Christmas Day in Livingston

Livingston Travel Blog

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Christmas Day:

I woke up to pee around 5:AM and realized that the entire town

must be approaching in some kind of drum parade. It sounded like

a thousand people. I don't know what they were doing, I guess

it was the last Christmas Eve hurrah; the drum parade. Using my

little pen light flashlight that I bought in the market in
Antigua, I completed my urinary mission, out side, down the path

and back. I slept until dawn and then quietly packed my things,

wrote a quick note to the Britts, and was on my way to the dock

to catch the first launch to Puerto Barrios.

Upon arriving at the dock I was greeted by a boy who was

compiling a list of all that wanted to go to Puerto Barrios for a

collectivo launch. I was not too optimistic when I saw my name

in the first position on the page. I would certainly wait for a

while before a proverbial "Boat load" was gathered. A few

minuets later, I saw a man start up his motor on his launch.

"Where are you going?" I asked "Puerto Barrios" he answered.

"When?" I countered. "Ahorita" (now, soon) he replied. "Now or Soon" usually means the same thing in Guatemala as in the US.

The one exception is the pilots of any form of public

transportation. "Now" means any time we fill up the bus, boat, or

plane. The "little now" (ahorita) can mean any time this week.

I climbed aboard his vessel and wrote my name on his list (number

one again). After about 3 minutes, he shut off his engine and

got out of the boat and walked up the boat ramp. I had expected

as much, but at least it was a place to sit. Ten minutes later a

huge family gathered at the dock. I knew only too well, there

was safety in numbers. I got off of my boat and stood near the

family. If they were going to bargain for the first boat out, I

wanted to be involved. As it turns out, they all trundled over

to the boat I had been sitting on. Mom, dad, grandparents, aunts

and uncles, brother and sisters. They were carrying all kind of

luggage and at least three ghetto blasters. I think it was some

of the Christmas booty. We all squished into the boat. There

were at least 25 of us. We even waited for two more Italian

tourists with big backpacks (the gringo's cross to bear) and a cop

went the bow of the boat, standing room only.

Thank god the sea was calm. The sky was cloudy and I was afraid

it was going to rain. There were four of us in the front row,

three tourists and one Guatemalteca who must not have known

better. It was soon obvious that if it did rain, the flimsy top

would protect everyone but us and the standing cop. But our luck

held, and even though the clouds looked threatening, only a few

drops fell the entire 45 minute journey.

Once we were dropped at the dock in Puerto Barrios I asked the Italians if

they knew where the bus station was. They did. This saved me

from digging out my guide book and looking it up. The guide book serves as the "I'm a stupid tourist so rob me" signal and it could wait for another time. I

followed them through the rain fresh, but still somehow dirty

streets of P.B. to the bus station. More good luck. Although it

was Christmas day, the buses were apparently running on schedule

and I was able to purchase a seat on the next bus, 10:AM. I had

time to have myself some coffee at the grungy looking restaurant

across the rusted railroad tracks.

The ride back was uneventful and unmemorable except for the woman

and her 10 year old daughter which occupied the seat next to me.

Kids ride for free if they sit on your lap, or even on the lap of

the gringo next to you in this country.

We arrived back in Guate in record time. The traffic on this

holiday was remarkably light. I disembarked and headed for the

stop where the chicken buses would take me back to Antigua.

When I arrived there, I found that not all bus lines were

operating on Christmas. Not to worry. I had another address of

yet another chicken bus station and it was only a few blocks

away. As I approached, there was a bus just pulling out for

Antigua, and I climbed aboard. I had to stand the entire trip,

but it was only 45 minutes or so, and I had been sitting all day

on the other bus. What do you expect for 41 cents.

I got off very near my house and walked home. The family was out

front and greeted me hello. No one asked me about the trip.

just another student returning from another trip, I guess. I

showered and cant remember exactly what I did for the remainder

of the evening.

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photo by: jlchatham