April 4, 2008
I got a boat across Lago Atitlan today, and two guys immediately tried talking me into taking a shuttle once I got to the other side. In Guatemala, your only options are to take the chicken buses, which are old American school buses that the locals ride, or shuttles, which are small expensive buses that only tourists ride. Taking the shuttle would mean having to go all the way back to the capital and it would take two days to get to Coban, but looking at the map, I saw that there was a more direct route. The guys trying to sell me a ticket told me I'd have to go to the coast and back, but the map made it obvious they were lying. These guys will tell you the world is flat if it means getting your business.
Normally I don't mind the chicken buses and don't understand what the fuss is all about. However, today was one of those days I wished I had taken the shuttle. I ended up having to take six buses in all because each one only went to the next little town. For that reason, I think Guatemala has the worst public transportation infrastructure out of any country I've ever visited (other than the US). I ended up in a tiny town called Upsantan near dark on the last bus of the day. I got a room for the night and ate a delicious taco dinner, not knowing that it would be my last full meal for the next several days.
When I got back to my hotel, I came down with a sudden fever. I alternated between being extremely hot and cold and was shaking uncontrollably. My whole body ached, but my head was the worst as it felt like my eyeballs were popping out of my skull. I didn't have diarrhea or vomiting so I didn't think I had food poisoning. That was good because I didn't even have enough energy to make it to the bathroom in case of an emergency. I continued sleeplessly rolling around in my bed all night, alternating between shivering and sweating, and constantly waiting for the mercy of dawn so I could figure out what was wrong with me.