After a restless night, probably on account of the delicious Guatemalan coffee, we dragged our sorry selves out of bed and onto the streets to catch our first camioneta (chicken bus) of the day. On the way to the Parada de Bus (bus stop) we stopped at a local bakery to pick up breakfast – banana bread that was out of this world.
To be honest we had no idea how the day would go, or if we would even make it to Lago de Atitlan, but we did our research and with an optimistic outlook we boarded the first bus to Chimaltenango. At first we thought all the rumors of over crowding were a rouse, but as soon as we hit the next stop, everyone and their mother boarded the bus, and the rumors were true. Imagine being on that same school bus you took everyday, when I was a kid it was two to a seat and no more. Now imagine being a full grown adult, with a 30lb backpack about the size of a small toddler, sitting in those same seats with two more full grown adults along side. It was madness! But it made for an interesting ride.
We jumped off at Chimal, and were quickly hustled across the street and one block up, to a bus leaving for Los Encuentros. Same situation here, but after about 45 minutes people started getting off and we were able to sit more comfortably at two people per seat. The most interesting part was testing out our new Spanish language skills because really we had no idea when or where to hop off to make our next connection. Fortunately for us, everyone we spoke with was super helpful and would warn us when our stop was approaching and then when we had arrived. You have to move quick if you want off as these things barely slow their roll, as you’re stepping off they’re already hitting the gas. After Los Encuentros was Sólola and then Pana.
Once in Pana we walked down to the docks with our new found Argentinean friend. He told us he is hoping to move to Canada and find work as a software engineer, and we said well perfect because you’re in high demand. So watch out Waterloo, this guys resume is headed North. Now at the docks, we boarded a boat with what felt like another 50 people, ranging from travelers and hippies to traditional Mayan men and women. Our stop – San Marcos – was the fifth dock and took about another hour until we arrived.
A small kid offered to show us to our choice hostel, and after we were turned away for no vacancy he lead us to our next option. We offered him 5Q for his help and the little brat hustled us for another 5Q, kids these days! The money we saved by taking the local transit was eaten up for the outlandishly expensive posada we ended up in. The room is nice, but a little too rustic for the price! I think after Utopia our standards are set much higher.
We spent the rest of the afternoon wandering around this quirky little town and observing some of the wild life here. I’m going to go ahead and say that the wild life is to include the people in this neck of the woods. For us, there are not enough bras and too much armpit hair. Unfortunately San Marcos has too much of a peace, love and preachiness vibe for us so we will be moving on in the morning. Darren told us of a conversation he overheard two women having, one lady was experimenting with a clay cleanse, to remove toxins via inserting clay into her rear end and the other lady, well, she just returned from studying Unicorns. Really not judging, we just want to climb a volcano and it’s become very apparent that this is not something we can do in San Marcos.
After a long siesta we had a really yummy dinner at Fé – we shared a vegetarian pizza and a chocolate brownie with ice cream and strawberries. The owner is quite possibly one of the most enthusiastic proprietors we’ve encountered thus far. He goes over and above to accommodate everyone and the vibe he puts off is really great. On the way home we bought some really cute bananas.
Oh and before we forget in true Central American style we had the pleasure of grooving to some very loud, very Spanish music while riding the camionetas. One of the buses was even equipped with a television that played the music videos. Our favorite and the most outrageous song was Mi Cucu. Link is below but fair warning this is not recommended for children.