Saturday, 22 September 2007

...and it came to pass!

Well I don't really want to go back and rewrite all our adventures in the Caribbean over the past three years so I've made the decision to start this blog from NOW.
NOW, is currently on the Rio Dulce in Guatemala. Boy a few years ago I had no idea where Guatemala was, never mind how to spell it and here I am. Thats one of the great things about the life I lead, you just never know where you might be and whats going to happen next.....
Central America has been a place of really pleasant surprises. If we had spoken even two years ago I would have never imagined that this was somewhere we would stay so long. Its been a real eyeopener. To date we have visited Venezuela,Bonaire,Curacao,Colombia,Panama,Providencia, Honduras,Costa Rica and now here, Guatemala. The vibrancy of life is something that has hit me hard. The music, the colours,the wildlife! There is enormous poverty...the kind that I have never seen first hand , but somehow the people we meet are, in the most part, happy and contented with their lives. I have certainly started to learn that "things" are not essential for a happy life.TBH says that he is struck by the fact that you don't see really hungry people here, not like he experienced in Africa. Yes there is malnutrition here but its mostly caused by ignorance rather than lack of food.
Organizations here on the Rio, like, work to encourage self-sufficiency and knowledge of sustainable agriculture amongst the young and homeless.
When we first arrived at a tiny village on the borders of Colombia and Panama I went in to deep culture shock and to a certain extent that has stayed with me.I felt as though I had dropped in to a National Geographic Photoshoot! Sometimes its really difficult to equate my lifestyle with the things I see around me.The sparsity of belongings, the sheer hard work of living in these tropical climates, the dangers of wildlife(snakes,bugs, bad water), the lack of medical care. It has made me think far more deeply about my own life and the directions I would like it to take.

MMnn bit deep and retrospective but thats okay too!

Here on the Rio its a real interface of lifestyles. On the one hand the river passes through isolated jungle where Mayan Indians live very much in the same way as their ancestors, fishing from dugout canoes, cooking over wood fires, doing the washing in the river. Then further upstream you pass the enclaves of American style marinas,large house for the rich weekenders from Guatemala City. Stores carrying luxury food items, cars and buses. Sailing is an extraordinary platform from where to watch a country unfold itself to me.

Its only a decade since the end of a vicious and cruel civil war here in Guatemala and somehow you can still feel the tension that inhabits the country. Corruption and crime abound.Most locals ,who can afford it, carry guns. Big pump action shotguns, smaller handguns,slung in shoulder or waist holsters....You certainly watch where you are walking in the supermarket! Shootings seem to be common place and all the bars have signs at the door saying 'no weapons'.

I still can't make up my mind how I feel about this place. It has an overwhelming sense of sadness and fear. The faces smile at you but the eyes remain watchful. Children are ushered away from the gringos for fear that they will be kidnapped. By the gringos, either for adoption or organ harvest! Who knows if these fears are based in any truth? I don't.

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