Well, as our time here on Lake Atitlan draws to a close we are finding ourselves more and more depressed at the thought of foregoing the perfect weather, ever-present views and soul-nourishing inactivity we’ve been reveling in here, in exchange for a return to chicken buses, unpredictable hotels and breakfasts as runny as a popsicle in Alec Baldwin’s pocket. I have to admit, El Salvador was sounding far more inviting from the safe distance of several weeks than it does looming on our immediate horizon, kind of like the difference between a Thai lady-boy from a block away or watching him running his hand up your thigh.
Laynni’s parents, Lyle and Nadine, have been here visiting since our last entry, which has triggered a minor uptick in our day to day plans. Not so much that you’d call us busy exactly, but let’s face it, it’s not like under normal circumstances we’re developing a cure for adult onset dyslexia or anything.
Some of the main highlights:
– On Laynni’s birthday we took a second trip (for us, anyway) to the Fuentes Georginas hot springs, naturally jumping at the chance to heat up our nether regions to weirdly uncomfortable levels, followed by another stop in Zunil for the Big-Ass Vegetable Market® where I braved an ancient wooden staircase that was about as steady as John Daly’s hands at a 6am tee time just so that I could get a God’s Eye View photo. The Grand Finale was behind Curtain Number 3 – fries and a sundae from McDonald’s in Xela. A birthday fit for an 8 year old! Not to brag, but this happens to be the 2nd year in a row I’ve treated Laynni to generic over-salted fries in honour of her birth, although last year she also got a webcam. This year…..just a nice warm hug. My plan is to slowly lower the bar until she eventually finds herself baking me cookies in the nude during half-time of a Champion’s League game, thinking to herself how lucky she is to have a husband willing to cover her in cooking oil on her birthday. Oh, it’s comin’.
· We organized a group BBQ for all the residents of Pasaj-cap (around 15 of us) which was fun, although lacking a bit of sizzle since about half the people here, and probably more than that in San Marcos itself, are vegetarian and continually impress me with their ability to refrain from gorging themselves on hot, greasy animal flesh. Whatever.
· You know that times have changed when, instead of sharing recipes, books or bacteria like we would have in the old days, we now routinely find ourselves getting together with near-strangers to break out our netbooks and share movies, TV and eBooks, passing memory sticks around like Alyssa Milano after double-header at Wrigley Field. Our collection of classics now includes The Hangover, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Superbad and the entire Celebrity Boob Jobs Gone Bad series. Just waitin’ for a rainy day.
· As a group, we spent far more time than necessary standing at our window discussing the frantic scavenging of – depending on who you ask – either a very average rat or the largest mouse ever encountered by mankind. If I was you, I’d ask me.
· Since we’ve been sharing most our meals and half the family is staying two floors directly below us, Laynni has recently made a small foray into amateur invention, devising a makeshift doorbell out of 20 feet of laundry string and a dirty table spoon. Courageous of her to try again, I thought, considering how poorly her edible dice went over, but it’s turned out to be the most effective use of cutlery since the time Richard Gere misplaced his gerbil.
We also actually managed to rouse ourselves enough to partake in a couple scenic hikes; one from Jaibalito to Santa Cruz, followed up a few days later with a hike from here to Jaibalito – about 2 ½ hours of great views, nice weather and only one near-death encounter with a pack of local dogs. I was rounding a corner on a hill high above the lake, maybe 50 metres ahead of the others, as usual daydreaming of Minesweeper and corn, when I was startled out of my reverie by a barking, snarling cacophony racing down the hill at breakneck speed. As I quickly gathered rocks like a post-pubescent David in cargo shorts, three mid-size dogs crashed down onto the path behind me and sped off loudly back in the direction of Laynni, Lyle and Nadine. As I raced back in pursuit, rocks the size of Kate Winslet’s areolas ready to fly, I struggled to come up with a plan that didn’t involve either chasing the dogs further back into the others or hitting Lyle in a way that might land us both on a hilarious blooper show. By the time I rounded the corner, however, the “pack” was already hurtling back toward me, either spooked by the suddenly even numbers, or more likely dissuaded by the frightening visage of Laynni’s hiking sandals. Realizing I would probably only have time for one throw and knowing that the immediate fate of my dog-fending forearm was at stake, I opted to use my right hand (this was clearly no time to play “feels like a stranger’s hand”) took dead aim and let fly into their on-rushing maws, which may or may not have been spewing hellfire, then crouched uncomfortably in what I supposed would be my most effective dog-fighting stance. But then, almost before I could unleash the fury, they raced past me, two of them apparently preoccupied with pursuing the third rather than actually coming to attack us two-legged interlopers. As for my hurtled missile, well, anyone who has ever watched one of my wild rainbows drift slowly over their head at first base could guess that result – no damage done.
Incidentally, a couple days after this a couple from Quebec did the same hike, partially on my recommendation of safety I’m somewhat ashamed to say, and got robbed at machete point by a couple young hooligans/farmers. Oops, my bad.
For the last 15 minutes I’ve been listening to Nadine and Tahnni talk on Skype and use the term “over” every time they are done talking as though they are marines strategizing a recon mission. The mission being, apparently, to establish exactly what the weather at home was like last week (over), as opposed to yesterday (over), as well as today (over), along with what they expect tomorrow (over), what next week might hold (over), and how promising April may be. Over.
Pretty much every day when we’re taking our morning walk down the road we pass a pair of thin, shirtless male joggers with Michael Bolton hair and tans that would put a Dairy Milk to shame. Never thought too much of it until the day I swam a little further than usual and came across them frolicking in the nude off a nearby dock. Well, to be fair, only one was frolicking, the other was out of the water with one leg (the back leg unfortunately) propped weirdly high up on a rock (Guy Caballero style) while he chattered away on his cell phone. Just where he’d been carrying that, I’m not sure I want to know. Either way, I’m not exactly sure what my point is, other than the fact that I’m quite bitter about the way the vision seems permanently burned into my retinas. On the bright side, it’s not as bad as it could have been since he just happened to bear some striking similarities to the Asian guy that jumps out of the trunk in the Hangover, if you know what I mean.
Speaking of avocado, there must be someone else in the free world that agrees that avocado is not only mushy and unpleasant, but why anyone would want to eat anything that can so easily be mistaken for gangrenous discharge is beyond me. Still, I’m being overwhelmed by the Avocado for NATO Chairman Brigade we’ve got going on down here that steadfastly believe there can be only one of two reasons behind my reluctance:
1. An illogical fear of nutritional goodness, possibly the result of an adolescent Tony the Tiger man-crush
2. A tomato-less childhood (this one is clearly aimed at you, mom) that stunted my ability to enjoy foods that taste like 4 day old hairball
Next up – we head out Tuesday for a few days in Antigua (whose residents are supposedly known as panza verde – or “green belly” – because they love avocados so much….outstanding), then the parents head home and we’re off to The Salvador for Semana Santa. Ah, Latin American holidays – parades, music and more fireworks than a Mexican soap opera. I’m as happy as a little girl…