January 14th 1982

posted in: Innocents Abroad | 1
The island city of Flores

We discovered last night that there were 2 buses to Flores – one at 5.30 am, the other at 1.30 pm.  Needless to say, we slept too late for one of them, despite a vague intention to get up if possible.  We also thought that the bus that brought us in at 8 would turn around + head back to Flores, but this proved to be not the case.  So, our whole morning was spent very lazily, sitting in the café, drinking far more coffee + eating far more cakes than was good for us, really out of boredom rather than any physical need.  Amused ourselves, tho’ not much, by playing a couple of silly games – battleships + boxes, two relics of schooldays – + just sitting + talking.  Eventually, + none too soon, we got ourselves seats on the bus, which rapidly filled up to beyond bursting point – I had a small altercation with the conductor, who wanted to fit 3 onto every seat. 

Flores itself is an island, + the bus dropped us off just this side of the causeway.  We found a cheap hotel, at Q1.65 per person, + then debated how best to travel on.  We had thought to catch the plane direct to Guatemala City, but Shane suggested heading south to Morales, + taking a train from there, + we decided to do the same.  We made some fruitless enquiries about buses + then went into Flores to explore.  For once, our timing was good – there was a fiesta on in town.  However, first things first – we were all famished, + after some searching, we ended up eating at a small café near the main square.  A good meal too, tho’ I could have done with one twice as big.  We then celebrated Guatemala a little – a beer, + 3 or 4 bottles of cheap wine.  For a fiesta tho’, the town seemed to be doing little to join us.  The main attraction was a floodlit ladies’ basketball match in the centre.  There was also a dance, but entry was Q5, so that was limited slowly to the idle rich.  Shane + Val tried to get some dancing going, but the locals would do nothing but watch.  I’ll confess I was a little annoyed with Val, in the same way, I imagine, she sometimes gets annoyed with me when I desert her at parties.  Shane then tried, + succeeded, in gatecrashing the dance, but we were too chicken to join him, so we all 4 went back, the atmosphere between us soured a little.

As regards “small altercations”, with bus drivers or other officials, this happened rather more often than I would have wanted.  I did – still do – have a strong sense of justice, and if I thought that was being offended, I would say so.  To the exclusion, at times, of seeing things from other people’s point of view – and since they had to live in the place rather than just pass through, I should have been a bit more sensitive to that.  

Already, we seem to be seeing the benefits of Guatemala being considerably cheaper than Mexico, and a consequent improvement in our standard of living.  As for the tension between me and Shane, that too was fairly normal.  One was forced to live quite closely with a person one had just met, with no guarantee that they would prove compatible.  But then, such relationships were also very short-lived, so proved a temporary irritation.

  1. Pamela J Blair

    Yes, I remember those immediate “friends” one found to travel with, then as immediately forgot when paths diverged. Some friends continued for miles, or even months. I met a woman when I was skiing in Austria who traveled with me from Paris all the way to Tunis, and we were very compatible. And a guy I found on the bulletin board at the Pudding Shop in Istanbul stayed with me for four months, all through the Middle East–a godsend, since I’d probably have had a more difficult, even dangerous time if I’d continued on alone in my VW van after Greece. I’d bought it in Rome, where I’d had a short romance with a guy I met in Morocco who invited me to stay with him in Italy. It didn’t work out, but it took me to my next adventure–the trip through the M.E. I always thought Canadians were the best traveling companions. They didn’t complain, like Americans!

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