Thursday, October 02, 2008

Karmel Juyu and Antigua

We had our annual VMM retreat at Karmel Juyu which overlooks Lake Atitlan. It is simply a spectacular site. The pictures do not do it justice. It was great to be able to hang out with the other volunteers. Quite a few of us are getting ready to transition back to the US, and there were also a few new faces.

We spent the weekend at Karmel Juyu and then all piled into a mini-bus heading to the Moran's site. Most of us hopped out at Los Encuentros, Alicia, Laura, Christine and I were headed for Antigua and the Salvadoran volunteers were headed back to Salvador. It was raining pretty hard and we were thankful that a chicken bus was going by right as we pulled up. Apparently I dilly-dallied too long getting out my raincoat. Everyone piled onto the bus, and then it left without me. Ooops.

Not to worry. If there is any place in Guatemala that I feel confident I can get myself to, it is Antigua. I ended up catching another chicken bus about 3 minutes later. I was able to get a seat and I wondered if my traveling companions were so fortunate (they were not). As I mentioned, it was raining pretty hard which in Central America means that roads become rivers and often large parts of the mountains slide away. In dry weather, the chicken buses swerve around cars and corners at approximately mach 10. When it is raining, the chicken buses swerve around cars and corners at approximately mach 9.5. I long ago accepted that the act of traveling in Central America is an act in which I surrender any control over my safety or well-being. I think it is best to accept this and enjoy the ride. I was pondering this reality, and morbidly thinking of the role of chance in life. Thinking that missing that bus was really a minor event, but how often things like that can change your life. I was sitting in the front seat so I had a descent view out the front window (only one wiper on driver's side) and out the front door where the attendant stood calling out destinations and collecting fares. At one point, the door was open, and the attendant yelled excitedly to the driver "Dale! Dale!" which means "GO! GO!" I looked outside just in time to see a wall of water shoot off the mountain and clip the mid-section of the bus. It wasn't enough to knock us off course, but it was definately enough to get my heart beating and other anotomical regions puckering. Needless to say, I was content to meet the girls in Chimaltenango with nothing more than a good story.

We arrived in Antigua soon thereafter, found our hotel and then set out for dinner and internet. Kelly and Lisa, two Costa Rica PCVs traveling Northward by bus, were also in Antigua. They had passed through El Salvador, the week before. We had plans to meet up in Antigua for my second cameo on their "MesoAmerican Farewell to Freedom Tour." We didn't find each other than night, but I stumbled upon them the next morning in a cafe. So we spent the day checking out the sites of Antigua, a really cool city, except for the tourist inundation. It was a good time. We tortured the VMs with PCV talk. We split in the afternoon as Kelly and Lisa went to climb the volcano in the rain and Laura and Christine headed back to their site in Managua. Which left Alicia and I to pre-trip preparations for our own upcoming farewell tour. We did some shopping, ate dinner, drank a margarita and listened to an obnoxious, tortured ex-pat kiss wooden ducks in a Frida Khalo bar.

I made it back to El Salvador on Tuesday night and am trying to get things wrapped up here. I finish at work on the 15th and then we hit the road on the 18th.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Some of these pictures are amazing!...well, in fact, most are! I'm so excited for you to come home, but I know that you have had an amazing adventure that puts you in the company of few people in the world. Good for you!

Love you lots,