Sexy post!

October 10, 2008

OK, not really. But you do get a picture of me in my bathing suit, which isn´t exactly the kind of image of myself I normally like to post on the world wide web. The sacrifices I make in the name of literary art! I had a slightly stressful school day, with student/teacher personality clashes (we have a new teacher each week, thankfully) and I decided to write about my indulgences of yesterday, rather than the communist politics of the school I´m attending, which I will get to in another post. The beautiful natural pool you see before you is the volcanic pond of las Fuentes Georginas. These thermal pools are pretty well known for their beauty and calming effect, and you can smell them halfway down the mountain. Mmm, sulphur . . .

Guatemala is a very volcanic country, and Xela is hedged into its natural bowl by 10 surrounding volcanos, one of which, Santa Maria, exploded in 1902 and killed a lot of people. Apparently, the diplomatic tendencies of the time led the President to send a town cryer into the parque central to announce that nothing was happening. This is amid a rain of ashes, massive clouds of smoke, and lava flowing down the hills. Hmmm. International politics. Stupid, much? (Well, not all of them, but certainly the ass-licking, holocaust-denying kind.) The highest point until Mexico, the Santa Maria is is the volcano I will be climbing at 5 in the morning this Sunday without fitness training. Again, I ask, stupid much? I´m hoping that my survival stamina will kick in and I will make it to the top for the sunrise. Apparently you can see Mexico and as far as Nicaragua from the top. Beautiful. As an impressive triangular and very steep peak, my first view of this mountain yesterday did instill some doubts in my mind. Well, so long as it doesn´t explode again. . .

Anyway, the volcano I scaled in a minivan yesterday was active as well, as the 50 degrees centigrade pool I´m sitting in proves. Eek! Apparently, apart from the odd spurts of lava and steam, it´s harmless. I didn´t get to see any lava unfortunately, as we just went to the pools. I guess I´ll save that for another post too! I don´t think these pictures do much justice to the beauty of the pools, especially as this one was taken from a shelter. The main pool, as seen above, is at the bottom of a wooded cliff, from which water falls into the pond below. It is truly magnificent. The water is then channelled into two following pools, getting cooler as it moves downwards into each. My opinion is that you start off in the coolest one at the bottom and work your way up to the fifty fucking degrees at the top. For some strange reason, no one else agreed with me. Huh! As beautiful as this last, naturally formed pool is, you can´t stay in it very long. At least not with my British intolerance of heat. Yet the mingling of monsoon rain with the hot water is really refreshing. To get the most out of the experience, I developed a pattern of dip, sit up, dip, sit up.

I really wish I had taken a picture of the surrounding countryside. The way up the mountain we passed patchwork fields and stunning sharp drops into misty valleys and the view of clouds ringing the surrounding mountains below us. Of course, this stunning landscape is accompanied by the extreme poverty of its inhabitants. The tiny steep fields probably don´t yield an easy harvest for their farmers, and the trading conditions here suck. The city at the bottom of this valley is flooded and industrial. It stinks of smoke and is full of shanty towns. It makes the house I´m living in seem an impossible dream, which I guess it is for many.

As always, the tourists (that´s me and my friends) paid a week´s factory wages to enter the natural spa and we spent the afternoon soaking away in the steam. It was truly luxurious. Unfortunately, I felt sick the whole afternoon, owing to the driving of the school´s lovely but slightly safety-challenged driver. Driving at hair-raising speed around breakneck bends up (and down) a mountain doesn´t exactly make for a peaceful ride. Most of us were getting ready to puke in both directions. By the way (please don´t read this Mum), to get a driving licence here you don´t have to actually take any driving lessons. You pay the driving school, who then gives you a certificate, which you then exchange for a licence. The illiteracy of many of the professional drivers here also contributes to accidents. They can´t read the road signs. So, the car sickness combined with extreme heat left me feeling a little dizzy, and after nearly puking on the way home I had to lie down for the evening. The sick-feeling also contributed to the not-taking-of-photos. Still, the fuentes were worth it. Here is a picture of the hills surrounding Xela, to give you a very small idea of the up-and-down nature of the countryside here. You can see the city´s market coming off the parque central.

Oh yes, that mountain top you see in the distance is the Santa Maria. Ha. Ha. Ha.


2 Responses to “Sexy post!”

  1. Noonie said

    It looks like you are in paradise. So hot, so steamy! (I have been loving the steaming myself as I have been attending a gym with one, so healthy..)
    Glad all is well, sounds like you are having a really nice time. What a long time ago it seems since we were in Spain.
    All is well with me though I am currently unemployed…Still, no doubt someone is in need of a secretary regardless of the economic disasters. And I have just started learning Russian, which is very exciting, and Richard and the ferret are both well. Yesterday I started cooking with a George Foreman health grill, which is rather fun, I am going to grill everything from now on. Especially fruit.
    Dear oh dear, clearly I have no news at all. I shall endeavor to live vicariously through you.
    I look forward to the next installment!

  2. Becky said

    Hello sugar pie.

    Crikey. You’re in Guatemala! That’s nuts! I’ve enjoyed reading your blog so far and will keep checking back in to hear about your adventures. You’ll be pleased to know that you’re very far away from a ‘credit crunch’. Bleurgh. I liked reading about your midwives, I shall make sure Clare checks it out.

    We went up to Yorkshire recently for Paul’s 30th birthday shenanigans (check facebook for hundreds of photos!). There was a bouncy castle, a table tennis table (hurray!) and a hog roast (not too sure about that one, made me come face to face with the reality of life as a carnivore with which I was none to comfortable. Damn it, I hate being exposed as ethically lacking!). We missed you sugar, would have kicked your ass at table tennis.

    Say hello to the world for me. It looks complicted, beautiful, distressing and uplifting all at the same time. Just as I expect it to be.

    Much love,

    Becky xxxx

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