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Monthly Archives: February 2012

This trip is an eye-opener. For one I was not expecting the place to be crawling with Americans. But then I found out that a lot of Americans travel to Guatemala because it is safer than Mexico, and the flight fares are cheap. It costs them max $500 for a round trip. I forked out $3500. For them, their total trip for say, 3 weeks will come under $2000. I think I’m spending more than twice of that. It’s just mind-boggling.

Actually a few events occurred over the course of this trip that made me understand why some people label Americans as arrogant and ignorant. I have always assumed that people who traveled to developing nations are of a certain calibre – they are open-minded, respectful and intellectual. That was my perception and expectation of other tourists in this country. Unfortunately, I have come to discovere that though this may be true; Guatemala is not quite the developing nation it is made out to be. In many aspects, it can be seen as a cheaper and easier alternative for fun.

The legal age for drinking in america is 21years. In Guatemala, it is 18. In Guatemala, beer is freely available and cheap to buy. Drugs are easily obtained and I am not even talking about illicit ones. The Americans that come to this country are young – 19/20. They are out to live their lives. I see the obscene amount of beers downed. Like seriously, more than 2 liters every night, pissed drunk and hungover the next day? Every night?? And then I see the sexual displays on full throttle. Of how young girls try their best to net the boys, men, anyone with a penis. It was shocking how they threw themselves over the other gender just to get laid.

Then there was someone from the Workland, someone who is still studying but due to graduate and enter a white collar profession. Who decided that he would like to capitalize on the easy access of pharmaceutical drugs and lax laws here by trying out opiate drugs. He bought oxycontin, the extended release version, and of course, did not get high. He was advised by a doctor who was also here to volunteer that he wanted oxycodone not oxycontin. I refused to take part in any such conversations.

Then with the young crowd I was hanging out with, really just 5 years younger, they were all astounded that I have never smoked cigarettes, marijuana or some other shit. And they tried to get me to smoke some. Haha, very funny. Unfortunately I’m not in the age ground where peer pressure matters anymore.

Oh did I mention the whole table nearly died when during a drinking game, which inevitably went into a sex round, everyone was appalled that despite being fairly westernized, I still adhere to the no premarital sex principle of my culture. I heard them discussing in the corridor later that they refused to believe it and that I must jack off. How do I jack off without a penis? Not sure, perhaps I should ask them. They can’t believe I can abstain from sex; I can’t believe they are so horny. But I remind myself, they are kids and ignorant and I should know better and be gentle with them.

The clincher came when an American asked me what my first language was. When I said English, she refused to believe it, and insisted Mandarin was my first language, because, get this, I have an accent. ??? Another American, an older one, and my age, and more world weary, because she traveled more and is also a doctor, hastily intervened. Accents don’t mean English isn’t our first language. The British have an accent, the Australians have their own, hell the Kiwis take some getting used to too; but that doesn’t mean that we all don’t use english as our first language! Is it so difficult to believe that a lot of Asians speak English? And that a lot of Chinese people are bilingual and proficient in the two most important languages of the world?

Wow. I mean, like wow.

Unbelievable. But don’t get me wrong, these people are nice. It is just when they open their gaps, you can easily tell how shallow they are. I mean, yes they are young, but I was certainly no airhead at their age either.

I have decided and realized I can’t hang out with under 25s anymore. My liver can’t handle it. My brain can’t handle it. And my spirit is exhausted. I may only be 26, but sometimes I feel I’m 80 because of the kind of mentalities I am surrounded by!

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The Internet has been fairly unstable and during the times that it’s working, I had to use it wisely. I do find that the Internet is most stable in public areas rather than at my accommodation, where I actually pay to use the internet. This, I suppose, is another of one of life’s biggest ironies!

Right now, I am actually in a Pollo Campero, Guatemala’s answer to the western world’s KFC. I’m waiting for my chicken to cook, hence the time on my hands. I have been busy over the past two weeks, since being here in Antigua. The first two weeks were spilt evenly between volunteering at a rural clinic and having Spanish lessons in the afternoon. Then at the eleventh hour (I kid you not), I was informed that a camping cum hiking trip to the volcanoes was scheduled to go ahead the very next day, and so that was where I found myself (more elaboration later). Now I’m back, and have moved out of my home stay into a hotel where I can get some alone time, and some reflection time before I am due to start work next week. I can’t believe how time flies. Tomorrow morning, I am actually leaving Antigua to head to Guatemala city where I will stay for a night before flying back to the Workland.

I really love Antigua. It is a beautiful place. Where else can you find a small gorgeous town set against a beautiful backdrop of the majestic volcanoes? Every day when I wake up to get to the Spanish school, I see this beautiful volcano (Volcán Agua), and I feel so happy inside. There is never a bad day, never any Monday blues. I can even see the beautiful volcano smiling at me from the window of my classroom.

When I went to Japan, and the view in Toyama blew me away, i understood that life is much bigger than me and there are so many beautiful things out there waiting for me to discover. Guatemala just affirms this. This land is so beautiful, the rolling hills, the great volcanoes, even an active one that erupts every few minutes (volcán Fuego), the pretty cobblestone streets on Antigua, the closeness of the houses and the bright colours of the clothes of the local people. Every house, every shop and every restaurant I went to, they always had paintings of the beautiful sceneries of Antigua. The painters are talented, they replicate the beautiful street scenes of Antigua. So how can I resist? I bought myself 4 beautiful paintings of Antigua. I know I will hang them up in my home, and every day I will reminisce about this beautiful town in a far flung part of the world then I decided to visit on a whim.

Beautiful Antigua.

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