Despite being told in Oaxaca by a fuckwit from California that I “really needed to, like, get out of my, like hemisphere,” I think I’ve done all right for a 25 year old with regards to humbly and slowly trotting my way around the globe (though no, I haven’t made my way out of the hemisphere; so sue me); thus, I can without a doubt state this excursion has comprised the most fabulous time in my entire life. Seriously. Thus, I haven’t written for a couple of weeks because I hate nothing more than a bubbling blog, a space in which one shares the amaaaaaazing things one has done (“as I overlooked the crystalline waters of the lake at sunset, I could feel the energy of the universe coursing through my veins and I realized that I should get my Mayan sign tattooed on my right shoulder”), and talks about the locals in an annoyingly reverent way (“watching the achingly beautiful Tzutujil women nobly scrub the piles and piles of clothes at the water’s edge every morning made me appreciate my childhood nanny more than when I watched The Help on the plane over here”).
So at last update, having finally
overcome the shame of handing over four currencies forgotten about getting robbed, I was extolling the virtues of attached traveling, as well as the lovely café chapin, from my lovely double room over looking Lago Atitlán in San Pedro La Laguna. I hadn’t yet been there a week. Let me state that, upon my arrival in The Most Fucking Ridiculous and Magical Place On Earth, I was told that a mere Sven days would be more than sufficient for me to be shown my true colors by the mystical powers that be of this blessèd location. Open-minded though I may consider myself to be, I tend to be of the mind that such lofty proclamations are what we’d refer to in my world as a fucking crock.
The first week was one of the loveliest of my existence. Along with a perfect storm of friends met in various places, I found myself partaking in wholesome and delicious activities, including but not limited to kayaking across the lake, volcano-climbing, market strolls, billiards, consumption of large melons, tiny bananas, chuchitos, chocolate, and the best potato onion soup I’ve ever had in my life. The town, which is minuscule, is the platonic form of friendly; everyone says hello, and it’s bizarre to not have a conversation with someone in a meter’s vicinity. The weather is brilliant: Hot during the day, brisk at night.
As I proceed with this post I realize I cannot do justice the the 17 days I passed there in a mere blog post. I would describe the experience as follows: You’re in a video game, and every move is the correct one; what you want will be presented to you (an almost frightening concept if you think about it). Consider the movie Limitless as a reasonable comparison.
My first week ended as the Mayan New Year celebrations began. In the Mayan calendar there are 360 “regular” days followed by five essentially party days that technically do not exist. It is a time of renewal, fiestas, saying goodbye and saying hello, bonfires, chants, and the ubiquitous energy.
There’s a feeling in this place, a literal vibration that courses through your body like when you’re nervous or excited or have to pee; unstoppable giggles take over your body and you just feel great. The place is like a drug. Add to that the fact that substances that go for 40 USD at home sell for 9 bucks there and you can imagine the sort of scenes that go down, possession of a subliminal sort.
Aldous Huxley said about the lake: “It touches on the limit of permissibly picturesque…It is really too much of a good thing.” Indeed it is. Three days before I left the power blew as a result of a fire; for three days we had nothing but sunlight and candles. The mood was eerie, surprisingly calm, as though all were waiting for someone else to do something. Stark black lightless in the middle of the mountains; I’ve never seen so many stars in my entire life.
After 17 days I had to drag myself onto the street for the morning shuttle bus, bracing myself against the desire to put the return to Antigua off yet another day, to soak in as much as humanly possible of this sacred site. I’ll be back; this I know. And I know as well that I must return home now, that the time has come to head back to New York, where I can make money to travel right, to disappear into towns and markets, to float through walls and not exist.