Sitting in an Internet place in Panajachel. Took a bath in the lake not long ago, and got most of the roadstink off me. It's been a wild ride for the past 36 hours or so... let's pick up from where I last blogged, in Tapachula:

I had gone back into the OCC station to wait, but the thought of sitting there for hours didn't really appeal to me, so I got directions to a colectivo to the beach. As soon as I went out the door, a small bus came by, with a guy yelling "frontera!". I let it pass, thought a few milliseconds about it, then yelled "frontera!" back. They stopped, I got on, and was off to the Guatemala border.

Where the bus stopped, Talisman, there were lots of vehicles with other cars and trucks in tow, but they didn't seem to be going anywhere. Continuing walking, there were no vehicles at all approaching the bridge. A cajero asked me if I wanted to change my money, I figured "why not?" and did. I was surprised at the low amount of Quetzales I got, but since I didn't know the exchange rate, I figured he must be giving the right amount. It turns out I was wrong, but that was later...

A Mexican official indicated I should stop at the INM office, so I did and got my passport stamped. Then on the other side of the bridge, I was also urged to go to the passport office, where I had to pay Q10 to get the passport stamped, but in return got a bunch of maps and bus information. I walked on up the street, got into a colectivo to Malacatán for Q4, and from there down the hill to a brightly-colored bus to San Marco, Q10. It was on that bus that I inquired into the exchange rate and found out that 1 peso was worth about .75 quetzales. In fact, according to this website, 460 pesos was worth 330 Quetzales yesterday, which means the Q205 I received was 125Q short, close to 17 dollars lost to that prick; that would have paid the whole bus to Lake Atitlán. But, whatever. My fault for not doing my homework.

From San Marcos I took another rickety bus to Quetzaltenango, also known as Xela (Chela), another Q10. My ass was getting really sore by this time. I stopped for a little food before continuing, from one of the stalls lining the bus terminal. I was tempted to try the fried papaya blossoms but stuck with chicken and chorizo. I don't remember how much it was, but it was for sure inexpensive. Then for the final leg, or so I was told by the guy at the border, to Panajachel. "No hay". Turns out there was a bus to Lake Atitlan, but to the south side, not the north side where Panajachel is located. There is a "lancha" (motorboat), that goes there from Santiago, but by the time we arrived it was late and there were no more till the next morning at 6AM. Plus, that bus went way down through Cocales, making it a Q30 trip instead of the expected Q10.

So there I was, in Santiago de Atitlán, the only gringo in sight, schlepping my almost-ruined luggage rack through the bumpy streets. Not a bar open anywhere, but plenty of fucking churches. Sunday night in December, every goddamned church packed to overflowing. There were a bunch of kids playing soccer near the bus terminal, so I sat there for a while watching the game. When it finished, I walked to the food vendors and got a piece of chicken for Q8. Kept walking, looking for a place to pee. Then, lo and behold! A bunch of guys in this little hole-in-the-wall place: drinking beer! Hallelujah! I went in, ordered my first-ever Gallo, and was invited to sit down at one of the tables, all of which were occupied. These Guatemalans were real friendly, and I was suspecting "gay", but I didn't really give a shit. When conversation got around to where I was staying, and I said I didn't have a place (the hostal hostess didn't answer the door, and the hotel was over Q70 and I didn't want to spend that much), my table-mate offered me his floor, and I was grateful to accept. After my second beer, and a little plate of shrimp and limes on the house, I followed "George" (I can't even pronounce his real name) to his little apartment, unstuffed my sleeping bag, and was out almost instantly. I woke up at daybreak, thanked the guy, and left for the lake. Got on the lancha, where a young Swedish guy named Pete was already there in the front, the Guatemalans in the rear, and talked with him in English till we pulled up on the dock in Panajachel and paid our Q20 each. We walked for a bit, breakfasted, found a working ATM after 4 tries, and parted ways. I saw him again on his lancha to Santa Cruz after I took a bath in the lake. Then dried off and walked here.

My luggage rack fell apart for good this morning. But I'm hoping to convert the PCDecisions build to Linux, sell my laptop and any associated electronics shit I don't really need, and travel a lot lighter from here on out. That would sure be nice. My back hurts again now, after mostly healing from that first day in Oaxaca.

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last updated 2013-01-10 21:04:14. served from tektonic.jcomeau.com