Travel Mode

14 07 2007

Life sure was different a week ago. In the last seven days, I have gone from being a semi-local Guatemalan student to a full out traveler. I have left the remote parts of Guatemala to find that indeed, there are tourist zones and scam artists galore.  I finally regained an appetite, after two more visits to the doctor, and I have shed my fleeces and long pants for sarongs and tank tops. Most notably, I have starting meeting a different type of gringo whose main goal is more adventure than studying. It’s a whole new world.

It has been great to have Aimee here, and we have taken Guatemala and now Belize by some sort of storm. In the last seven days, we have been packing it in….we hiked an active volcano, swum in pools formed by natural limestone bridges, watched the sunrise over ancient Maya ruins, interacted with monkeys and other creatures, tubed down a river, swum/hiked through caves, and crossed a border. We’re half exhausted and fully satisfied, I think. She leaves in three days, and we will finally reach that beach I mentioned earlier tomorrow. When you read this, I plan to be on a hammock sipping a pineapple drink in between snorkeling sessions. Remember, all are welcome to join.

I will say that this new mode doesn’t fit me like a glove. For my days with Aimee, it is perfect, as we move at the same pace and approach travel similarly. We have been laughing a lot, and Aimee takes my craziness in stride, including last night when I woke her up with loud screaming because a foreign object fell on my bed. She also has proven to be very adaptable to the pace and unpredictability of Guatemala. As we deal with bizarre bus schedules, shuttles that just don’t show up, and travel that averages three more hours than quoted, she usually just shrugs and makes a face that says, “Yep, we’ll just wait.” For those of you who have traveled here, you know just how admirable a quality that is.

The gringos we’ve met have been another story. Some have been great, but overall, they remind of a different mode of travel, one that doesn’t interest me right now. Some seem to have a giant checklist, and at the end of the day, it is more important that the checklist be completed than anything truly experienced. Some seem semi-purposeless…merely traveling for the sake of traveling and partying. There is an allure to this method, and I can feel myself teetering on the edge of falling into this travel mode…frankly, why not? How much fun can I fit in and how much can I literally consume of this country for my benefit? However, at the end of the day, it feels a little gluttenous, and as much as I like contributing to the economies of these countries, I’m not sure this is the way I want to do it.

I also just miss personal interactions with the culture, the people, and outright reality.  My Spanish is slipping after ten days without class,  so after Aimee leaves, we’ll see what I decide to do. I am contemplating another week of school, or at least some significant way to get to know more countries and people.

With all that said, I feel overwhelming relaxed and content. It has been so nice to connect with a friend from home, one who knows me well and is always willing to indulge in ice cream. So, it’s a new travel mode, and it’s a little bit of travel a la mode. Que rica!

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