PANAJACHEL, Guatemala – Atitlan, the sparkling lake of legends and lore, glistens a slatey grey today. Clouds drape the mountaintops on all sides; boats are making their way across, one by one, taking their places at the rickety wooden docks where they will soon be ferrying people to villages across the water.
“It’s a sad day in Guatemala,” remarks Juan, manager of Restaurante Lago Azul, where I’ve stopped in my morning walk to enjoy a cup of coffee and a hearty desayuno chapin, a traditional Guatemalan breakfast with eggs, black beans, fresh cheese and corn tortillas and crispy, sweet plantains, fried to perfection.
“Yes, it seems like the rain is going to be here for awhile,” I answered, thinking he was referring to the dreary weather.
But he wasn’t – instead, he was referring to the eruption of Pacaya Volcano yesterday just south of the capital city, which took the life of a journalist and apparently also two children.
The city is still in chaos after a rain of ash fell for miles around, with over a thousand people evacuated to shelters, traffic accidents resulting from streets and highways covered in up to three inches of ash, and air traffic diverted south to El Salvador.
Very strange. I could have very well been climbing that volcano myself this week. I was feeling very compelled to do so – and many tourists do. Instead, I got too busy with work and canceled the trip to catch up on writing assignments.
Lo que sucede, conviene, as a Cuban friend once said. I suppose this is one time where not getting my wish might have been the best thing.