Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Saturday and Sunday: Silver Linings

I woke up on Saturday morning with a pounding headache and a nervous, sick feeling in the pit of my stomach.  I just didn’t feel like this trip was going to go well.

By the time we’d been on the road for a few hours and had stopped to have a hearty breakfast at the Sarita restaurant located at the turn-off to Coban, though, my nerves were gone.  I didn’t even really flinch when my steering wheel started shaking on our drive.  We joked about it, I fleetingly worried about it, and then I put it out of my mind.

We arrived at Laguna Lachua at about 2:30pm, after driving through myriad small towns, taking in beautiful mountain vistas, braving 5 kilometers of unpaved, muddy, rutted road, and not getting lost once. 

Moses (the car) performed like a champ through the mud.

Upon checking in, Lorenzo, a cheery man who is very devoted to and passionate about his job, gave us the rules of the park, gave us a discount (he charged us the resident price rather than the foreigner one, cutting our costs by more than 50%), and informed us that there were 38 people camping that night.  That seemed like a surprisingly high number, but I shrugged it off. 

By 3:30pm, we had purchased firewood and strapped it to Amy’s pack, strapped the tent to Kenra’s pack, and started off down the 4.4km trail that would take us to our campsite.  The walk was pleasant—flat, shaded, well maintained and well-marked. 
We stopped at the first dock and vista point for a glimpse of the lake.  Even under cloudy skies, we could see the clearness of the water and marvel at the glassy stillness of the surface.  We continued on eventually, though we could have stayed another hour, in order to avoid having to set up camp in the dark.

When we made it to the camp site, I realized that 38 people camping is a lot for Laguna Lachua.  Nearly every green space was occupied with tents, and every roofed picnic area too.  It was like a crowded KOA without the picnic tables, fire pits, and individual space.  We found a spot to ourselves to set up the tent, as far from others as we could manage. 

Our tent, all on its own (sort of).  

The big covered area had probably 10 tents set up inside of
it.  Then there was the tent village, which originally had
more tents than are shown in this picture.  

That night the two grills that had tables next to them were occupied, so rather than making a fire, we opened up our cookstove on the grass outside our tent and had our dinner there.  We were in the tent by 7pm reading.  As we lay there, Amy remarked, “Are we lame?  It’s Valentine’s Day, and we are three single girls, lying in a tent at 7pm, reading.  And Sue just asked if she really wanted to read or if she just wanted to go to bed.” 
(For the record, I don’t think we’re lame).

The next morning, we planned to get up for sunrise.  We set an alarm for 5:50am.  However, I woke up much before that because the rest of the camp decided to get up around 5am and kept walking past our tent, speaking at full volume.  By the time we got down to the dock, there was almost no place to sit; we weren’t the only ones with the idea to catch the sunrise.  It was crowded, noisy, and so cloudy that there wasn’t a sunrise to speak of—just a gray sky over gray water. 

NOT happy to share my sunrise...

They spoiled the view.  

After breakfast, which we ate on the dock, Amy took a nap while Kenra and I sat at the water, peering at the fishies. 

Around 9am, Amy got up again, and she and I decided to go for a run.  There’s only one path/trail at Laguna Lachua—the flat one we’d come in on—but that actually makes a nice running trail.  Running out to the parking lot and back was about 9km total, which is a good distance for an hour’s leisurely jog. 

The run was really nice.  And it felt good.  But about halfway back, I noticed my palms were itching—the telltale sign for me of the start of an allergic reaction.  I sometimes have these reactions, and I haven’t been able to pinpoint what food or chemical it is that triggers it yet.  I couldn’t think of anything I’d eaten that was even on my “suspected food culprit” list, though, so I told myself the itchiness was probably due to something else, and I kept running.  When my tongue started swelling, though, I told Amy I was going to walk.  By the time we made it back to camp, my lips were swelling too, and my tongue was abnormally large.  None of the three of us had thought to pack Benadryl, so after asking a few campers if they had any (answers: no, it’s back at the bus, no.), I took a seat with a bottle of water to wait for Annette, Joel, and Carrie to arrive and hoping they would have some with them. 

My face does not normally look like this...

At about 11:45, our 3 friends came trooping into camp, and luckily, Carrie had an antihistamine.  (Funnily enough, she’d purchased it the night before because their hotel had had cats roaming around).  I took two, and the relief was immediate.  Within minutes, my swelling was down, I could move my lips and speak normally again, and the hives that had broken out over my body were subsiding. 

That afternoon, the sun came out for the first time on our trip.  The group of 50 (the 38 campers and all those inhabiting the cabins) had left by noon, so we had the place to ourselves. 
There used to be 4 tents under each of
these covered enclosures.  
It really seemed to me that the arrival of our friends had signified a change in our luck.  We got to see the true beauty of the lake and experience the tranquility that come from enjoying it without the crowds.  I am not sure I would have appreciated it in the same way if I hadn’t first experienced it under cloudy skies with a hoard of other spectators. 

We had a fire that evening, roasting marshmallows and telling ghost stories as we relaxed after our dinner. 

When we’d finished, we went out to the dock to lay looking at the stars.  I’m not sure I’ve ever seen so many—and I’ve been in remote areas on cloudless nights before.  It was truly breathtaking. 

Shining her torch into the water, Amy found a catfish with a zebra pattern than we hadn’t seen during the day.  We named him Steve and tried to trick him into coming out from under his rock with periods of darkness before turning on the flashlights again. 

That night, we moved from the tent to the cabins and slept soundly on real beds.  Sunday afternoon and evening had redeemed the weekend, and I saw the silver lining in every drawback that we’d experienced.  

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