Saturday, May 23, 2009

Belize to Guatemala

Freedom doesn’t depend on time or either space.

Belize is a very interesting country, first Mayan land, then colonised by Spanish then by English, and then independent in 1981.

Belize is very rich in precious trees, English colonisers exported lots of them and brought lots of human beings from Africa that they used as slaves.

Human beings using other human beings as slaves, strange no ?

Some boats full of human beings from the land of Africa, supposed to become slaves, sanked in the Caribbean islands of St Vincent and around, men could escape the boat and created a new community, Garifuna people, that escaped slavery.

In 1797 they were obligated by British people to leave their islands and emigrate west to the now coast of Belize, Guatemala and Honduras.

For a few years now, lots of people from Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, emigrate to Belize cause the currency is much stronger, 1$ US= 2$ Belizean.

Now the coutry has only 300`000 person, most of the people speak Creole, but also English, and lots of people speak Spanish, the Garifuna people speak their own language that is a mix of a native tong from the Caribbean island they lived on, the African language they used to speak, English, French and Spanish.

50 years ago, lots of Menonite people emigrated from the USA and Canada to Belize, bought land and used it as they do it, now they’re the biggest producer of milk product in the country.

Recently people from China, Lebanon, and India, emigated to the country.

Lots of different cultures, all Belizeans, you can guess how interesting this country is.

On the 27th of April we decided with Aubin to go meet Garifuna people on the coast of Belize, in the city of Dangriga.

Cecile stayed in Belize city with our new hosts from, Spurge and Sony..

On the road, somebody who gave us a ride tells us about a friend of him living in Dangriga, we should be able to stay with him over there.

The man is called Ranch, Garifuna by his origin, he decided to live by what makes sense to him, he follows the way of living of a rasta man.

He lives in a very humble wooden house, in front of the house, his garden that gives him food, on the right, the well that provides him the water he needs to wash and water the plants, close to the well, the fire, for cooking the food and night light.

No running water, no electricity.

Just living the way his ancestors used to live.

We stayed with ranch for 6 days, helping watering and taking care of the plants,

He taught us how to cook with what the earth gives, taught us about the way Garifuna used to live, showed us his traditionnal dance and music, he shared with us.

On the 3rd of may, we’re back to Belize city, and Cecile decided to go back to the USA, after having traveled with us 6 weeks, having hitch-hiked across southern Mexico and Belize, having walked a lot, and slept in very contrasting places.

She’s been very courageaous, and we all of us learned a lot from each other, she left us on the 4th of May, hitch-hiked by herself from Belize to Cancun, and took a plane from there to Colorado.

On the 6th of May, we go to the biggest marina of Belize, Old Belize marina, which is pretty small, trying to find a boat going to San Pedro, one of the paradisiac island, emerging from the Carribean sea, Madonna’s « La isla bonita ».

As always lucky as we are, we speak with Rafael, a Polish captain taking care of a nice 41feet catamaran, who’s going to San Pedro the day after and was looking for crew to help him.

Life is good.

We sleep on the boat and the 7th of May we leave for a 7 hour sailing and motor cruise, in between the Belizean isands.

San Pedro is not that much the kind of place we really enjoy, very touristic, too touristic, a paradise for the ones who want to spend their money in living small island.

We spend two nights over there, and then take the water-taxi to the next island : Caye Caulker, nicer ambiance, way less touristic, almost no car, everybody bare-foot, azur water, white sand, coconut trees…

We meet Stanley, he sells T-shirt that he paints, one from Barack Obama attracts my attention.

I explain to him the kind of travel we’re doing, he directly invites us to stay at his home.

He lives on the next island, just a 30 feet canal to cross with the paddling boat.

Also no electricity, no running water, just a well and a fire, we buy some beans and some rice, everything we need to live.

Back to Belize city on the 11th of May.

Anne, a friend from Colorado that I met during the trip in the USA and who hosted me for a week, with her 3 years old son Skylar left on the same morning her city of Durango for a flight to Chicago, then on the 12th they fly from Chicago to Cancun, and take a bus to Chetumal, at the border with Belize, they stay overnight at the house of the friend of somebody from, on the next day, they take a bus from Chetumal to Belize where we join.

The troup of the wanderers get bigger, they’re going to travel with us for an undetermined time, she only took a one-way ticket, she’s ready to let the wind blow them, with faith in life.

We leave Belize city on the 14th of May, direction Guatemala.

We stop in a town called Georgeville, right before San Ignacio, were we meet David, who’s himself from the Mennonite community, Aubin asks him if they would let us stay with them as we really wanted to see how the Mennonites live.

No problem for him, hospitality is part of what the Bible teachs, and he only lives through what Bible says.

David is 29 years old, he recently married his wife and they have two kids, 1 and a half years old and a few monthes.

They welcome us in their house, give us matresses to stay on , and give us lots, and lots of food.

He explain us that he only wants to live for god’s word.

In the Mennonite community, about 30 families, no electricity, no cars, no machines, no fancy clothes, they use horses and oxes to work, and horses to travel.

We stay two nights with them, help David to work, and learn a lot from their way of seeing life.

David and his wife almost never spoke directly to Anne, when they had something to ask her, they did it through us, what was the problem ?

Was it that Anne had a child out of marriage ?

Was it that she’s native American, so from a non Christian family ?

In any of these case, or even both at the time, a real lack of tolerance is to be noted.

We have to love everyone as ourself says the bible right ?

We left on the 16th of May, after a few rides, we get to the Guatemalan border, new country, back to Spanish, always exciting.

We just wait a bit at a gas station, waiting for somebody to give us a ride, thumb lifted up, a truck picks us up, then another one, sitted on 40 pounds corn bags, we enjoy the dusty roads, that turns into asphalt road, and offer us one of the most beautiful ride we’ve seen so far.

With the sunset, the tropical nature offers us all the colors she’s got.

We get to a village called Ixlu, after knocking on one door, asking for hospitality and receiving a negative answer, a very nice guy comes to ask us if we’re looking for a hotel, we explain that we’re traveling around the world never staying at hotel, he then offers us to pitch our tent in his yard, nice.

We leave our big bags at his place, and hitch-hike to the Mayan ruins of Tikal, 25 miles away.

So wonderful place, these temples are incredible, high over the trees, they dominate the jungle, monkeys are hanging around, and birds sing songs I’ve never heard of.

We get back to the family who kept our stuffs, they’ve a young daughter who has lots of fun playing with Skylar, they run after each other, no matter which language each of them speak.

We hitch-hike to the city of Santa Elena close to Flores, at a gas station, we meet a colonel from the Guatemalan army, he offers to give us a ride.

The colonel brings us to the army base, offers us the diner, that the special cookers for the high graded prepare for us, and even offers us to sleep in the next base 15 min away.

A special car is called for us, a pick-up truck with 4 armed guys in the flat bed and two person on the front seats drive us to the next base.

The next morning the car come to pick us up and bring us back to the first base, we receive breakfast and lunch, and another army car gives us a ride a few hours south.

All the colonel seem to be happy to have us around, we must be a nice distraction for them.

Skylar got sick during the night, he got diarrhea and fever.

He’s been saying to his mum for a few days already that he was missing his house ; with this sickness coming that’s the signal for Anne that they need to come back home.

She books a flight from Guatemala city to Durango for Thursday the 21st of May.

We spend the night in a small village by the highway, a Mayan village.

Houses made of dirt, wood, and palm tree leaves.

People seem very scared of us, we don’t understand why at first ; Aubin speaks with them and count about our travel, they accept to let us stay in front of the church.

What we’ll learn later is that a very hard dictature occurs till 30 years ago, and part of the horrors that happened was that the army went into small villages and killed the people.

And here we’re, arriving in their village in an army pick-up truck with armed guys in the back, makes sense they didn’t trust us at first.

The church is right beside the school, in the morning, all the kids come a few feet away from us and just stand staring at us, laughing between them, and running away when one of us come in their direction, maybe 30 kids are surrounding us, we’re the morning attraction of the village.

We got in Guatemala city the 21st in the morning, after a last ride who brought us directly to the airport.

Anne and Skylar left yesterday around 4 :30.

It was interesting to travel all together, maybe a bit too tiring for Anne who had to take care of her child, and of herself at the same time, she was very faithfull to go travel with two wanderers like us, hitch-hiking all around, sleeping in unknown places every nights, in country that some people would denominate as dangerous.

Well now we’re going to be traveling a few more days in Guatemala, then go to El Salvador.

Aubin is going to go back to France in June, so we’ll be spliting in a few days, he’ll go back to Mexico and fly back from there, I’ll keep on going to Panama hitch-hiking.

Feel the beauty of world around you.


Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Photos of the trip in Mexico

Just added a new diaporama on the trip in Mexico,
on the left,