Forgive me if I’m a little irritable, but I thought I was smarter than this. When I crossed into Mexico from Texas, the border guards didn’t stamp my passport or anything. Apparently they were supposed to, and since they didn’t, I was going to have problems crossing the border. According to the fast-talking guys who promised to get me through everything free and clear, now that I was through the Mexican post, if I went back to them to ask for a stamp, they would charge me a fine of $400 and detain me for five days while they investigated me. Or I could pay this guy $180, and he would get his friend in the office to give me an official stamp. Oh, I didn’t have $180? How abut $50 US and 100 Guatemalan quetzales ($14). Still a bit much? All right, they can do it for 500 Mexican pesos ($40). I should have just gone back and risked the detention and the fine, which I am now positive were entirely imaginary. But I paid the 500 pesos, and then Q100 for a cab, and another Q100 for a “tip” before he’d give back my passport, and then they finally quit bothering me and the cab took me to Malacatán. The result being that I’m in Guatemala, in a possibly legal way, and I don’t know what they’ll say when I go to cross through Belize to get back to Mexico, but either way I’m out what equates to $68 US or my budget for about a week and a half. I can replace the money, but that was going to be useful money when I got back. My cushion of fall-back cash isn’t as spongy as it once was. I’m angry tonight. Tomorrow I’ll probably be okay.
Because one way or another, I’m going to lake Atitlán. It’s a big lake surrounded by about thirteen old Maya villages with people still living the old-fashioned way and doing Maya things. And after that, maybe I’ll climb a volcano. But to get you up to date: after Teotihuacán, I took a three-day walk-and-hitch trip and met some extremely nice people, and then I went to a beach and got myself good and roasted, and now I’m here. I’m going to slow down a little bit now that I’m here. I’ve been rushing around way too fast and never being in the same place two nights in a row. Relaaaax.