I loved Antigua, but after a full week of hanging in the same place (on only a nine week trip) we were ready to move on.
I was still pretty sick, but our homestay was over and I had the insane idea that moving on would help me get over the flu. Because anyone with a medical background will tell you to that taking a nice long ride in a metal box on terrible roads with even more terrible drivers is the best way to get over being too sick to move or eat. Obviously.
Our shuttle driver from Guatemala City to Antigua drove like bat out of hell, so fast and crazy, like he had stolen the van or something, so I was not too excited about the prospect of getting into another death van, but a shuttle is the fastest way (in our budget at least) to get to Lake Atitlan, so another crazy Guatemalan transport day it was.
The day started off swimmingly when I woke up feeling worse than I had the whole week before. We should have just checked into a hostel in Antigua so I could go back to sleep, but I was determined to stay “on schedule”, so we bade a sad farewell to our homestay family and walked to the curb where we had been told to wait for our shuttle.
We were well aware by this point that “on time” is extremely relative in Guatemala (and Central America in general), so we were not too surprised when our 8 am shuttle was late. We tried very hard to be all cool and flexible and go with the flow but when the van finally pulled up at 9:25 am we were pretty annoyed. And it was full. Like completely full. Once again, in hindsight we really should have just cut our losses and stayed in Antigua, but I was so sick of waiting to get going, so instead I looked expectantly at the driver and other passengers, my face clearly saying “are you going to f***ing make space for us?”
Turns out a full van was actually a good thing for us (well, for me at least), and everyone shifted a bit to make room for Logan and I in the front. Logan gallantly gave me the window seat, sacrificing his comfort for my own (what a nice husband!). He spent the ride with the stick shift basically between his legs, creating awkward moments when the driver went to shift, while I spent the majority of the ride alternating between sticking my head out the window (a la dog-in-car style) and sticking it between my knees to keep from vomiting. There was a lot of sticking things where they don’t belong on this journey…
Yeah… the ride was basically hell for me. The road started out in pretty good shape, so I did okay for a while, but after a short cigarette stop we turned down a twisty, windy, bumpy road down to the shore of the lake. The disgusting smell of cigarette smoke (smoking kills, people!!) combined with the rotting feeling that had developed in my stomach made for a truly awful couple of hours.
To make an already less thanideal situation worse, the road down to the lake was so narrow that that the driver would honk his horn at every curve to let people know he was coming. Once again, being in the front gave me a front row seat to the dangerous transport situation we were in.
The silver lining on this terrible travel day was the view we were treated to on the way down to the lake. Between waves of nausea and terror I admired the beautiful lake and ring of volcanoes surrounding it.
We were thrilled to get to San Pedro la Laguna and even more thrilled break free from our Mitsubishi dungeon. We shopped around a bit for a room, but I was feeling pretty close to death at this point, so without looking around for too long, we picked a room at Casa Elena, which is right on the water and cost only Q70. Our room was super basic, but it had a bed, which I promptly laid down on and went straight to sleep.
While I slept Logan walked around the little town, getting a feel for the place. His most successful discovery was the world’s most delicious street tacos, against which we will judge all tacos for the rest of forever. I was able to wake up long enough to eat a minuscule bag of plain popcorn and half a taco.
In the wider scope of things this was not the worst travel day ever. The shuttle ride was only a few hours and I managed to keep at least a little food and, more importantly water, down. Our driver was actually pretty good, and being by an open window made the journey bearable.
Maybe a few days relaxing on the shore of Lake Atitlan would end up being what my body needed.