In Search of: Chasing Water in Guatemala

I know I owe you an update.  But, good heavens, Guatemala’s got me moving at a slow pace.  The kind of pace that makes a snail look fast.  The first two weeks, I was blazing — seeing the sites and taking it all in.  But then I came to Livingston, a garifuna village at the mouth of the Rio Dulce arriving at the Caribbean Sea.  And that pretty much did it.  It’s hot and muggy, and my hotel’s a gem.  There’s a thatch roofed hut lined with hammocks hanging over the water.  The place invites a sort of laziness.  And I’m taking full advantage.  So you’ll have to excuse the slow pace at which I post.  But as they say in Guatemala — it’s the good life.

So, getting to how this all started.  Sometimes I plan a trip, and it has a theme.  Guatemala is one such trip.  I like to call this one: chasing water.  My trip to Guatemala has essentially centered around water — rivers, lakes, ocean, waterfalls.  Water.  And what better way to kick off a trip in search of water fun then to visit a highly popular water spot?  First stop in Guatemala: Lake Atitlan.

Reaching Lake Atitlan was no simple feat, especially given the circumstances.  I decided to try my hand at flying standby (yay for family that work for the airlines!).  I arrived at the airport in Las Vegas bright and early on a Wednesday morning, two bags in tow.  I have a rule when traveling backpacker style: only take what you can carry.  I have another rule: only take what can fit in carry-on luggage.  This sounds impressive, but it’s really not.  It’s not hard to pack light when you’re visiting a locale that’s generally hot and humid.  Pack a week’s worth of clothing (there are laundry services everywhere you go), a pair of flip flops, a pair of shoes you can walk/hike in and whatever toiletries you might need.  You’re done.  Wait.  I mean, you’re almost done.  Technology (camera, wi-fi device) are super important too.  Depending on the season, you might need a poncho and rain jacket (it’s rainy season down here).  Oh.  And if you’re chasing water, don’t forget your bathing suit!  (BTW: This in no way constitutes a useful packing list.  I do have a detailed packing list that I work from so as not to forget anything.  Email me if you’d like the list that I use.)

Okay.  So I went on a bit of a tangent there about packing.  Back to the flight out here.  Flying standby has its definite pluses.  You can hop on pretty much any flight with an available seat, and the discount is often substantial.  But then, there’s not always a seat available.  Such was the case with my first flight.  No seats.  Second flight, no seats.  Change of plans.  Instead of flying through Dallas, I would fly through Miami.  Perfection.  I arrived in Miami around 10 p.m.  The flight to Guatemala would leave in the morning.  This left me with an evening in the airport.  I don’t mind this so much.  I’ve slept in an airport a few times in the past, and I’m surprisingly adept at using my backpack as a pillow and passing out for a few hours.  But this time I didn’t have to.  The airline had a lounge just for people like me — people using employee benefits to fly that need to crash in the airport for the night (no pun intended).  In the lounge, I found some big cozy chairs and several recliners.  Following suit with other sleepers, I pulled two of the big cozy chairs together and made myself a bed.  I then popped a melatonin (a travel must), and enjoyed a cozy night of not sleeping on an airport bench.  In the a.m., I boarded the plane for Guate; I even got to fly first class (another potential plus of standby flying).

My first 24 hours in the country where a whirlwind — I’d already been to three cities!  My flight went into Guatemala City, though I never planned to stay there.  I took a shuttle to Antigua.  I was supposed to stay there one night, but since I missed my first flight out of Vegas, that didn’t happen.  So once in Antigua, I hopped in another shuttle to reach Lake Atitlan.  I then took a boat from San Pedro in Lake Atitlan to Santa Cruz, across the lake.  At first glance, the hotel was super nice.  It was my splurge spot.  But then, looks can sometimes be deceiving.  I’ll be sure to tell you all about it next time.

So that’s how I arrived in this great country called Guatemala.  For now, I’ll leave you with that.  Because, at the moment, I’ve got a lightening show on the Caribbean Sea to be watching.

(Oh.  And don’t worry — I’ll be posting LOTS of pictures.  I can’t go through them properly on the road, so for now, take a look at my Facebook page to catch the snapshots I’m posting as I go.)

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