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Tour du monde en autostop - Jeremy Marie

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 Travel Diary : Cultural travel in Guate-Maya

And me, who was thinking that I had all seen about central american culture in Nicaragua, Honduras and Salvador.. Naïve that I am! The entrance and the visit of Guatemala relearned me what it was to discover a new way of living, to keep on protecting HIS way of doing the thing, after all...
After all indeed, Guatemala had to go through, like the other countries of Central America, the Indian genocide coming mainly from the Spanish conquistadors. Indeed,it can be a little bit difficult to keep your culture when your life is simply in danger because of to be what we are, to have a different face, different of the strangers who came to kill us...
But the Guatemaltecos have known how to keep their culture, as I said. Their culture is as beautiful as the country is. The traditional clothes are as beautiful as the Mayan Temples, the volcanic landscapes are as impressive as the Lake Atitlan... Yes, Guatemala is beautiful and its population also... and this is what we are going to see in the beginning of this newsletter. 

The culture is on the mix

The country is today the fruit of a melting pot, thanks to the different influences who passed by during the History: Maya and Hispanic are the main ones...

-The Mayan culture
The Maya culture, as i could discover by visiting Guatemala is the main reason why i think that Guatemala is my favorite country in Central America. I didn´t know that this culture was still so important in the way of live of the locals. Of course, the whole Guatemala is not of Mayan culture but its origins are there.
I was saying sooner that I really like the clothing of the locals. Those clothes are different from one district to another and are helping of identifying the place where the person is coming from. This is amazing to go to one village and being stunned by this total explosion of colors... the visual sense is at least awakening!

In Antigua, those three women are giving you a proof of the richness of the local clothing culture

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"The traditional clothes are as beautiful as the Mayan Temples"... I let you imagine the sight of the temples! Tikal is the Chichen Itza ( Chichen Itza is a mayan pyramid in Mexico, this is one of the 7 New Wonders of the World) of Guatemala. An extraordinary place with a thousand of Mayan Temples that you can visit in the middle of the jungle. This one was an antic city in the time of the Mayan civilization.

The Temple of the Great Jaguar in Tikal

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Meanwhile, the cultura is still living, which is meaning that the langage is still used... The langage, am i saying? The "multiplicity" of langages are still used should i say! There is indeed more than 23 different languages spoken in Guatemala.

And here is one, translated in the latin alphabet... good luck for the spelling: xrjjaryckkyyyyyyrrr!!!!

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-The Hispanic culture
As I said before, the hispanic cultura is coming from the Time of the Conquistador who, like the french in West Africa and the English is East Africa went to "colonized" this part of America. Today, this influence is still very big, we even call this part of the world Latin America.
The official langage in Guatemala is Spanish and almost the whole population can understand it and use it. There is still remaining a lot of buildings coming from this Time , like the famous city of Antigua.

A baroque church in the center of Antigua

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A lot of building are still there, it is possible to see some of them a little bit everywhere in the country.
Here, the central square in Guatemala City, the capitale of the country

 

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-The Western culture
It is difficult to go through the influence coming from the "Western countries". Even if it is much more less than than in Panama or Costa Rica, we still can find some fast-food growing up there and there, like this well known "Pollo Campero", which is the Kentucky Fried Chicken of Central America.

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More strangely, as i was hitch-hiking, i could discover a rather surprising site, a kind of hybrid-village, without doubt a governmental Project for i don´t know which issue, but for a moment, I felt myself back in the suburbs of Northern England...

An "hybrid" village, close to the town of Escuintla in Guatemala

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At the time of the globalization, the mix of cultura can and must have positive effects, on top of the message of tolerance that this one must bring. Having known how to keep an idendity while adaptating to the actual world, Guatemala could be a good example of what should be the world culturally.
Of course, there is still a lot of discrimination but the fact for example that the Mayan civilization is still there today and living with its traditional way of life, is for me a good sign for the future. 

Hitch-hiking in Guatemala 

While Hitch-Hiking
After leaving Salvador and having crossed so easily the last three countries, hitch-hiking in Guatemala cannot be seen as simple to travel by hitch-hiking, even if it is at the end.
The concept of hitch-hiking is less known in Guatemala as it can be in Honduras for example and it has even a name: we say traveling "a Jalon".

A Jalon, with my drivers of the day: an Hispanic and a Mayan... friends

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If it does exist, it can be a Little bit more difficult in the way that i had to explain that i couldn´t pay for the lift, which make me miss some vehicles. This fact is especially true when I was going in some more remote roads in the countryside.
Anyhow, the vehicles are stopping quite easily, especially when I was behing a "Tumulos", and believe me, there are a lot in Guatemala!
A lot of Tumulos in Guatemala have been built straight by the population to protect their children of the very fast vehicles passing by... The gesture is blessable but those túmulos have been so badly made that now, it is dangerous for the drivers themselves!
With a driver, we counted the number of tumulos (yes,yes) on a lift of about 150 kilometers, it was 98 tumulos!!!

One of... the many túmulos in Guatemala

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After Hitch-Hiking
I am going to take the time to answer a question which is very often asked to me, about hitch-hiking: "What are you doing when you don´t find a vehicle?"
Indeed, in the life of a hitch-hiker, it happens to not find vehicle in some place and for various reasons. We have to know that the fact to try to stop a vehicle actively makes you lose the notion of the time, because this one is passing very fast and often, I can´t figure how fast the hours are running.
Also, waiting is not disturbing me, because I have this chance to have the time.
Anyway, when the night is falling and when I find myself stuck in the middle of the road, this is where the real problem is. My main care is my safety and my health... So in thoses situations, I have to find very quickly a place where to sleep, in the hope to not be disturb while I sleep.

Like here, in Guatemala...

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And yes, this is a part of the adventure, to those who think that traveling is only calm, luxuary and whatever... It´s not.
But please, don´t take me for this kind of people that we can see on a very large number in Central America: the alcoholics.
How many time have I been able to find a man who absorbed more alcohol than a sponge can, and who felt miserably and the sidewalk to finish his night, if it is not his afternoon unfortunately, like here, somewhere in Guatemala...

Alcohol is a problem, especially when the sun is strong...

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I can see some of you laughing of this interesting pictures...
So, at this day and for the first time since the website is open, I throw a vote, the one of the most artistic sleeping position:
-my greenish spot in those guatemaltecos toilets
Or
-a corner of sidewalk for our tired friend
YOUR ANSWERS IN THE GOLDEN BOOK... 

When the Earth is angry... Guatemala, a volcanic ground

After this more than useful break... I wanted to finish this newslater by sharing with you this experience that I had the chance to live in this country located in the north of Central America: discovering the volcanoes.
I had the opportunity to see many volcanoes when I was traveling in Guatemala because this country got 38 of them. Seeing volcanoes, and especially actives volcanoes!
When I was going to the city of Antigua, I could watch the Volcano de Fuego throwing away his ashes, and I have to admit that this is extremely impressive to see.
The volcano de Fuego, boiling from the inside

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In Antigua, I heard about a volcano where it was posible to see the lava... the Volcan of Pacaya.
Without thinking more, I was back on the road to see this curiosity of the nature that I had never the opportunity to see so far.
After having had the chance to get in for free thanks to the generosity of the staff of the Park of Pacaya. I arrived quickly in front of the volcano, and its amazing sight of Mordor.

Before to climb the volcano, here I am on a landscape of dried lava.

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And the so well expected suprise, a heat of more than 1100 Celsius degrees, imposible to get closer, feeling myself like inside a oven...

But the sight was there, the lava, slowly, redish and its quiet strength... when the earth is angry...

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I have now left Guatemala, a country where I would like to come back, its culture is really interesting me. And... here I am in Mexico, a country where our government wouldn´t like to see us going with this big story of swine flu.
To react to the many messages that I received, advicing me to avoid this country, I think I collected enough informations to not take a so big risk by entering in this unmissable land. Really, I hope to prove in the 2 coming months that I made the good choice to not let myself impressed by this huge campain of terror which has been throwed mostly by some governments and the medias ... the future will tell us, but personaly I am confident.

I will let you with this picture of my quick and seen stop in Belize

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To believe that my toiletish sleeping experiences are interesting more people than I though!!

See you soon
Jeremy



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