Another tale of Cynicism: Lake Atitlan; The Great Quest Out Of Here

The Shores of San Pedro

Today I’m walking around like a dog with his tail between his legs. I just got reamed out at the Hostel I was formerly staying at, but still currently party at. I’ve recently moved into a cheaper place, with a private room, and a view of the lake! Hotel San Francisco. So far so good. Back at the hostel, you see, a couple of Norwegian travellers were planning on moving on. In good nature, I told them where a few of us have moved to save a buck, and talked up the vibe.

Figure this: A private room at San Francisco is 35 Quetzales ($4US or some shit). The dorm rooms at Casa Felipe are 50Q. To some travellers that makes all the difference. Felipe does however have free coffee all day… and at 5Q a cup, that can add up. I enjoyed myself there, but when telling these other travellers the good news, one of the workers over heard me, told the jefé, and I was told off for poaching. Certainly not my intentions, but that’s how it went down no less. Guess I won’t be going back there. So long free coffee.

I’m still on Lake Atitlan by the way. Getting pissed off left and right but kind of enjoying it. A few days prior, at Casa Felipe, everyone was hungover, rolling out of bed looking for the coffee. I’m usually one of the first up, being a light sleeper. This girl strolls in holding her head. Giving her a punch of optimism I said “Top of the Morning! It’s a beautiful day”… She said “I’m about ready to throw this coffee in your face”

Fair enough, we’re all hungover after all. But she continued…

Top of the Morning Isn’t even Irish you know, It’s of American origin, and that’s not actually what we say in Ireland” She said with a dominance… I seceded from the idiocy… “I didn’t know you were Irish” I could see she felt bad about her immediate offensive but I still had to punish her with blatant silent treatments for the rest of her stay. Give her a moment to think about whether or not it’s worth getting worked up over such minuscule things… That’s how it goes down here. Everyone’s on defence about where they’re from. American’s are big on it, granted they do face a lot of attention from any angle. Dutch are kind of similar… They tend to have a stand off mentality no matter how you approach them (more or less. I’m not trying to be prejudice but I see what I see).  The first one will grill you for not knowing the difference between Holland and the Netherlands. And so when you try to distinguish the difference to the next one, they’ll grill you for not knowing how small the Netherlands actually are, and how little it matters. You can’t win, unless they’re directly from Amsterdam, then they’re usually pretty fuckin crazy. Germans are hit or miss. Australians are always good. The only two Jap’s I’ve met are a solid 10/10. For those of you wondering back home, Canadians seems to have a good reputation on the tourist highway. French Canadians especially. Detroit-Sharon likes the Israeli’s because she says “The world hates them as much as Americans, so we’re kind of in the same boat”

Dylan knows how to have a good time. All of the time. Here he is with Gary (Spanish Dylan) and their fan of the night.

I most certainly adore the travellers I have gotten to know along the way, but this far along in the trip, it usually takes about 2 or 3 sentences back and fourth to determine if someone is a complete waste of my time. Many are.

Anyone who cares to give a shit about politics back home while we’re here are not worth a hoot to me. Did we not all come down here to escape the constant bickering over regional politics back in the first world? Apparently not. I sure did, have no problem up and leaving any group of people the minute Trump is brought up. It’s great coffee talk back home but FUCK man, you are so far away from the problems you left in the North, can’t you just smoke a joint and look out at the lake like the rest of us? The less time they’re here, the more they’re attached to home, the less I’m interested in giving them the time of day.

I once over heard this one lady respond in conversation with “I”m from the US. But I did NOT vote for Trump”

Right on, lets get that out of the way and get right in to the bitching about it. Go for a kayak ride ya twat. Or take a read in what these Central American governments are up to if you’re ready for a real awakening.

Jesus, I’ve just booked another night in San Pedro on the lake. A man such as me recoginzes his levels of irritability and tries to keep them to a minimum, usually taking the course of up-and-leaving. Much like Belize, like home, once things start to bother me I flee, because I can… but I have just booked another night in San Pedro on the Lake. Make no mistake, this is not the new-found awakening to a place that I could finally rest my weary head. This is masochism.

Sitting across from me now, a french Canadian with no accent. Probably about 50lbs overweight, braids in his hair, And his beard. Rocking some emotional music, with misunderstood high-pitched teens belting out their pains and insecurities. He’s just sitting there, looking at me more often than I’m comfortable with. Every glance pisses me off a little more.

“Listen to this song, you’ll like this song” fuck you. Quit looking at me. This french Canuck is a mad beatboxer. Last night he tore the roof off Sublime Open Mic, it was impressive, but not when he sits in the hostel making those stupid fucking noises with his mouth all day long.

Why don’t I just get up? Go somewhere else? Masochim, is my only guess… I’m letting it build, and I’m not sure why. There are places on this lake full of people sizing you up and down, judging your credibility by the amount of dread locks in your hair… Sitting around in circles trying to figure out which one of them hates Walmart the most. So it came down to this: Either I suit up in my Cowboy boots, cowboy hat, Speedo, and beer bottle cap necklace, go on a hunt for whatever drugs I can find and terrorize this neo-hippy destination… or I pack up and leave.

Busy little 3-wheeled ‘Tuk Tuks”. Better known around town as ‘My cocaine guy’

I think drugs, or leaving, are about the only two options available for any sensible traveller passing through. There is so much diversity on the lake, there seems to be something for everyone. Even a cynical old asshole such as myself… All depends on what you want. Where do I start?

Lake Atitlan, you see, is that of a mud hole full of frogs frantically trying to escape. And the Mayan’s, trying to mind their own. You have to go up hill in any direction to leave this crater lake. Many of us are clawing up the steep sides of this oversized pit, eventually catching a mouth full of that mud-water and slipping back to the bottom. It’s not our intention, but the mud water has a tendency to dilute our minds and have us stick around a while. It has the same eerie vibe as Nelson, BC… something spiritual in the waters.

I first landed in San Pedro, as you know. I didn’t much like it at first, but I suppose it has grown on me. Another gringo sinking into the mud. It is without a doubt the party town. Tiny little Tuk Tuk Taxi’s driving around, usually have all the cocaine and weed you could ask for. There’s one capitalized night club in town “Sublime” that has something for everyone. A dance floor for the enthusiastic, a sitting space for those getting intimate, and a bonfire by the lake, for me. There’s a comfortable mix here. Not too many hippies. Quite a few Muscle Shirt Bro’s. That new kid who came straight out of conformed Sweden, and now has one of those hippie pullovers with the stripes (never did learn what they’re called). Clearly isn’t feeling the hippie vibe, but wants to. Go up the hill a little ways and you might find 70 year old Gringo’s sitting atop their $4/night balcony. Some are writers, stuff like that.

When you hop on the boat, over to San Marcos, odds are you’ve already been warned. You’ll be greeted with a look of “Who are you and the fuck you are going to take away from my inner peace”… right. A poor girl from my hostel couldn’t get into an hour long yoga class, despite there being yoga in every other casa on the strip. No, she would have to join the family. Testimonies, pretty much the standardized test of whether or not you’re cool to hang in this town.

Well, I’m a 3 year Yoga connesieur, I’m an advocate for women to boycott the razor, I’ve been to four fossil fuel protests, been pepper sprayed twice, and I don’t eat anything that casts a shadow

“Alright, I guess you can chill with us”

What once, likely began as a cool idea with some old age hippies living off the land has quickly turned into a circus of wannabes. Finding themselves, experiencing the magical wonders of Magic Mushrooms, paid for by trust funds. Therapy sessions, healing circles, the secret to happiness! All with a cost, your daddy’s money, and control of your brain. And of course, once the bars close down, they all whip out their bag of cocaine. Spiritual enlightenment needs a little fuel, you see. Local Mayan’s who’ve had their entire world turned upside down in the last 15 years, are adapting, catering to the white man’s need. Walking the streets with Sharon, she commented “Don’t you kind of wish the Mayan’s would just go full Apocalyptico on this place?” Yeah… I kind of do… But take me too, I’m just another piece of shit boozing on the shores of spiritual land…

Added the red paint myself. Look at this shit.

I visited a few other towns, pleased to see the entire lake is not infested with affordable enlightenment. San Juan takes pride in their dyed fabrics, and local artists. Santa Cruz was a common working town. A few hostels had snuck in, with the goofyest of people doing something called glamping. Glamorous camping. Sitting on bean bag chairs drinking expensive beers was all I saw before I paced on by, frightened by this newest wave of imposters. One of them tried to talk to me, I wouldn’t have it.

Fabrics displayed on the streets of San Juan

Some hostellers from Casa Felipe were robbed, walking down the back roads between Santa Cruz and San Marcos. He was armed with a Machete. A turkish man in the mix, Hadash, 30 something years old with a fire in his eye, was the most upset. He thought they might have been able to overtake this man, had they not been tripping on Acid.

So one last night on this lake, before Dylan and I hitchhike up to San Cristobal, Mexico. From there I may have to start plane hopping. But I do know this, it’s probably time to leave this Sodom & Gomorrah, before the Mayan people call upon their Gods to unleash this resort of dormant volcanoes.