Zepherlodge, thanks for the memories. I finally woke up with enough sense this morning to convince Al it was time to leave. We had watched several generations of guests come and go and I was starting to feel like a leathery-skinned veteran. Either start working, or get moving.
After a slew of heartfelt goodbyes to people we’ll never see again, we hit the road around 10:30am heading for Lake Atitlan. We weren’t hung over per se, but I’ve never felt worse on a motorcycle. I was dehydrated, sore, and I had just spent the last seven days in a tent in Guatemala. Oh, and I was broke… had to buy back my passport.
My sleep was out of whack from the good times at Zephyr. Sunday night’s thunder storm didn’t help either. I heard the first crack of lightening in the middle of the night and immediately stumbled out of my tent to collect my hanging clothes. Then I battened down the hatches on my rainfly as the downpour started. By the time I crawled back inside I was soaked and therefore so too was my sleeping bag and pad. It was a gloomy night.
From the time I arrived, I knew that I would be leaving Zephyrlodge in this fashion so I just accepted my state and hopped on the bike. Al and I took off towards Coban and then headed south towards Guatemala City. I had one scare on my way out in the dirt while I was trying to wave to a Guatemalan. My front tire hit a rock and was thrown hard to one side. For a millisecond, I swear the bike was at a 45 degree angle, that is until I gassed it as hard as I could. Luckily the rear Pirelli took hold of the dirt and the bike righted itself immediately. I wasn’t going fast, but the thought of that 500 pound machine slinging me into the rocky road was enough to stop me from waving to any more Guatemalans.
For a big riding day, it went very well. We communicated well and stayed together the entire time. We made it through a massive metropolis (Guatemala City) with only one U-turn. And we didn’t die in the Guatemalan construction zone.
Ten miles of chaos and recklessness that even high school jocks couldn’t match. A Guatemalan construction zone just means that there is a big open highway with a lot of people in orange vests milling about and no lane distinction. The impatient drivers see it as an opportunity to gain some ground. Therefore, it is a first come, first serve basis on lane position. Just start passing and screw the oncoming traffic. Although exposed, I was glad to be on a nimble bike and able to squeeze the tighter gaps.
Al and I rode until about 7:00pm just as it was getting dark. We almost made it to Atitlan (a feat which everyone warned could not be done), but the sun set with an hour’s ride to go and we decided to call it. We are currently detoxing in Tenpec at a plush hotel for $12/each. I can only imagine the shenanigans going down at Zepherlodge right now.
I met a lot of different people at that hostel. There was Loancy, the 21 year-old Costa Rican who left home with $180 and a rock polishing kit and has been selling jewelry ever since. Maya, the cutest former Israeli soldier ever. Thomas and Ester, a Dutch couple who bought a decommissioned school bus in Texas and are now driving it to Panama as a moving hostel. Dieter, the 25 year-old Guatemalan bartender with a British accent who is planning to move to London next year to live with his dad (we inquired further and it turns out his dad is a 26 year-old friend that legally adopted him). Damon, the Canadian who runs the show at Zepherlodge. He keeps a cool, sometimes smug attitude, and running that place, you would have to. Alana and Lisa, the wide-eyed Berkley students. Aurelie, the French girl working seven days a week at Zephyr with a smile on her face from dawn until dusk. Megan, the Brit who was enthralled with my knowledge of American hip-hop. The Australian gang, which I plan to meet up with again. Joost, the Dutch mountain guide who would jump off anything with Alex. Tammy, the ditzy blonde South African with a law degree who seems to love everything.
It was hard to say goodbye to every one of them. And then came some astonishing words from Chi (born in London to Cambodian parents). Saturday night he and I were discussing how well we got along and the shame that we’d never meet again and he replied ‘and that’s the beauty of it’. And it struck me, he’s right; the immediacy of the situation is what makes this time so amazing. It’s the catch. I’ll never forget those words.