A Travellerspoint blog

October 1985

hippy lake


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Tuesday 1st October 1985

Find Rebulos bus station no problem this morning after yesterdays frustrations and catch the 10am bus to Panajachel. beautiful descent from Solozia to the lakeside. Marvellous.

Panajachel hip and trendy village with many foreigners and much ropa tipica. Catch an afternoon boat across the lake to SanPedro where alittle girl shows me to Pension Chuasinahi, 1.5Q con ropa came and demand 10 centavos for her services. Its not a very attatractive place on the lake shore, all breeze block and crowded out with noisy Italians gone hippy in local costume, el tipico.

Posted by 1985 trip 03:36 Archived in Guatemala Comments (0)

back strap weaving


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Wednesday 2nd October 1985

Wash day and domestic chores. Pensione supervised by a fussy old man. Apparently its owned by a 'colonel'. Persistent rude girls aggressively hawk oranges and tamales off my balcony.

Chris, a dour Canadian, shows me to Senorita Rosa Gonzalez and I agree to a few days back strap loom weaving lessons for 50 cents a day materials extra - about 1.5Q. Later that day I start by threading up and sizing the weft with corn starch.

Sergio, Rosa's husband, is tying a fishing net. Their three boys Chester, Orbe, and Louis make tipica knotted bracelets. They eat tortillas and frijoles morning noon and night. The little three year old girl paddles about trying to keep her skirt up but her fat tum defeats her.

Bisteck con arroz con papas fritas 75 cents.

Posted by 1985 trip 01:12 Archived in Guatemala Comments (0)

colourful costumes


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Thursday 3rd October 1985

San Pedro is authentically grubby, roughly cobbled streets are steep and narrow and full of farmyard smells. Brightly costumed locals always carrying something, ladies do it on their heads, men on their backs. The ladies wear a long loop of cloth which is wrapped around as a skirt but without getting into the loop, different dressing technique to asia. The men wear calf length home woven white trousers with a black dash running through the weave, other villages will have a different pattern. Rosa makes the San Pedro trouser fabric. Two woven lengths are needed for a pair of trousers at 5Q each, materials cost her 2Q and it takes her about a day and half to weave 2 lengths, in between cooking and childcare. The bottom half of the trousers are brightly embroidered with stylised animals. The women's tops are known as huipiles and are elaborately embroidered. Men's shirts are from similar material to the skirts. You can imagine how colourful the villages look on market day. The houses seem to have piped water but the washing water is chucked into the street. Many flies. Weave all day, painfully slow compared with Rosa.

Posted by 1985 trip 01:21 Archived in Guatemala Comments (0)

pig out on pancakes


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Friday 4th October 1985

Pancake piled with chopped banana pawpaw and apple, smothered in yoghurt sprinkled with roast grains and drizzled with honey. Is it a dream? no its lake Atitlan. What a feast for 75 cents. lake Atitlan is at about 1500 meters, the surrounding high mountains and volcanoes are a rich green colour due to the forests coffee plantations and maize. Dug out canoes slide across the lake, silhouetted by the glitter of the water.

Pescado de laguna x2 con arroz con frijoles con papas 75 cents. I eat like a fat westerner. Te hierbe or te manzanilla (yellow).

Posted by 1985 trip 01:32 Archived in Guatemala Comments (0)

kite flying on Lake Atitlan


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Saturday 5th October 1985

Watch and learn as Rosa's boys make kites. The usual design is a hexagon made from three crossed grass straws, cotton thread around the edge and brightly coloured tissue paper in fill. They use a sticky plant bulb for glue. In the late afternoon sun San Pedro has a colourful barrage flying on the rising wind before the evening rain, like a host of dancing butterflies.

Finish weaving. 4Q in total. Mega disaster on the last day as I drop all the odds in the weft. Have to unpick a lot and start again.

Two English guys at the Ultima Cena cafe (couldn't resist a eating at the last supper restaurant) where I usually eat, and two Argentinians. The pommes are heading south. Sounds expensive as Nicaragua demand $60 at the border, and there is a forced currency exchange at a bad rate. Hear of a Guatemalan airline flight to Columbia for $120 and news of fighting at the Nicaragua / Costa Rica border. Think I will fly from Costa Rica to Ecuador.

Posted by 1985 trip 01:46 Archived in Guatemala Comments (0)

Fiesta in Panajachel


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Sunday 6th October 1985

I want to buy some indigenous costumes and today is market day in Chichiquatstenango so up at 5.30am and just MISS the boat, but it comes back for me. Plagued by dreadful stomach pains on the boat. After waiting a while for the bus in Panajachel decide enough is enough and find a hostel to sit it out - literally! Treatment consists of coca cola and boiled sweets. Feel a bit better by the evening after day writhing and moaning in bed. Book says there's a market at Comolapa tomorrow, and this is in the direction of the capital.

Fiesta in the village, a little fun fair, a tissue paper hot air balloon with a fire inside soars up into the clouds without catching fire. Endless pageant of masked dancers in the square, lively marimba and saxophones. All look like caricatures of Spaniards, the masks have big noses and moustaches, large sombreros and pistols. There is also a very large woman and a character with horns. The local's clothes are really colourful, a vibrant mish mash of patterns in the weave then lots of embroidery on top of that. Yet most of them don't have 2 cents to rub together.

Posted by 1985 trip 01:01 Archived in Guatemala Comments (0)

secret lodgings

ssshhhh


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Monday 7th October 1985

Hang around in the early morning waiting for a bus that will put me down before Zaragoza. Dirt road from Zaragoza to ? Comalopa where I hope to find some indian costumes at the market. Appalling road, helpful locals, pine forests.

Quiet town of one storey breeze block houses, many people riding horses, bare back. But too quiet, no market, its tomorrow! The pension won't take me in and I am sent to find Oldga near the cemetery. Olga turns out to be a shop and it all seems not quite legal 2Q shhh!

Posted by 1985 trip 01:12 Archived in Guatemala Comments (0)

Hot water comes at a price


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Tuesday 8th October 1985

Market gets going. Enjoy some gentle bargaining. No hassles here. The ladies wait quietly for your custom but are hard negotiators. Everybody is wearing colourful local costume (except me). Huipiles 12 - 17 Q, 6m of cloth for blouses 28 - 35Q, local's price about 25Q.

Head back to Guatemala City.

Hotel Tranquillidad, 3.3Q, and there is supposed to be hot water, but I never got the hazardous kettle heating element attached to the shower head with insulating tape to work. Cold showers, but at least not electrocuted in the process.

Posted by 1985 trip 01:19 Archived in Guatemala Comments (0)

Travel business


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Wednesday 9th October 1985

Successful business day. Changed KLM reservation to December 6th from October 28th, not ready to go home yet. Also made reservations for flights to Costa Rica and Equador, flying these legs will save time as I want to see the Andes next and I have enough money. Flights 1500Q. Banks offering 3.6 - 3.7Q to the dollar, which is similar to the street rate.

Watch a film, Greystoke. Tarzan returns to his aristocratic Scottish dukedom, his eccentric animal behaviour fits in nicely with his eccentric ancient granfather's. Ralph Richardson's last role.

Hear of a flight from US to Guatemala for 130$.

Posted by 1985 trip 01:26 Archived in Guatemala Comments (0)

Guatemala City in 1985

its the 80s , it must be Rambo


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Thursday 10th october 1985

Have some spare Quetzals to spend and visit the market behind the cathedral. The cathedral has numerous shrines. The roman catholics seem to worship their numerous saints just like the Mayans have the plethora of deities for different spiritual roles. Get patchwork bolsas (bags) down from 15 to 10Q.

Spend the afternoon at the Post Office. Posting parcels is very cheap, small packets are expensive, no printed matter or letters.

Watch Rambo 2 in the evening. Rambo has a mission, to kill every Vietcong and Russian on the planet. He accomplishes this with the minimum of dialogue and a miraculous never ending supply of ammunition. Ghastly stuff.

When walking along the streets of Guatemala City choose which side of the street with care, not just sun or shade, but which way are the buses running, the all emit a lingering choking blue smog.

Have a blow out final supper in an Italian restaurant.

Posted by 1985 trip 01:34 Archived in Guatemala Comments (0)

San Jose


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Friday 11th October 1985

11.30am check in at Guate airport - La Aurora - and collect voucher for the night in a Bogota Hotel, La Presidentia. Promises to have many more stars than I am used to.

Half empty flight through the clouds to Costa Rica. Money situation: 1$ : 51.5 Colons.

Check in to Tika Linda at 533 2nd Avenue in cute little San Jose. Small sign on otherwise anonymous door, ring the bell and it silently swings open, released by a piece of string runs the length of the 30 foot corridor behind. Tiny rooms with hard board partitions. 75 C a night.

Post Restante. No mail. Misery.

Posted by 1985 trip 01:43 Archived in Costa Rica Comments (0)

Appalling folkloric show

AAAARGHH


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Saturday 12th October 1985

Explore town and have a Big Mac, quite a change after months of tortillas. Have a coffee in the classical looking National Theatre. Parks & Maps office closed as it is Columbus day. San Jose seems to have plenty of dodgey looking bars, but they usually serve cheap food.

Watch appalling folklorique show in the evening. Enthusiastic amateurs who would be unwise to turn professional. A 100 year old lady was the guest of honour and she sat on stage and sang three songs in a very loud voice and paying no heed to the poor guitar accompanist. She was the best of the evening, but the experience was a tragic waste of a dollar.

Posted by 1985 trip 10:13 Archived in Costa Rica Comments (0)

carnival in Port Limone

trek to Cahuita national park


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Sunday 13th October 1985

Catch the 8am bus to Port Limone on the caribbean coast, 3 1/2 hour ride over the central highlands.

On arrival find a carnival in full swing in a hot tropical rainstorm, its been going on for a week and the place and everyone looks pretty wrecked. Today is the last day. Every street stall and palm frocked bar has loud enough reggae music to wake the entire coast. Mostly black people, their english has a very strong caribbean accent.

1 o'clock bus towards Cahuita national park. Spend the late afternoon walking to Puerta Varga and back, 14km with a bus helping part of the way home. Tuned out to be nothing much there but a park office, a small camp site with no facilities, lovely and isolated but no food.

Found Jenny's place on my return to Cahuita, down by the sea, 150 C for a quaint wood, bamboo and batik room on stilts. Jenny lives in easy going style on the first floor. I think there is only one room. Extra ordinary water collecting system with a number of different taps for different things. The drinking tap tastes the foulest, mostly of iron. Outdoor showers beneath 10 galloon drum. Its all very swiss family robinson. Very peaceful.

Posted by 1985 trip 10:19 Archived in Costa Rica Comments (0)

explore peaceful Cahuita park


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Monday 14th October 1985

Up with the birds. Walk along the coast path through the park. Hot steamy and swampy, not a soul about. Alligator skeleton, fish eagle, howler monkeys. They make a tremendous noise and I now realise what I heard in Palenque.

You can pitch a tent at the park headquarters, they have fresh water and showers but no food. large dirty pelicans flap inches above the sea.

The other way from the park is Playa Negra, where there are some cabanas to rent and daisy's place for breakfast and dinner.

Posted by 1985 trip 10:46 Archived in Costa Rica Comments (0)

search for spanish gold

and fail, sleep it off.


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Tuesday 15th October 1985

Hire some goggles and flippers from Daisy 150 c and head out in search of spanish gold. It is an hours walk to the point. This swampy promontory juts out in to the sea, protected for millennia by the reef, sweeping back each side are long beaches, like caries in the white dentine of the coast.

Snorkel for 40 minutes but it is too rough and I see and find nothing. There is a spanish galleon on the reef, which you can snorkel over when it is calm. Snooze in my hammock in complete isolation and slung between coconut palms.

Disappointed by the reef.

Posted by 1985 trip 10:51 Archived in Costa Rica Comments (0)