I close the door of my room and walk down Broadway, a mythical name. I turn on the left and carry on the pavement of the 5th, then Madison Avenue, mythical as well. A few steps further, that's a kaleidoscope of colours which livens Times Square. I start again walking, squeeze between the New Yorkers in a hurry to reach the financial district located at the south of Manhattan island. I tread alongside Wall Street before heading north towards the barren area where the twin towers of the World Trade Center rised 8 years ago. Because of the world economic crisis, the winter sales exceptionally began before Christmas in order to boost the household consumption. One of the stores displays a « Recession Special » sign and sells suits for 60$. New York, it's a state within the state. Extremes cross at each other in the total ignorance. The golden boy who handles big money and the homeless who fights against the cold of the winter. My feet are next to the yellow taxis and my eyes slip onto the endless lines of the skyscrapers. New York is also a symbol of heterogeneous communities who live together. No less than 80 languages are spoken here and by crossing the street I pass from Little Italy to Chinatown.
To announce the Christmas holidays and suddenly cut my 6-month life with a swim suit and a pair of flip flops, the snow invited itself. Some light snowflakes fall down by the thousands and cover Central Park. During this trip, there are cities I gladly fled just after a few hours and there are others, like this one, where I didn't stay enough. I have the impression of having flown over the streets and dashed off my experience. But that's probably the quintessence of the big cities which attract so many people and we would like to discover for a longer time. My round-the-world trip ends in the impersonality of a megalopolis. I become again “the man in the street” with this little twinge of sadness because I lived a hell of a wonderful adventure.
Keyword - good humour -
Saturday 20 December 2008
Friday 12 December 2008
Humboldt wasn't mistaken. The calm waters of the Atitlan lake adorned with majestic volcanoes promise an exceptional emotional trip. On its banks, the inspiration-seeking artists find again their muse and the too-hurried travelers freeze for a couple of days to recharge their batteries. I sit down on the dirty pebble beach and look at the wavelets which ripple on the surface of the lake. I make ricochet some stones and my eyes get lost in the distance following the refined outline of the Toliman, Atitlan and San Pedro volcanoes. I intensively live my last Guatemalan place because I'm leaving tomorrow to Panama and an only-3-day stop. I had planned to stay longer over there but the northern part of Central American brought me so many sensory treasures that I stayed there and postponed my visit to Panama and Costa Rica for a next trip.
Guatemala is a fantastic country. Despite an obsessive fear roaming around the insecurity of its cities and remote lands, the encounter of its extremely kind and hospitable people leaves a deep mark on me and some indelible prints in my memory.
On the boat that links the coastal villages of the lake, I make the acquaintance of two Guatemalans. This kind of encounter you can't take a picture of, you can't precisely relate but you fully live. What could be better to summarize a marvelous sojourn where the good humour of the verbal exchanges stands out on a fabulously beautiful scenery.
Thursday 4 December 2008
I leave Belize to get in Guatemala, I move away from the Caribbean coast to the picturesque village of Flores. Geographically, Flores is a projection of land in the southern part of the Peten Itza lake and is flanked with an only bridge to reach it. We cross the bridge and we get into another dimension, a cobblestone road encircles the blocks of colourful houses and gives the impression of a tourist sphere besides the city of Santa Elena. A cosy place to cheer us up or to prepare us to receive a visual and emotional slap in the face because this small peninsula is the entrance gate to the archaeological site of Tikal. “Stones and stones again” or “just another Mayan site” will say the blasé tourist, but on the shady paths of the dazzling and enchanting city of Tikal, probably dawned the honour of the most beautiful site of the Mayan empire.
The site is huge and the ways numerous to link the monuments to one another. More than ever, the jungle took over the old edifices of an extinct civilization which formerly built and livened up these stone-made pyramids. To wholly live the Tikal experience, we must set off in search of adventure like a trip we would embark in without any established plan or like a dish we would order without knowing its contents. Return to the roots of a genuine exploration, where elements of surprise invited themselves at each junction of the discovery paths.
In the return bus, the sensory whirl hardly fades that a seed has jut germinated in my head. Another city, even bigger and more mysterious whose main pyramid would cover the totality of the central square of Tikal by itself. Unimaginable to tell oneself that this site keeps on wandering anonymously far from the desires. To reach it, we must dust our trekking shoes and walk for 2 days through the forest to finally marvel at this grandiose city known as El Mirador. Unfortunately, it's not the good season to go there but this sort of adventure attracts me and just arrived, I have already a good reason to come back to Guatemala.
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