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Sunday, October 5, 2008

San Pedro la Laguna

So this is the weirdest place, a bit of hippy dropout culture plunked right in the middle of a traditional, conservative Maya village. I'm on the opposite side of Lake Atitlan from Panajachel, and this must be what Pana was like some 30-40 yrs ago. I'm staying at the very nice but overpriced Hotelito El Amanecer Sak'cari with a room overlooking the lake. There aren't any really clear streets or maps, and although this is a very small town I got completely lost on my way here. I walked to the end of a road and asked at a tourist place where this hotel was. They said just to keep walking on a trail through milpas and basically through people's front yards until I finally found it, along w/ other hippy restaurants, basically dropped in the middle of peoples' milpas. Later I found a more standard stone path above the hotel, but yet the whole setting is so beautiful but also so discordant. I'm tapped into a feral internet connection, listening to a stream of Third World View on WORT as I blog. I guess if you're going to drop out of life, this is as good of a place as anyway to drop out. So, I can hang out here for a couple days, chill, and get some work done.

The whole tourist economy can drive me crazy. When I was looking for prices for shuttles in Antigua they were all over the map. I asked at my hotel why this was, and they said that it depended on the type of vehicle a company used. But the reality is that no matter where one buys a ticket, everyone seems to get dumped together anyway so that the companies can run full vehicles. So, yesterday on the way to Pacaya I had paid more through Atitrans even though people who paid less were on the same van. I bought my ticket for the shuttle to Pana this morning at my hotel because it was a couple dollars cheaper than Atitrans, even though a couple people who had purchased their tickets through Atitrans were also on the van. Or perhaps there is a difference. Yesterday I road shotgun, the most comfortable seat in front beside the driver with the best views. Today, I got stuck on one of the very uncomfortable fold-down seats that was made doubly worse because mudslides had closed the main highway and we went on back roads with a driver who took corners too hard, braked too hard, and shifted gears too roughly. I was constantly thrown around, though it was not nearly as bad as The Vatican Express in Cameroon when we were smashed 5 across on a Toyota Coaster bus designed to seat 4, which meant that I was half on the fold-down seat. Being on a back road today, though, meant that the scenery was absolutely stunning.

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