Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Mass Murder, Drug Dealers, and Assorted Happenings in Guatemalan Politics

"August, you are not a typical American." I am not associating this quote with any specific person because it has been stated by several people I have met on this trip. I am opening with this because it is a topic that I really want to discuss at length in a later blog. The question is why do so many other travelers who get to know me decide to complement me by stating that I am NOT A TYPICAL AMERICAN?!?!? What characteristics do I posess that make me liked and other Americans despised? Well I'm sure many of you know that this is a loaded question, and that I will giving my opinions on this topic very soon. Until then, I would really like all of you to think about that statement for a while. I should also add that I have never been insulted by this statement and always taken it at face value as a genuine complement, one I am proud to recieve.

There is a lot to get to today so let's get started! I am back in Xela after my six day trek through the highlands. After Hurricane Felix died out we started off (only one day later than planned). Starting in Nebaj we stayed our first night in a hostel owned by an amazing American expat (he will appear in this story a bit later so bear with me). We left Nebaj early Friday morning and began our journey. We never hiked more than 7 hours in one day, but soem of the hiking was unbelieveablely challenging. The rain had caused massive mud slides, and on some of the steeper sections we were plodding through knee deep mud. This might not have been bad, but some of this trek was incredibly steep and climbing through mud like that was very tiring! The country side changed everyday and on the final day I swore that I was hiking through the Cascades back home. I will try to post pics soon (I am having a hell of a time trying to upload photos here). The trek was hands down the best experience I have had in Guatemala. We stayed in a couple of schools, at a guy's house, and two hostels (on the first and last night). At the first school I handed my camera to a couple of boys who went wild taking pictures of everything. I did not realize it at the time, but it was the best idea I have ever had. After sorting through the 100 or so pics they took in about five minutes I had about 10 shots that I never would have been able to get. I am going to send one to Lonely Planet and see if they will publish it in their next addition (it's that good!!!) Well, I realize that I am jumping around a bit here, but I am doing a bunch of things at once and feel a bit scattered at the moment. Perhaps this will help sum up the trek a bit quicker.

- We traveled through a region heavily effected by the civil war, and heard many chilling stories about the atrocities commited here.

- During the hike we encountered five different languages being spoken.

- The small villages we passed through had no roads and rarely saw westerners, so we really were treated as an oddity by many of the people.

- Two nights we were treated to Temescals (traditional Mayan saunas). They were AMAZING!

I am going to talk a bit about the elections that took place over the weekend, but unfortunately I am feeling quite sick (and have been for a few days now) so I need to make a run for it. More to come later today...

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