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I sit on the balcony of a hostel in Flores, Guatemala overlooking the lake that we will soon kayak around and imagine what the jungle that surrounds this town might hold. I wrote and listen to the conversation behind me. I don’t know the language, but it it is words between a large group of friends, and something is being planned. There’s paper and notes as evidence. The language is not Spanish, as I often hear and am slowly picking up. They speak one of the at least 20 different Mayan languages. I hear dipthongs and letters that leap over and around each other. It sounds beautiful and the speakers are excited. They leave, and I am left with memories from the past few days. The world is so strange and full of wonders to explore, and wonders they will stay as long as no one builds a shopping mall over them. Terry Pratchett’s The Light Fantastic touches my mind a moment, and how the characters had to defeat the shopping center that hatched and was going to eat the city like a predator. How truly horrid it would be to lose the markets all over that sell homemade tortillas with no preservatives, and fruits and veggies fresh from the farms. Oh. That has happened in many, many places. I’m not going down that path now. Baskets, not plastics! And back to memories.

Semuc Champey. Words would dull it down. Pictures, too. Wild, ancient, earth and water magic linger in every pool and around each peak and valley. Rain makes the rocks slick and the mud plentiful, and the plants every shade of green in the visible spectrum, and probably beyond. Between rains, we wandered the slopes, and saw life in the raw. Mysterious insects, fresh plant oxygen, water blue as whatever mineral made it so. It is easy to be happy in such a place, where you hear waterfalls instead of traffic.

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I had a Lara Croft moment in the caves, where there were sections where we had to swim with our candle-torches and could see no more than an arm length around. I was in front for a while, while everyone else was lighting their torches, and explored Xibalba with my heart full of adventure and everything feeling like it was in the right place.

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