Friday, October 31, 2008

Reflections on Solo Travel

Note: This was written over a period of about a week, from my last few days in El Salvador to my first few days in Honduras (hence the fact that it gets a bit off-track at the end), but I never got the chance to type it up and post it. I'm actually about to head back to El Salvador again, so the end of the post is a bit out of date. Pretend you're reading it a week and a half ago. :)

This was originally going to be another pithy, unexplained snippet of a Lesson from El Salvador: "Traveling solo in the low tourism season has its drawbacks and its perks." But as I thought about it a bit more I realized there was more to say -- this is a lesson I'm still learning, but it's an important one, and it deserves a fuller treatment.

Traveling solo has been a new experience for me this year, as has traveling long-term: Guatemala was easy, in a way, because Cristie was with me for the most touristy time of my stay, and the rest of the time I was in Spanish school, so I had a more structured lifestyle and built-in social life. But El Salvador has been different. Here it has been very obvious that I am traveling alone through the least touristed country in Central America during the lowest tourist season of the year. Most of the time, apart from one night in Tacuba and two nights in Santa Ana, I have been either the only one or one of two tourists in the hostels I've stayed at -- and I've often felt I've been the only tourist in the entire town or city. This, as the brief version of this lesson mentions, has its benefits and drawbacks.

The main drawback is that it can be difficult to see/do some of the main tourist sites and activities as a solo traveler. Sure, for some things it doesn't matter if you are alone or in a group. But other times, such as when organized tours and/or guides are required, the choices (if you can't round up other tourists) are either: (a) pay the full price for the minimum number of people (usually 3-4) and get a private tour, or (b) not go. Since I'm not a fan of spending triple the cost of anything, and since most of these types of tours tend to be more fun with a group of people anyway, it's option (b) for me.

The flip side of this is that it forces me to be less of a tourist and more of a traveler. At the end of my stay in El Salvador I may not be able to check off on a list all of the things that tourists do in the country when they "do" Central America, but I think I will come away with a richer experience and a deeper understanding of Salvadoran people and culture. I tend to visit fewer places and to spend more time in each place than people who are rushing about trying to hit all the tourist spots, and in the absence of other travelers I have been spending more time around local people and/or participating in local activities.

My first full day in Santa Ana, I went to a concert in the Teatro de Santa Ana in the morning. It was only an hour long, and was played by the Banda Sinfónica de Occidente (a military band), for school groups "and the general public." I think I was the general public -- I was definitely the only non-latina in the theater, and I'm pretty sure I was also the only non-student, non-teacher audience member as well. The main floor and first balcony were willed with middle- to high-school-aged students and teachers, and I had the entire second balcony to myself, overlooking the scene. It was fun to shift my gaze between the musicians and the audience, being the fly on the wall. It was a good concert, too. The finale absolutely cracked me up -- it was a medley that progressed from (forgive me for not knowing exact titles, and I'm missing one or two songs in the middle) A Whiter Shade of Pale to We Will Rock You to Figaro to Another One Bites the Dust, and ended with We Are the Champions. Absolutely brilliant. True Salvadoran culture, and worth every penny of the $0.50 entry fee. (It was probably meant to be serious, though, so it was a good thing nobody could see me rolling in the aisle.)

After the concert I wandered around the city for a bit, eventually happening upon a picturesquely ruined building (why is it that ruins are so picturesque?) and stopped to take a couple of photos. The man who was working in the grounds (his name was Hector) invited me to go inside and walk around and take all the photos I wanted. He followed me shortly and began telling me about the building (it was built 100-110 years ago, was originally an art school, then a government school, and he never told me how it was ruined) and about the city. After a bit, a young Salvadoran man named Napoleon wandered in and joined the conversation, and we all chatted for about 20 minutes more (have I mentioned that I love being able to speak Spanish?). I ended up going to lunch at a super-cheap comedor (full plate of good food plus horchata for under $2) with Napoleon and hanging out with him for much of the afternoon. It was a delightful experience, and one I most likely would not have had if I had scheduled my time full of tourist activities.

All of that said, for the next week and a half or so, I am going to be a complete tourist. I am currently in Copán Ruinas -- the second most popular tourist destination in Honduras -- and tomorrow will be making my way to number one -- the Bay Islands, to go diving off of Utila. I have been and will continue to be surrounded by primarily English-speaking, backpack-toting tourists, facing the mental and emotional challenge of making new friends while at the same time trying to distinguish myself from them somewhat because I dislike being lumped in the "gringo tourist" category. When I'm on my own, locals speak to me in Spanish and I feel on a somewhat even footing with them; when I'm in touristy cities full of gringos, the locals (who can) speak to me first in English, and it bothers me. It creates a distance between us, the divide between affluent tourist and humble local, and it doesn't give me a chance to show that I respect their culture enough to speak in their language.

But I guess I'll have to put up with the struggle against being labeled "gringo tourist" for a bit longer, because I'm not going to forego a diving experience in the Bay Islands! :)

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Getting to Copán Ruinas

... Was an adventure, to say the least. But it seems that whenever I encounter these sorts of "adventures," there is always somebody there watching over me -- usually a local who is sitting next to me on the bus and adopts me and looks out for me. Yesterday there were two, and I was grateful for not only their help and reassurance, but their pleasant company as well.

The border crossing between El Salvador and Honduras at El Poy was remarkably laid-back and mellow (so mellow that I had to search for 5 minutes to find somebody to come into the immigration office to check my passport and take my $3). I walked across and got in a colectivo taxi (that leaves when it's full of people, which can take a while) to the nearest town of Nueva Ocotepeque. In the taxi I met Karla and an older woman she was traveling with (I guessed her to be Karla's monther-in-law, but never actually found out). We struck up a conversation and discovered that they were also headed to La Entrada (where I had to go to transfer to a bus for Copán), and that Karla's husband lives and works in San Jose and that she's going to visit him next month. What a small world. :)

When we got to Nueva Ocotepeque around 11 a.m. we were told that the next bus for La Entrada wouldn't be leaving until 1:45 -- due to flooding on the highways between the capital and where we were, the buses weren't getting through as regularly (it's been raining hard in Honduras for 2 weeks straight, and LOTS of places are flooded). Fortunately, a bus from another company rolled by around noon and we managed to get to La Entrada around 3:30. Karla helped me figure out which bus to catch for Copán and then took off to her destination (after exchanging email addresses so we can visit each other in California).

The bus for Copán was supposed to leave at 4:00, but didn't pull away until almost 5:00, dashing my hopes of arriving while it was still light out. A young Honduran man sat next to me, and for a long time we didn't speak, until we came to a section of the highway where the road was halfway washed out, and we started speaking about all the rain and the roads, and continued a friendly conversation from there. His name was Sammy, and he lives in Copán. He kept giving me updates on how close we were getting -- we've got halfway left, only 10km left, etc. Then, when we were about 5km from Copán, the bus driver pulled over and turned off the bus. Apparently there was a landslide ahead and he wasn't going to be able to cross it.

Sammy almost convinced me to start walking, but we (and a few other tourists headed for Copán) opted to wait for a pickup or other smaller vehicle which could either get us across the landslide or at least get us a little closer to it to minimize our walking distance (we were still about a 20 minute walk from the slide, and an hour's walk in total, which is not fun in the dark with a full backpack). Another bus came by in about 15 minutes -- he thought he could get over the slide, but all the drivers coming over from the other side shouted out their windows at him that he shouldn't try. So he dropped us by the side of the road and turned around and left. We ended up walking over the mudslide in the dark (fortunately, it wasn't raining, and it wasn't really all that dangerous), and catching a minibus to Copán on the other side. Sammy was looking out for me the whole way, making sure I had my bags and my footing, and stuck by his side the whole time. It was very sweet.

All's well that ends well -- we eventually arrived in Copán around 7:30. The three other tourists I had encountered on the bus and I checked into a hostel and then went to dinner, where I ate the "burrito enorme," which more than lived up to its name. But oh, it was good -- it had been a long time since breakfast in El Salvador. :)

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


As some of you know, and others may guess, if you've been following me on Twitter or Facebook, I've been thinking about heading homeward. It started out as homesickness in Tacuba, but as I dove deeper into that feeling and explored the reasons for it, I realized that I don't want to go home because I'm tired of traveling, but because I'm excited about a multitude of opportunities and activities back home, and feel like I am ready to transition back into that world. I may not have a crystal-clear vision for the rest of my life (and I never expect to), but after taking some time out this year and getting to know myself better, I do have a much clearer vision now of my next steps. After feeling like I've been floating rather aimlessly for the last several years, this is more exciting for me than I can properly describe.

So, what is it that's got me itching to cut my travels and come back to the States, you ask? Well, it's a lot of things. Separating myself for a time from first the "normal" culture of working life (in February) and later from the rest of my customary life and language and culture in general (in July, when I started my travels) has taught me a great deal about myself and helped me to distill my values and ideals and goals. By discovering the things that I've missed the most in my travels I have begun to piece together a picture of how I want to live my life when I return, full of all those things that mean the most to me, without all the trappings that tend to accumulate over the years in an unquestioned life. I very purposely gave away most of my belongings when I left for Central America -- giving myself permission to start from scratch when(ever) I returned, to be picky about what I let back into my life rather than unthinkingly picking up where I left off.

For reasons that should be obvious after reading the list below, I will not be moving back to Portland (sorry, folks -- but I'll come visit!), but to California -- the Monterey Bay Area, to be more specific. I'm a little apprehensive about becoming a Californian again (you mean I have to buy a car?!), but I think I can handle it.

And, since I know you're dying to see the list, here it is -- some of the things I have missed the most and/or look forward to exploring as new adventures (the two most important factors first, everything else in no particular order, and by no means complete):

- Being close to family
- Work that challenges my limits, builds my abilities, and makes me feel I'm making a contribution to the world (after 8 long years, I'll be working at the marine lab again -- wheee!)
- Learning to play the guitar (and the fiddle?)
- Shape note singing
- Taking German classes
- Rock climbing
- Being close to the ocean
- Social dancing, ritual dancing, taking various kinds of dance lessons
- Gardening, growing things (& cooking them!)
- Really good, 55-60% cacao dark chocolate (okay, I know this isn't a reason to come home from Central America, but seriously -- the chocolate here could use some help)

I just bought a plane ticket to San Diego for November 7th. I'll be making my way north from there by train, visiting friends and family along the way, landing in Portland for Thanksgiving and then heading back to the Bay Area for Christmas and Harmony (hooray for Harmony!). See you soon! :)

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Lessons from El Salvador, Part II

Click here for Part I.

11. Always, always, always carry insect repellent and itch reliever.

12. Always carry a spare battery for your camera, even if the existing battery is fully charged. Carry two spares in hot, humid climates.

13. Don't be afraid to ask for what you want -- chances are, people will be delighted to help you out (give you guitar lessons, make phone calls on your behalf, hoist your bag, teach you silly ditties in Spanish...)

14. El Salvadoran chicken bus drivers are far more civilized and courteous than Guatemalan chicken bus drivers -- and bus fares are cheap!

15. Sometimes they're trying to sell you something. Sometimes they're trying to hit on you. Sometimes they're trying to do both at the same time. But sometimes they're just genuinely friendly and trying to makd conversation. Try to figure out which is the case before reacting too strongly.

16. When you hang around with somebody who knows everybody, lots of things are cheap(er) or free. But it's not always worth the price.

17. In a 48-piece orchestra, there may be 10 trumpets, 10 clarinets, and six tubas, but the single tiny piccolo still steals the show.

18. Weaving is not a practical travel hobby.

19. It is perfectly acceptable to do "nothing" some days.

20. You know you're doing alright with your Spanish when:
- You haven't bothered to use your dictionary in weeks
- You begin to resent other travelers who don't speak Spanish because they force the conversation into English
- After two and a half days, your new friend from Mexico (who speaks perfectly good English) comments on how strange it is to hear you speaking your native language

Friday, October 17, 2008

Lessons from El Salvador, Part I

Well, it didn't take long to accumulate my first set of lessons from El Salvador -- this place may be tiny, but it offers a lot to learn. :)

1. El Salvadorian border officials are infinitely more helpful and trustworthy than those found on the Guatemalan side.

2. US dollar bills are extremely boring and the coins insubstantial and lifeless after other Central American currency.

3. Not only is riding (standing) in the back of the pickup truck more fun than riding in the cab, it can also be a heck of a lot more comfortable, depending on the truck's shocks (or, more commonly, lack thereof). Just remember to keep your mouth closed at all times (and if you absolutely must sing, stand with your back to the direction of travel to avoid swallowing too many bugs).

4. Attempting to ride uphill on a steep, gravelly dirt road on a mountain bike that's un poco frenada -- in other words, is constantly braking because the front wheel is crooked and rubs against the brake pads -- is just as difficult as it sounds; i.e., practically impossible. (And that was the "good" bike!)

5. Mosquito bites last longer if you scratch them -- it's not worth it.

6. Always make sure you know exactly what the deal is before you agree.

7. Conversations that are difficult in English can be even more difficult in Spanish, but can sometimes be easier in a bizarre way -- if you don't know how to say things subtly, you have to just come straight out and bluntly say what you mean, which can be more effective in the end.

8. Despite Lesson 7... Attempting to explain to a Latin man that he needs to learn to respect women and their desires (or lack thereof), and that when a woman asys "no" it means "no", can be a fruitless and frustrating exercise -- but good practice, especially when you have to repeat yourself several times a day.

9. When your mind and your heart are somewhere other than where your body is, it's time to move on.

10. Never leave a country after visiting only one place -- not all of El Salvador is Tacuba (or any other town, for that matter).

Friday, October 10, 2008

Lessons from Guatemala, Part V (and Really Final This Time)

Okay, I lied. I should have known there would be more lessons on the way to the border (and a few that I neglected to record earlier in the trip). This really is the last batch, though, I promise... I've already started collecting lessons from El Salvador. :)

Click here for Part I, Part II, Part III, and Part IV.

44. The most fashionable place to wear a motorcycle helmet while riding (if you have one at all) is on one's forearm. Otherwise, it should be kept on the handlebars at all times.

45. The worst thing about dark streets at night is that you can't tell when you're about to step in something disgusting. Best to walk your route during daylight hours and memorize the location of all the crap (literally) so you can avoid it at night.

46. Fizzy beverages and salsa dancing is not a good combination.

47. Be grateful that, in a Mayan ceremony, it is perfectly acceptable to offer your portion of aguardiente (corn liquor) to the fire rather than drink it.

48. On a twisty divided mountain highway, a detour may simply mean driving in the oncoming lane, with no dividers and no warning to oncoming traffic.

49. A "direct" shuttle from Xela to Antigua (to the south) may in fact carry passengers bound for locations as disparate as San Cristóbal de las Casas (Mexico), Chichicastenango (east), and Lago de Atitlán (south, but out of the way). Never assume you're actually going directly to your destination, and never believe a claim of "non-stop" or "private" service.

50. Sometimes the chicken bus experience can seem remarkably like riding the Knight Bus, only without the reassurance of magic.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Transportation Trials and Tribulations

Today has not been my day for planning or accomplishing efficient transportation. I am currently (after a saga I will relate in a moment) in Antigua, Guatemala -- I came here because I figured it would be infinitely easier to plan and execute my route to El Salvador from here than from Xela, and because I really didn't want to go through Guate (Guatemala City) if I could possibly help it. Unfortunately, this has not proved nearly so straightforward as I had hoped, and I'm going to have to go to Guate anyway.

... But first, this morning's adventure...

I decided to spring for a shuttle bus from Xela to Antigua rather than take a series of chicken buses, for the increased efficiency and security and comfort. I was assured when I bought the (none-too-cheap) ticket that it was "direct, private transport" door-to-door from my house in Xela to my hostel in Antigua. Well, it was neither. I booked a "direct" shuttle to Antigua, and got on a bus with 7 people on it, none of whom were going to Antigua. We had to make a number of stops, either to drop people off at connecting buses or at their own destinations, and the trip that should have taken 3.5-4 hours took 5.5. In addition, once the bus started emptying, the driver started picking up other passengers from the street - it was one thing when he picked up a couple of Guatemaltecos for a short trip for about Q2, but another thing when he picked up two backpackers in Panajachel and charged an extra Q50 apiece, when the people who had gone through the tour agency in Pana had paid Q90 ... and you can be sure Adrenalina Tours isn't going to know about those two passengers (well, not until I fill out their online comments form...).

Quite possibly the most outrageous aspect of the shuttle service was that, when we arrived in Antigua, the driver had no idea how to navigate the city, was not familiar with any of the hostels, and seemed to have absolutely no sense of direction (and seemed incapable of following directions, as well). He let one guy off as soon as we got into town, and two more at the Parque Central, and then it was just one couple and me in the van. The driver asked them where they were going, but did not seem to comprehend the address, even though they showed it to them on a piece of paper - he kept asking, "but where is it?", as if they would know how to get there from wherever we were when they'd never been to the city. They also spoke almost no Spanish, but a bit of English. Fortunately, I had a map of Antigua (which the driver did not even seem to possess), and I ended up figuring out where we were and directing the driver (it was an extremely painstaking process, believe me!) to their hostel - or as close as we could get him to come with his refusal to follow my directions (and no, it was not a fault of my Spanish skills). (Cristie, you would have been proud of me!) We had a bit more luck finding my hostel after that (there was only one turn involved), and trust me, I was glad to get off of that shuttle. The driver had been asking everybody for tips as he let them off (he even asked me how to say propina in English so he could ask the people who didn't understand in Spanish), but I was glad to see that he had the grace not to ask me, after I had pretty much saved his hide. Grrrrr.

... And on to this afternoon...

I spent the afternoon walking around town popping in and out of various travel agencies, always asking the same questions, always receiving the same response. Yes, I can get to El Salvador from here. It costs $30. You take a shuttle to Guate and then a first-class bus to San Salvador. What, you don't want to go to San Salvador? I'm sorry, you can't get off the bus before the capital because it's a direct bus. No, we don't know of any other way to get to El Salvador.

Grrrrr. The problem is, the place I want to go (Tacuba) is really quite close to the border, and it would be utterly ridiculous to have to go all the way to San Salvador just to have to hop another bus and backtrack the 100 km almost back to the border. But apparently I can't just hop off the first class bus at any point I want, which means.... I have to figure out my own way to get there. Here's the plan:

- Chicken bus from Antigua to Guate first thing tomorrow morning
- Hope to goodness I can find the right bus terminal without too much wandering around looking like a lost tourist with lots of expensive luggage in a big city
- Chicken bus to Cuilapa and 11 km beyond, to the fork in the highway at El Molino Junction
- Stand at the junction at what I hope is the South-going fork, and wait for a bus that says it's headed for Valle Nuevo
- Pass the border between Valle Nuevo, Guatemala and Las Chinamas, El Salvador (this will probably be the easiest part of my trip, or at least the most straightforward)
- Look for a bus headed to Ahuachapán and get on it
- In Ahuachapán, look for a bus to Tacuba
- In Tacuba, ask around to figure out how to get to my hostel, because I don't have a map

How's that for a day's journey? If you have extra brain-space to spare tomorrow and feel like sending some extra-specially-strong fun, safe and easy travel thoughts my way, I would appreciate them. :)

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Lessons from Guatemala, Part IV (and Final)

As I am leaving Guatemala tomorrow, this is the final (and slightly longer) edition of my Lessons. Click here for Part I, Part II, and Part III. No doubt the lessons will continue in El Salvador!

31. Guatemalan drivers tend to turn on their headlights only when they see something coming.

32. Always ask at least three people for directions before setting off confidently in what may or may not be the right direction. (Credit goes to Kentucky for this tip - thanks, guys!)

33. Unscented, non-antiperspirant, non-powdery-white-clothes-staining deoderant is pretty much impossible to find.

34. A crippled umbrella is still better than no umbrella at all, if only for the comic relief it provides in the middle of a downpour.

35. Barbed wire fences and rusty corrugated tin roofs are apparently great places to dry laundry.

36. When it rains in Xela, the water goes out in half the city. Go figure.

37. Don't get too excited about all the billboards and signs you see denouncing litter and encouraging protection of nature -- basura is still an undeniably prominent feature of just about every landscape.

38. Don't even try to get anything done on a Sunday.

39. Your local ice cream vendor may be an old man riding a tottering bicycle with a giant cooler strapped to the handlebars, carrying a megaphone blasting the classic ice cream truck ditties. (I know, I already posted about ice cream vendors, but I loved this guy!)

40. Building relationships with local shopkeepers (and club owners) is really quite pleasant, and dead useful if you don't have exact change and need to come back mañana for something you bought today.

41. Never take a shuttle when a chicken bus will do. But when a chicken bus won't do, a shuttle (or at least a Pullman) is generally worth the price and peace of mind.

42. If your fever is high enough, you can dream in languages you don't normally speak in waking life (in my case, German -- I only wish I could remember it!)

43. It really is a very small world.

Casa Doris

In tandem with my post about graduation from Spanish school, I wanted to write just a bit about my fantastic homestay experience at Casa Doris. After two weeks with my first family I requested a change because, although the first family was very nice, they were also very reserved and quiet, and I got practically no conversation practice with them. Doris had been highly recommended to me by some friends from school as a wonderful host mother, and I couldn't be happier with my decision to move.

The family (in-house) consists of Doris and her daughter Andrea, who is a Spanish teacher at Ulew Tinimit. While not the typical large Guatemalan family, I have felt more welcome and at home there than I could have thought possible. Doris treats her students like family -- she cooks special soups for us when we're sick, always asks us how our day went (and has genuine interest in the response), and calls us "mis niños" -- and every morning when we leave for school she calls out from the kitchen, "Hasta la vista, babies!" She cooks the most wonderful food and always asks, "¿Sufficiente niña?" to make sure I really, truly had enough to eat.

Conversation is always lively and interesting at mealtimes -- sometimes we talk about food, sometimes about language, comparing expressions in English and Spanish, but mostly just about daily life. Both Doris and Andrea say they have observed a vast improvement in my fluency over the four weeks that I've been with them (even Juan, a close family friend y un buen homre, says he notices a huge difference - mostly in my confidence in speaking), and a large part of that is attributable to these two wonderful women, who are encouraging and helpful and just plain fun to talk to.

The house itself is cozy, surprisingly warm at night (thank goodness!), and with a truly hot shower (I have a feeling I'm going to miss that shower...). There is a small un-roofed patio where I stand to brush my teeth at night (when it's not raining), gazing up at the stars and the Guatemalan flag waving from the roof of the Spanish school next door.

My room has a skylight (covered with corrugated fiberglass rather than glass) which lets in sunlight and the sound of the rain.

The house is located close to the top of a relatively steep hill, on a stone road that has definitely seen better days (though they have made a few improvements to it in the last several weeks that I've been here -- no more huge gaping car-traps in the middle of the road). It's definitely a workout walking up it and, from what I can tell, just about as tough to drive a car (not to mention ride a bicycle!) down it (it's one-way downhill - I don't think Guatemalan cars would be able to make it up...). Ironically, this is also the street where all of the drivers license offices are, which means that in order to obtain a Guatemalan drivers license you have to navigate (i.e., slalom) this street. A good test, I suppose. :) On a good day (i.e., not often during the rainy season), you can see Volcán Santa María from the top of the street.

All in all, Casa Doris has been an absolutely fantastic place to stay. If you ever find yourself in Quetzaltenango, do yourself a huge favor and contact Doris. And tell her I sent you. :)

Pillow Talk

No, not that kind of pillow talk...

I meant to post this months (almost literally!) ago, but somehow never got around to it -- probably because I never got around to posting about Chichicastenango and the fantastic market there. Anyhow, this post is about a bed -- specifically, my bed (and more specifically, my pillowcase) at the Posada El Teléfono in Chichi. Here's what I wrote in my journal the first night we stayed there:

...But first I must write about my bed.... Cristie called these beds "firm" when we arrived. I just shifted around to put my journal on the floor after sitting up in bed writing for half an hour, and realized that my rear end had gone to sleep. I then attempted to slide down under the covers, but my toe caught on a small tear in the bottom sheet and made it longer. I remarked to Cristie, "Well, that rip just got a little larger," and I tried again, but my toe caught again and ripped it even more, which sent both of us into a fit of giggles. The "headboards" are made out of thin, painted plywood tacked to the walls. Oh, and my top sheet looks like it was once either a shower curtain or half of a duvet cover -- it's got buttonholes all along the top edge. Cristie says, "Yeah, you got the weird bed." :P

My pillowcase opens on the long edge, and has something printed on one side in some language I don't recognize:

Soms zijn er witte plekken in een droom.
Misschien dat daar wel stille vlinders zweven.
Al weet je niet vanwaar zo'n vlinder komt.

Soms zijn er witte plekken in een droom.
Misschien dat je dan rustiger kunt slapen.
Zodat je niet meer bang bent voor wat komt.

Soms zijn er witte plekken in een droom.
Dan brengt de slaap je warmte en wat licht.
En minder donker waarvan je wakker ligt.

I just hope it means something peaceful, like "sweet dreams"!


Almost two months later, I finally got around to searching for this poem, and found out that it's in Dutch, and that it is indeed a bedtime poem (does anybody know if it's also a lullaby? It would be interesting to hear it sung...) Here's the translation I found on this website:

Sometimes .........................

sometimes there are white spots in a dream
maybe that quiet butterflies float
you do not already know whence comes as `n butterfly
sometimes there are white spots in a dream
mischien dat je rustiger kunt slapen maybe you can sleep calmer
so you no longer afraid of what was or what it is
sometimes there are white spots in a dream
then you sleep, the heat and some light
and less dark things you awake is

It's obviously an internet-generated translation, and one from a native speaker would be much lovelier -- anybody care to provide? :)