We only stayed in Guatemala city for a day before we left to head East in our giant old school bus to reach villages in the jungles of Izabal. The 8 hour ride was intense. It was hot, sweaty, and literally kept me on the edge of my seat. The gravel roads and steep cliffs mixed with sporadic drivers had me clenching the seat in front of me. As we traveled deeper into the country, the attire of people began to change. Instead of generic t-shirts and pants, I noticed the women dressed in colorful skirts and lacey tops layered over satin tank tops. We stopped at a diner and I got a hamburger. As I took my first bite, I thought about seeing the ribs on the cows as we passed them on the side of the road.
When the animals are not being fed enough, it is clear the people are also struggling to get enough food. The burger tasted dry and gamey. I could only tolerate one bite before I passed it on to the others at my table. I felt guilty not finishing my food. Moving forward, I decided to eliminate beef from my diet for the trip.
Then we went to a special place full of Mayan ruins, where we were in awe of the beautiful stelea –the natural rocks that were upgraded to carve the inscription of hieroglyphic texts and images of rulers. These were dated as far back as the 200 A.D. years. While we were taking pictures of the plaza juego de pelota, we saw clouds congregating above us and a roar of thunder in the distance. Before we knew it, we were welcoming the giant, warm drops of rain as we ran squealing with excitement and delight under the large palm leaves above us. The moisture from the sky was so refreshing after sitting on the sticky and hot bus all day. By the time we arrived to our final destination –Palaiso –we all happily went to our cabins with fans and cool a/c for our first sleep in the rainforest of Guatemala. Our adventure to the other side of the country had been a success.