In 1996 I first came in touch with the jungle. Traveling through Central America, our adventure travel had taken me and two friends from Costa Rica to Guatemala. Arriving to Guatemala I decided to stay there and live in a small village in the middle of the jungle. Together with five Guatemalans I ran an ecological camping near Lake Petén Itzá. What else could I ask for?
Our backyard was 8 hectares of jungle, we had monkeys, deer, magueys, wild bores, and pheasants that had come to live with us and sometimes we even saw a jaguar that came to drink water at the little pond in the woods.
I witnessed a lot of change in the four years that I lived there. Little by little the jungle around us made way for cornfields. About a third of all Guatemalan jungle has been cut down during that time. Due to light pollution the stars disappeared from the sky when our village received electricity and radios, televisions and refrigerators became part of our daily lives.
At times we would travel deeper inside the jungle. We organized 3 day hiking tours with the eco-camping. It was during these tours that I really got to know the jungle. We would sleep under mosquito netting with improvised palm roofs built by the guides. Eating palm heart strait from the plant and if we could not find water, we drank juice from the vines.
But what impressed me most on these adventures was that feeling the jungle gave us. In a magical green world we would walk between ancient Mayan temples and everything was suddenly very beautiful.
I remember one special occasion in which we followed our path in pure darkness, relying only on intuition. You start to see and hear better as there are no artificial lights or motorized sounds and you become more sensitive to everything around you. After a while, you simply feel proud to be part of this big thing called life.
Upon returning we would find that other people smelled weird, even though we were the ones that had not seen a shower in 3 days! The normal world seems a bit strange after having spent time in the jungle...
Nowadays I live on the Mexican Caribbean island of Cozumel. What a beauty! This is also part of the Mayan World: deserted white sand beaches, fantastic people, the ocean with her coral reefs and big waves…
Over the past few years I have grown the wish to share these magical places with people from all over the world and to do something to protect the forest. That wish has come true in Duende Tours – my own tour operator that offers people the chance to see the Mayan World in a different way. Duende Tours shows the natural side of the Mayan World, with her unique people, culture and secrets. During our adventures I take the people into the jungle and everyone always comes to the same conclusion: This is Paradise, we have to protect it.