July 21, 2009
Antigua, Guatemala
Elevation 1500m

We are heading south east out of San Cristobal. We lose some elevation and gain a little temperature. On our bus, there is a family of 4, Europeans, but I am not sure what country they are from, and there is a group of 4 Spanish girls as well. Neither groups are really talking to anyone else. I guess when there is so many of you, there is no need to make friends with strangers. There is a young French couple, she is wearing all white (I don't understand woman who could wear all white), they have the naïve conviction that their love would last forever. I hope it does for them. Then there is me and a young Israeli who finished his service a couple of years ago, on the road, trying to forget. There is something off about him, like he is a little sketchy or maybe a little afraid, I can't quiet put my finger on it. Then again, if I were forced to join the military at 18, serve for 3 years in a region of the world where conflict is very real and daily, I am sure that there would be something off about me too.

A stamp in my passport, thanks visiting Mexico, another stamp in my passport (they all look at me funny as I am quickly running out of room in my passport here), welcome to Guatemala. Pink Martini's version of "bolero" ushers me into Guatemala.

There is always something interesting about boarder towns, its a little rough and it doesn't really resemble the country at all. Its like a tapestry that unravels at the edges, you are looking at threads and not the entire picture.

There are endless mountain ranges ahead. The PanAmerican HWY gently winds us from one set of mountains to another. The dogs are skinny, the kids are still tiny, the ethnic garbs change color and patterns, the buses are older but more colorful. There are still cows and goats and sheep who grazes along the road. There are woman weaving out on their porch. There is a kid who is relieving herself in her yard and waves me hello all at the same time. One of the many bonuses of traveling alone, you often get to ride shotgun.

We finally get to Lake Atitlan, it is gorgeous (we will be back here in a few days)! Its late in the day and the mountain tops are covered by cloud and mist, all the while, mists surrounds the lake. I wish this was my destination tonight, but at last, I have another 2 hours head until Antigua.

There are a few brothels along the road, there are plenty of people walking in the dark. I see 4 school girls walking, each with a guitar in their hands. I think to myself, if they are gonna start a girl band, they might need a rhythm section as well.

Welcome to the PanAmerican highway. Welcome to Antigua.

Charlie Grosso



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