Carnivals to Circuses: Leaving Guatemala

An eventful 2 weeks has passed since I last had the time to write. Christmas in Copan consisted of a 24 hour hour barrage of fireworks, ranging from sparklers to straight up sticks of dynamite, lit by children as small as 5. The city wide debacle started about noon on Christmas Eve and headed into Christmas Day, with the biggest crescendo falling on Midnight between the two. My travel partner and I attempted to attend a Church service on Christmas Eve but we were met by a big screen tv showing an animated video depicting the tales of an angel in present day. Candles, hymns and sermons I can handle.. Bad graphics and improbable storylines? Not my idea of Christmas. We headed back out into the street to light off some fireworks of our own.

After two more days in Copan, Honduras, we traveled back into Guatemala, and Northeast towards the Caribbean coast, stopping at Quirigua on the way; the ancient Mayan city that was the commercial city and close partner to Copan.483204_510167445671548_27144787_nNext? Livingston, Guatemala. Located on the Caribbean coast of Guatemala, and only accessible by passenger boat, Livingston is it´s own world. The city is very unique due to the eclectic mix of Garífuna, Afro-Caribbean, Maya and Ladino people and culture.
IMG_0239Reggae and dancehall tunes blare from car speakers while local Mayan women quietly do their morning chores. Mobs of amazingly cute Garifuna children, go from restaurant to cafe playing handdrums and showing off their booty dances. Seemed like a perfect place to celebrate New Years. And it was. The night started off right with a rooftop candlelit bottle of cheap champagne, that we drank while intermittently throwing fireworks off the roof to the unexpecting streets below. After this, a short stroll to the local carnival that had been set up, with the usual rackety rides, fairgames and hotdog stands, made all the more sketchy by the torrential rains. Thankfully the rains cleared long enough for me to convince my friend to brave the ferris wheel. Oh look at that.. just in time for midnight. Where did I ring in the New Year? On the top of the sketchiest ferris wheel in town, engine sparking slightly from the rain, and hundreds of fireworks going off in every direction. Perfect. I think this was the first NYE I have spent outside… maybe I´ll make it a tradition.

After Livingston, we took a short trip down the Rio Dulce (large inland river, that opens out into the sea) to stay at a beautiful jungle lodge called the Roundhouse. Nestled into the rugged forest backdrop this hostel was a IMG_0252 IMG_0245great retreat after the hustle and bustle of Livingston. Kayak rides, jungle treks, river swims and hammocks. No complaints here. The owners of the property were kind and accommodating, even going to the extent of driving us by boat to our next destination, and helping us find our next hotel. As we were trying to get to El Salvador the following day, we spent a night in Rio Dulce, where we luckily caught the last show of a traveling circus. Slightly impaired by more torrential downpours, the cast and crew proved that the ¨show must go on¨, no matter what. Bleacher seating was dismantled to create walkways through the insanely deep puddles, a clown wailed on a trumpet in darkness while electrical problems were dealt with, and children used their parents for cover from the rain. It was an entertaining show to say the least.

Over 24 hours later I sit in Santa Ana, the second largest city in El Salvador. Resting here for a day to make plans for exploring the country. El Salvador is renown for its friendly and accommodating people and already I´ve felt welcomed. Today, I look forward to checking out the city. The sun is shining and there´s a beautiful breeze. Life is good.

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