Antigua Roadshow

Travelled for a few hours into Antigua via shuttle and some terrible mountain roads on the 23rd for Christmas.

Antigua does not disappoint. Cobbled streets, colourful single storey colonial buildings and lovely churches, small enough to walk across in half an hour, various parks for sitting and people watching, views of three surrounding volcanoes – one typically puffing out smoke, and colourful artisana stalls selling traditional clothes, bags, belts (you name it). It is absolutely gorgeous. Eminently liveable (as the expat community attests). The backpackers budget does limit your access to most restaurants and bars in this city, but you can find enough to get by.

Guide book quote:

“If you’re on a budget, this is not your place”

Just How I like my Women Joke of the Day

Antigua is so pretty, but very expensive…

Christmas was a low-key affair (for us). On Christmas Eve we wandered around a quiet town, had a very expensive drink, so headed home and later watched an amazing fireworks show from our Posada’s roof terrace. At midnight everyone lets off fireworks, the cacophony echoing around the mountains,  360 lightshow from the top of hills to the neighbouring property, and smoke… so much smoke. Aside from being visually and aurally stunning, there is a touching connection you feel to everyone in the area doing the same thing at the same time – humans in unison. Even the nuns in the convent opposite were up on their roof watching, as is their habit. Really nice way to ring in Christmas.

Christmas itself featured face-timing, drooling at pictures of Christmas dinner, another fireworks extravaganza at midday, wandering around a quiet town, delicious ceviche for lunch and burgers for tea.

Our festive theme has been “Puppys and Pappys”:

Puppys

We had booked a lovely Posada as our base, very central and a fantastic rooftop terrace for looking at surrounding volcanoes and mountains… but the best thing about it was the puppy they (Carlos and Hazel) had just brought home – Choco.

Gratuitous puppy watching, if you’re so inclined…

Soooo lovely to play in the afternoons and laugh at her rolling around, falling over, chasing shoes, trying to escape.

Sadly, however, my puppy was just for Christmas.

Pappys

THE most amazing meat we’ve had since we’ve been away. Had a rib plate with 2 sides for lunch, and back again for amazing double burger. Very tasty Christmas treats.

Pappys also has the best wifi router name we’ve encountered on this trip: Prettyflyforawifi. Hehehe.

 

Other Important Conversations: 

Guatevision (the Guatemalan Chuckle Vision):

“Tamale, to you…. Tamale, to you”

“That rum gives me headache”
“Oh, ok, I do alright on it”
“Yeah, I know. Maybe it’s you.”

“Nobody likes a smartarse Emily. Apart from me, apparently.”

“Look at me, I have got the body of a 39 year old… in the cupboard.”

“What food are you looking forward to when we get home?”
“Curry Night 1, Roast Day 2”
“What a great result!”

5 REASONS WE LOVE GUATEMALA

And so, as we sorted out a booking failure for onward travel to another country (Gekko Trails Explorer has a bad review coming), we thought about how much we have loved Guatemala and ruminated on what made it special for us.

1. Fresh fruit and vegetables are cheaper than McDonalds: the way it should be

In Antigua even this place is rocking a view: “Where’s Ronny?”

2. A smile begets a smile: smile and say “hello” and you always get a cheery and welcoming response, not the shocked “are you going to mug me?” or “what do YOU want” of a typical Londoner

3. Perfect weather: hot and sunny by day, but plenty of locations to be cold at night (try room 8 at Posada de San Carlos – freezing!)

HOT

COLD

4. No celebrity news: priorities are straight

5. Heritage: keeping hold of your language, your artisana skills, your traditional clothes of vibrant colour, despite so much Spanish and Catholic interference seems to me its own quiet revolution, a testament to resilience.

 

Hermit Hole

We’re not quite sure what we did to deserve it, the travelling Gods must have been smiling on us – on the 11th we were upgraded to an amazing apartment. Open kitchen and living room, 2 bedrooms, flat screen TV, brand new. Incredible views from the living room and bedroom out to the garden, the lake and the mountains. Its bigger than our flat in London. The Manager (Matt) did us a massive favour so we could stay for a month overall. I’m led to believe we qualified because we’re “not dicks”.

I almost cried when we moved in, it was a bit overwhelming. Then I promptly made use of the loo to vomit. Not so much overwhelmed as under the weather. We’d eaten street food the night before (plus drunk a fair amount of rum) so the first bout of gurgling stomachs ensued. Nothing like your own apartment to speed recovery, however.

“Do you want more ron (rum)?”

“More ron – that’s what you should have called your blog!”

A backpackers diet can be heavy on the carbs – you can get salad and fruits as extra sides but we tend to stick to a main course only to keep to budget. Lots of bread, rice, beans, tortillas, pasta. So we headed to the local market to stock up on fresh veg, salad and fruits now that we can store it and cook for ourselves. I’ve been hoovering it up at every opportunity. We’ve had a couple of big cook ups – pasta, curry… all good to last a few days.

Found some other interesting food. There isn’t much good meat around, unless you’re up for a live chicken or freshly caught fish from the market, or you like spam. But there is a guy (Nester) who produces some good stuff (bacon, sausages, steaks etc).

“Let’s go gander at some sausage.”

And I never expected to be eating this while travelling …..

“I have never had to pay for that before!”

The days seem to roll by in reverie and leisurely routine at the ‘Hermit Hole’. Fresh bread for breakfast, learning Spanish in the shade on the lawn, reading, cooking and watching movies. Chilled out Heaven. Matt asked us “What have you been keeping yourselves busy with?”. Erm, nothing!

Watched a fire roaring up the mountains opposite us one night at 2am (from our bed!). Enormous, lighting up the night sky orange, we were concerned that villages were being taken out. As it turns out, we took a couple of boat trips to towns around the lake and close up you could tell it was very well controlled – of course they know what they’re doing.

We got a lancha to Santiago (basically a town full of market stalls, armadillo skin anyone??) and Panajachel (where most tourists stay). Views back to the three volcanoes from Panajachel were incredible – had some obligatory “marvelling” beers.

Jim has developed sweaty ‘knee pits’.

“Sounds like something you could have with haggis.”

Watched some paragliders gliding and landing, pretty cool.

Otherwise not much else there, other than great street food stalls and loads of ‘artisanas’ approaching you to sell you stuff. Journey back from Pana was the best bit – into the sun setting, along the lake edge past village after village, admiring the magnificent houses clinging to the mountain edge – there is some money here after all. San Marcos looked to be the most ‘modern’, with nice properties on the lake edge, bars with terraces lined with big white sofas etc. Its odd, San Marcos is supposed to be a hippy town:

“Well Emily, if you can live like a hippy you can probably afford to.”

Jim has finally succumbed to testing me on my Spanish. He randomly selects a phrase in English in my notebook and I have to translate to Spanish. “Why don’t you do it?”. “I’m leaving right now”. “What are you doing right now?”. “What are you saying?”. “Why don’t you speak Spanish with me?”.

“All this time, have you just been learning how to moan in Spanish?”

Had a quick trip to Smokey Joe’s BBQ (Nester’s weekly meat fest) on Sunday at the pool… massive plate of food and delicious spicy bloody mary in the sun.

Also finally got out on the kayaks to have a look around the (very grassy) lake shore. Had some fun trying to record a Christmas message 😉

And over the last few days our minds have turned back to itineraries and research and how much I can put on the credit card and transfer to 0%. Its amazing and exciting thinking of the incredible things we’ll be doing, but still doesn’t mean we’ve missed the organising part, the moratorium has been appreciated. Still such a lot to do, and time is dwindling fast. The next few months will be busy, moving every few days.. and a lot heavier on the wallet than our last month in Super San Pedro. Hold tight!

Other important conversations:

“I need to become a surfer I think”

“Why?”

“I don’t know.”

“How would that work?”

“Yep, exactly. I wouldn’t work.”

 

 

San Pedro La(ze) Laguna

It has taken two weeks to write this post. We’ve been here, in the same place for 2 weeks – and we’re staying for another 1.5 #stuck

When you see what it looks like, you’ll understand. Plus, its cheap, its small (15mins walk to anywhere), there are lots of bars and everyone is friendly, no mosquitos, a cool breeze but hot sun. Oh yes, and its cheap. And its beautiful. And cheap.

 

GETTING HERE

Snippet of journey out of Lanquin…

We arrived on the 27th via shuttle from Lanquin, revelling in the luxury of the transit compared to our last journey (i.e there was a roof).

Features of the trip, roughly in this order, were dirt tracks overlooking steep drops into lush green valleys, a debate about whether the hills were mountains or just hills (is there not something in between?), boulders from past landslides littering the road, dog roadkill, and pot holes.

I did also have the obligatory journey mishap.  I left a jacket on the first shuttle to Antigua (we had to change buses). I had only worn it once, on the shuttle bus, that day… and fell in love with its cosyness (Uni Qlo down, toasty). Via the power of google translate, some hastily fired off emails and a nice tip, I did actually get it back the next day, amazingly. “That wouldn’t have happened if it was an iPhone” says a local.

 

BEING HERE

Spent the first 2 nights in a decent hotel (Sak’cari) to reward ourselves for a dank stay with the cockroaches. Stunning views of Lago de Atitlan, very happy (non)campers.

Sorted out language lessons, somewhere to stay for a week, and red hair dye (yes, its an essential!) in the space of about 18 minutes on the first morning. The subsequent list of things we’ve accomplished since then is undeniably short. Four things. Yes, four. Its all rather leisurely here, once again immersing ourselves in the culture. Ahem.

 

One

Been out a few nights (cook up with the AC gang at their hostel, various “Sublime” nights, Buddha Bar chats etc) – most of which featured a fresh injury. Took some skin off my toe trying to walk and talk at the same time. Was attacked by my own flip flop (traitor!). Sat on a broken chair and got a massive scratch up my back. #notevendrunk

Two

Completed a week’s worth of spanish lessons at San Pedro school (next door to our hotel). Was OK to get the basics but our teacher was a bit, err, creepy. “Imagine there is a condom on this table” <to explain the difference between ‘this’ and ‘that’>. “Emily won the most sexy chica in London”, “Emily won the most intellectual in the university”<By way of verb practice examples>. Awkward. This week we’re back to a combination of apps, programs and audio to learn the basics ourselves before wasting any more money on lessons. Added benefit is being able to do this in the sun in our gorgeous hotel garden, on the lake edge.

First day of school…

Serendipitous moment when Jim’s program accidentally taped our conversation…..

Three

Experienced my first earthquake. Well 5 actually. Jim said it was a sign from the Gods, and later Wimbledon won their FA Cup qualifier and drew Liverpool for a money-spinning 3rd round tie. I liken the first tremor (at 5am) to the reaction Jim would have had if in bed when he heard this news – i.e. jumping up and down on the bed.

Its incredible to think the entire caldera of a once ginormous volcano (in which the lake formed) was shaking. Makes you feel small.

 

Four

Hiked up Indian Nose. Possibly 40 minutes up a very steep hill, in the dark. Pausing to let the heart rate slow down and get enough oxygen every so often. Wonderful to watch the sunrise behind a volcano letting out little puffs of smoke, with the lake stretching before you.

 

And yes, of course there have been a few other things on our agenda – mostly eating, I have to admit.

Ate a lot at Cafe Atitlan which does pesto pasta for Q32 (£3). Traditional, ahem. They also sell small Harry Potter style bags of something (probably coffee) we’ve been meaning to investigate:

What would you put in your Harry Potter bag Jim?

My mini Harry Potter wand!

We have been enjoying Jim’s daily recounting of his Malarone (malaria meds) Dreams – often after waking himself up laughing. One morning he was a Koala, which we both think his brain concocoted in order to remember the correct pronounciation of “Cuál” (‘which’ in Spanish) that had been causing no end of problems. Another morning we had broken up so Jim had gone to visit Don Draper to get a job (Mad Man indeed). Another he was a road-sweeper – I cannot imagine why he was laughing at this. Considering it now, we might need to plumb this humour if we find it actually happens!

Being able to sleep at any time has had some surprising results. My record is 8pm. Seriously. I went to sleep at 8pm. #livingthedream

And looking. I’ve done a lot of looking. Staring at mountains, volcanoes and water. Why not? Sun on my face, cool breeze, stunning view, brain stasis. Behold, creation! My capacity for this is proving to be really quite astonishing. It is as if it might all disappear if I don’t keep it front and centre. Let’s just say I’m ‘meditating’, sounds less lazy.

San Pedro’s other features include:

  1. Shots fired here and there, randomly, every day.
  2. Fireworks, randomly, every day.
  3. A lovely local community: traditional dress; ancient, teeny-weeny ladies selling fruit and veg at the market stalls, or swatting flies from a couple of small fish they’ve caught that morning
  4. Dog Holes. Loads of stray dogs making nice comfy holes in patches of dirt. “I found the perfect dog hole in San Pedro”. “Oi!”. “Why are you saying ‘Oi’? You can’t deny a man his dog hole!”
  5. Dog of the Month in the local listing
  6. Dog of the Year in the local listing

 

Other important conversations:

New name for a Bike Shop: Bike Curious

The title of Frank Muir’s Memoirs: My Memuirs

 

 

AC Team – Semuc Champeyons!

A travelling tale.

We were excited to travel on to Lanquin to see the amazing Semuc Champey – the highlight of many a traveller’s trip to Guatemala. Amazing stepped pools carved out of limestone by a huge river, bright blue and transparent. Caves you can tour through by candlelight. A look-out you can hike to. “Exciting”, “Stunning”, “Scary”.. we read.

Our expectations looked like this:

The day started without incident. The shuttle picked us up at 8am for the 8 hour journey. We’d paid a little more (Q50 each) to get an AC van, 8 hours seemed worthy of a little comfort. 6 others joined us and off we went.

After a couple of hours the bus boards a ferry to make a short hop across a river. And 30mins after this we get to a group of men who have put rocks across the road. The driver chats briefly, they move the rocks and on we go. A girl who can speak Spanish asks the driver what the blockade was for, he doesn’t know. But 10 minutes further, there is a bigger group of men and a larger blockade. Again, they open it for us.

We come into a little town and we’re pointing out to each other that the town is absolutely FULL of men. No women, just hundreds and hundreds of men standing around, chatting, eating at stalls, sitting on the grass verge. It is really eery.

After various mobile calls, the driver stops the van and announces “There is a protest, we cannot get through. It will last 5 hours. There is a lake nearby that we can go to. We’ll just wait for another tourist bus behind us and go together.”

8 of us are a bit surprised, but think it might be fun to hang out by the lake. We get there and set out sleeping bags and sarongs to sit on. The locals are swimming, washing clothes in the lake and mostly staring at us wondering why Gringos have visited for the day. There is rubbish everywhere, a couple of horses grazing, pigs shuffling through litter – but the lake is quite pretty. We share fruit, crisps, drinks that we had for the journey, introduce ourselves (Kitto, Sophie, Ed, Maisie, Ben, Chardae, Emily and Jim), play cards and laugh – A LOT. Lucked out on the funny bus. The second class citizens (the non-AC shuttle bus gang) had gone a different direction further down the hill by the lake – like a strange social experiment we’d established two camps, with us looking down at them.

After an hour or so the 8 of us go into town and get lunch from a stall, and the boys amazingly find beer (no alcohol was being sold because of the incendiary nature of an inconvenienced and angry male hoard). Sophie (our designated Spanish speaker) talks to some ladies that tell her the protest is actually going to be between 3 and 5 days!! Oh. No. Most people are on a tight schedule and want to get there the same day, no one wants to spend days on a shuttle bus. And so, the big debate ensues with the drivers:

  1. Can we go another route? No, there is only one road.
  2. Can we go back? No, the ferry is closed as part of the protest.
  3. Can we get through by any means (i.e. bribery)? No, rocks will be thrown at us.
  4. Can a shuttle from the company meet us at the other side? No, its not their problem.

The best idea seemed to be to drive to the main blockade and see if we can bribe anyone, or simply pick up a lift from someone stuck the other side of the barrier (ideally a tourist shuttle). Sophie, Ed, Ben and Chardae leave us behind to check this out, and find us a cattle truck driver willing to take us all (including the other shuttle bus) to our destination that day. Hurrah! We decamp from our nice AC van, backpacks on, walk across the protest line and haul ourselves into the truck. Off we go! Roaring with laughter, hip-hooraying Sophie, Ed, Ben and Chardae as we pull away, and welcoming a gang of locals who jump on board, sitting on the sides of the truck… abandoning their own protest.

Everyone had contributed Q100 to pay the driver, and with the left over kitty we stopped to buy beers and crisps. So, as the sun set, you could hear the chorus of 23 Gringos chatting – “THIS is amazing”, “I love it!” –  choruses of songs as we all sang – and the regular chorus “I need the loo!”. Was pretty glad for the first loo stop… OMG! An entire day without a loo at a bad time of the month. At the risk of too much information… it was at the side of the road, I did see a tarantula run for his life, I’m thankful for wet wipes and apologetic to any road-sweeper (I can’t imagine there are any TBH).

We sweep through villages singing at the top of our lungs into the darkness. Not the usual way you travel Guatemala at night as a foreigner, its a dangerous country. We admire a lightening storm we can see in the distance, amazing fork lightening. We stop for dinner in a medium sized town.

And then…. the rain comes.

At first its not too bad, you imagine a shower and think “its warm, no matter”.

But then it buckets down – yes, it is as if someone is throwing a bucket of water on you continuously – for another 3 or 4 hours. I’m not sure how to describe it, other than imagine you jump in the swimming pool with your backpack on. That’s it.

We have no choice, we have to keep going. We can’t go back, only forward. There is nothing around, only little villages with no sign of life. At first spirits are still high, Ben and Ed are joking about being the worst tour guides ever for taking us on this tour. We climb around mountain passes, illuminated fleetingly with the lightning (along with the drop to the right into nowhere), and the cattle truck 4-wheel drives its way through rivers that were once dirt roads. Thank God for a big truck I guess.

Eventually everyone is silent, each steeling ourselves against the elements… there is no point doing anything but huddling for warmth and plumbing your inner reserves of resilience.

And on… and on… and on…

We did make it. After a slightly heated conversation with the staff who gave our room to someone else despite our protests (they had to later switch), we got into a room. No electricity, no hot water, no towels. Using our head-torches, we pulled a few sodding things from bags (passport, money) to try and dry them, attempted to ignore the ants and cockroaches, and got into bed to try and warm up.

I wish I could say this arduous journey was worth it, that Semuc Champey was wonderous, but the rain continued all night and all the next day. No tours running. No chance for drying anything in the dank air (pretty much everything but our clothes was soaked, and the clothes are mostly dirty at this point). Difficult choice to make. Stay one or more days and hope the weather clears, put up with the cockroaches in the room and unreliable electrics … vs cut your losses and get out of there. We booked the shuttle to Lago de Atitlan for the next morning at 8am.

The electricity did come back on about 3pm so we managed to get all our clothes into the laundry, and met the AC gang again for cards and beers in the evening. But it proved to be a good decision to up and off the next day – the day was still overcast and rainy, and whilst a few of the gang stayed and did a cave tour, they said it was fairly dangerous, the blue pools were brown and I believe you couldn’t swim because of the fast flowing water.

Weather 2 – Jimily 0

Although.. as it turns out… we met some awesome people and we all met up at Lago de Atitlan a few days later. As they say, the journey is as important as the destination.. and this one was definitely worth it, just not for the reason we’d expected.

 

Click on the photos in this slideshow to browse the pics…. 😉

 

 

 

Professional Tikal-ing

From Caye Caulker we spent the best part of a day on boat (8-9am) and then bus (10.30-4.30pm) to get across the border and to Flores in Guatemala.

After boarding the bus we had a nice introductory speech to give us a flavour of what we’re in for in Guatemala:

“The driver is not allowed to stop anywhere but in St Ignacio for the ATM, the border, and Flores. He is not allowed to pick anyone up. He will be fined $400 (US) if he does.

You have to pay an exit tax 37.50BZ each, that’s why we normally stop at the ATM.

I advise you to change all your last BZ to Quetzals because BZ is useless in Guatemala. Lots of people will approach you at the border to change money, it won’t be the best rate but we advise that you actually use them.

Don’t leave anything on the bus while you go through the border. Your bags down below are fine, they won’t be tampered with – but don’t leave anything up here (we’ve seen things go missing).

It is illegal for the Guatemalan officials to ask for an entry tax at the Guatemalan border, and I used to advise against doing so (its a scam) – BUT, we are now finding the officials don’t stamp your passport (or put the wrong date on it) if you don’t pay. So now, I know you have your principles, but I advise you just to pay the Q20 to save any hassle – and to check your stamp!

Last thing, if you need the bathroom – go this side of the border, its clean. I won’t say anything more.”

Well, OK. Interesting.

As we near the border, the driver stops so his mate can get out and pick up his laundry. Hmm. Then he stops again so his mate can pick up a sack of potatoes. Ahem.

We get across the border with no issues, the bus waits while you pay money at different counters and get passports stamped.

We’re a bit apprehensive now we’re in Guatemala, there are stories of hold ups and robberies of tourists – but not normally on this size bus. Still, money belt on, cards hidden in secret pockets etc. The tarmac road turns to dirt track for a good few kilometres as we travel through lush green landscapes, forests and lakes. The stray dogs everywhere don’t seem perturbed by the 47-seater bus hurtling towards them (we find out later that this makes for some interesting road kill discoveries).

As we near Flores, the driver takes the third exit on a roundabout to stop at a particular petrol station (i.e. goes back on himself). A van and 2 tuk tuks are waiting. 3 people get on the bus and go right to the back, then start bringing down boxes and boxes and bags and bags of goods, and piling them into the tuk tuks. This went on for a good 10 minutes, so much stuff had been hiding down the back of the bus its a wonder any passengers fit in.

Eventually we get into shuttle vans to take us across the short stretch into the middle of Lake Petén Itzá, and into the tiny town of Flores. Very cute, you can walk around in about 15 minutes. Hostels, hotels, restaurants mostly.

We wanted to book a tour straight away so tried the local ATM to get some money for food + tour. Not working. The tour company dude took us back across to St Elena to try ATMs there, no luck. After trying 5, we returned back  – apologising to the guy who’d been driving us to each in turn, and vowing to come back to him when we found money.

Bit concerning not having any money, at all – but the hotel accepted credit card and we managed to find street food for £2.50 (for us both) to fill us up. Thank god we changed our Belize dollars at the border to get some spending cash. And Praise Be! for Guatemalan cheapness.

We did eventually find money the next morning in the local ATM, but too late to take the tour. So, with cheap beer in front of us… we thought we’d just relax, check out a few bars on the island and look at the view (which included an ‘arco iris’ at one point! Rainbow!).

Next day was fairly difficult. Groan. Eventually made it out for cheeseburgers so we could take our malaria meds, but otherwise the day consisted of watching the Grand Prix and Netflix, and wondering why we bought Bacardi Breezers home when neither of us like them and we have no fridge. Also surprised by how many people in Flores knew us after our bar crawl… restauranteurs were asking “where were you, you said you’d come back?” and the shop security guard was smiling and chatting… ha ha ha.

Monday we were up at 4am to get off to Tikal. After what must be the typical start (2 boys weren’t out of bed in time for the shuttle and had to be woken up,  4 people hadn’t brought enough money to get into the park etc) we started the tour about 7am.

Incredible place. Think Tikal ranks second on our tour of Mayan Archeology sites. Can’t quite beat the beauty and decoration of Uxmal, but Tikal is special for the different thoughts it evokes. You find yourself less in contemplation about the scale and achievement (although it is most definitely there), less in wonder at the sheer number of buildings in such a small area (which is more impressive than Chichen Itzá) but rather in that childlike excited reverie borne of finding a lost civilisation subsumed by the jungle and shrouded in mist.

The jungle setting and the amount of buildings clearly evident but not yet rescued and restored make you feel as if you are the discoverer, you’re there at the moment when this incredible place was discovered. And it wasn’t just one discovery, the first explorers would have found pyramid after pyramid after temple after temple here. It really is an indulgence of archeology. I feel like we’ve overdosed.

We had a little game of Hide and Seek while exploring – we were the only people at many of the sites, exciting! Spot one of us in each of these photos.

And some other photos….

 

As I’m writing this blog I’m somewhat ironically also reading this article on my mobile, while Jim reads the news on his and checks out reviews of places to eat in San Pedro:

https://medium.com/human-parts/has-travel-becoming-another-exercise-in-narcissism-bfb3ccbcdc3a

Travel has become another exercise in narcissistic presentation, one more way of desperately extracting some semblance of uniqueness out of your otherwise soul-crushingly mediocre existence.

In a homogenising, fast-paced world, our appetite for foreknowledge has demystified foreign places. Yet the axiom that all ‘travel’ is transformative persists.

The writer does extoll a view that we’ve also started to form through meeting other travellers on this same well-worn trail, and the amount of people in our social circle who have been here before us and comment on the photos we share. Its why this feels like a holiday, not a transformative experience. You can make everything ‘safe’ by reading a hundred blogs and reviews before you start. And the well-worn trail gives rise to international food, established tourist services, the opportunity to buy most of the stuff you can get at home… the opportunity to get away with speaking English.

The advice seems to be to try ayahuasca instead.

And yet, we’re happy to be on the well-worn trail. We don’t need this to make us interesting (I hope). Its more about a change from monotony, letting the brain do something else other than forcibly work at the same thing day-in day-out, fire different synapses, be creative, learn something new. Who needs uniqueness, I’d settle for a break.