Monday, October 02, 2006

in guatemala city someone pointed me to a youth hostel where lodging was very cheap and a large stone basin, in the courtyard, was used for washing one's clothes by hand. this was kind of a zen practice even for one who had never done it before, i found out, and i got a healthy dose of sanity just emptying out my pack, getting the peanut butter and sand out of the camera lenscap, and seeing what i had left. lack of passport would keep me out of nicaragua; lack of money out of tikal, the wonder of the world but an eight-to-eleven hour drive and possible refusal at the belizean border. the city, though, reminded me of an old law...even if you're not a big city person, you can take an extremely different big city. ones like chicago and la, i get sick of in a day, if not a summer. cities like guatemala city and seoul, i could take for a bit longer.

the colors were fantastic, exotic dark greens, purple, deep blues, black, reds. the market was crowded with thousands of people from every imaginable village- supposedly each village had its own design, its own colors showing on the clothing. the country was mayan; had never been entirely taken over by spain and spanish, the way mexico had, or so they said. and a ride up into the mountains, in the villages around the lake, and i knew they were right, in a way. they spoke spanish, which i did ok with by now, but there was another gulf, another way of looking at things. i could only sense it, my spanish just wasn't there- even now, maybe i'll never know. i met a young guy, by the lake, a guatemalan hippie, in panhachel, provincetown of lago atitlan. picturesque town, high mountain fog, beautiful lake, but the guy seemed to be alone, in terms of community, people to share his worldview with. and i wasn't much help. i hung around for a while, but, couldn't stay. i drifted down off the mountain, and back down into the lowlands, where at least i could work toward another goal- make some money, maybe go to california, where i was heading when this whole detour had started. if i was smart, i'd have picked up a few of those guatemalan purses to sell up there when i got there...some others made a fortune, later, and i'd thought of it, but didn't have the money, nor the desire to capitalize, so to speak, on the remoteness of the place. the guy at panhachel had got under my skin. a dreamy look, the peace of the lakeside, whatever drugs he was on. a person could stay forever in a place like that- and that wasn't for me, i guess. one way or the other, i was on my way.


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