mercredi 15 juin 2005

My dear Claire

My dear Claire,

I am now in Panajachel, on the shore of El lago de Atitlan. El Lago is a mythical lake here, once known to be one of the four lakes that marked the corner of the world. The villages around the lake are inhabited mostly by Mayas, and some of them don,t even speak spanish. It,s modern mayas, of course, but still... in some places, even men are wearing traditional clothes.
It,s the rainy season here, so it,s raining at least once a day, sometimes just for half an hour, sometimes for two or three hours, always in the afternoon or evening. Mornings are incredibly sunny.
On the other side of the lake, from Panajachel, we can see three of the four volcanoes in the vinicity of the lake... Really impressive view.
These days, we can smell the humidity of the rainy season all around, and with the volcanoes nearby, I sometimes feel like there is also some kind of ashes flavour in the air.
Panajachel, like all the other cities I,ve visited in Latin America is full of contrasts; noisy but quiet at the same time, since everyone is going around in a kind of chaos, but you never feel that someone is in a rush of any kind, so even if it,s really animated, it,s surprisingly relaxing to be here.
You can walk down the cobblestone streets while watching people offering artisanal products to tourists, and once in a while, a woman in traditional Maya dress will stop yelling to pick up a call on her cellphone.
There is music all the time, really latino rythms, but sometimes, english pop music as well.
Food is good so far, if not exceptionnal, but since I,m travelling on a budget, I haven,t tried yet the upper class restaurants. Cost of life is really cheap here. Just to give you an idea, I can sleep in a correct hostel for 20 Quetzal, which represent around 3,35$ CDN, for a night. A good meal, including a soup and a beverage will cost between 18 and 40Q, so roughly, from 3$ to 7$. Of course, like everywhere else in the world, it,s also possibe to spent 100$ a night or 75$ for a dinner, but well, there is no need if you want to make a trip that will last more than 2 weeks...
Other than that, I would like to talk about a lot of other littles things, but I,ll probably do it another day... tiled rooftops, birds and huge leaves trees, coffee tree, the delicious licuados de frutas con leche, la dulce de leche, the crazy chickenbus system, and the marvelous landscapes...
Before to let you go, I can at least say that the people in Guatemala are really nice so far. Gentle people, and beautiful too. Girls are really beaitufl here... I guess guys aren,t too bad either, but well, they,re less my type :)
So, il,ll let you go, but will keep writing to make you travel through my eyes and ears, my friend.
With love,
Hugo :)

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