It has been a whirlwind couple of months the road. After covering a lot of ground in Belize fairly quickly, I have really slowed things down in Guatemala. After living in Antigua for a month attending Spanish school I have found out how people get stuck at Lago Atitlan. I traveled through Santa Cruz and San Marcos, spending a few nights in each spot, and have now been relaxing in San Pedro. Although I have been traveling alone I have been constantly surrounded by new friends. So much so that I actually had to take a step back and take a break. My body let me know this was necessary by getting sick. So, finally, I am writing again and more importantly taking a moment to process everything I have seen so far on my trip.
It has been easy to stay put and think here in San Pedro. My private room costs about $3.50 a night and is right on the lake. The taco stand across the street also sells tacos for about $.60 each. I have often come across travelers complaining about how pricey Central America is… I really cannot understand where they are coming from. It is easy to get by cheap. All you have to do is take the time to look around and you can find deals everywhere. If you are looking for all the comforts of home, then yes, you will rack up quite a bill. Guatemaltecos will be happy to sell you whatever you’re looking for. But! if you buy what the locals buy and try to get by like they do, it is very cheap. I eat at the shops where I see locals out the door, it’s the best food at the best price. It is more about the entire experience of traveling that I enjoy. It is all a mind set. If you compare everything you come across to your life back home, you will be sorely disappointed. I don’t have to drink the local sh*t lager served everywhere down here (American view), I get to try the most popular beer in Guatemala (Guatemalan view). I don’t have A/C, a tv with cable and I have to share a bathroom vs. I am only paying $3.50 a night and it is completely comfortable while helping to extend my trip by helping me save money.
There are two modes of traveling, the fast and the furious and the meander because you can. The fast and the furious is on a limited time schedule. It is gogogo because you don’t have time to spare. This is a very valid mode of travel, with limited time off of work some people have to jam a lot into their two weeks off. Activities everyday, drinks every night, spend while you’re here and pay it all off and get some sleep when you’re back home. You see more quicker and spend a lot more money in a shorter amount of time. It is the polar opposite of the trip I am on. As I quit my job and sold nearly everything I owned, I don’t have a whole lot that I need to hurry back to. The constraint to the fast and furious mode is time and the constraint to the meander mode is money. It has been fun considering this dichotomy and meeting so many people on one side or the other. To me, I have really enjoyed moving slow. While I don’t have the craziest adventure each day, it makes those days where I do that much better. There is also the simple reward of having “cheap” days because I know I’ve extended my trip another day. Some days I do exactly what I would do with a day off at home. I sleep in, start drinking coffee, keep drinking coffee and read about stocks and the news all day. Why can’t you do that at home you say? While this is an excellent point, I must say it is somehow more rewarding down here. I am living a normal life, I just happen to be changing locations often. Although each day isn’t revolutionary or ground breaking, travel in it self has been rewarding. Having time to experience this reward and process it while still traveling is a new experience entirely.
If you ever have the opportunity to travel in the meander mode, I highly suggest you do. But this is not to say you have to sell everything and buy a one way ticket to experience it. On a much smaller level you can shift into meander mode. On a day off, block out work, take a breath and think. Think about anything you want to do that day and then simply go do it. You may not be able to be sitting on the shores of Lago Atitlan pondering life and writing cheesy blog posts, but you can go out and enjoy that day just as much as I am enjoying mine down here.