September 05, 2006
Boat Bus Boat & Maybe Bus Again
The ‘bote publico,’ the water transport equivalent of the chicken bus, is a narrow blue and white fiberglass covered boat with a small external Mercury motor. It makes its way around the lake several times a day, stopping at every village along the way. Taking it back and forth to Panajachel, Atitlan’s major port, you begin to see familiar faces, patterns and daily routines.
There was the man with his daily bag of building supplies which he carried in front of him and the American resident with her two large jute sacks of plants and fertilizer – or something that looked like it.
A Guatemalan boy, not older than 15, waits for her, and as she hoists the sacks onto the Santa Cruz dock, he swings them over his shoulders to prepare for the trek through the muddle jungle paths to their final destination.
‘Getting away’ as Lonely Plant guides often refer to as a means of getting from Point A to B, is more difficult from this region. Even with private transportation, it often requires a bus, boat, bus combination before you arrive at Point B. Hmmm, could we have taken five or six flights in a day and a half on our way home?
It’s surprising how expensive this can be, particularly when you compare it to the cost of local living, i.e., food, lodging, chicken bus. Note that a typical man’s wage may be as low as 50 quetzal or $6.66.
At least for gringos, it looks something like this:
2 quetzal a minute or 8 an hour for Internet café use
2 quetzal a minute for a local phone call
7 quetzal for a bottled water or a coffee
20 quetzal for a typical soup
35-50 for a meal
3.79 a gallon for petrol
All at a 7.5 exchange rate.
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