We're settled onto the bus, and aside from the fact that my seat's beside the bano and therefore a tad smelly, I'm pretty happy. The chairs are big and recline, it's a single row so no one beside me, and the driver gave us a little bag with pop and chips when we boarded. Not bad for 180 quetzals! (exchange rate is 7.85, feel free to do the math)
Apparently there are two days of the week, Thursdays and Sundays, everyone flocks to a town called Chichicastenanga (or Chichi for short) for the biggest market in Guatemala. And since we were relatively nearby on a Sunday, it was my turn to torture my travel companion and drag her shopping. Chichi is supposedly two and a half hours form San Pedro, so we booked a shuttle along with every other tourist there, and went to meet our 7:30 mini-bus. As we've learned about cultural attitude towards time here (tica-time in Costa Rica, nica-time in Nicaragua, and Guatever they call it here) nothing ever runs on schedule.
Our bus finally arrived just after eight and started off on the road through and past San Juan. Ten minutes in, we pulled over, along with fifteen other shuttle buses, and waited. Then we waited some more. Then we got out of the bus and we waited. They were doing some sort of construction and only let traffic pass every half hour, and a few hundred shopping-ready foreigners were not going to speed up the process.
We finally got through to San Pablo and we pulled over and waited. Apparently there was one more person coming from San Marcos to join our already jam-packed vehicle, and he was late. When he showed up forty minutes later, unapologetic, unsmiling and with the same general odour everyone in San Marcos seemed to carry, we got back on the road. We arrived shortly before noon and were told to meet back at 2:45 because the bus would be leaving at 3 o'clock sharp- yeah, sharp as a bowling ball.
We wandered up and down the rows of stalls, bargained at bought a few things, but overall were not that impressed with the selection. I'd found the shops in Antigua and the villages to have more interesting items, but the prices at the market couldn't be beat. We had some food and started making our way back to the parking area when we ran into our driver. He told us he had changed the time to 3:45, so we had lots of time and should relax. We shopped a bit more and walked around and once again went back to the parking lot. All our bus mates were there, apparently they never got the memo about the later departure time, but the driver was nowhere to be seen.
The ice cream boys, ding, ding, ding, dingged their bells. The older women shoved scarves in our faces trying to get us to buy more. Other buses came and went. And we all sat and waited. The driver finally showed up at 4:30, shrugged and smiled, walked to the bus and said "vamos". Despite making good time getting back, it was still after eight by the time we ate and got to bed, and since we were setting out at 2, the pressure was on to get some sleep.
Speaking of which, I think the Gravol I popped for the bus ride is taking effect and perhaps I can get a little rest. We're heading to Flores and then on to El Ramate, the town closest to Mayan ruins of Tikal. With a little luck we'll be visiting the site and attached museum tomorrow.
Happy dreams and buen sueno!!