Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Good Job, Chris

I may have mentioned before that one of the remnants of the pampered diplomat lifestyle is our enjoyment of both American and Guatemalan holidays. It couldn't be otherwise, as the Embassy is part of the Federal government, and thus American holidays are not optional, but would grind to a halt without its Guatemalan staff, who require their own little holidays, too. Well, we got another three day weekend this past weekend -- and those of you who live outside of Boston or DC may be surprised to know it was one of the American ones. Apparently government people, not just mailmen/letter carriers and bankers, still get Columbus Day off.

It may be a sign that we're exhausting the three-day weekend options around here that we didn't have a big plan set. We've got some things scheduled for a few months out, but this one was a blank space. It dawned on us that there were several volcanoes around Lake Atitlan that we had yet to climb. So we headed up to Santiago Atitlan, and started asking around about a guide to take us up Volcan San Pedro. The guide services seemed a bit more expensive than we had anticipated, given that being a guide for a Guatemalan volcano ascent basically has only one requirement: Machete ownership -- and not for chopping underbrush, but for scaring off brigands and thieves.

We dind't get everything firmly set the night before. We scurried from the restaurant to our room under umbrella and continued our plot to find a guide by the docks at sunrise the next morning. We contemplated the eight-hour climb as the sound of pounding rain beat on the roof of our bungalow. And then we realized that we hadn't planned our next volcano ascent for October because it's still as likely as not to rain cats and dogs on any given day. As we sipped beers by the sunny poolside and gazed up at the peak of San Pedro enveloped in cloud cover, we saluted our ability to come to our senses, better late than never.

We did manage to avoid a complete weekend of sloth by doing some canoeing. We've taken many opportunities to go kayaking on various Guatemalan bodies of water, but there were no kayaks to be had. So we did a spin around the inlet in a canoe, which had a kind of old-school charm. Which is very important in feeling more in touch the locals, who also use canoes, of sorts, such as the one pictured above. They didn't say it out loud, but you could tell by the look in their eyes, as we paddled by their wood-plank canoes and fishing nets floated with old milk jugs, that we were each celebrating Columbus's contributions to the Americas in our own way, and that they really felt the connection, too.


EEK! said...

Your weekends exhaust me. Do you two ever just sit around the apartment, dropping random shit on the floor to clock your housekeeper's response time?

Ma & Pa Stokes said...

And if I am reading the Guatemala guidebook ("including the Bay Islands of Honduras") you have another 3-day weekend coming up next week. Revolution Day? Woo-hoo!! Let's see what excitement we can stir up!
... Ma ...

MLE said...

I didn't get Columbus Day off, and I'm a guvmint worker.