Living Under the Volcano

Well, I finally arrived in Guatemala.  When I say finally I mean that I arrived after:

– A twelve hour bus ride from Cranbrook to the Calgary airport (don’t even ask why it took so long).

– Two hours of sleep.

– Two hours detained by a mongoloid U.S. customs officer for no reason.  The guy said he was afraid that I might try to stay in the USA because I didn’t have an ongoing ticket.  I wittily responded, “Actually, I’m an American citizen,” which I thought would sink his argument.  But he countered with the ingenious rebuttal: “That doesn’t matter,” and sent me off to the Customs Time-Out room to think about the consequences of being witty to a customs officer.  I subsequently missed my flight, and had to take a later one.

– A beautiful, and expensive, but all too short four day layover in LA on Venice Beach.

– A two day car ride halfway across Mexico with Mike Sanchez, who I found on Craigslist, and who turned out to be like the smartest living creature in the universe. Really.  He was Google personified — except for Google stops belching meaningless shit at you if you ignore it.  So, I basically drove halfway across Mexico with an auto audio-Google machine on repeat constantly spewing whatever popped into his little search engine brain to fill the silence of his radioless car.

– A twelve hour bus ride to Mexico City, which arrived at Mexico City Central Station at 1am, and then a 10 hour wait for my next bus during which I didn’t sleep for fear of my bags being stolen, which was still way better than being stuck in a car with Mike Sanchez.

– A twelve hour ride to Tuxtla Gutierrez in Chiapas, which arrived at midnight, just in time to connect with my bus, a six hour ride to the Guatemalan border.

– A 10 minute wait in Guatemalan customs during which I saw a guy ingeniously talk the border guard into letting his buddy cross into Mexico even though he had no passport and was not a citizen, based only on the promise that they’d “be right back”.

– A four hour bus ride on an infamous Guatemalan ‘chicken bus’, during which I really had to go pee.

All to arrive in this beautiful little Guatemalan City of Quetzaltenango, which is situated in the western mountains beneath an active volcano that gushes a beautiful plume of smoke across the sky.  I’ve been in touch with the Lonely Planet writer for Guatemala who lives here, and who I will meet in a couple of weeks to see if he can help me get in with them. And now, I just came home from eating a four dollar steak dinner, and I’m sitting in my six dollar room, which is attached to a Spanish school that’s currently having a graduation party in the central patio.

But tomorrow I’m leaving.  I’m going to a small town on Lake Atitilan, which I can probably only get to by ferry, where it’s even cheaper.  Lonely Planet speaks of rooms for two and three dollars per night.  Spanish lessons for two dollars per hour and a bar that servers Cuba Libres for 30 cents apiece!

I can wake up every morning and go swimming in the lake and then I can go for a for a run up the volcano next to town and come home and study Spanish and write.

Where else could I possibly go?

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3 thoughts on “Living Under the Volcano”

  1. Whoa, sounds amazing. I have tons of friends and family who’ve been seeking a cheap and fun place with the additional advantage of access to affordable Spanish lessons. Did you take some classes?


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