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Currently Location: San Pedro La Laguna, Guatemala

04.09.07

Currently Location: San Pedro La Laguna, Guatemala
Price of Beer in a bar: No idea.  I had a rum and coke for about
US1.10 last nigh, but that was the happy hour special.  I’ve only been
here about 18 hours.
Song Currently stuck in my head: Powder Burns by The Twilight Singers.
I listened to this for the first time yesterday, then immediately
played the album again.  I’m a fan.  I can’t believe I missed them in
Chicago in November.

You might be wondering how to tell if the driver you’ve hired is a
maniac.  It’s a reasonable question for two reasons; one, there are
numerous professional maniac drivers in Central America.  I don’t
think “clean driving record” translates, to be honest.  Second, it can
be difficult to assign blame for the whiteness in your knuckles as you
hug hopelessly tight 180s switchbacking your way up and down
mountains, tires barking, distracted by oncoming traffic and the
rational for putting a railing here but not there (or not replacing
the railing that’s been knocked down as it clearly came in handy once,
hopefully).  The roads, the conditions, the other drivers, the falling
rocks and washout turns… these could all be to blame.  You natural
instincts might mislead you.  For instance, when you driver honks his
horn repeatedly while crossing the center in a blind curve, is he
being conscientious and warning oncoming, righteous traffic of his
errant presence (a tactic common among Chicago bus drivers), or is he
substituting a repetitive horn for slowing down to less dangerous
speeds (in this case, the reduction from 15 mph to, maybe 7)?

I don’t know, I’m not a professional (or even recreational) driver.
So here’s what I’ve devised:  if your driver is consistently passing
lighter, more nimble vehicles, vehicles capable of superior
acceleration, on his way uphill, then he’s a maniac.  Yesterday, my
driver was a maniac.  This happens.

Having abandoned our relative luxury in Antigua, Espen and I have
arrived in San Pedro La Laguna, an area that Aldous Huxley referred to
as “almost too much of a good thing”.  You can barely see the name of
this town in print without seeing that quote attached to it, so I
would hate to disappoint.  Al wasn’t far off, the area really is more
picturesque than Antigua, and that’s a tall order.  See attached, but
be warned that it’s just the smallest taste.  On the boat ride over to
San Pedro we made a quick stop to pick up a few people (like 4), and
there was Kathryn, the German girl I’d traveled with in Belize (along
with Stew and Lynnai).  I’ve never surprised to run into people while
traveling, but this caught me off guard.  She arrived in Guatemala
when I was still in Belize, so I didn’t expect her to still be in the
country.  Jason is a guy I keep running into everywhere.  We met in
Belize (he was traveling with the London girls from the beach with the
good music), then he ended up in the room next to mine at Tony’s, a
slightly out of the way guest house in Utila.  Then he was at my guest
house in Copan, then on my shuttle bus to Antigua, and now I’ve just
run into his this morning in San Pedro.  None of this was planned in
the least.  I seldom know where I’m going, much less where someone
else might head.

Last week was characterized buy movie marathons at a local cafe and
all-night processions of the solemn, ornate Catholic variety.
Enjoyable overall, often surreal,  a bit pricey and, at times,
overwhelmingly crowded.  We were enjoying drinks in a small cafe with
the best breakfast menu I’ve ever seen (Musicians Breakfast: cup of
coffee, two cigarettes, two advil… US$0.95) when the entire street
when opaque with white incense smoke and an enormous, spooky lit float
swayed down the street on the shoulders of a hundred of the faithful,
all dressed in purple shrouds.  Such is Antigua during Semana Santa.

Which reminds me, Happy Easter all.

I began taking antibiotics a couple of days ago when I realized that
I’d lost count of the number of weeks that I’d been suffering from
diarrhea.  We had a nurse staying with us at the house who agreed with
my armchair medical opinion, so I swallowed a Levaquin and have been
marveling at it effectiveness ever since.  I’d been avoiding taking
the pills for two reasons (our reasons seem to be coming in two’s
today); one, I thought I had Cipro, a pretty heavy hitting antibiotics
that takes a firm “anti” stance to the helpful “biotics” that populate
our collective human gut.  I should have know better.  My Chicago
physician (and by far my favorite marcher in the parade of doctors
I’ve seen in my 30 years) isn’t the kind of guy to nuke my stomach
from orbit when a single bullet would suffice.

Two, it really hasn’t gotten in my way.  I seem to have developed some
kind of super human bowel control and my persistent indigestion wasn’t
causing me problems, even on lengthy bus rides.

I saw Babel the other day in the local Antiguan theater.  It looked
really good, though really gut wrenching.  I say “looked” because the
movie was shown in “English” with Spanish subtitles.  In reality, the
movie is in 4 different languages and very little of it is in English.
So even though it was an American DVD with English chosen as the
language track, the sections that would have been subtitled in an
American theater were written in Spanish (except when Spanish was
being spoken, then there were none at all).  Perhaps it goes without
saying, but I have a few questions.

Ah, the quality of service continues to disappoint, no matter how low
I set my standards.  A simple heads up that English speakers (the
majority of people in the theater) will have no idea what’s going on
would be nice, especially when I purchase my ticket in English.  This
morning we ate breakfast at a local cafe that Kathryn is working.
We’d been there quite a while and ordered before anyone, even our
inside source, bothered to mention that the cook hadn’t shown up yet.
These things are fine with me when I encounter them at local greasy
spoons, but they get under my skin when I’m paying US$5.50 for a
modest breakfast in Central America.

But, it’s a minor irritation at best, and the quality of the coffee
usually makes up for it.

My thoughts are with Sarah as she prepares for her LPC exam and my
Grandfather as he recovers from a recent procedure and awaits a
prognosis from his cardiologist.  The latter is keeping me glued to
email for updates, so I should be unusually responsive for the next
few days.

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