A tuk-tuk, which seats 2 people and their luggage at a push, took Andi, Andrea and both of us down to the “dock” at Santiago. We were ushered onto a small boat and ready to go. The boat was jam-packed full and we wondered if weŽd make it across the Lake.
Some time later, still in the dock, some of the guys got off the boat and boarded another. About half of us remained, hoping that weŽd be making a move soon.
Then we all got off the boat and boarded the one next door. Some problem with “no gasolina”. After warming the seats of this vessel, we then boarded ANOTHER which at least had itŽs engine running. Much more promising.
On the plus side, the boat was now much less overloaded than the first one we squeezed on. On the downside, we were all sat with our rucksacks at the front, and weŽd seen on the journey over to Santiago that the front of the boat took the brunt of the waves. It had been a windy night in all respects so the prospect of being thrown about was a bit unnerving.
Finally we set off. And yes, it was rather choppy. I was laughing the whole way – it was great! Not sure Eugene enjoyed it quite as much though.
Back at Panajachel we had no-one jumping out of bushes this time. We headed back up to the bus stop and checked for a direct bus (this time) to Quetaltenango (know as Xela). With an hour to wait we went to a nearby cafe with Andy and Andrea before all finding the back seat of the bus. As usual, Eugene was on the bus roof (before it starting moving) tying down our bags so they didnŽt fly off over the potholes and speed humps.
The journey was going well until our second stop to take on passengers. A scrawny little guy with a bright pink anorak and Winnie the Pooh handbag got on and sat in front of us – yes Mil, we always get them donŽt we? WeŽd quietly joked that it could be a Guatemalan Little Britain character due to his attire. He was getting a bit creepy, turning around and winking and smiling. And as the bus set off up the hill, he set about his pot of solvent. Being sat nearby was not a pleasant experience. We had the windows wide open even though it was freezing cold to try and get air. He just kept sniffing and did not spill a drop as the bus flew round corners and jumped over potholes.
All four of us had our fingers crossed that he would float off at the next stop. It was so close. He stood up, stuck his nose in his fumes, screwed on the cap, lingered further, then picked up his shopper and left. We all felt sick but were very relieved.
The rest of the journey was fairly standard for the chicken bus. A bit bumpy but speedy where possible. It probably took around 3 hours in total. Eugene climbed back onto the roof to retrieve the bags and we got a cab into the centre of town. All desperate for a pee and some food, the only place we could find quickly were those famous golden arches. It doesnŽt matter where in the world we go, we always end up in one of these. Oh well. Beats the one at Didcot.
We said our goodbyes to Andi and Andrea and went to find our hotel, which seems very nice. Time for a wash and a relax now – we have a long day tomorrow.