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Latin America Monica Dispatch

 
 
 

No Turning Back: The Journey to Guatemala
By Monica
January 30, 1999
 

monica boat
Monica with her new
river-boat friends!
How many synonyms, in English, can you think of for "pig"? I can think of only one other: "hog." But in Spanish, depending on where you are, there are at least six words for "pig," including puerco, cerdo, cochino, tunco, cuchi and chancho. This was pointed out to me on the riverbed while Abeja and I took a 4 1/2 hour boat ride down the Rio San Pedro from La Palma, in the state of Tabasco, Mexico, to El Naranjo, in Guatemala near the border.

Paintings
Monica and Abeja show us
artistic talent
From Palenque, after speaking with Moises, one of the resident Mayan scholars, we took the combi or small collective van to Zapata. We then headed onwards to Tenosique, where we met Jose Ramirez, a high school social studies teacher. He coaches a football team who had just won a game. When they got on the bus they were raucously laughing and congratulating each other. After eating at Tia Chulita's (Cool Aunt's) "Como en mi Casa Cocina Economica" we talked with Tia, who told us about the "El Pochó" festival which we missed that day. Some men dress in masks and palm leaves, and others dress as tigers. The masked men dance in the main street, pretending to kill the tigers as a sign of strength and safety.

We rose muy temprano (very early) to catch the boat at La Palma. We ended up waiting at La Palma for five hours, but had some time to paint with watercolors. Finally, on the river, we spent time chatting with our boat-mates, especially Jose, who told us about all the different verb tenses in Spanish and why this idioma, or language, is more difficult to learn.

home
A typical home in El Peten

At El Naranjo, we took the bumpy bus to Flores. After no paved roads, no bathroom and no pit stops for five hours, we arrived in Flores, the main stopping-off point for the great ruins of Tikal. Abeja and I have also included a description of our experiences at Tikal. Make sure you read about these magical ruins. They certainly were worth the rough journey! And to see the routes of the other four trekkers, check out the Odyssey Maps


 
 
Abeja - Wondrous Tikal from Sunrise to Sunset
Monica - Lost in the Lost World
Monica - Searching for the Disappeared: An Introduction to G.A.M.
 
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