Lake Atitlan

I left San Cristobal de las Cases in Mexico on a big old creaky school bus. My seatmate was a hybrid biker/hippy dude. He had a leather waistcoat, a bandana wrapped around his long grey wisps of hair and a feather earring. A perfect stranger for me to chat to…after I was done sleeping and listening to music for a few hours first. It was 4 am and there was a long way to go. I was in no rush to start chatting.

After a breakfast stop at a huge restaurant in the middle of nowhere some hours later, we struck up some conversation. I discovered he is originally from Israel, a free spirit (who would have guessed) and had opted out of any sort of traditional lifestyle (after spending some years as a school teacher in his earlier life). I think school kids are probably enough to make anyone want to retreat to the wilderness. I was all ears. He had some great stories.

But why was he is on this specific bus? And why did his luggage stashed in the bus hold contain a lawnmower… vital questions that needed to be ascertained as a matter of urgency.

It turns out he is building his own house in Guatemala but does not have residency yet, so he has to go on a visa run every 3 months currently (what a pain). It is difficult to get electrical appliances in Guatemala, and what you can get is extremely expensive. So, he was using the visa run as a shopping excursion also. This explains the seemingly strange contents of his luggage.

This is a long-winded roundabout way of saying I have neither a photo of him nor did I draw him. But I did attach myself to him for the very long and confusing border crossing between Mexico and Guatemala, seeing as he was very experienced in the procedures.

After a 15 hour trip on extremely bad roads, I arrived in Panajachel, Lake Atitlan. I met a young woman who would become my ultimate travel companion for the next few weeks, and then again later in my trip when I unexpectedly ended up in Nicaragua and one of my close friends ever since.