We had a great time relaxing with the Chapines, and were ready to fix la Chichona. Among the five garages we checked, nobody worked on diesel engines. One mechanic knew one guy in Coban who might rescue us. His name was Alan Boiton.
We parked in front of his garage. A tall man in his 60s welcomed us. He wore a white moustache, a tucked in shirt and thick glasses. Quiet and thoughtful, he looked like a Russian Grandmaster. I started talking about everything that happened to la Chichona since the border when Marco pulled me aside. He said I should neither look desperate, nor say that I was. I knew he had my best interest at heart, but I refused to listen.
I prefer openness over mental games. By disclosing the truth and being vulnerable to others, I hope they would reciprocate and treat me well. The price for this unconditional trust is the once-in-a-while rip off. The reward is to restore faith in humanity.
Alan Boiton remained thoughtful. He could not give me the estimate I asked for, which made Marco suspicious. Mr Boiton instructed to replace the suspension base and the diesel filter, then reassess. He wasn’t sure, but hoped the power issue was due to the dirty filter.
Marco is more logical than I. We had a serious argument that touched our core beliefs, and how we make decisions. Logic vs feeling. It was the first time our perspectives had openly clashed.
The road to Semuc Champey was neither paved nor indicated. Yet, the local buses aka collectivos knew it by heart. They averaged 50km/h on tiny hilly trails, and manoeuvred curves as fast as professional rally drivers. We arrived exhausted, after 3 hours of intense, shaky bus racing.
We checked in the Zephyr, a fancy eco-lodge on top of a cliff, and walked to our dorm. The site was a peaceful gem, displaying Nature’s soothing colours. Our beds were by the windows, where we watched the mist cruise through the valley. Water flowed down the river below. We fell asleep.
In the late afternoon, we joined the crowd in the lobby. There were three groups of obnoxious, attention-seeking party boys. Big tattooed gym bros playing drinking games in red cups. A guy, playing pool, was swearing loudly after every missed shot. They acted as if they owned the entire valley. The Zephyr lodge was a pilgrimage for international white trash, the Guatemalan Cancun.
We fled the hostel at dawn to reach Semuc Champey before the crowd. Waking up was brutal, but more so was the ride on the back of a pickup truck. We started on a steep staircase to the Mirador, and watched the pool from the top. The colors were unreal; a mix of turquoise and green stuck in between two cliffs. We stayed at Semuc Champey all day, dreading the return to the loud herd of idiots.
Back at the hostel, the groups of party boys had merge together in one decadent blob of arrogance. Some were passed out by the pool, others were puking in the depth of the vally, and the bravest were still drinking or dropping pills. They blasted trance music and howled long into the night, with no consideration for the other guests. The more I know men the more I appreciate Nature.
On the third and last day, the herd went on a tour. We met two solo travellers, Dany and Lisa, over breakfast. We sat on the same table, somehow gravitating toward each other. They were also pleased by the newfound silence. We took our mugs to the pool, and watched without a word, the sun rise up over the valley. We found out that we lived in the same cities, studied the same fields, and even visited the same countries. In the pool all day, we shared travel stories and contemplative silences.
Marco and I avoided loud people like the plague, and we were right most of the time. There is much more to a calm person than meets the eyes. Quiet characters I found, have been through a lot. That makes them compassionate, especially as they get older. I felt that through Alan Boiton’s thick glasses and wanted to test my intuition.
As the Germans say, still waters run deep.