Guatemala: days of dust

Its been a few weeks since my last post and admittedly I’ve been dragging my heels.  At the same time my heels have been burning from all the moving around of late.  Zipping from here to there seemingly aimlessly in search of positive vibes and amazing experiences.  In the midst of all that, My birthday came and went but was awesome.  A day that for years I used to love, then came to dread has come back around to be a celebration of life and those I’ve shared it with.  I’m certainly getting older, yet I feel as young as ever despite the beginnings of a growing beer belly.  My steady diet of latin fattening awesomeness and limited physical activity is not helping my case either.

I’ve also recently hit a different milestone.  It’s been about five weeks since I left my life back home which is actually the longest period of time I’ve been in constant motion and living out of a bag.  The days to weeks, and weeks to months have passed so fast.  So many incredible experiences and people have come and gone, with hopefully many more to come.  I went to Tikal!  A childhood and nerdy manhood dream fulfilled.  Then there was the mansion party full with catering, DJ’s, off leash security dogs and all the “party favours” available to those looking to indulge the senses further.  I declined.  You hear that mom…I declined.  Anyways, the party was one thing, but at about midnight a loud boom was heard over the music and off in the distance no more than 10 KM’s away El Fuego began to erupt.  Lava spewed into the air and streamed down the mountain side in pitch black darkness further highlighting the yellowy red glow.  I would be lying if I said it wasn’t the most spectacular sight I’ve ever seen.  The eruptions continued almost hourly from 1am to 4am. with each explosion sending the revellers into higher strata of party than ever before. Even today, its hard to believe that all of that actually happened.

In the amazing people category are my Spanish teacher Sarah, every bit as sweet as she is patient.  My crazy Guatemalan friends Mafer, Jackie and Luis Pedro at the Jungle Party Hostel, two party animal Christian siblings from Kansas Nathan and Christine and last but not least a brilliant young Belgian lawyer Elena, taking a sabbatical to pursue her passion for travel.  Exactly at Elena is where all points of this post intersect.  I met Elena briefly at a quiet hostel in Antigua.  She was passing through for the day and in typical Belgian fashion needed cookies and chocolate for her long bus ride ahead the following morning.  As a seasoned veteran of the Antiguan streets (2 weeks), I was the ideal guide to show her the ropes, so I volunteered.  We strolled the streets, bought some chocolates, shared lunch and some stories from home and on the road.  I showed her some of my favourite spots in town before calling it an early night.  The conversation rarely waned and despite English being her third of four languages, she seemed to get my jokes…a rarity these days.  She even had some witty and albeit borderline racist comebacks that I’ve since discovered is the fastest way to my heart.  I went to my room and she returned to hers with tentative plans to meet up again in the near future at Lago Atitlan.

Several weeks prior, I made the decision to hike a volcano for my birthday as a metaphor of sorts for all the shit I’ve overcome. No more than the average man no doubt…but still it was a cool concept.  Due to unforseen circumstances, I had to hike the 3000ft barefoot, adding yet another level of allegory.  Elena joined me on that hike and then spent several more hilarious and rainy days with me before we parted ways last weekend.  It really sucks to say goodbye to such an awesome partner in crime, but it’s also the greatest exercise in living in the moment and appreciating what you have and those around you.  Elena’s eighth month on the road leads her to NYC, before making several stops in Canada. I’ll be heading to El Tunco, El Salvador. Somehow this particular goodbye seems much more like a see you later.  Only time will tell I suppose.

Elena

Some things are here today and gone tomorrow like tiny piles of dust while others remain unchanged and stand the test of time like the ancient Mayan temples of Tikal.  What I know is that life is made up of both, and my life is richer and fuller for having had a taste of each.  So on that note, my solo adventures have resumed to El Salvador where this post is coming from.  Then in the not too distant  future is Honduras for some World Cup celebrations.   More posts on these exciting locations to come shortly!

Un fuerte abrazo amigos,

– Felipe