of colds, I turn on a Montecristo and book for tonight. Short steaming stop in the square then back to the tobacco shop.
The lady who, strangely speaking, speaks perfect English, sells me four different Hondurans that will be tested in the next few days. I forgot .. before lunch, in the market in front of the magnificent remains of the facade of the Carmen church (there is only that left!), I bought a box for my aunt. On the lid c ?? the arch of Antigua, obvious but essential.
I tweak for a moment on the internet: an email to a dear friend, tragic news from Asia.
Again among the rubble, those of S. Chiara are full of flirting Indians and on a beautiful fountain in the courtyard, maybe I can catch a white dove drinking? good sign ?
Another photo of the Agua from the courtyard of the colonial museum. Indeed? an impending presence but I would really like to be able to give an adequate idea.
Finally, the church pi? close to my Posada, La Merced. Here the guide is not wrong! The external fountain and the huge internal one in the courtyard of the convent are beautiful. At the entrance the usual lady tries to cheat me on the rest of the ticket, I correct her and forgive her.
Now, while waiting for dinner, do I let myself be cradled on the hammock hanging in the inner courtyard of my posada? tomorrow I leave at 4!
Dinner with flakes, cheese fondue with sausage and salmon steak with orange, all washed down with a Chilean Tarapac? Very solid Cabernet-Sauvignon. A confirmation.
Soon to bed, not to sleep but in the awareness of the bestial wake-up call. I also received an email from an idiot from the University? which, by eye, tells me about the incorrect dates for a course that starts, alas ?, in January.



4 day

29 December.
At 5.25 am I am the first to have checked in and I observe these twenty sleepy tourists fighting with the only guy at the counter who also has the courage to ask for airport taxes. I know that the plane will not be? just a Jumbo!
I have some concern, won't six nights at El Remate be too long?
In short, if I want to rest, a little? I have to spend time in one place. Maybe the email from the University? reminded me of the farmhouse of things to do at home and then, I had conveniently forgotten that the start of my next course? already? in January.
However I'm here and worrying does not seem to improve the situation, to repent really no, let's try to give a great sense to this part of the journey, more? and better than Antigua!
The choice for a stop so? long looks perfect immediately after arrival, even if I understand exactly the opposite of what this American or English (boh!) with white hair, blue eyes and very lively who, however, immediately makes me a great impression.
IS? David and tries to explain to me that I have reclaimed more? of the necessary for which I have a credit of 17 dollars. Also for the fact of being half deaf, after the short flight on the thundering local twin-propeller, I understand, at first, that he wants more? than what I sent him. The result is a clear? Surreal? Discussion:? But not? correct that you ask me now more? than what has been agreed for the internet, I have the text of the email with me !? and he? I don't understand how there could have been such a mistake, however, I will investigate, after all we owe you money!?.
The final smile, at the clarification of the misunderstanding, confirms my goodness? of the choice, among other things, here at the Casa de Don David, drinking water? free as well as the use of the bicycle and, discover? then, also the use of the internet.
After having partially recovered with a nap on the hammock in front of my bungalow I take the first ride. 3 or 4 km of dirt road and you are at the luxury hotel in the area, the Camino Real.
I get a beach and pool pass. The water of the Peten Itza lake here? a little? too frothy but the pool? fresh and clean, the view from the restaurant veranda? enchanting. The lake ? long and narrow and surrounded by vegetation of different colors and all in absolute and slow tranquility.
My only gripe? the left ear that does not uncork and continues to give me this annoying apnea effect.
Having eaten an unmemorable meal, do I go back to my residence where I check that the room assigned to me? fundamentally absurd. There are, in fact, two double beds and one single bed and a half, but no wardrobes n? chest of drawers n? a crutch holder bar, nothing!
The bungalows overlook a beautiful well-kept garden even if without direct access to the lake, I think for security reasons. The level of services? such that I download the digital memory in a file that they are willing to update periodically to then give me the CD with all the photos taken.
Considering that my machine is not working perfectly? a godsend!
The biggest problem? that at a quarter to six the sun? set.
Dinner with tuna sandwich? sparca but good and I know a Polish woman who lives in Canada definitely in the flesh and who tomorrow will be? with me up early for Tikal. Before bed I shoot the Honduran Santa Rosa, good but not great.

5 day

30 December.
Like revolutionaries in the night, the van transports us by advancing in the darkness of the Peten. It is full of Europeans and Indians in very variable composition. Every few km the vehicle stops, some Indians go up and some go down, if not c '? placed in the cabin you go up to the roof in an imaginary changing of the guard at various positions.
Indeed, the harshness of waking up at 5.00? tempered by the presence of David and an Indian who, around a coffee machine? American, they struggle why? we can drink it before the arrival of the bus. It will be the time and the place, but the hot liquid I sip and the curious sweet biscuit as a side dish seem to me an excellent omen for the day.
Is the goodness confirmed? of the choice of El Remate instead? Flores (which seems normally preferred), the distance with Tikal? however remarkable and it takes almost an hour to arrive. Does this mean that in Flores they either get up at 4.00 or can't get to the opening what? scheduled at 6.00. Yesterday I was a little bit? skeptical of the utility? of this early arrival, but now I cannot deny that enjoying these wonders in practically total solitude justifies the sacrifice.
Describe ... so to try to say something that is not there? on the guides, at least in the order I am going to illustrate. Do I have to specify that my whole visit? was conducted knowing that I would return. This me? served both to evaluate the places that would have deserved a return, as to not be obsessed with necessity? to see everything.
At the entrance, with the ticket, I bought a rather useless map since the one contained in my guide, even if on a smaller scale, yes? turned out to be much better.
Together with the Polish woman, whose ninth I understood only at the end of the day, Borasca (!), Thanks to the fact that she wrote it to me giving me her e-mail, I immediately opted for the less impressive buildings, placed to the right of the triple invitation to advance in the forest that presents itself to the visitor.
And yes, why? it is precisely to advance in the jungle, although obviously through rather simple paths but, at least potentially, for kilometers and kilometers.
The site ? huge and, if almost incredibly, I found myself, over 7 hours from the entrance, to have seen about 80 percent of the main things, it seems there are endless secondary buildings to discover in the thick of the vegetation, even at the risk of getting lost .
The atmosphere? undoubtedly fantastic, moments of absolute silence interrupted by the cries of birds or unidentified animals, a sensation of increasing energy as one approaches the nearest buildings. spectacular. Absence, then, of any form of begging or sale of junk which instead, as Borasca and Curtis, an American who joins in the day confirm to me, afflict Mexican sites like Palenque or others, compromising their usability. My shirt, chosen carefully, gives me? you look for satisfaction. It depicts a "Chetrooper", a brilliant contamination of history and fantasy made up of the scalp contour of the classic image of Che Guevara, whose face? moreover replaced by the mask of a member of the Empire's elite troops from the Star Wars films.
Purchased on the internet, after having seen it in the Italian version of the New York Times distributed with Repubblica, it is even photographed by a couple of guys who are definitely impressed.
Among the many reasons that brought me to this part of the world there? also the somewhat recent discovery that one of the most? incredible of this site? part of a scene from the first episode of Star Wars. It should be the peaks of Temples III, II and I emerging from the forest once you have had the courage to climb the wooden ladder that laboriously leads to the top of Temple IV.
Among other things, from this fantastic position one can also see the wide esplanade of the gigantic truncated pyramid which is the fulcrum of the complex called "mundo perdido". In reality, the fact that practically all the monuments are identified with numbers or letters gives me? a little? annoyance. Even if perhaps in the form of complicated clusters of x and other consonants, I would have preferred to know some words pi? close to the original ones but, from what I read, I got the feeling that of all these testimonies of civilization? maya, the same scholars still don't know that much today.
I cannot fail to report, however, what constitutes one of the discoveries for me more? interesting facts made so far. The concept of star war was particularly widespread in the Mayan world. That is, it seems certain that, among the purposes? of the maniacal study of the astronomy of this mysterious people, there was also that of identifying the day pi? astronomically suitable for initiating a conflict that could end in the desired sense. The star war in fact!
That George Lucas was somewhat directly inspired by this tradition?
The visit goes on in a very pleasant way, the temperature? mild and the fronds of the trees shelter largely from the sun's rays, the company? somewhat funny. Curtis declares himself a missionary and appears to have traveled like crazy, currently caring for difficult kids in a kind of military boarding school in New York. Even him ? a fanatic of Dan Brown's recent bestseller that I just gave to my mother and is convinced that the Catholic Church has a lot to be forgiven about covering up the role of women in Jesus' life.
Somehow around 13.30 I feel that my batteries are discharging in a worrying way. I miraculously manage to take the 14.00pm minibus, do some chores like checking the internet, calling home, where am I already? 22.00, and a quick shower. Then I literally collapse on the bed as if electrocuted. I wake up at 18.30 in a state of total confusion and with my legs very sore from the hundreds of steps climbed up and down.
Among other things, I also accuse a very notable hunger since, although the excellent ham sandwich prepared for me for lunch by the kitchens of the David house, has just buffered the situation many hours ago. But the day still holds positive surprises for me, the dish? Special del dia ?, the chicken alla regina,? a sort of supreme with rice and para-béchamel very appetizing. The final cheesecske then keeps the dinner level high.
Few pages of reading, no music that the i-pod? unloaded and I have not yet managed to get the promised adapter for the socket, and shortly after 22.00 pm the light goes out.

6 day

31 December.
I swing in the hammock of the kiosk in the center of the garden and catch scraps of conversation from local tourists behind me. Some Westerners have been robbed, I understand, by bandits in balaclavas on their way to Tikal in a minibus. OK .. Better not to travel with all your money and valuables on.
Always with the funny Borasca, who photographs me all the time, I booked a tour of the lake by boat to enjoy the sunset and a table for the turkey and I don't know what else for tonight's dinner.
David is always very helpful and kind, he tells me that in April it will be 30 years that? here. Known with curiosity? that, although they bring me enormous cups of coffee, the taste of the drink? really good. This place ? a charm. This trivial consideration comes from a small wooden pier, about 1 km from Don David's house, which juts out for about thirty meters into the green lake of Peten Itza.
The sky ? suitably cloudy, cos? to dampen the impetuousness of the sun and, if so, the pier? also supplied with a shadowy canopy. I took a bath and reached a small floating platform where I rested for a while. Now, to my left, a twin dock leads to a red painted barge where? equipped a small restaurant "right on the lake".
Behind me two or three wooden and masonry houses, nobody can be seen ...
The terrace hammocks are also empty.
For the rest, water, calm, green and transparent and, later, the jungle as far as the eye can see. The silence would be fantastic but a combustion engine, perhaps a tiller or similar, mumbles too close ... Patience perfection? sickly!
At 16.00 a fantastic boat trip on the Peten Itza lake awaits me. It's long and narrow, 35km by 5km max, the atmosphere? extremely quiet and the reflection of the sky on the surface, perfectly flat, d? just the feeling of having the sky below us as well as above, I trust a lot in the photos.
We enter the two visible tributaries of the lake and the boatman shows us the names of the multitude of polychrome birds that seem to await us on the shores. Among them also the fisher king who reminds me of a splendid film by Terry Gilliam with Robin Williams.
In water ? easy to see the small sea turtle heads that look out for a moment and then dive. In the second river, our pilot warns us to look closely at a hollow log that juts out over the water. We do not understand why, but here, getting very close, a dozen bats disturbed by our noisy presence rush out and come towards us, nice joke boy!
The tour ends with a fiery orange sunset that transforms a strange cloud into a large surreal waterfall worthy of a Dal? Painting.
The evening continues and after some tragic news and some happy ones coming from the internet, we go to dinner to try the specialties? end of the year.
First the talos, strange polenta-like rolls stuffed with chicken, cooked and served in banana leaves. Then a stratospheric crusted turkey worthy of the best local restaurants. We conclude with an excellent fruit cheesepie washed down with a pina colada made on the spot with remarkable skill. Borasca photographs everything and I trust the internet for exchanges.
In the middle of the dinner, David comes to visit us, a few words and then we both understand only that, after dinner, we are invited into the garden, but for what we do not know. Borasca insists on hypothesizing a fireworks show but I'm skeptical about it, the garden? dark and devoid of any movement.
It is really necessary to hold on strong why? it is the highlight of a truly superb day.
We find that the park? full of tarantulas!
Huge black spiders burrowing into holes under the flower beds and, here in Guatemala, goodness? they are not very poisonous and aggressive. David armed with a torch and a stick, followed by a small crowd, teases the entry of various dens until the specimen of the desired size comes out. Scares, ? as big as my fist.
He takes it with skill and turns it upside down to show us his two big teeth. Then he proposes to each of us to keep it on his arm for a few seconds. They all do it, amidst shouts and hysterical laughter and I hardly believe what I'm seeing but in the end, almost in a trance, I'm the last to accept the proposal. Obviously, after a few moments of immobility, the spider snaps on my arm and David manages to take it off me that he already has? reached the right shoulder. I have the photo of the company for which I don't know whether to call myself an idiot.
Midnight is expected in the gazebo in the garden, the large number of rudimentary barrels fired by the kids and the darkness? outside do not recommend going out. Borasca tells me about the follies of Toronto's climate and the local work system. He had to say that he had guests to get the holidays, if his boss had known he was going to leave he would certainly have refused it.
I listen to it sadly and enjoy the Honduran Don Melo, definitely superior to the Santa Rosa. Hello 2004, in many ways you have lasted too long.

7 day

1 January.
Keep going well, I got out of Temple V alive, pure constructive madness. The corner of the staircase, forbidden,? maybe below 20 degrees. Once up, through a slightly less steep system of wooden stairs, you have a microbase to move, yes and no 2 meters by 60 cm and clear symptoms of vertigo. I was saying, I went down, as well as alive, even a moment before the umpteenth water slug of this capricious start of the year.
So, after a comfortable awakening and a powerful breakfast I took a leap to immortalize yesterday's little bridge and where I plan to return, the sky was already there. somewhat covered.
I then placed myself waiting for the first vehicle for Tikal and, in the meantime, I chatted with an elderly and adventurous Italian-Swiss who foretold me the goodness? of my choice of tomorrow: Yaxha.
Once I arrived I thought of some secondary operations, a look at the little shops, which are preceded by a great model of the whole site which is useful for a rough orientation. I therefore searched in vain for a shirt that met my aesthetic requirements and then opted for a cap with pyramids and toucan. Therefore, I followed the advice of my guide by visiting the only room in the Tikal museum. Indeed, the beauty of stele 31, with the perfect representation of the Jaguar King like this? like the reconstruction of his tomb, found at the base of temple I, are worth a visit. If we add that it was deserted, full of pottery and other objects decorated in a disturbingly similar way to similar artifacts seen in China, as well as? that the ban on taking pictures was easily evaded, since the caretaker was quietly standing outside, well fool who doesn't go there!
Then taking the path towards the ruins I took the exact opposite direction from the previous time and then I went left. For long and silent minutes, I walked alone and seemingly lost in a path, going deeper and deeper. in the jungle.
I did not think that the sight of a can of coke thrown among the brushwood could give me a feeling like this? positive of ground already? beaten. Eventually, battling with intermittent rain, I arrived at Temple VI. Majestic, with its imposing cornice which must have contained thousands of inscriptions.
Unfortunately, even using my 300 mm zoom as a microscope, I would say that you can't see it anymore? nothing. However, I have some hope for the b / w photos taken while the rain was quite intense.
I then slowly continued to reach the large palace known as the Scanalature, an imposing complex full of rooms and various passages. Here too I must complain about the total disappearance of the inscriptions that should have covered a large part of it. So, while I was copying a reproduced one and that a sign claimed to have been found on the walls (it will have disappeared then I have it removed to protect it?), A kind English-speaking traveler warned me that a spectacular toucan was standing right on my head perched on a branch.
He gave me a wonderful gift, it was very colorful and? flew away immediately but, in this way, I also saw well the other element depicted on my cappelletto purchased at the entrance.
Some hateful Italians shared a visit to the palace with me but I managed to remain incognito. As I said, I then moved on to the crazy temple V and then to the main object of this return.
I write, as I admire the sky mottled with clouds, from the top of the temple pi? high of Tikal, the IV.
In the air the raucous cries of the local monkeys are decidedly disturbing and hardly softened by the present chirping of birds. The few people present, fortunately, speak in a low voice just as if they were in a sacred place.
I have the tops of temples I, II, and III in front of me and a little more? on the right the tip of the V and the pyramid of mundo perdido. Two pairs of bright green parrots make bold moves in the treetops below us. If I have any brilliant ideas this place should help me.
Ok, time? past and I am going to go around the upper part of the temple that hosts me, to photograph a large bird with an orange collar perched right on top of the last ledge, I also risk something but, at least in this case, the ending? known and not tragic.
On the way out I try to immortalize a monkey that is slower than those seen so far and then I manage to miraculously take my seat on the 18 o'clock bus, full as an egg and which he leaves waiting for who knows? how long at least 30 travelers more? latecomers of me.
For dinner, tacos stuffed with chicken and yesterday's dessert. Very good but huge half Honduran Flor de Copan prepares me for sleep.

8 day

2 January.
And here I am on the top of an unspecified pyramid of Yaxha. In fact, under the wooden staircase that brought me up here? there? only an apparent hill of land and trees which, however, reasonably conceals who knows? what mysteries. The view from here? remarkable, a large lake on my left, with irregular and overgrown shores, an imposing pyramid on my right emerges above the treetops, who knows? if I can? to climb it soon.
I arrived here in a battered Toyota driven by Juan. Also in this case on board there was what I consider his lady, like when I was taken at the airport of Guatemala city. After 45 minutes of travel, yes? took a dirt road and, 11 km from the destination, the friction of this body gave out.
You want in first, you want in third we laboriously arrived at the park entrance. Here I have affixed name, surname and nationality? on an antediluvian entry register, there were no Italians on the page I signed.
On the way, I asked for some information about El Mirador, the largest Mayan site. ancient and more? large, scattered in the northern forest. Juan assures me that today you can? reach not only with 3 days on horseback but also with one day on specially equipped jeeps. Give us a little thought for next time.
Overall I'm having a great time like crazy, I would say just like a child who is given a new beautiful toy every day.
Anyway, to make the last curves up to the beginning of the paths of Yaxha I was kindly invited to get on the loading space of a big pick-up which, once I got off, continued in the jungle leaving me curious. to know where he was taking the two intrepid whites he was carrying.
Upon my arrival, a small deserted parking lot, a tiny stall whose owner slept great on the post bench in front and a mocking sign to prohibit honking the horn. I would say that I am the only visitor present and it is 9.00 in the morning.
I avoid the two or three guardians that I pass from afar in my walk in this seemingly abandoned wonder, thunderous screams of invisible monkeys, hidden pyramids, squares and buildings suddenly emerge in the forest I am afraid and I feel like a comic book explorer. Just when loneliness begins to worry me more? the place begins to be populated, so that? observe any inscriptions on collapsed ledges at the foot of one of the twin pyramids? less scary.
The continuous screams of the monkeys are close and indescribable. At this point I could ask for help from a guide but the pleasure of going around aimlessly seems preferable to me. Moreover, so far, the most? beautiful that I have seen, the North and East Acropolis, are closed by tape, sticks and clear signs that say NO PASAR. After some initial doubts, I appropriately bypassed the signs and enjoyed beautiful spaces without a living soul, I don't know if I could have done the same with the guides.
I went back to the mirador at the top of the hidden pyramid to have my sandwich and after wandering a bit more, perhaps among tombs that looked like they had just been excavated by archaeologists working there, I went to the parking lot.
No trace of my driver, so? I hiked the 3 km of stony ground up to the entrance bar but even there no news of Juan and his cart.
Now I write these notes trusting in the word of a bus driver who told me that, in a while? (?), will repeat? from here going in my direction and give me? a lift. I asked him the question at the entrance of a self-styled Ecolodge El Sombrero a few meters from here which is managed by an Italian. It would be curious to understand why? and how ? over here ?.
I am not particularly angry even if I pretend? back most of the $ 40 given to David for a ride that is not? was not even equal to half? of the agreements.
Meanwhile, I exchange some confused words with an old man about all the lives, yes? taken away the year just ended, between Iraq and the last natural disaster and it seems to me that we both agree in the hope that 2005 will be less bad.
Here appears a pick-up that has certainly seen better days, the cargo space seems to me somewhat cluttered with Christians, but the guy who is the most? awake with his dark glasses, his big belly and his signature gray T-shirt, he asks me if I'm Juan's.
And so what? my butt rests badly on the narrow, rickety metal edge that closes the cargo floor of this pickup truck. Pi? isn't there inside ?? own place. We are ten with me, three boys and a girl, the local awake and an indigenous woman who looks much less so, three whites, two women and a long-haired agee wearing a? Project Guatemala 2004? Maybe some volunteer organization.
We proceed at a walking pace, given the road conditions and the type of load, but a strange wave of serenity? envelops me. Around us the fields with buffaloes, horses, birds and farmers, every now and then we see some small lake. One of the children starts unwrapping a packet of candy and, lastly, he kindly offers them to me too.
In short, it will not be? the mode? travel time agreed but certainly has its own charm. To a stop made to rest a bit? all from the backbreaking up and down? of that chest I discover that one of the two women? Italian, has lived in Guatemala for 15 years, who knows? what to do ?, and you recommend two places around Lake Atitlan, the first? S. Marco the second I do not remember.
At 16.00 pm I am with David who, having heard the story, apologizes and correctly returns part of the price of the tour. IS? absolutely the good person he seems.
I still have time to get on the bike and reach my favorite dock. Sunset ? in the beginning, the water? warm and the sky full of small black and white birds. I reach the platform and enjoy these final sunbursts of a great day.
Before dinner I recover, thanks to the map, the name of the second place? advise me on Lake Atitlan,? Santiago. This evening lamb chops in an excellent sauce and margherita. In what I need, in fact, it seems to me that the presence of alcohol is minimal or nothing but the lemon grenadine that composes it in large part? really refreshing. A very good chocolate dessert concludes the meal. I have a devastating sleep and probably turn off the light before 22.00pm.

9 day

3 January.
Gi? I wanted to dedicate the day to idleness and the rain, which stops for a moment this morning and then starts again, confirms my intention.
At breakfast I noticed that they also serve hot chocolate and the tried one? really well done. The rainy morning passes between hammocks and readings until, in addition to realizing that? half past one, I also see a certain sun making its way through the clouds.
It takes little.
A banana smoothie for survival and then a costume and a bicycle. I'm on my dock to enjoy a few hours of sunshine and the first and perhaps only day, considering the program, in which I do absolutely nothing. I would say excellent.
I think it is useless to hide that the pleasure of these days? strictly connected to the awareness of what awaits me at home. Rogne of all kinds for the moment far away.
Dinner includes a strange but tasty chicken in green pepper sauce and a lime dessert but, I must admit, that the margarita d? the best thing.
I smoke half Anvers 1845 to conclude with the pi? good among the four cigars tried and, before going to bed, do I rock a bit? on the hammock on the veranda with the accompaniment of my i-pod. I was able to recharge it why? they also managed to get me the adapter for the socket!

10 day

4 January.
They pack their bags. David proposes to take me with other guests to do what they call Canopy here. This is a kind of jungle game, where they harness you and make you go from one tree to another tied like a salami. I don't feel like it, even though I have 13.00pm to arrive, it seems like a Disneyland-style pastime that doesn't fit the place. Maybe I will? a walk.
Not ? not even a bad choice since shortly after I am asked to delay a bit? the request for the final bill why? Javier, the doorman everything,? had to go to retrieve David to which one? broken the car!
Do I laze a bit? on the hammock, today they are gone those three tourists who yesterday cheered me for a long time considering themselves capable of playing the marimba what? placed in a corner of the gazebo.
This is the typical Guatemalan instrument, a sort of harmonium with very long notes and with which they play everything, from the most? classics to local compositions.
In the end not? not too bad but maybe I'm not objective.
Then I take a walk on the side of the so-called country. El Remate are just a few small houses scattered along the road that runs along the lake. Many are hotels or lodges, none of them seem as good as David's house.
A few minutes to contemplate the lake and nature from another delightful bridge and come back to eat something. IS? funny, I order a certain type of beer and a tuna sandwich, the lady, with absolute tranquility, brings me another type of beer and a ham sandwich.
However, while I am eating, David arrives who with great courtesy thanks me for staying with them and gives me the official T-shirt of the structure. He asks me, maybe, to talk about him on my return, rest assured that I will ?.
In fact for me yes? treated of the ideal place, if you want you can easily reach localit? archeologically unmissable, but standing still you can? enjoy great peace by living in what, for all intents and purposes? a nature reserve.
The return to Antigua? scheduled for 18.00 pm and tomorrow at 8.00 am I leave by bus for Atitlan. I still expect a lot but feel like a perfect part of the trip anyway? finished.
Anyway, reach Antigua? already? an enterprise. In particular, the exit from Guatemala City, where necessarily? landed the plane,? marred by peak traffic times. In addition? the driver of the minibus? incredibly slow and I agree with a lady, probably Dutch, who travels with her husband at my side. They are on a 4 month trip, practically all of Central America plus? the For ?. How can one imagine a 4-month trip for tourism purposes? something that really escapes me, who knows? self ? my limit.
Unfortunately, only at 20.00 am I in front of the Antigua cigar shop what? irremediably closed.
To console myself adequately I take a walk in the beautiful Parque Union and then, perhaps lazily but with absolute awareness, return to the Antorchas. Here, actually, I exaggerate: fondue bacon and mushrooms, more salmon with orange, what? too good, and profiterole. I accompany with a half-liter Chilean Cabernet Casillero del Diablo that? so demanding and mellow that I can't finish it.
My last cohiba, Cuban but brought from Italy, and a walk help me in the difficult digestive process.

11 day

January 6, 10.30 am.
Now, sitting on the porch of Santiago de Atitlan, I enjoy the view of a volcano and am surrounded by a swarm of children who are already? educated to the typical traveler. In fact, they insist on being photographed and then immediately ask for a tip for their performance. They are very amazed that I am writing and a little girl is having fun looking at herself in my glasses. Santiago? a fairly tidy village on the side of the lake accessible only by boats or roads almost? impossible. There are many junk shops and stalls. Yet the large courtyard outside the cathedral? very pleasant and the square with the market and the stop of the super colored Guatemalan buses absolutely typical. We first visited San Pedro la Laguna what? definitely more? poor and messed up but, curiously, full of evangelical churches or other para-Christian religions.
The navigation on the lake, still,? perhaps the pi? beautiful of the day. Every now and then micro beaches pop up where someone sunbathes or bathes and, not seeing boats, I just can't understand how he got there.
We are about to move to S. Antonio, however the impression? whether it is tourist catcher camps and a little more? ? strong. Perhaps, as the guide says, when the coming and going of the day boats ends in the late afternoon, the situation improves, but I'm happy to be based in Panajachel which, of course,? pi? discovered from this point of view.
On the edge of the lake you can also see a beautiful parade of villas a bit? hidden among trees and gardens, the second home here must be a real luxury.
In S. Antonio, however, tranquility reigns. We arrive that the bells of the church perched on the hill are calling the faithful to mass.
Virtually no one bothers me to sell, c ?? a curious and cute little pottery shop, the place? just relaxed and enjoyable.
17.00 pm, the sunset is perhaps about to begin, I enjoy it from the splendid small terrace of the Sunset, a delicious classic and baroque piece? transmitted by the system.
I await my warning and my nachos at I don't know what and the world couldn't be better.
A mustachioed boat mate attacked me on the way back, he has lived in California for 24 years but? Guatemalan and proud of it. He wanted to know everything about my trip and greeted me warmly thanking me for coming to his country.
Pi? later I want to try the Regis thermal pool, the hotel I would have wanted to go to if the guide hadn't brought back a wrong phone.
For tomorrow I had the alternative, either to reach the village of San Marcos by boat, also suggested to me by Francesca met in Yaxha, where to take a walk and look for a quiet beach, or rent a small enduro and go in search of another beach isolated that the guide tells me between S. Caterina and S. Antonio. I really think that opter? for this second solution, the idea of ​​the bike amuses me too much.
Oh the mojitos? great and the nachos just arrived. Sunset ? even more? nice of yesterday why? no clouds obstruct the view of the sun.
Just disappeared I am already? for the Regis. An attendant, initially perplexed, then leads me to an octagonal and majolica outdoor pool but with a small gazebo that overlooks it and, by means of a lamp, illuminates it.
The natural thermal spring? hot and I enjoy it, at first reading a bit? of Marai and then simply with closed eyes immersed up to the neck.
Every now and then I take a cold shower to stop sweating and leave just before it's completely dark.
A break with the internet for sports results and some emails to friends and back to the Lanterna. Seafood salad and fish fillet in white wine, all excellent and also dignified the glass of grechetto with which I accompany them.
Am I going to turn on the half? remained of La Corona, in front of me a glass of Sambuca.
I don't know how I did it, but I got through the previous trip.
Monday? sar? upset for the return but I think I can? face any work emergency in absolute calmness.

12 day

7 January.
The last one at the height of the others.
Even if the Sunset? closed for breakfast I would say that I replace it pretty well with the Bistrot, my hotel is not? much on the point. You change your money, buy water and here I am paying for 4 hours of a small all-orange 200 enduro. The small market survey conducted yesterday allowed me to identify the workshop pi? cheap.
It starts towards the left coast of the lake, the only one that is paved in an acceptable way. I arrive as far as S. Antonio, amidst enchanted views and flowers that grow on the fences of the villas of the rich. I have for? clear the impression that there is no access to water that is not proprietary? private.
In S. Antonio I promise some quetzales to a child if he takes me where he can? take a bath but he misunderstands and thinks of taking me to the public baths!
Vab?, I restart for the crazy climbs of this little street, well determined to conquer my last bathroom.
IS? soon done, I slip into the entrance of the Ecolodge S. Tomase and, informed about the presence of a beach, I contract an entrance.
The beach c ??, almost a km from there and? also very beautiful with the two volcanoes in front.
For? ? occupied by a Spanish-speaking family and, sadly, by two large dogs.
They have collars and one of the bathers is quick to specify that they are good but it is not them.
However I can enjoy the sun and a nice bath even if I get annoyed when the dogs diligently follow the guys who go away.
I'm alone but if I take another bath I won't be able? to dry the costume before I have to go. I don't want to argue with that of the bike since he made me sign a sheet for which, to keep the bike after the time will be? considered embezzlement!
However, since I want to take another bath, off the swimsuit and already? in the water like mom did.
On the way back am I still enjoying the unnecessary? of the helmet, it will be? dangerous but riding a motorbike has another meaning. I hope that the photo taken of me with the bike upon delivery makes it a bit? of the mood of this morning.
The tour continues. I try to savor all the minutes of the sunset so? like, first, the stop at Los Chinitas albeit for an unmemorable sandwich.
This place has deeply impressed me and finishing a particular book like The Right Woman during my last sunset here before who knows? when ? another thing that I will remember? these days.
My fidelity? to the Lantern? rewarded by the knowledge of Mr. Maurizio, Spoleto and Romanist, for 24 years in these parts. Strong and likeable he draws me a documented picture of this part of Central America and wishes me a good trip. I hope so and a few minutes spent looking at the stars in the shadows of the volcanoes help me to greet this land.

Audio Video Volcanoes, pyramids and lakes. A trip to Guatemala
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