The lights flicked out as I approached the church, the morning light streaming across the sky above turning it an orange-pink.
My gaze swept across the man still sleeping on the church steps perhaps for some otherworldly protection as well as the shelter it provided. The bins in the park where overflowing, black plastic bags torn open by hungry calle perros. The early morning, it seemed, still revealed that the sleepy colonial city was in Central America.
I wandered the streets searching for a place where volcán de Agua would be perfectly situated above the cobbled streets (that acted like a giant gutter in the afternoon storms). Antigua, for a time was the capital of Guatemala. Unrest with locals moved it for Iximche to the nearby small pueblo of San Miguel Escobar. Then the lake that used to be on Agua (and gave it is name) collapsed flooding the town. An earthquake would later move the capital from Antigua to the present day Guate.
An old woman perched in an alcove clutched her plastic bags carefully sorted with aluminium cans and plastic bottles. As well as the small monatary reward they symbolised they probably also offered some warmth as she had obviously spent the night there. I wondered if she remembered the earthquake that had partially destroyed the city?
Here I was out for a morning photography shoot whilst a group of boys searched the streets for cans. A man was starting his daily routine, poring a bucket of dirty water out into the streets. The increasing numbers of passing cars moved faster in the still quiet streets, their increased speed making them sound like they had a flat tyre or two on the cobble stones.
In Parqué Central the lights again flicked off as I approached. A homeless man left as I entered. Workers were picking up plastic as pigeons casually sashayed about in their tireless search for scraps. Soon the fountain sprung to life, slowly filling a pan at the top before cascading over into another, and eventually flowing from the breasts of the women holding then, and finally into the pool present at the bottom of all fountains. This was a tourist town. In quieter villages the fountains were much less active. In a way it wasn’t a true represtation of Guatemala, like how Cancun isn’t really México…
The sky brightened and the magic faded. Somehow satisfied with my morning walk, I wandered back to my hostal. Was it Thoroux who had turned my photography morning into one of writing?
I eventually left the hostel and hitched back to Villa Nueva to collect my sleeping mat.
- Lift with jorge a la ctuz
- Ride with military general to cruz Macdonalds
- Ride in back of glass ute
- Chicken bus gave me a lift the rest of the way into Villa Canales
- Uber driver. Lift to Carratrra
- Lift with NGO guys to cruz
- Lift in back of ute with two lads and corn bags, sat on tyre. Dropped off in local inconveniente
- Iift in back with wire metal furniture
- Stuck in San José Las Cabezas
People had already offered my money which I had declined, but here people got offended if you didn’t accept their gift. It made me feel bad that I was taking from them, but the alternative way seemed worse. As my mum pointed out, at least they felt they had money to give. I guess people don’t hitchhike here by choice. I often find it a better, more interesting way to travel and meet nice people.
I ended up accepting the second offer to stay in someone’s home. Elvis was a tuk tuk driver and i shortly met his wife Josselyne Clarissa Moraless Corletho. They showed me amazing hospitality. I even learnt a bit of sign language. There were a couple (more?) mutes in town. Elvis and Josselyne seemed to help a lot of people.
In the morning I hitched into Jalpatagua with a friendly man who bought me a coconut. I then caught a conectivo to the border, got me exit stamp and walked across the border into El Salvador. Here there was I checkpoint beside the road. I handed one of the guards a small piece of paper and was soon on my way.
I used some remaining Quetzals in some fruit and paid in Qs to get a bus into Ahuachapan…