We haven’t had to deal with cockroaches or anything nasty for a while, so I guess we had it coming when our room was infested with bedbugs. Natasha is bearing the worst of it, a scary looking rash climbing up her arm. There are stains on the walls of the corpses and blood of bugs that tried to bite Zee, roommate from South Africa. After having just done laundry in Xela (we washed them in the sink and then snuck them in the dryer on the roof of the hotel in the middle of the night because they weren´t drying…hee hee!) we had to turn in all our clothes again to be laundered, and left our backpacks in the room to be fumigated. We´re hoping to hold a fantastic bonfire tonight with the most infected mattress.
On the upside, we´ve been upgraded to private rooms for free, which means our own showers! and bathrooms! and a mirror, and towels, and a shelf to put things on! Living the bare bones hostel life really makes you appreciate the minor things, like getting to sit on a chair in the room while you strap on your trusty Tevas.
We are finally on the famed Lake Atitlan, escaping the chaos of Independence Day in Xela. We took a lancha (read: tiny boat that is constantly filling with water and you’re so glad you know how to swim) from Pana to San Pedro, a wee community made up of some Mayans, some locals, and I think a bunch of foreign hippie travelers who came years ago and never left, and now run hip hostels, sell “brownies” or run Israeli restaurants.
We´ve seen the return of the Tuk Tuk, little taxis that were formerly golf carts, with three wheels that run you over in the streets. Tiny women wrapped in colors with baskets on their heads follow you around everywhere trying to sell bread. They even approach you as you are eating in restaurants, and we´ve got their whole monologue down; ¨¨pan? pan de coco? pan de chocolate? pan de banana? quieres pan? pan?¨¨ They can get a little aggressive.
Scary looking guys also harass you into kayaking for 5Q an hour, which is about 60 cents, which makes us think the quality of the kayak might not be so great. We also reached a group consensus that kayaking is really only fun for ten minutes, and then you spend the rest of the time floating around wondering when its over.
The lake is gorgeous, but with my foot in stictches and all wrapped up I´m not able to partake in the cliff jumping and hikes. We´re staying at hostel Jarachik with a garden, hammocks, candles ambiance and a huge kitchen bustling with women making everything you order from scratch. Think I´m just going to take these few days to relax and gain some perspective on this journey.
Today is the beginning of week six of travel. I can´t believe how quickly the time escapes, and I want to appropriately process the people, faces, sights, conversations and nature. Next to the manmade and natural wonders I´ve seen on this trip and the personal challenges I´m trying to overcome and grow from, the coolest part of this journey has been meeting other travelers.
Yesterday we were reunited with Steve, a chef from the UK who has spent the last twelve years traveling the world. We met at Tiná´s in Caye Caulker and fell in love over hours of conversation in hammocks, and the amazing breakfasts and dinners he whipped up for us with one hand, one pot, and one pan in our hostel kitchen. Its crazy to go around the world, meet someone in one country, and meet them again in another.
The world of travel is really so small. A few nights ago I was hanging out with someone who knew one of my best friends from Santa Barbara, who has been living in Alaska for the last ten years and traveling the world during the non tourist season. He told us cool things to do on the Lake and all sorts of interesting travel stories. It’s great to hang out with people like Steve and Nick who are older and have found ways to travel the whole world, see so much and become interesting and cultured people. It’s inspiring to think that I could travel the world, too.
The downside of meeting awesome people is that eventually your plans separate you. Last night we had to part with Jack, who we´ve been traveling with since Antigua. He’s a handsome Irish lad who has lived in England, Italy, and France, works for a record company, lived in Thailand last year, has spent time in an Ashram in India, had a gun pulled on him in South Africa, and jumps over fires in Antigua to make people laugh. He is so funny and we had such a good time.
Wish you all were here.