Feb 13, 2015
Over the Christmas / New Years Eve period I have been backpacking through México and Guatemala again (for three weeks). Two friends of mine are on a longer travel period and currently stay in Central America. We catched up with one of them in San Cristobal de las Casas and travelled with her to meet up with the other friend in San Marcos (Guatemala). There we stayed at the Lago de Atitlán for several days. We also joined in for the Cosmic Convergence Festival (where I had also been over the new years eve last year). After the festival we went back to México: first to San Cristobal and from there to Mazunte, where we stayed for the rest of our time.
As last year, I got a lot of impressions. Good ones as well as negative ones. Let’s first get over the negative impressions, before we come to the cool stuff. My main negative impressions are corruption (having to pay “special fees” when aiming to cross the border) as well as the water quality. I think a lot about a story I heard: a teacher who is afraid of stating how disruptive corruption and criminal structures are for any society. Just imagine what goes along with this: a generation of kids growing up without the understanding of how bad these things are for society and with the believe that this is “normal”, since nobody tells them otherwise. Oh my.
Concerning the water quality: this is not just a thing of comfort, it is essential. If you are not able to brush the teeth with tap water or shower with a mouth open because of fear of parasites this affects all parts of your life. E.g. you can’t just cook vegetables or prepare a salad. You need to sterilize these things first by letting them soak in a special solution. You also need to be careful about dishes — have they been properly cleaned? Are they still wet? Not paying attention to these things can lead to complicated problems. I suspect that the bad water quality in some regions (where the sewage system was build to cheap) goes along some path related to corruption.
My most positive impressions are the people. Natives as well as foreigners. There is a huge scene of hippies and dropouts in México and Guatemala and I have the impression that such countries — with fewer regulations than in Europe, and not so enforced restrictions — attract a crowd of interesting, unusual people. Maybe because they don’t fit anywhere else. Or maybe because they have more possibilities there. Or maybe because they find people like themselves in those regions.
I have to mention the extremely fertile vegetation — seeing wild cotton and coffee growing…that’s just beautiful. I also met dropouts who own a 2 hectar permaculture farm. This amazes me a lot. I have the impression that whatever you plant within the vegetation in those regions will just grow. The land makes an incredibly fertile impression. In one hostel in Guatemala I drank coffee which was grown, roasted and grounded within a one mile radius of the hostel.
The two friends I met up with are experienced backpackers, whom I have been to Central America with last year. Whilst I continue studying, they have decided to take time off to travel the world. So far this works very well for them. One of them has been hitchhiking through the USA, México and Guatemala with his tent. Staying here and there. Getting to know interesting people. Before we met up with him he had been helping out teaching at a local school. The other one has joined a yoga community in México and is diving deep into yoga, permaculture and meditation.
Even though I travelled with very good friends I needed to sometimes get some lonely time. If this would have been a longer journey I would have needed to split up. I got two main lessons from this journey: travelling alone often yields more personal freedom and speaking the language of a country is key to the people. I strongly feel as if journeys into such countries expand ones worldview and give one a more appropriate picture of ones own situation.
Now that I am back in Germany I am still a bit off. Quite a hard cut to be in deep México one day and thirty hours later in a totally diverse Germany. Quite hard to go back to the ordinary everyday life. Traveling gives life a different feeling. I want to go back traveling.