Sunday, December 24, 2006

The Christmas swell is peaking

Though it's a bit quieter than usual as this is Guatemala's first cachinflin free Navidad.

Yesterday we had a perfect afternoon, caressingly warm, with a soft haze and a gentle breeze. We spent it tidying up the garden at the back of V's brother's house next door in preparation for his visit on the 25th. I have a blister at the base of my right index finger from over-keen use of the machete on the lawn. It was overgrown as Felipe hasn't been back to Antigua since V returned to London in July (mostly, he says, because they have been digging up and resurfacing the main road to Guate for the past three months.)

Today is much hotter and I'm over at Alexandra's house waiting for a game of kick-ball to get going.

On Wednesday afternoon I caught the 2pm Maya de Oro bus from Santa Elena and as it was a predominantly daytime drive I managed to avoid the worst of the snoring, but I had forgotten about the merciless aircon on these buses, which has to approximate the experience of travelling in the under-carriage of a jet airliner.

It took eight hours in all, with the unfortunate consequence that I arrived in Guacamole City earlier than scheduled and had to hang around in one of the least savoury parts of Zona Una: 17 calle, 9 Avenida.

By the time V arrived with Alexandra's driver Esau and the retahila I had been fighting off the attention of assorted druggies and loons for around forty minutes, and the little bar where I had sought refuge was threatening to close when the last bus left the 'station' in front. "La cueva de los ladrones," said Esau later, chuckling at my rather worn-out expression.

When I next do the overland journey I think I will bypass Belize by jumping on the ADO bus bound for Chiapas at Tulum. The way I did it this time involves too many points of discontinuity, where vehicles have to be changed and new negotiations made. The alternative is one monster bus ride to San Cristobal, from where a private shuttle service takes you direct to Antigua via the border close to Huehuetenango.

(I have updated my Flickr page.)

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