|Boats, rain forest, and food poisoning. What's not to like?|
The crash of thunder and lightning woke from my first sound sleep in nights. The lightning was so close you could hear the quick “click” that occurs a split second or less before the massive crash of thunder. The thunder rattles my little bungalow in the middle of a Rio Dulce tropical forest. "Bungalow" is pushing it since it’s really just three and a half walls, the other made up of screen. There’s a ceiling fan for ventilation but mostly it just pushes the hot humid air around. That means the torrential downpour, despite the rattle, hum, shock and awe of thunderclaps, is a welcome friend down here in central Guatemala.
It’s the rainy season, so I expected nothing less.
From what my fixer tells me, it’s hot and humid in these parts, 365 days per year. It’s still a much sought out destination for wealthy sailors and less than rich adventurers who wish to moor their boats for a while. It's even becoming a much sought out exotic destination for Americans who wish to retire to a place less expensive that Florida. Think Key West or Havana circa 1925.
What I didn’t quite expect coming down here is the food poisoning I contracted forty eight hours ago back when I was still residing in modern civilization. That is, Antigua. I had very good wifi in Antigua so another writer friend of mine accused me of being on vacation. Bastard. Tell that to my gut! But with the help of Cipro antibiotic twice per day and enough Imodium to block me up for months, I’m doing my best to get through it all.
I fell in love with South America, especially Peru and the Amazon some years ago while researching what would become Chase Baker and the Golden Condor. Now, I’m back in jungle/tropical rain forest territory to research what will become a Chase Baker action/adventure centered somehow around the Mayans and magnificent ancient civilizations like Tikal. I had originally planned on heading into El Mirador, arguably an ancient lost civilization older and much larger than Tikal, but the trip was cancelled by the adventure company I use. However, my guide down here tells me he can take me in at a later date to be determined. It’s two days hike in, one full day at the site, and another two day hike out. For now I’ll have to settle with what I’ve got, which is an overland view of Guatemala, Belize and the Yukatan in Mexico. It’s a lot of traveling, a lot of early mornings, a lot of bug spray, but I’m always up for the challenge.
What’s the old saying? Reporters gather facts. Writers gather experience. I’ve been a freelance reporter, and even a photo journalist, but I was never entirely comfortable in that role, as the facts are not always enough to peek my interest. Where’s the drama? I’ll expand upon the rule: reporters ignore the drama. Writers crave drama.
Soon I’ll be taking a boat upstream to an island village, Livingston, made up of West Africans, displaced Hondurans, indigenous Mayans, Guatemalans, and who knows what. For now, I’ll be taking a hike through the jungle that surrounds this compound. Maybe I’ll see a monkey, or an anaconda, or a croc. Yesterday I came upon a peacock that must have been five feet long from beak to tip of multi-colored tail. It was quite the thing to see. I’m surrounded by the sights, sounds, heat and humidity of the jungle. Despite my stomach, I’m soaking it all in. Craving the experience, the way a real writer should.