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On the way to Todos Santos, the bus climbed steeply up to 3200m.  Than it descended slowly down to the valley covered by clouds, turning and jumping on the stones and holes of an unpaved road.  Our destination was hidden in the clouds.  Dress of it´s inhabitants is very special.  Almost all men wear red trousers and colorful shirts.  Also hats made from straw, all identical.  They speak Mam and learn Spanish in school.  The town itself is not interesting.  Muddy streets, ugly houses.  No surprise that so many men get drunk.  The central square is always full of men just standing and looking at people walking past.  Women, on the other side, seemed to be busy.

Next day after arrival we went up the highest non-volcanic mountain in Central America, called La Torre, 3837m.  It was an easy walk, rewarded with sunny weather and clouds below.  Walk down was interesting, through the forest and big rocks.  After coming back we moved from our clean hotel room to a small, dirty house of the Martin family.  It cost more but gave an opportunity to see the life of ordinary people.  The family consisted of the grandmother, her 2 daughters and 3 grandchildren.  The husband of the older girl disappeared leaving her alone with 3 little boys.  The younger daughter, Marcela, 21 years old, was still waiting for a husband.  She has no plans for the future.  A fortune-teller said she would live with a husband and would have 5 children, so she is waiting patiently.  Their main job is weaving and selling traditional clothes.  Prices are low because only tourists buy it, locals make it themselves.  The grandmother worked in the field and did laundry all her life, but can not do it any more.  She is only 56 years old, but looks 70.  It was hard during the civil war, which lasted over 30 years.  The people suffered from the army and from the guerrillas.  Soldiers burned her house, but the family managed to hide.

The house they have now was built 12 years ago from little blocks of earth.  Inside there is no floor.  There is a primitive stove, 2 beds without mattresses, a falling apart cupboard.  Outside ankle-deep mud and a sink for washing.  At least there is running water and electricity.  On the right there is a miniature of the house, called chuj.  It´s a primitive sauna.  Mariela started a fire inside and after 2 hours it was ready.  We poured water on hot stones piled above the fire and sat there almost an hour.  After that it was time for supper.  Just tortillas and a bit of scrambled eggs.  Breakfast the next day almost the same, the difference was mashed black beans instead of eggs.

I was happy to find a map of the World.  Finally I could show someone where Poland is.  I was hoping that Mariela, being a young woman, would know a little about the World.  But she couldn´t even find Guatemala!  She was looking in Africa.  There is no chance for her and others like her to have a better future.  The World is changing so fast and they remain in the same place, every day more and more behind.  Fortunately, this is a problem only in small, isolated places.

Lanquin and Antigua Guatemala

It took us 2 days to get to our next destination, Lanquin.  The scenery on the way was beautiful, with green mountains all around.  In Lanquin we visited the nearby caves.  They are 40km long but only small part is available to visitors.  It´s full of strange rock formations and has a river flowing through it.  We could hear it somewhere below.  I found a place to get down to see it but it was not easy so I came back all dirty.  At the end there were strange, large insects, but quite harmless.

The next day we went to the Semuc Champey National Park to see the natural bridge stretching 60m above the Cohabon Gorge.  Upstream the river is channeled under the bridge, thundering through.  The whole bridge is covered in stepped water pools.  The green and blue water was great for swimming.  It was one of the most beautiful places in Guatemala.

After splitting with Mayu, I came to Antigua, the old capital of Guatemala.  I was joined by Daniel, with whom we climbed volcano Santa Maria.  We went up another volcano, active Pacaya.  After only 1h we reached the black river of lava.  It was red hot only a few months ago, but now not so impressive any more.


I stayed for 6 weeks in Guatemala, which means I really liked it.  I liked the climate, cheap prices and friendly people.  The scenery was beautiful but the biggest treasure are the people themselves.  Women wearing colorful traditional dresses carrying their shopping in baskets on top of their heads is an unforgettable sight.     photos