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The Dichotomy of Travel Days

Lanquin, GuatemalaIt was 3:45 and I was still waiting for the 2:00 shuttle to Lanquin. The shuttle was on it’s way from Coban but was delayed two hours from construction. This was not the way I had planned my day. If my day had gone as planned I wouldn’t be taking the afternoon shuttle because [...]

Lanquin, Guatemala
It was 3:45 and I was still waiting for the 2:00 shuttle to Lanquin. The shuttle was on it’s way from Coban but was delayed two hours from construction. This was not the way I had planned my day. If my day had gone as planned I wouldn’t be taking the afternoon shuttle because I wouldn’t have overslept and missed the shuttle at 8:00 am. Of course, this was all my own fault. Wanting to experience Antigua night life on a Friday night I had went to bed too late and in a drunken stupor set my alarm for 8:15 pm instead of 7:15 am. I admit, this was a real smooth move on my part. My afternoon of searching through Antigua for the best deal was now for naught and so I had no choice but to sit and wait for the shuttle to arrive.

The shuttle arrived around 4:00 and seven hours later I had arrived at El Retiro Lodge after passing through the human cesspool known as Guatemala City, a change in mini-vans in Coban and an hour ride on a bumpy, windy road through the jungle. That’s just the way some days go.

Now here, my days have been quite rough. The tranquility and beauty of the surrounding area really wears you out. I spent the morning lounging in a hammock reading. Once I felt like moving I changed locations and sat next to the river and continued reading. At 2:00 I managed to muster up enough energy to grab an inter-tube and float down the river for an hour. Feeling exhausted from such a strenuous activity it was necessary to relax in the sauna for a while.

From Lanquin 2010-11
I spent the day lounging by and floating down this river.

My biggest adventure of the day was walking into town trying to locate a comedor that sold burritos for 15 Quetzals. I knew nothing other than the price of the burritos and that the comedor had a large tv. I spent the next 20 minutes meandering around town asking locals if they new where the restaurant with the large tv was located. I found my burrito joint and I walked back to El Retiro feeling like I had put in a long, hard day.

The dichotomy of days while traveling can be quite stark. One day can drag on forever and have you wishing for the next whereas other days leisurely move by. Some days can be stressful and exhausting and the next have you feeling like your in paradise. Some days you need to navigate through uncertainty while keeping alert for you and your possessions safety. You must find transportation and a place to stay without being taken advantage of. At the same time this is what makes traveling worthwhile. You never know whats around the next corner and you need to think on your feet. As soon as you reach your destination and check into your hostel/hotel your days become filled with things like tubing down rivers, hiking, reading in a hammock or talking to locals.

Traveling Breeds A New Form of Small Talk But It’s Still Just as Annoying
The more I travel the more I am getting tired of the same repeatedly asked questions. I have always hated small talk and while traveling I have found that the small talk questions haven’t disappeared but have simply changed form.

Where are you from?
How long are you traveling for?
What do you do back home?
Where are you going?
Where have you been?

After these questions have been asked conversation seems to stop and people move on to ask the next person the same questions. I’m tired of these questions and want to skip over them completely. If you are only giving me the five second answer then you might as well not give me an answer at all. I don’t care where you have been or will be going because, most likely, I’ve already been there or will be going there myself. For the most part asking where your from is pointless because I can usually have a good idea of that from your accent.

There is still value in asking these questions but they should be of greater value than the five second reply that they typically generate. For example, If you are going to tell me where you have been don’t just tell me, ‘Tulum’, ‘Flores’, ‘Antigua’, or ‘Rio Dulce’. Pass along some useful info and give me some tips. Where should I stay? Where are the best places to eat? What should I watch out for? For now I think I will gloss over these questions and talk about something else entirely when first meeting someone. Only after talking to them and I think I can receive something better than the generic response will I ask these questions.


Filed under: Cubicle Ditcher, Guatemala, Random Thoughts

About the Author:

Sam Langley left a comfortable and profitable job with an insurance company in the USA to travel the world. He has been going for years, and has not stopped yet. Keep up with his travels on his blog at Cubicle Ditcher. has written 147 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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  • Anonymous November 16, 2010, 6:25 pm

    Okay…here's a tip..try to avoid the water refills at el retiro…I was there and at least 5 people I knew were all ill, including myself. It could have been the food, but I think it was the water. They probably don't clean it effectively. Other than that enjoy Semuc Champey – absolutely brilliant, and I would recommend the tour from El retiro even though it may be a bit more pricey..The hostel itself is okay I guess, we had some good parties as well, until a fight broke out between a Canadian we met who went by the name of Freedom Fighter, and Team Israel. Fresh out of the army and in a team, no prizes for guessing who won this one!

    Take it easy peasy, I know you will!

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  • Anonymous November 16, 2010, 6:26 pm

    p.s, your photos of todos los santos were shithot…looks much more fun than the day we had with the big kites, big dissapointment if you ask me. The horse riding looked fucking niiiice!

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  • Sam November 19, 2010, 10:22 pm

    Thanks for this advice but unfortunately I got it a day too late! I did the opposite of both things you suggested; I didn't take the tour and I drank their water. No worries on the water though. It's been a few days and I've had no ill side effects.

    Thanks for the advice though. I'm currently in Flores going to see Tikal so if you have any other advice I'll gladly take it.

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