San Pedro la Laguna, Guatemala
Posted Tues. Jan 13, 2009
In keeping with yesterday's chronological post of events here in San Pedro, I thought I'd continue with the same idea. Partly because it's easier and partly because it will give you a taste of an average day here.
Monday, Jan 12, 2009 -- 11:00am: I head over to my original home, the Peneleu hotel. There I grab the remaining bits of stuff I had left in my room and turn in my key. Brent, my pal from Belize, is staying there. We catch up on the latest Peneleu gossip before heading off in separate directions.
11:05am – I had planned to spend the day poolside at La Piscina, a pool/bar operated by Daniel, a French-Canadian from Montreal. It's an idyllic little spot: a beautiful pool and landscaped yard that sits beneath Volcan San Pedro. Pool access is about $3 and that includes a drink. Or, you can sit at the outdoor bar sipping on mineral water (76 cents) or San Pedro's coldest beer ($1.85 for 12oz, $3.80 for a litre).
My wireless internet provider's signal is available, making La Piscina a great place to work. Seriously.
Unfortunately it's Monday and that means La Piscina is ferme. Drat. Time for Plan B.
11:10am – I pass a little local restaurant that has the best burgers in town (1/2 pound burger and fries for about $3.70) and notice that inside, Brent is about to place an order. I decide to join him for a feed.
12:30pm – Brent and I walk down to the "far" end of town, near the main dock. I pop into the largest grocery store (which is a stretch) and pick up some hot sauce, red wine (awful) and shaving cream (for sensitive skin).
12:45pm – Brent is on a mission for coffee while I need to find a place to write. I decide to go to a restaurant called D'Noz (Dino's). They have an amazing view, great food, decent prices and thick (free) wireless internet. For the price of a beer, I am able to spend the afternoon in a peaceful environment working on pitches and updating software for my laptop.
4:45pm – My battery is almost dead, a good signal that it's time to go. I've made progress in sending out some story pitches, including one to CBC Radio's Definitely Not The Opera. Of course CBC's email server treats my email as spam, so there's no telling if they'll even get it. I cross my fingers.
5:00pm – On the way back to the house I pass the regulars at Bistro Nueva Sol, my favourite hangout. The regulars are a collection of ex-pats who have chosen to make San Pedro home. Some struggle with (or feed) dependency problems, while some are quite grounded. All are characters.
5:01pm – I order a drink and sit out on the front porch, watching San Pedro life pass before me. All three groups are represented: the ex-pats, the locals, and the tourists.
6:00pm – One American ex-pat and I decide to order some grub. Nueva Sol does fantastic pizza and we decide to split one. Total cost for a big pizza is $10, and half of that is more than enough food for the rest of the day.
7:25pm – A waitress (from Gabriola Island) and I decide that opening a vegetarian sushi bar would be a swell idea.
7:30pm – Every night at 7:30, Nueva Sol plays a movie. They have a projector and a large screen on the wall. Tonight's feature "The Astronaut Farmer" draws a good crowd. I sit through it, and, by the end, wished I hadn't. It blew. However, there are some good films later in the week including two I brought down: Sorcerer and Wall-E.
9:30pm – After paying my tab, I walk back to the house. Most of the short walk home is well lit and there is no reason to worry about safety.
At the halfway point I pass a fundamentalist Christian preacher screaming at and likely scaring the locals. Scaring them into donating money they don't have to the preacher's BMW fund. Just like West Africa. Sigh.
A few more steps and I'm at the head of the rough trail that leads to my house. I have to climb numerous rocks, one fence, and pass through two yards. Welcome to Guatemala!
9:45pm – I arrive alive and brew up some coffee. After the hell of this morning, I decide that I need to either sleep downstairs or wear earplugs. As I hate earplugs, the decision is easy.
The master bedroom is upstairs, but wooden benches on three sides frame the downstairs living area. Two of these have foam pads and bedding. I grab the pillows and sheets from upstairs and create a comfortable sleeping area downstairs.
11:00pm – After some tidying up, and making sure I have water and a flashlight handy, I crash.
Tuesday Jan 13, 2009 1:15am – Awoken by barking dogs.
3:30am – Awoken by barking dogs.
4:30am – Awoken by paranoia. No music. I think I can hear the slap-slap-slap of someone making tortillas.
7:45am – Until I check the clock, I'm not sure what time it is. I've had a great sleep (dogs notwithstanding) and I'm shocked at how late it is. But it's no wonder: there are no glass windows in the house. While there are three big windows downstairs, I have to close the shutters at night to keep out animals, bugs and thieves (no tramps, unfortunately). By doing this, I essentially make my casa a darkroom. This is very good for sleeping.
8:00am – Water is on the boil and breakfast is not far off. The neighbours are strangely quiet. In fact, save the honking of the odd chicken bus, it's eerily quiet. Hallelujah!
9:30am – Morning chores out of the way, it's time to hit the road. I have to pick up food, water, laundry and more. Plus the pool and work are waiting. Good timing too, as the nearby Pentecostal Church is beginning to crank it up… Run away! Run away!