Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Buenos Dias, Guatemala!

15 January 2008

12.30 am
I sit down in seat 27E and immediately bring out my book and journal; as if I would actually get anything done. Why is it I always think I’m going to accomplish something constructive on a plane? Especially one that is taking off from LAX at midnight?

6.45 am
A new day. A new seat.
This one smells of stale air and old apholstry, and it's crawling with little fuzzy haired children. We smile and try communicating in our broken Spanish, but are not met with so much as a smile. Still, their little-voice chatter and gentle hum of sleep is warming the foggy morning. Alyson is convinced this is the best way to travel- by public transit- and by “best” we mean “cheapest.” And I have no objections to any vehicle that will take me to Lake Atitlan for only $5. Alyson looks up the phrase, “too expensive” (caro) and “cheaper” (mas barato). She observes, “everyone here has six kids, and they're all under the age of three!”

We've been robbed.
Alyson already decided she was ready for a protein bar. She stands up. “My laptop is gone.”
“My laptop is gone!”
“No…No…It can't be. Did it maybe just slide?”
“No.” She said, patting all along the carpeted shelf above our heads. “No. It’s gone.”
I jumped out to look as she took down her small red satchel. Then I realize, “O my gosh! My backpack is gone!!!”

We have finally found a hotel- $8 per person with hammocks and a lakeview! I'm so hungry I don't know what to do with myself and Alyson and I keep falling asleep on the bumpy boatride to San Pedro.
We go to eat at the Budda Bar, where I have the best meal of my life- some kind of pork tenderloin Chinese noodle dish and it. is. OUTSTANDING. Alyson gets up to challenge the locals and hot Swiss boys to a game of pool. Just when I'm ready to leave because the natives are getting a bit friendly for my taste, a young man walks in, smiling, introducing himself to everyone.
"HENRY!!!" I cry, before I even realize who he is.
"O! YOU!!!" he smiles back, reaching out to shake my hand. I explain to our audience that Henry was my boat guide last November and that he lived in the states for a while- hence why his English is so good. I recount to him how our bags were stolen and how we were ripped off on the boatrides and charged twice. He nods in sympathy and we chat a while longer. But when he pulls out his grass, explaining, "California weed!" I excuse myself and we pay our tab.

I can guess it's a little after 5pm and Alyson's already passed out on her bed. I'm exhausted and bleary eyed, but so excited for a new day tomorrow! I also had a glimpse inot what might be, should I decide to simply "travel" this year. A lot of nights of NOT drinking, excusing myself from the smoke, and annoyance at the stoner mentality of existing with no direction or purpose.

This still leaves open for a professional career in Austraila or nannying in Italy or France...


Naco said...

I deeply envy you right now. Good luck and have fun! And thanks for the birthday wishes:)

Salt H2O said...

Sucks about the backpack and laptop, maybe if you tell yourself that a single dad with 6 young mouths to feed stole it to buy rice do it didn't starve- you'll feel better.

Anonymous said...

sorry about getting the stuff stolen. Hopefully it's an eye-opener. After living so much in Latin America, I now lock my car when pumping gas in the USA....yes, less than 2 feet away, I know. My advice, make sure you are always touching everything you have at all times, and if you sleep, put the bag's straps around your leg. Oh and NEVER leave stuff on the shelf above you, especially if you look out of place. Suerte!

f*bomb. said...

Gracias, Jeffe.
I don´t know what Pacers are, but I´m glad to hear your advice now that I HAVE NO POSESSIONS. No- I really was only bothered by that amazing feeling of invasion and malice that comes with being robbed. What hurts is that I thought we were being so friendly, what with the man who robbed us and all the kids on the bus and all. I was planning on giving away my shoes after the trip anyway, but my blackberry, my camera charger, my emergen-c that I had made a special trip just for this event...ah, well.

The beauty of this story is, I am increasingly grateful for the knowledge that I truly don´t need anything. Of course, I´m still happy to import things for any of you with a small transport fee...Painted headmasks, anyone?

I had an Irishman crinckle his nose at me yesterday when I said that the clothes I had on were the only ones he´d be seeing me in. ¿Since when have foriegn vagabonds valued hygiene more than me?

Jillian said...

Oh no!! Passport and everything?

Rudie can't fail said...

Sorry about the theft. My friend had her shoes stolen in Peru a couple of weeks ago. She set them out to dry and 30 min later they were gone. I was 15 feet away sitting at a table directly facing them the whole time, and still didn't see it.

Tell the Irishman to bugger off. In my experience, Irish travelers are not exactly known for things like daily showers or shampoo.

The Dally Llama said...

If you want to have fun and hone your theft radar at the same time, here's a game a buddy of mine played while we were in Peru a few years back.

He had a really flashy, attention-grabbing pen, no doubt with the name of an anti-depressant on it or something. So he clipped it to his backpack one night as we were walking around the streets of Lima to see if he'd feel it when it inevitably got stolen.

Not only did he feel the guy grab it, he turned around and was able to locate the guy in the crowd, ran him down and got the pen back. The advantage of being 6'2 and 220 lbs in South America...

Anyway, it made for a great story, and helped him hone his anti-pick pocket skills.

f*bomb. said...

Well, the thing is, I was planning on giving away the good stuff anyway- my sneakers and pens and even some of my clothes. I do every trip. It's the being robbed of it that stings.

It's been 3 days now. I'm over it. I have my passport, my money, and my boyfriend, iPod, so what more could I need? Well...another pair of underpants is always nice, but...whatever.

veeda said...

Besides getting your stuff stolen, your trip sounds like so much fun.

f*bomb. said...

It's actually been quite liberating! It's a blessing...I want to go so far as to say I'm GLAD it happened, because now I know that I can go without- completely without- and be more than simply fine or just surviving...I am thriving! People have been offering me items here and there, but I'm actually quite happy with nothing heavy on my back.
Now I have a Guatemalan bag of 2 dresses my new Lake Atitlan friends made for me and 2 oil paintings (I made one) that were painted right on the lake with my mastero d'art, Gasper. I can't wait for you to see it!