As a one way ticket traveller, you’re usually chasing something from the second you get off the plane. Be it an idea, an opportunity, a lesson, a chance encounter, something, anything. So the moment I booked my flight home, the trip was over. I still had maybe 10 days to get from Atitlan, Guatemala to Mexico City, but the drive was lost… There were no real eager feelings to race to the finish line. But that ain’t so bad. I booked a flight from Mexico City, bought a private room for the next 4 nights right next to the Historico Centro. I can’t ever seem to get in to Mexico for some reason, so I figured I’d better go all out. Mexico City is sweet. But I probably won’t see much of it.
Dylan, Sharon and I all managed to claw our way out of the crater-lake mud put. Dylan and I went north. Sharon, north east. But not before all that dirty water began to take its toll. It started with a cold of some sort. Everyone who made it out of the lake the same time as us seemed to have something.
Reporter in the field, Sharon Manente:
Dylan was fine until we ate some strawberries from the Market, in San Cristobal, Mexico.
The guy at the hostel goes “Did you wash those strawberries?
“dude, you’re going to get salmonella, everyone does”
So here I am, bed ridden with Salmonella in the heart of downtown Mexico City. But after booking my ticket, I started rolling a little bigger. Flew from San Cristobal to Mexico City, Taxi’s to and from the airports. Private room. Even bought some nice new brown jeans. Jolie Blue livin’ large in dowwwwntowwwwn Mexico City! Yee-Haw. Damned be those strawberries and I. Don’t worry mom, I’m slamming Garlic like a press.
So the lake was a pretty weird place. Definitely something everyone travelling through should check out. Whether you love it or hate it in the end, you should find it interesting. Strange energies.
Tale Enough To Call ‘er Quits
It was there that I finally heard my first unsettling story first hand… I was staying in Casa Filipe, the hostel in San Pedro on the Lake, 2 fellow residents and their friend had gone for a casual stroll between lake communities, tripping on a little acid.
Kadir (Turkey), Eduard (Germany), and Sterling (Utah) were encountered by a desperate man toting a machete, demanding everything. His machete was in the strike position, apparently he wasn’t fucking around.
From the first time I met Kadir, I saw a fire in his eyes, the kind of fire that would rise up to this situation despite the consequences, and though he never spoke of what he “could have done” you could see it when he got back to the hostel… had he not been on the LSD, things might have gone different, especially 3 against 1, but all three of them were paralyzed. The bandit took off with everything they had on them, no passports thankfully, but money, and keys, cameras and cellphones…
Dylan and I vowed to grab our machete’s, retrace their steps, and unleash vengeance… but alas, we are but two hilarious drunken tourists and never got around to it… Kind of shook up the vibes though. You begin to hear these stories first hand, but never so fresh. They still had that tremble.
A few days later, it was our last night on Lake Atitlan, we had all stayed until Saturday because there was supposed to be this Rager of a party in this abandoned castle up in the hills 21km behind Panajachel (largest city on the lake, industrial hub) Sharon and I found the party rather run of the mill and hitchhiked down to the city, where that night, we witnessed a Strung out 50-something year old Gringo, on speed, or some shit, Knock this poor 20-something local boy off his bike and straight to the ground with one swift punch to the face over a drug deal gone wrong.
“If I ever see you again, I’ll knock your fucking head off!” He said as he got on his BMX and rode away”
All the more unsettling, but that’s a story saved for another time. Pretty sure Sharon will be able to tell it better than me…
The morning after that I booked my ticket home. I felt like I’d seen enough for one go round.
One day later, Dylan and I caught the bus to San Cristobal, Mexico. Sharon and her friends took off to Flores, Guatemala. Alas we had all made it out of the crater.
With my flight booked, and another flight being figured from SC to Mexico City, I was pretty much winding down my time with Dylan. On and off I travelled with this crazy Northern Irishman, since he first joined the crew at the Brewery in Honduras. 3 days in San Cristobal. It wasn’t much more than drinking beers, Mezcal, and of course Catching Salmonella.
In the hostel we were staying at, we met an English gal by the name of Georgie. Seemingly a nose for trouble, in her first long term excursion travelling alone, she came back to the hostel one morning with one more story to shake us all up before I finally took off to Mex City.
At the end of a night at the bar, Georgie walked down the street, empty plastic cup in hand, unable to find her way back to the hostel. She approached some Policemen. She had a Zapatista patch on her bag (the resistance to the Mexican-Government, she’s not in it, just a fan) She said it was in a very broken English that they communicated to her she’s in trouble for “drinking in public” despite the cup being empty. They wanted $3000 (pesos). She said she only had $1000. They called her a liar, and began to frisk her, pulling out her phone. Now Georgie was a fiery one as well, and admits she might have made it harder on herself by snapping back. But come on. She eventually forked over all the money she had, in tears, as the mob of policemen drove away laughing.
Sitting on the curb in tears. Georgie eventually got a free ride from a Taxi driver, to a hostel she wasn’t staying at, which offered her a free bed for the night.
Now a desperate crazed Machete bearing local, I can somewhat understand. People come from messed up places.
The strung out Gringo, was a scary glimpse into the future of anyone who drinks too much of that lake water.
And the Mexican Police… after everything you hear about them, but have never seen, finally becomes a reality in your world… Bleh, disheartening… Everywhere I’ve went I’ve had the best of luck with Police. In fact, earlier that day, some pigs found Dylan and I drinking beer on the street, and kindly asked us to move along which we did… But Georgie’s story just kind of leaves a sour taste in ones mouth. All three stories did.
That said, you gotta take the good with the bad. There’s bad people everywhere, and things are certainly a little different down here. Don’t let it deter ya though. Just keep your head on straight, be ready for the adventure, and go chase whatever it is you’re looking for.
Lord knows I’ll be back.
Better get back to that fruit truck though… I think my regulars are starting to wonder.