Saturday, May 9, 2009
Lost and found.
Oh yay another travel day. Despite wanting to get out of Xela, we weren’t looking forward to a day of chicken buses. So we didn’t get to the terminal until noon. Luckily there were regular buses to Panajachel and we were immediately ushered on to one that was leave “now”. Of course this is Central America and time is relative. Now actually means anytime in the next hour. Soon means today. And later means never. But as we waited for departure, we were entertained by a woman who blessed the bus with a 15 minute sermon and recitation of Bible passages. She was so loud that I was glad we were sitting in the back row. Once she was done the bus finally pulled out and headed to Salcaja (photo above) where we got stuck in weekend market traffic for 30 minutes. Then it was back out on the highway which was still being resurfaced and incredibly bumpy. My butt felt every rut and crack in the blacktop. Although the speed bumps were the worst as the driver barely slowed down sending myself and the little boy now sitting beside me flying up into the air. And with every bend and twist in the mountain roads my butt got sorer and sorer.
As we finally cave around the top of the mountains, I was distracted from the pain in my butt by the view. Lake Atitlan is surrounded by mountains and volcanoes having been formed thousands and thousands of years ago when a volcano collapsed. The bus traveled through the pretty town of Solola where I finally got to see what Mayan men wear – a rather funky ensemble of plaid pants and clashing shirts. Then it was all the way down to Panajachel. The bus let us off and we tried to figure out where we were and where the hotel we wanted was. We were approached by what I though was a tout but he was the owner of the hotel we were looking for and he had a room available. For less than twenty bucks we had a big clean room with a private bathroom. Yay privacy and convenience once again.
Now it was time to explore the town and see if we were going to stick around. Well, it was really just one main street full of tourist stalls, hotels, hostels, tour companies, and restaurants. I can see why the locals call the place Gringotenango (place of the gringos). We weren´t bummed. It was actually kind of nice because we wouldn't feel any guilt for leaving in a day. Afterall, the reason we were here was the promise of an easy shuttle all the way to Honduras. So we went to the tour company only to discover that their website was wrong; there was no shuttle to Copan. We’d have to go back to Antigua and stay overnight then catch another one to Copan. Now I really like Antigua but the price of an unnecessary overnight stay wasn’t so appealing. The agent tried to convince me that it would be the same with all the shuttle companies. And then he tried to sell us on a tour of the volcano or day trip to the other lakeside villages. No thanks, I think we´ll check out our other option.
But first a bank machine. I stepped inside an airconditionned booth and opened my wallet. Where´s my bank card? I took everything out of my wallet. Nope not in my wallet. No need to panic - it must be in the pocket of my pants... I hope. Luckily Adrian had his card. Unluckily, this bank machine was out of money. Grr. However the next machine on the strip did work. Now it was time to find my bank card. Just then it began to pour – I mean really pour so much that the storm drains overflowed and the water ran down the road like a river towards the lake. We stood in the doorway of a store and waited for 30 minutes until it let up just enough for us to cross the street to a restaurant without getting drenched.
Over dinner, I took the opportunity to thoroughly search my hand bag for my bank card. Nope not in there. Adrian then went over it himself doubting my searching abilites but of course he came up empty handed too. As I mentally retraced my steps, I began to get the feeling that I´d left it in the bank machine in Xela. I distracted myself by heading across the street in the now-drizzle to check out another tour company. They had a morning shuttle to Copan that stops in Antigua on the way but arrives in Copan the same evening. One good thing, we´ve found our escape route from Guatemala. Now it was time to find my bank card. Back in the room, Adrian and I began a piece by piece search of all of our belongings. Nope. Nada. Zilch. Zero. We also didn´t discover anything else missing so it was pretty clear that it had not been stolen just lost or more accurately left in that bank machine in Xela.