San Pedro - Showers, Boats & Other Observations

Trip Start Oct 10, 2007
Trip End May 15, 2008

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Flag of Guatemala  ,
Saturday, November 24, 2007

As with everything here there is a certain, letīs say, flexibility when it comes to the meaning of time, hot and cold water, boat motors etc.  I will begin with my shower experiences.

One of the first questions after ŋquanto quetzales? is ŋtiene usted agua caliente? when you are looking for a room  You will almost always be told that the water is ok or warm or it depends.  The guide books will refer to hotels as having hot water when it is more temped than anything else.  So, when someone says "Sí, tenemos agua caliente", take it with a grain of salt.  You may also want to just prepare yourself for some coolish showers.  In addition, some rooms will have hot water while others donīt in the same hotel.  Having moved 4 times in two weeks, I just started walking into the rooms and turning on the shower to test it out. 

There are some tips to getting hot water out of your shower.  Donīt turn the water on full force.  The water is literally heated up by electricity.  There are wires coming out of the shower head and Iīve met at least 3 people who got electrocuted when touching the nozzle.  DONīT touch the nozzle.  By turning on the water to a low pressure it allows it to heat up easier.  Then turn it up a little more.  Every time I take a shower the light in my bathroom dims until Iīm done.

The lanchas (boats) around Lake Atitlan are the main transport to getting to other towns around the lake.  Locals will take trucks that have been rigged up with an iron gate like thing so people can stand in the back.  This is supposed to be a cheap and easy way to get around, especially after the lanchas have stopped running.  Iīll have to use them at some point. The lanchas are used by about everyone.  They transport tourists from one pueblo to the next, locals with all sorts of produce, eggs etc. back home, and sometimes simply huge amounts of necessities for villages and hotels.  These boats are larger than a fishing boat but rather small in general.  There is usually a hard shelled canopy with tarps to tie down on the sides if you want. 

They, as everything else, move at a warp speed.  And I swear that when the water is choppy they go even faster.  Sometimes Iīve bumped right up off of my seat.  Iīve learned that I like to sit middle to front of the boat.  At the back you are swamped with exhaust fumes, at the front you risk getting rather wet.  One or two rows back is good. If it is extremely choppy and there arenīt too many people I also find it helpful to sit sideways.  During this ride you may be asked to move over or help keep produce in place by a wave of hands.  The wave of hands comes from a most agile 8 to 14 year old boy.  His job seems to be to assist the driver in direction and balance.  Iīve decided that these boys are the age they are because they must be small enough to walk all over this racing boat at any time.  Sometimes the motor dislodges from the boat and they have to stop to put it back on.  Donīt worry, I havenīt seen a child flying off a boat yet and Iīve always reached my destination wobbly legs and all.

The boys and men who run these boats also use a secret language of whistles that Iīve noticed all over San Pedro.  Initially I just tossed it off to the same attention seeking habits that many men in the States have (no offense but this is true).  I learned to ignore any kind of whistle from an early age.  However, by day two I started noticing the quantity and different notes in each whistle.  I learned that there is an entire way of communicating through whistles.  Men will go up to a home and whistle for a friend who pops out a moment later.  When the tuktuks, trucks and chicken buses get stuck in the same spot there is an entire serenade of whistles as well as some ayayaying.  This type of communication appears to be solely between the men.  Perhaps because if the women whistled to each other it would be right in each others ear since they work so closely together.  Of course, there is still the occasional "cat call".
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