The End Draws Nigh

Well, once again our time here on Lake Atitlán is drawing to a close and, once again, we have mixed feelings about the whole thing. Obviously we are looking forward to getting back home, seeing everyone, playing sports, watching sports… on our very own TV (!). Not to mention…um….well…I suppose that’s about it really. Actually, I also find myself looking forward to the airport these days, strange as that may sound. Inevitably a day of flights is going to be dull and exhausting, but I think the reason the idea excites me is mainly Pavlovian – any time I’m in an airport it means I’m either off to some new and exhilarating location, or returning somewhere we’ve been before and liked so much we want to return, or we’re on our way home after a long time away. And all of those possibilities outweigh a few painful security lines and long, hopeful waits for luggage. Plus, there are well-equipped bathrooms, fast food, magazines and TV.

The lake was restless that day, my friends

The other side of the coin, in this case, are all the things that we’ll miss about being in Guatemala – the stupendous views, daily swimming, the good friends we’ve made, and mainly just the overall simplicity of life. We sleep, eat, read, write/work, exercise, watch some shows and occasionally partake in some type of social event two or three times a week. An ideal itinerary for us considering how the longer we stay away the slower and slower our chosen lifestyle seems to get. Of course, when we go home that all changes, for Laynni at least, as the whirlwind that is her family rapidly draws her into its vortex of madness like a central vac sucking up a missing key, making all sorts of noisy rattling and commotion but always coming in handy in the end, once you dig it out of the mess. As for me, well, looking forward to soccer and planning to plant myself in front of the TV for an extended period of time during Euro 2012, probably head up to the lake for a while and, of course, eat a shitload of toasted ham sandwiches. And I’m not going to speak a word of Spanish for a really long time. Now I know what you’re thinking, that’s a pretty full itinerary for a guy who currently considers the height of urbanity to be going for a swim and walking to town to have lunch and watch a Champion’s League game. But don’t make the mistake of underestimating my capacity for watching other people sweat in all sorts of different locales.

Ominous

As for our final few weeks here since Andie and Mark left….let’s see:

Did our usual hike a few more times, the last couple of which were truncated versions of the original, ending in the village of Jaibalito for the Sunday brunch at Club Ven Aca, a really cool lakefront restaurant with an infinity pool that hits all the right notes after sweating our balls off for an hour and a half (or labia, as the case may be). The french toast and beer weren’t too shabby either, the combination of which made me feel like a noble peasant farmer from the Versailles region on holiday struggling to come to terms with my growing indifference toward growing grapes. The next time I had an egg, cheese and bacon/ham sandwich, which wasn’t symbolic in any way that I could tell.

Before that the most excitement we had was switching rooms for a couple weeks, the result of having tacked some extra time onto our original plans. So, for the first time in six total months at Pasaj-Cap (over three visits), we actually found ourselves staying somewhere other than Copacabana, also known extravagantly as Number Four. Laynni was extremely unsure about the whole thing having, as she does, an innate aversion to change in all forms, at least before it actually takes place and after all is said and done “all works out for the best, after all”. Now I know it seems that an ingrained dislike of change would make traveling for seven months of every year seem somewhat counterintuitive but I think what that really shows is just how strongly we dislike Saskatchewan winters, not to mention how compelling the promise of Volcano View Yoga can be. And fried tortillas.

The new room
As for the new room (the same one Andie and Mark stayed in), which is below our last one, the differences are mostly subtle but do become noticeable on a day after day basis:
Pros

Darker “bedroom” (i.e. bed surrounded by curtains)

Even larger windows, with even larger views

More hot water

Laynni feels the new couch gently caresses her ass as opposed to beating it into cowed submission

Fewer ants, no idea why

Cons

Smaller kitchen

A glass shower in full view of the living room, the lake and the neighbour’s tortilla stove

Really crappy cutlery, even by Guatemalan standards

An infuriatingly creaky bed – every time I climb in, roll over or otherwise needlessly fidget (which is generally a substantial amount) it lets out a mournful groan like I continue to spank its balls with a riding crop, mostly against its will

More flies, no idea why
Our anti-privacy shower

So, as you can see from this less than comprehensive list of excessively unimportant details, we’ve been dealing with some pretty serious adjustments around here. Sometimes it all gets to be so much that we can barely convince ourselves to open the windows the entire way, when we’re just going to have to close them again in twelve hours. It’s exhausting.

We’ve continued to have regular group BBQs, mostly as a social thing, and with somewhat more group participation than in the past since there is only one vegetarian couple in the mix this time, and they don’t seem to mind joining in despite their embarrassing lack of raw animal flesh. In general, it is us carnivores who are normally outnumbered around here, as San Marcos and its surrounding area tends to attract vegetarians like fridge magnets to Ironman’s groin. Not to mention meditators, yogaholics and holisticklers galore. None of which I have a problem with. All I’m saying is that perfectly blackened chicken, steak or sausage seems like a more notable BBQ accomplishment than watermelon.

Laynni telling a story? Or having a seizure?

It seemed as though the insanity of Semana Santa had only just started to die down when we soon started noticing changes in San Marcos again. Every time we went to town it seemed another stall or temporary looking shop would have suddenly sprung up. First it was a stall selling some type of pretzel-y contrivance, then a pizza by the slice shop, then four more pretzel stalls. Then three more pizza shops. Then a very welcome churro stall (deep fried, Mexican and covered in sugar), followed, naturally, by three more churro stalls immediately adjacent. Then a fifth, cleverly situated just slightly down from the fourth. Turns out it was the Festival of Saint Mark, the patron saint of the village, well known for both his altruism and dazzling skill with a fly swatter. On the evening of the main celebration we ventured into town en masse (well, except for Laynni because it was almost dark out and, as you know, she is endlessly suspicious of anything that takes place outside the immediate vicinity of her couch after dark) where we spent some time soaking up the atmosphere and enjoying the prototypical Town Fair experience. Namely, smiling politely and remembering to clap at appropriate intervals during the performance of a local church band, drinking beer on the street, pissing in dark alleys, eating worrisomely tepid fried chicken, avoiding unquestionably rigged games of chance, and fighting our way through the crowds congesting narrow lanes filled to bursting with not so comically misbehaving children and elderly women selling used shoes. In fact, you’d swear we were right back at the Saskatoon Ex if you threw in some kids vomiting next to a Tilt a Whirl and a shifty looking fellow with a lank ponytail and a variety of knives, pouches and cell phones attached to his studded leather belt tapping his cowboy boot awkwardly to really loud AC/DC while ripping tickets and leering.

Off to San Pedro

The other day we caught a tiny scorpion and imprisoned him against his will in a ziploc bag for a day with thoughts of taking him home for the perusal of various small relatives. But, strange as it sounds coming from someone so quick to callously destroy any insect in his path when it comes to sudden flip flop related violence, the thought of letting it slowly starve or suffocate or die of dehydration, or boredom, or whatever would happen first, kind of left me with an objectionable feeling, kind of like drinking too much and laughing at something Jay Leno once said. Anyway, I couldn’t do it. Couldn’t even kill it after all that. I guess I thrive on the rage and adrenalin that comes with having one appear suddenly from the shadows to shock me into action, and sometimes a tiny shart.

Well, that about does it for our time on the lake. Wish I knew when, or if, we’ll get a chance to return but you can be sure it’ll come up in the discussion soon enough. For now, all we know for sure is that we are home for four months, then fly to Brussels. Naturally.

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