Return to the Blue Lago

Winnipeg Couple Returns from Vacation of Their Wildest Dreams

San Marcos la Laguna, Guatemala – While embarking on a holiday excursion to visit friends in Guatemala, Stone and Wendy, former professional students and cat enthusiasts living in the bleak, drainage-challenged province of Manitoba, had no idea they were about to experience ten days of such bliss as they had never envisioned, nor are ever likely to again. According to Stone, struggling through one of many “nothing really, just a bit groggy” hangovers, the couple found themselves “just plum flabbergasted” by the their fellow Canadian hosts, Din and Leni, whose dynamism, pure physical beauty and casual knowledge of the Spanish word for carrot greatly exceeded all prior expectations, previously knowing only that they were unemployed vagrants with a passion for remaining inert for long periods of time.

Classic shot

Despite a mild case of homesickness likely brought on by excessive butter intake and growing affection for tortillas, Stone and Wendy’s wide, broccoli-filled grins and ruddy complexions clearly evidenced their giddy new obsession with Latin America, a somewhat unhealthy amount of sleeping in the sun and the hilariously lingering effects of a low grade case of the flu.

Citing a full week of incomparably uplifting activities such as hiking with excruciating blisters, mucho hammocking, and descending upon a local market to loom over the stout populace disconcertingly like hulking dish detergent salespersons, Wendy dreamily stated that she “could easily spend the rest of my life right here, just reading, gazing around listlessly and occasionally learning new card games in an implausibly successful manner.”

Despite his continuing euphoria, Stone did express a small measure of chagrin at his failure to appropriately fathom either the true depth of this undertaking or the unsurpassed value of beer named after brash grinning roosters.

“If I had known this trip would far exceed any holiday I could ever have imagined, including free Jeff Gordon Hairpiece Week at the Daytona 500, I probably would have spent less time taking pictures and more time recording my ecstasy on postcards of women in traditional dress, or spontaneously orgasming toward the gorgeous volcanoes.”

After taking a cautious step back from the immediate vicinity of Stone’s crotch, Wendy vigorously agreed.

Beer suits

Ah, once again, it’s good to be back. At the risk of causing a minor uproar back in Canada, I have to say that Lake Atitlán is starting to feel a whole lot like home. The views never cease to amaze, the pace of life is wonderfully languid, and the stark cement confines of our apartment mesh perfectly with my occasional tidiness-based neuroses. Sure, the lake water tends to dry out our hair, skin and, well, everything, but the swimming is fantastic. My Spanish classes can be a bit painful but at least I feel like I’ve accomplished something when I’m done. I may write a bit like a genetically modified chimp with a comma fetish, but I can sure churn out a lot of words. And we like to read. No downsides there.

When we first returned we didn’t leave our place for a full three days being, as you can well imagine, just incredibly exhausted from all that difficult “travel” in such trying places as Tulum, Caye Caulker and Roatán. Sure, San Pedro Sula can definitely take a toll in a short period of time but, if we’re being honest, no more so than the first few pages of a Chuck Palahniuk novel. All too soon, however, we got a firsthand reminder of life in Guatemalan when we experienced a twelve hour power outage which had us digging for flashlights, worrying about frozen meats and, most of all, frowning in consternation at the prospect of having our numerous multimedia entertainment devices eventually running themselves deader than the Space Race. At the time we had no idea how lucky we were, learning (while observing an eye-catching lack of lights) that San Pedro, the village directly across the lake from us, known for its party reputation, its submissive posture at the base of a volcano and its infamous role in hosting my weekly drinking and soccer watching excursions, was without power for nearly four days. Four days!! Just to put that in perspective, under normal circumstances four days is more than enough time to:

–         Write a novel about sexy vampires

–        Take a three day court ordered driver safety course then lose your voice yelling at the screen during a Storage Wars marathon

–         Wait for nearly ripe mangos to ripen almost completely

–         Help Christopher Plummer build a fort out of sofa cushions and damp towels

–         Reproduce, if you are a gastrotrich

–         Steal an aubergine sun dress from your therapist’s clothesline, sneak across the border under the assumed name “Felicity”, then get arrested in Chris Rock’s Nashville townhouse for Indecent Exposure and Conspiracy to Fellate a Police Officer

Before the novelty wore off

So suddenly our half day blackout looked like a fortunate little stroke of luck (no one wants to see what improperly defrosted smoked pork looks like) and we soon moved on to all those usual activities that somehow make our time here disappear faster than on an 80’s exercise montage. Plus a few Spanish classes, which always turn into a troubling combination of inspirational and humbling, much like midget weight lifting. We shopped, we slept, we existed, barely. And we counted down to our first Pasaj-Cap visitors since Laynni’s parents nearly two years ago. And when that fateful day arrived we found ourselves waiting patiently, at first, then impatiently, then eventually worried and brainstorming, and frowning, of course. Meanwhile, Stone and Wendy sat at Panajachel’s other dock – patiently, at first, then impatiently, then eventually worried and increasingly regretful. Alas, no harm done, they worked it out, found us, and ultimately all four of us, plus their luggage, plus a bingo winner’s haul of groceries, managed to squeeze our way onto one of the more crowded lanchas we’ve ever seen, bouncing across the rough water in the dark (welcome to Guatemala – just sit right on that scrawny fellow’s knee, and if you need to, feel free to brace yourself against the ample bosom of the dour woman with two kids strapped to various parts of her stocky body). Oooh, if you could have seen the excitement on their eager little faces (actually – see photo #4), they were like kids at Christmas, the happy kind at first, then later more like the ones opening up the big present from their rich uncle Walter that had been periodically making noise the day before only to discover that in his haste he’d forgotten to poke some air holes in the box.But, don’t worry, we more than made it up to them the next day. Thank you, bacon.

2.7

So, how exactly does a person spend ten days entrusted with a well-meaning pair of Winnipaggots? Glad you asked.

Well, we swam a lot. Or rather, “bobbed”, as we normally called it in an effort to make it sound less lazy and more innovatively  buoyant, since the first few days were really windy, uncharacteristically windy, I might add. Which I did often, providing decidedly mixed levels of consolation. On the bright side, the large crashing waves made the large fish that occasionally jumped out of the water much less noticeable. On an unrelated note, occasionally Wendy got the hell out of the water. Stone had an adventure of his own, along with Laynni (I was off impressing anyone watching – which was no one, I was later told – with a vigorous thirty metre out and back workout, next stop London in July) when they teamed up to rescue Pierre’s new puppy (a three month old giant of a German Shepherd named Ushko, after the Lithuanian figure skater, I believe) who got himself trapped under the dock with nary a clue how to make his way back to shore without the wagging tails of his older compatriots in the water to lead the way. Eventually the day was saved, although there may still be some lingering fear of the water, and Ushko’s toenails left Stone’s forearms looking like he just spent Tuesday afternoon sharing a bowl of popcorn with Star Jones.

The sun! It burns!

Another day we led them on our signature hike to Jaibalito (you know, the one where people regularly get mugged? We never said we were good tour guides), taking in the always incredible scenery and more or less manageable hills.

The next day Stone and I spent an Irishman’s hour watching soccer and drinking beer, returning home on the last boat giddy, talkative and illogically triumphant, as though we’d just mastered the art of casually messy hair.

We also played a fun little game where we nonchalantly passed around a disappointingly tame version of the flu (I don’t want to brag, but I kind of started it) which generally only left us tired, grumpy and lacking in energy without any of the satisfaction of being able to tell people how many ends it was coming out of, or seeing the look on their face if we could say we had lost fifteen pounds last night, all from our bowels. On the bright side it made it much easier for us to talk ourselves out of climbing the volcano.

Like most people we know, we spent our Friday morning at the Sololá market carefully navigating the crowded narrow walkways, impractically low slung tarps and hilariously traditional men’s pants like we were invading giants sent to Mayan civilization to unceremoniously bend them to our will using our intimidating size, promiscuous photo taking and unappealingly bare legs. Combined with a couple wild Chicken Bus rides it was a good day for crossing stuff off bucket lists (there was also “nearly got Wendy pecked in the face by a live chicken riding a woman’s head” and “Stone enters public restroom and sighs with relief that he wasn’t planning number two”).

I'm like the Manute Bol of Guatemala

One final mixed blessing:

Roosters woke them up every morning at the crack of “still frickin dark” (Con)

We discussed it at length and finally decided the term for this disturbance, oddly enough, is “crowing” (Pro)

Sightseeing in Antigua, Stone’s hilarious comment (before having spent the night yet) that it would be nice to be back in the city because at least there wouldn’t be any roosters (oh my, so naïve, like a little girl learning about democracy), the requisite guided tour of our favourite McDonald’s anywhere, long discussions about the relative characteristics of cobble and its proper place in the world’s geological hierarchy, just a hint of the ol’ TD, just for the experience, and there you have it, doesn’t the time just fly when you’re drunk on new experiences (and beer) and don’t remember where you left your calendar (oh yeah, bottom right corner).

And so it was.

Now I best get going. It’s Brier Fever down here so I’m off to watch it on Pay-Per-View on the big screen in San Marcos and want to make sure I get a seat.

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