36. Tour Leader

Maya-Route 3, The Final…

All right, how do I write an other history about the Maya-Route? How can I still come up with something new? New adventures to keep my story interesting to read?
This is what I was wondering about when I started to write this new story, but somehow I always find (experience) new things to write about.
First I want to solve a misunderstanding: It is not boring to do a view times the same journey (maybe only to write about it?). However the route is the same, the group is different and also the local situation and weather can be totally different. Every time new things happen. Good or bad things, but always things I have to anticipate on.

Also this time I had a very nice group, which makes my work easier and much more fun to do. A difference with my last 2 tours was that we had, luckily no real dangerous adventures.
We did have more rain than during both previous tours together and I had to keep a close look on the weather forecast and information about the road conditions.
Reading the newspapers and listening to other people, I received stories about roads and houses that were floated, or even washed away, around the places on our route! Fortunately we were quite lucky that we didn’t have much problems with the weather. In fact the weather during our excursions was good till very good 
We did experience some big showers before or after excursions and we had some high water on the Rio Dulce. When we were there the floor of our lunch restaurant was a bit floated and the same had happened with some of the bridges in Hacienda Tijax (where we slept). The water in their office stood even about 20cm high. But when I spoke to some other people who were there after us, I found out that later on the water level had raised up to almost half a meter in this same office! It seems we left just on time.

Yes, I did keep an eye on the weather and possible problems because of the rain. Especially with the problems in mind, which occurred after the collapsed road in my previous tour… At to this info. some new information I heard about Quetzaltenango (the place they told me last time to go to sleep with my group) and surroundings: It seems that the last few weeks this city is been terrorized by a gang from Guatemala City.
I have been thinking about some problem-scenarios, but I didn’t worry to much about it. If things go wrong, I will deal with it at that moment. No sense to make to much plans, since every situation is different anyway.
I guess you do understand now how important it is to get and have good information. This was something I did worry a bit about. Like you would expect that a bus driver knows what’s going on on his route. But if that same guy asks me if I would like to make a sightseeing tour through Quetzaltenango I start to wonder how much he knows. Or even worse, will he tell me if he doesn’t? I’ve seen more police cars on this route than I’ve seen before and reading the newspapers, there has to be more violence in that area.
It wouldn’t be the first time that this driver just tells me something, even if he doesn’t know the answer. I remember one of a few stories he told me during my first tour. This was a story about a very important Maya battle against the Spaniards in a village we passed by. This battle was one of the very few they actually won. Only when I asked the driver in which century this happened, he told me that it was very long ago. It was even before Christ…

All right, this is just an innocent story, but now at an other innocent story to this. This time I was talking to our guide for Tikal. I asked him for more info about a world cup soccer game that was played on the day before. I did know the results, but I was wondering if it was a good game to watch. “O yes, it was a good game to watch”, he told me “and Brasil won because the goalkeeper of Germany wasn’t very good.” Good to know. But Brasil and Germany weren’t playing and certainly not against each other. I hope he isn’t going to make up to much stories about Tikal. He is even suppose to be one of the better guides…
All right, his tour wasn’t to bad, but I’ve met much better guides. I even think that, in general spoken, the guides in South America are better than most of the guides on this Maya-Route. It seems that most of them have agreements among each other and that they don’t care to much about giving the best tour they can. Luckily there are also exceptions. Like in Palenque and San Cristobal.

But what about those lying busdrivers and guides, or other people who work in tourism and often don’t know what they talk about. Is this some kind of a cultural thing in Latin America? I hope it is. I really do, or otherwise I don’t understand how they can be descents of the great and smart cultures which ones ruled over this continent. Cultures who could build buildings with the accuracy of a Swiss Watch even without the use of metal. Cultures who knew almost as much about the time and universe as we do now with our modern technology.
Maybe it is just me, maybe most of the intelligent people who live now in Latin America just try to avoid me…

If we follow the line of comparing the old Maya culture towards our modern culture, we also see something we have in common. The classic Maya culture collapsed mainly as a result of a lack on good food. They had deforested so many areas for building their cities, that after, they didn’t have enough areas left for growing food. They even didn’t have enough farmers anymore. Have we learned anything from the Mayas..?

All right, now I’m getting philosophical. Maybe because I am, at the time of writing, in the airport terminal of Panama. I just said goodbye to the Maya-Route and a nice colleague. Someone who leads a similar live as I do, but on a different way. To bad our pads only crossed so short, but that seems to come with the live-stile. I’m a bit tired from the last goodbye-parties in Mexico and bored of thinking about more nice things to write about. O, I may enter the plane. Lets go to Quito. It’s time for a new tour and new adventures.

The next day:
Wow, sometimes it seems that there always have to happen some adventures before I finish my story.
Arriving at the airport I got picked up by the girl and her niece, who I met on the day before I left to Mexico. They had even arranged transport. A professor and good friend of the niece of my friend (you still follow me?) was so kind to drive us. He was a good guy and wanted to show us the mirador (viewpoint) of Quito (Panecillo) by night. But first we had to buy some drinks to celebrate the night. My friend had even baked me a cake! What else could I wish for my arrival. We stood some time at the statue of Panecillo to enjoy the view of the lights of Quito, to take funny pictures and to talk.
On the way back, after a bit more alcohol, mainly for the niece and the professor, it turned out that they got to much of it. They were both a bit drunk and the professor suddenly showed much more interest for the niece than for the road. It took some effort, guiding and care to let him drive back. We were already considering to take a taxi, but he assured my friend and I that his knew what he was doing, because his 20.000US$ car (not his live…) was worth to much to destroy. All right he drove very slow and we made it save to the house of the aunt of my friend. My friend was staying there as well. It was already past 2am and I got invited to stay at their place.

Thanks to my friend (and her friends) this boring day ended with an interesting evening/night, not soon to forget! A special welcome and nice adventure to finish my story with  More about Ecuador in my next mail!

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