The Odyssey
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Latin America Jamila Dispatch

Solo and Sore in Central America!

Check the Odyssey Maps
to see all the places I visited!
I have finally arrived in Guatemala City after a journey full of unexpected surprises! Life on the road can be rough. For the past four weeks, I have been traveling through Mexico, Belize and finally, Guatemala. I have been so busy scouring the streets for internet access, visiting sites, writing updates, fighting spells of homesickness, sleeping in uncomfortable beds, and riding bumpy roads. This type of work can be extremely tiresome but I can honestly say I don't regret a single day of this journey! And for the last week, I have been traveling alone. Klaus has gone home. The following story about a bus journey in Belize will help explain Klausí decision to leave the World Trek Team.

Farewell Odyssey - Klaus's Final Dispatch

On February 6, 1999 I chose to quit the Odyssey World Trek and return to the United States. As the trip progressed, it became apparent that I was not a good fit with the program. I decided to act when these incompatibilities began to significantly interfere with my enjoyment and health. I am grateful for the opportunity to have participated in the World Trek and wish the other trekkers and the Odyssey a successful conclusion to their journey.

Traveling by bus has really grown on me, but I think Klaus was spoiled by the bus system in Mexico. The long distance buses are pretty decent: reclining seats, air conditioning, cheesy movies, etc. Even the second class buses are more comfortable than any American Greyhound. But traveling in Belize is a whole different ballgame. If you want a bus with air conditioning, just let the window down. Youíre hoping for a little music? Listen to the sounds of the engine rattling. In Belize, everybody rides "Blue Bird" school buses, which are just like the bright yellow ones some U.S. students ride to school.

On our way to Punta Gorda, in southern Belize, we arrived in the capital city, Belmopan. Our old, clunky, bread-box shaped bus pulled up to the main bus stand and immediately people swarmed from every direction trying to get a seat for our two-hour journey. Quickly the bus began to fill up with passengers. Before we knew it, there were more people on the bus than seats! I looked over at Klaus and sensed that he wasn't feeling too well. (After traveling together for several weeks, you really know how to "read" your partner.) With the heat sweltering, Klaus went outside to take a breather. From the window he told me that he wasn't going to be able to continue the ride. I grabbed our packs and edged my way through the crowded aisle.

The thought of six hours on an unpaved road aboard a crowded Belizian bus, combined with heat and exhaustion, had an impact on Klaus' decision to end his World Trek experience. We sat for a while as he thought about what he wanted to do. I was hoping he would stick it out and continue the Trek. But by that point, he had his mind made up. It was time for him to go home, back to the U.S.A. In his heart, he knew this decision was best for him. So, we parted ways and I was left with the prospect of traveling alone until I joined the rest of the team in Guatemala. Many things were going through my head. Klausí departure was definitely a shock, but I knew I had to continue. This was the end of the road for Klaus and the beginning of my solo journey to Guatemala!

The long trek to Guatemala was one of the most interesting experiences of my life. I never imagined that I would take so many boats and buses in such a short period of time! I attempted the trip to Punta Gorda, again, starting with a six-hour bus ride down the infamous southern highway which is 90% unpaved. Talk about having a sore rear end! My bus was supposed to leave at 10:00, but in Belize, transportation is never guaranteed! Sure enough, the 10:00 bus never showed up, so I caught the 12:00 instead. Iíll admit I was a little nervous about traveling by myself, but in my heart I knew I would be okay.

A leisurely drive to Dangriga
Caption
The ride was great! I met a lot of really cool locals. The route to southern Belize is very scenic and I saw various Mopan Maya communities along the way. Finally at 5:00, I arrived in Punta Gorda, which is home to the friendliest community I have ever met in my entire life! From the moment I arrived everything just fell into place. The first thing I looked for was traditional Belizian food. Rice and beans with stewed chicken is one of my favorite dishes. Next, I started the hunt for internet access so I could send you all my stories! I was referred to a guy named Frances, who I quickly befriended.

Leaving the dock at Punta Gorda
Caption

After a couple of days in Punta Gorda I was ready for the boat voyage to Livingston, Guatemala. Well, at least I thought I was. Of course, on the day I decided to leave, the water was choppy. I asked the captain if it was safe to go and he replied, "Yeah, itís a great day." Ha, ha, ha! It was so choppy that we had to cover ourselves with a giant tarp in order to keep from getting drenched! I had been told that the boat I jumped on was headed to Livingston, but really it was going to another Guatemalan city - Puerto Barrios. I withstood the hour-long rough ride over the ocean only to arrive in a city that I was trying to avoid! I told the guys at the Puerto Barrios dock that I needed to get to Livingston and they assured me that I could take the next boat. Great! Soon, I was back on the ocean but not before the sun had set on this exhausting day. With the stars shining above, the waves bounced me up and down all the way to Guatemala!

At last, I am in Guatemala City, anxious to reunite with the rest of my team members. But the next team meeting isnít until Monday night so Iím considering a solo trip up to Coban in the meantime. I will keep the rest of the team up all night on Monday telling the tales of all my recent adventures!

Jamila


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Monica - Justice, Truth and Life: Women with a Mission

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