It is a strange occurence indeed when, after tearing oneself from the homeland and travelling vast distances to the other side of the world, you bump into familiar faces. A couple of times. Within five minutes.
I was granted the gift of a seven day weekend by the recent inconvenient national (and, in all credit to the global media, international) panic of swine influenza. Rather than sit quarantined in my cuarto shaking with fear at the remote possibility of death, I decided along with my joyfully impulsive friend Willow that the best course of action was to travel on a multitude of chicken buses surrounded by potentially lethal locals towards the distant but beckoning location of Lago Atitlan, Guatemala.
As it turned out, the apocalypse predicted at every step of the journey was dissapointingly inevident. We reached and crossed the border without incident and the worst thing that happened to us was a diversion off the section of Pan American Highway currently under construction into the winding muddy single lane mountain switchback that was groaning under the capacity of two-directional traffic. After 2 hours of squeezing our bus past other grimly patient motorists in the gathering darkness and sporadic heavy rain of the wet season, we reached the grim town of Huehuetenango, designed specifically to be left as soon as possible.
Once clear of Huehue, we crawled overland to the pretty colonial (i.e. strangely simular to San Cristobal
, near my hometown) town of Antigua and spent a very pleasent couple of days with a friend of Willow looking at picturesque ruins and vistas, drinking picturesque coffees and watching the hundreds of picturesque tourists and language students crawling all over the town hunting for picturesque experiences. If it wasn’t for the bloody great volcanoes towering over the streets I’d think I was forty minutes down the road from CDC.
After this that I parted company and headed for Lago Atitlan with the intention of meeting ex-teacher Abi in a setting that she had told me in previous emails that I would be a fool to miss. True to her word, the lake was incredible; surrounded by the lush green slopes of volcanoes rising up through the early morning mist of the glassy lake and the jungle that enshrined the scattered communities clinging to the slopes. The afternoons yielded fierce downpours, forcing me to find shelter and enjoy a cup of something warm in a nice hippy run eco-restaurant and wait for one of the arching rainbows that curved over the landscape and plunging into the lake.
It was in this dreamlike setting that I met my ex-university housemate of two years, a Mr. Jon Buick, on a weekend break from furthering himself professionally in nearby Xela, and bumped into Abi some minutes later in the same spot. It really serves to illustrate that no matter how far we go, we’re much closer together than we think. We do, after all, live on a sphere; sooner or later everything leads to everything (or everyone) else.
3rd May 2009
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