Last time, Guatemala was different. It was long, it was on a student budget, it was sleeping in places for USD1.50 (incl. hot water!), it was eating in the cheapest places, it was long hours on busses where every hole in the road would translate directly into pain in lower parts of your body, discussions with locals and sharing of seats with chickens (big ones, or baby ones, in cardboard boxes with breathing holes in it). Antigua, Lago de Atitlan, Finca Ixobel, Tikal, Puerto Barrios, Livingston, Rio Dulce. It was full of colours, time and marvelling. It was my second long trip in Latin America and I felt like an explorer. I was 21. It was the rainy season, backpacks on top of the busses drenched, feet in streams running down the roads in the highlands. Guatemala City: avoided.

This time, it is Guatemala City most of the time.
Security phase 3.On the 18th floor of a fancy hotel where one night costs as much as what I spent for accommodation on my entire last trip. It’s big windows, it’s seeing the lights of the city change in the evening, it’s traffic, it’s the airport at a few hundred meters away, in the centre. It’s for work, it’s a less colourful ambiente, the capital is grey, the mountains in the not so far distance invisible almost all the time.

It’s still a place full of lovely people.

It’s a place where old men sell poetry at the red lights, neatly packaged.

The direction of the rain changed. It hits the windows.
18 floors down, in the dark, the cars move faster than usual.
The rain makes people rush.
It’s a Monday, somewhere on the way to winter, which in theory is summer.
I wonder if the old man is selling his poetry tonight.
Then, the storm is over.
Everything slowed down.
The hills in the distance appear.

And a  small escape to Antigua.
Volcanoes all around.
Stoned streets.
Clouds, towered.
Just before the rain. Storms that never come.
Conventos. Earthquakes.
The glory of times passed a long time ago.
And just as beautiful as I remembered her.

After a few windowless days, we drive towards the Pacific Coast.
Sugar plantations. Reforestation, conservation, explications. It’s a different field trip than the one to the Sahel. It’s green, it’s lush, it’s fields, it’s corpporate, it’s a little universe on its own.
Driving down roads between the mountains and the ocean.
Behind camionetas with people on the Ladefläche, wind in their hair.
Cows on the road and uminpressed dogs.

And then Tikal.
A tiny place, and in less than an hour we’re in the North. Jungle.
The ruins are still ruined, but it’s different than nine years ago.
Different paths.
Different ways up.
Some closed. And the fact that it is now forbidden to climb up one of the steepest temples is a good excuse, cause last time I thought I’d die. 55m high and a ladder at close to 90°m, up up. Going up was scary, but going down really freaked me out. Yes, the view from above was amazing. But.
We don’t see a jaguar and we don’t see a tucan, but it’s ok.
We sweat an estimated 10 litres and, a little sun burnt, we return to the capital.

And it’s the end of this time.

(Pictures to follow :))