Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Last night I watched Venus and Jupiter together over the volcanoes of Lake Atitlan from the deck of the Casa de Santa Elena in San Pedro de La Laguna while a gang of British, Australian and Canadian backpackers played a drinking game with cards and Dominican rum behind me. I am happy that this astrological coincidence is happening during my visit to Guatemala; I can't help but think it's a good omen.

I don't know what role Jupiter played, if any, in Mayan cosmology. But Venus was incredibly important to the Mayans. Venus' motions were at least as significant in their calender as the moon and the sun. The motions of Venus through Mayan astrological signs was connected to the journey of the Hero Twins through the Land of the Dead. So though I have no particular evidence, I can't help but believe that a Mayan astrologer watching the sky would have seen the joint appearance of Venus and Jupiter as the Hero Twins showing themselves together in the sky.

I've been staying in San Pedro de la Laguna for a couple of days. I've been sharing a room with some British hitchhikers I hooked up with on the van here. They have been kind to me and trustworthy. They're also racist and completely condescending of the natives. They have been everywhere: Australia, the South Pacific, Thailand -- more places than I'll ever go. Bob1 is cheerful, indulgent and friendly, but likes to tell racist jokes and a story about going to the place where the sea turtles hatched from their eggs and turning them around so they walked away from the water. Emma is pretty and gregarious, but complains about how Lago de Atitlan is not tropical enough and is disgusted when Mayans bathe in the lake outside the hotel.

Yesterday I met an American backpacker from Oregon who told me of a dirt-cheap place where you can get your own rooms. I was going to do it, but I have changed my mind. I'm heading up to Panajachel today, because I want to be closer to Chichicastenango and Santa Cruz de Quiche.

1These aren't their real names, as I'm afraid I'm not painting a very flattering portrait of them.

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