From the train

A journal entry from about a month ago.

Train travel is more human than taking a plane. What would’ve been a three and a half hour flight spitting the passengers out at a three hour time difference clear across the country turns into a 44 hour trip slowly introducing us to new landscapes and time adjustments. People are able to move around, but we all have our home base seats, and even though I’m on for the entire ride, I’ve met people in the observation car that have hopped off along the way.

Chic farmer man has sheep and goats outside of Portland. He and his son are traveling back from visiting family in upstate New York. He talked on the phone about gifting pumpkins to everyone he knows and reacting with nothing but love. His military style jacket, build, and demeanor told me there was a time that he didn’t have the choice to do so.

B has been a massage and occupational therapist at the same hospital for 43 years. She’s on her way to visit her oldest brother on their family farm. We stayed up late having the god talk while I crocheted a hat and she appliqued the corner of a quilt. She’s waiting on god to speak to her. I told her I don’t believe in a god that speaks. We talked about friendship, soul searching, the importance of how we spend our years, and how she thinks more carefully about hers as she approaches 70 after being hit by a 90,000 pound dump truck a few years ago. “Making choices on borrowed time.” She hopped off at 6 this morning.

C is headed to harvest sugar beets in Montana. He has blue streaks in his hair that match his nails, a genuine smile, round glasses, and a jacket that says “hustler” in curly font. He’s based out of New Orleans and wondered if he’d have anything to come back to after managing the trash and recycling at state fairs and music festivals in New York this year. He almost fought a little girl after she stole his stuffed mouse while he was sleeping last night. We played a few games of rummy before he hopped off around 11 this morning.

S is in charge of my car. He immigrated from Chile to Anchorage Alaska as a teenager before he could speak English. He took what was supposed to be a summer job with an airline after high school and fell in love with the travel. When the airport cut workers in anchorage, he moved to Miami then found himself in Seattle and said it was his “happy medium.” He’s based there now and switched from airlines to trains in May of last year. We talked about global warming and how he watched a glacier disappear.

Train travel is more human than taking a plane. What would’ve been a three and a half hour flight spitting the passengers out at a three hour time difference clear across the country turns into a 44 hour trip slowly introducing us to new landscapes and time adjustments. People are able to move around, but we all have our home base seats, and even though I’m on for the entire ride, I’ve met people in the observation car that have hopped off along the way.

Chic farmer man has sheep and goats outside of Portland. He and his son are traveling back from visiting family in upstate New York. He talked on the phone about gifting pumpkins to everyone he knows and reacting with nothing but love. His military style jacket, build, and demeanor told me there was a time that he didn’t have the choice to do so.

B has been a massage and occupational therapist at the same hospital for 43 years. She’s on her way to visit her oldest brother on their family farm. We stayed up late having the god talk while I crocheted a hat and she appliqued the corner of a quilt. She’s waiting on god to speak to her. I told her I don’t believe in a god that speaks. We talked about friendship, soul searching, the importance of how we spend our years, and how she thinks more carefully about hers as she approaches 70 after being hit by a 90,000 pound dump truck a few years ago. “Making choices on borrowed time.” She hopped off at 6 this morning.

C is headed to harvest sugar beets in Montana. He has blue streaks in his hair that match his nails, a genuine smile, round glasses, and a jacket that says “hustler” in curly font. He’s based out of New Orleans and wondered if he’d have anything to come back to after managing the trash and recycling at state fairs and music festivals in New York this year. He almost fought a little girl after she stole his stuffed mouse while he was sleeping last night. We played a few games of rummy before he hopped off around 11 this morning.

S is in charge of my car. He immigrated from Chile to Anchorage Alaska as a teenager before he could speak English. He took what was supposed to be a summer job with an airline after high school and fell in love with the travel. When the airport cut workers in anchorage, he moved to Miami then found himself in Seattle and said it was his “happy medium.” He’s based there now and switched from airlines to trains in May of last year. We talked about global warming and how he watched a glacier disappear.

We’re traveling through North Dakota now. About half way through the trip to Seattle. We’re driving past ramshackle houses, oil fields, mansions, and pumpkin patches. All the fall yellows are present spotting the rolling hills and plains. It’s like a mixture of Kentucky and Kansas.

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Returning Stateside

Washing machine and electric stove

Air conditioning and kitten toes

snuggly soft firmness pushes consumption but also to earn

The rituals become lost

Left behind in the bumpy stiffnesss

Forced thoughtfulness and community that was once resented becomes missed

Long days of impactful work traded for laboring for a small dollar

Warm embraces for cool loneliness

Home still hasn’t been found but the houses multiply

The fear of the anchor is greater than that of crashing to shore.

Fluffy pillows and stacks of change

Animal fur and forgotten names

Lake Atitlan: Day 1

Travel:

I used Magic Travels on my last trip from San Cristobal de las Casas to Huehuetenango, and thought it was perfect, easy, and fairly inexpensive. I used the same company from Huehuetenango to Panajachel. Although it arrived to Panajachel a couple hours later than I was originally told, the driver took me all the way to the lancha to catch a boat, and I was able to catch the last public boat leaving from Panajachel along the north shore at 7:30. Though, I have heard that sometimes the public boats stop running at sunset instead of the 7:30 time advertised. The boat from Pana to

Tzununa:

I stayed at the Humming Bird hostel, and it was nice enough (75Q). The owner is absolutely charming.

I ventured off on my own up the hill this morning in search some breakfast, and after asking a few locals along the way, I found the Bamboo Guest House and Restaurant. The breakfast I had there was delicious (bowl of fruit, eggs, plantains, potatoes, salsa, and coffee for 50Q), and I had great conversation with people that were staying there. The air bnb site says rooms are $45, but when I asked the owner about dorms, he said they were 100Q a night. I think it’s probably worth it for the awesome views and accommodating staff.

After breakfast, I went on a trek to search for waterfalls I had heard about. Someone told me there were thieves along the way, but some locals helped me find my way there. It was one of the most beautiful walks I’ve ever taken even though I didn’t get all the way to the big waterfall.  I plan to go back before I leave the lake.

San Marcos la Laguna:

This is the place to go if you’re looking for a massage, a yoga class, and some kombucha. I only endulged in the 26Q kombucha made in the same city.

I walked from Tzununa to San Marcos in about 30 minutes. Coming from the dock, you turn left by the soccer field and stay straight. On the way, I was wanting some lunch and stopped at Los Abrazos, the hugs. Los Abrazos is a Mayan owned restaurant, and the lovely women working there made me feel right at home. The food was exactly what I needed after my hot walk.

After, I tried to go to El Taller, a meditation center of sorts that I had heard about, but I was too intimidated by all the stylish hippies and weird climbing pathway to go all the way up. I opted instead for a swim and a lovely New Yorker helped me find my way to a nature reserve where I paid 15Q for a quick hop off of some rocks into the cool water. I spent some time drawing the shore line then headed back to the center of town next to the basketball court for veggie tacos at the taco stand there. Those tacos were every bit worth the money I paid for them. After, I left for Tzununa in tuktuk. It was totally worth the 5Q ride after my day of walking.

Impressions so far:

This place is way too expensive. Maybe Huehuetenango spoiled me, but I’m disappointed in what I’ve gotten for the prices I’ve paid. The views are killer, and if I had a bigger budget and a kitchen I could cook in, I may feel better about the situation. I’ve heard that just San Marcos and Tzununa are expensive. So I’m going to head to San Pedro and Panajachel tomorrow before meeting up with one of my dearest friends from Aguacatan.