I have a tendency to forget that my outside does not always reflect my inside. This became very clear on Saturday when I climbed my first mountain. I had been climbing hills and doing a lot of walking since I arrived in Guatemala. So foolishly I thought a mountain would be no problem. On Saturday morning at 7am, I meet with Stacey (a student at the Spanish school from Australia) and Pedro (our guide) to attempt to climb Nariz de Mayan (The Mayan nose). I had on boots, cargo shorts, sports bra and tee- I was ready! I even brought along my pocket knife. Stacey and I joked during the 30 minute walk to the base of the mountain, teaching each other phrases in slang from our respective countries.
I was ready for the climb! When we begun our climb our guide gave us two options a. climb the smaller mountain and then go to the market in Santa Clara b. climb the Atitlan Volcano. Pedro told us that we would have the same view from both mountains. I let Stacey make the decision and she decided to climb the bigger mountain. It did not matter anyway because I was young and strong; ready to conquer any mountain. This might be a good time to add that I have never climbed a mountain in my life.
About 45 minutes into our climb of the actual mountain I begin to feel a bit tired. My legs were beginning to hurt from the rough terrain. My breathing was not as easily as it was before; I ceased joking with Stacey in order to conserve energy. This liquid begun to come out of pores/skin, I believe people refer to this as sweat. Normally when I see any signs of this liquid I stop what I am doing and find AC. This was not possible a quarter of a way of the mountain. I allowed Stacey to pass me as I continue to climb. I was told we had another 2 hours to the top. Then a 45 minute walk to the base of the volcano and another hour hike up the mountain.
Thankfully Stacey began to stop to take pictures of spiders and random stuff, giving me time to rest. I tried to prolong those photo shoots as long as possible in order to catch my breath.
After many breaks I made it to the top!
My boots got very dirty during the climb.
When we approach the market little boys begin clamoring to shine our shoes. The kids look about 6, but the price was right. The boy who shined my shoes says he was 10 years old, so it wasn’t really child labor. I even tipped the kid.
The market was very interesting. We were probably the only non-Mayans/ Guatemalan there. Stacey with her red hair and me with my no hair and dark skin attracted many stares and points. After seeing how they were handling raw meat in the open air, I became very grateful that my host family did not cook much meat for me.
Our guide Pedro suggested we take a pick up, instead of walking back to San Pedro. A pick up is basically people jumping on the back of a truck.
As we waited for the San Pedro truck, I begin to dance to the music from the stand across from where we were. They were playing the “wave your flag” song from the World Cup Soundtrack. Of course me being black I started to dance in the street. Very soon there was a lovely crowd formed watching the strange foreigner dance in the street.
Eventually the Pick-up came. Along with about 15 people on the back of the truck there were 3 chickens and a kid sleeping on the floor. Normally, this is not a smart idea for foreigners but we had out Guatemalan pass- Pedro. At some point we jumped out the truck and took a tuk-tuk back to San Pedro.
I return home to eat lunch before meeting up with Stacey to go to San Marcos to get her passport. On our way to catch a boat, we stopped in a bar so she could watch the soccer game.
Everyone here is caught up in World Cup fever. Stacey managed to find the one attractive person in the bar. When we entered the bar there was this girl there who helped me out earlier in the week. The restaurant did not have any change and I did not have enough money in smaller bills. This girl gave me 3Q to pay for lemonade. It was kind of embarrassing. So I was happy to see her again, I tried to pay her back and she told me not to worry about it. We spent the game talking. She was from New Zealand and was spending the year traveling the world. I normally have no interest in talking to backpackers, but maybe it was her brown skin (I think she is Indian) or the fact that she was not a hippie and spoke English.
She lived by the docks, with all the other gringos and since I stayed with a family away from Gringos. I had not really gone out. We all decided to go out that night. I gave her my contact and we said our goodbyes.
Stacey and I board a boat to San Marcos. This boat ride was much nicer and shorter than my previous experience.
San Marcos is very tranquil and is known for it’s retreats. It has a real hippie vibe. I actually met a woman later that night (at a bar) who said she was going to attend rehab in San Marcos in 2 weeks. We retrieve her passport and she had lunch. Meet a nice German man named Alexis who own the restaurant. I really thought homeboy was gay till he started hitting on Stacey (and she liked it).
When I return home, I discovered that there was another student living with my family. Her name was Lucy; she was from Atlanta and let’s just say I know why the world hates Americans. Somehow she invited herself to come out with me. It was just as I expected people from around the world all talking in English about randomness, trying to hook up. I was glad I went out though, so I could talk to my new friend. We might meet up in a couple of weeks, when I go to Livingston. I also met another cute British boy, who happened to be on my bus leaving San Pedro the next day.
SN: There are dogs everywhere in San Pedro; I counted about 5 in the restaurant/bar.
So that’s what I did on my last night in San Pedro…