We meet so many interesting and unusual people out here. At Tikal we walked for a while with rugged type Indiana Jones, an old school leather case of papers, boots, a leather body harness to support his cameras as he searched for obscure Mayan reservoirs. He visited the tallest Mayan temple, the Mirador temple, a tough five day trek through the jungle – how impressive – then admitted he flew in by helicopter, and (unlike Indie) he has a pregnant wife at home who couldn’t risk catching Zika virus. For a while a nerdy ex school computer technician chatted to us (sweating in a Tesco track suit). He was fed up with his job in England, successfully applied to work in New Zealand and decided to travel a little, taking 3 months to see the world on his way. Incredibly brave, all on his own! Obviously geography was not one of his strong subjects as he is fluttering between countries and going the backwards route to NZ. But he is here and enjoying himself. We couldn’t believe that after Tikal he was looking for a bus to cross the border into Belize, with only 9 days left to reach Mexico city. He wandered off to another temple with his plastic bag containing a few belongings. At least he had the lonely planet guide and was ticking off the main sites. I have to prepare and plan. My anxiety would be as high as a kite!!
Here at Mon Ami hostel we joined a wealthy Guatemalan family on the jetty, also a Canadian, an Israeli, and European ex-pat neighbours enjoying the Lakeside serenity. Like Bacalar in Mexico the lake is clear and warm. Too much alcohol all evening, but good fun. I expected a quiet night in the jungle. Not so. When the howler monkeys aren’t howling, they are discarding big nuts on the roof, thud! Insects buzzing, crawling, chirping, then arrives the dawn chorus of birdsong…. Give me a break, my head hurts!
Of course we talked politics, a safer subject than Charles telling Guatemalans that their famous ruins are not so great! Last summer the family of cousins and partners all protested against the corruption of the ex-General /President, protected by social media. Stories of a great uncle who ‘disappeared’ and others who fled the country refer to the 36 year civil war. They have no faith in the police, and say a woman cannot walk alone in Guatemala city because there are so many gangs ( we do not visit the capital). The current ex-comedian /President is known as The Clown.
But life here in El Remate is quiet and simple. There are two essentials, a hammock and a 2’ machete. Sleeping, eating, chatting all happen in a hammock, and the machete is the one work implement used to cut your lawn, clear weeds from the temples, build a roof,chop vegetables and slaughter a piglet ( a streak of blood on the road connecting the pigpen to home: we have seen it all!
Cloud today, and showers so no need to rush off early. This hammock is way too comfortable!!