The speed boat motor was making a racketing sound. The wind pushed back my hair as we were racing down the river. The sound was deafening, my vision blurred. The green and brown tones of the Guatemalan jungle were smeared across the palette of the blue sky, losing all shape and form. Finally, we stopped. We remained quiet so that all human sounds went away, letting the wilderness come creeping in. The birds were singing in the trees, but that wasn’t all. There was also the sound of rustling breeze in the mangrove trees, of the waves lazily rolling to the river banks, and of the animal cries coming from afar, muffled by the ferns and vines that made the jungle look like a thick deep green velvet curtain. I noticed dozens of tiny black birds on long legs standing on lily pads that were scattered around and gently swaying on the water. The birds seemed to be completely weightless. They walked upon the leaves as if walking on air. Somewhere right between them, a boy was floating in his small canoe made out of dark light wood. Handmade, obviously, but not made by just any hands. Carefully carved out of a log by the hands of this five-year-old Mayan child with big round eyes and dirt on his brown skin. Made to take him away from his home, even though ‘away’ meant just down the river and into a new river branch. But even this small away was good enough for him. It meant seeing the world outside that small hut I could see in the background, made of wood and dirt, hanging in the trees above the water, holding on to the branches, lingering over the jungle. The boy admired our big shiny canoe, his eyes refusing even to blink. But then this curious machine flew away like lightening, and the boy’s world was, once again, filled with calmness and free of strangers. We were rushing to see another world.
Our speed boat stopped on a small peer of a town called Livingston, sitting on the beaches of the Caribbean Sea. There were no Mayas here. Every person who kindly greeted us on the steps of their home had skin as brown as the trees we passed in the jungle. It was almost like a lost puzzle piece that made its way into the wrong box – the picture was completely different. The world was completely different. Livingston was a town cut from the rest of the world, so they told us. Besides the river, no other road led to it. Still, there were people driving cars from on part to the other of this extremely tiny town that could easily be walked in a matter of minutes. I couldn’t completely understand why, but they seemed to be enjoying the ride. The heat was pressing down on us as we passed a cemetery. I was tired and hot and I had absolutely no desire of watching tombstones. I almost wanted to go back, but then we walked down the road, turned around a corner, and I could see why I was there. The sight took my breath away. The sparkling light blue see was licking the yellow sand on one side, and stretching out to infinity on the other. You almost couldn’t tell where the water ended and the sky started. We sat in the shade of the palm trees for the rest of the day, and the people of Livingston danced for us in the rhythm of the drums, until the big orange sun heavily dipped down into the waves of the Caribbean, reminding us that this should only be a visit. We had our own world to go back to.