Eso es alcanzar lo más alto,

lo que tal vez nos dará el Cielo:

no admiraciones ni victorias

sino sencillamente ser admitidos

como parte de una Realidad innegable,

como las piedras y los árboles.

Jorge Luis Borges

Fervor de Buenos Aires (1923)

This is the best that can happen,

What heaven perhaps will grant us:

Not to be wondered at or required

To succeed

But simply to be let in

As part of an undeniable Reality,

Like stones of the road, like trees.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011


“It is better to travel well than to arrive.”

The past few days I’ve done a lot of traveling.  It started with a road trip to Guatemala on Saturday with my jefes.  I went along in order to get an extension on my visa at the immigration office in Guatemala.  During the trip we realized that there might be some problems with getting my visa renewed in Guatemala, and decided that I should leave early on Monday morning for Mexico which is outside of the Central American Border Agreement and so by entering Mexico and then Guatemala again I could get another 90 day extension.

On Sunday I went out for coffee and ice cream with two friends from Guatemala and had a good time catching up with them.  Then I went to bed early so I could be up at 5 a.m. to start traveling.  I took a bus to El Carmen which is on the Guatemalan side of the Mexican border and had a good conversation with the guy sitting next to me on the bus.  He is Salvadoran but his mom lives in Guatemala and he came to visit her, and then will be making the trip back to Texas where his wife and children live.  I can only imagine the trip that he’s got ahead of him.  I got through customs at around 2:00 p.m. and hung around the Mexican side of the border for a while and was supposed to meet a friend of a friend there but for some reason that didn’t happen.  It was raining pretty heavily so I ran to the closest restaurant and ate some tacos.  I bided my time there for a couple of hours, not wanting to go straight back through customs again because I thought that might make them a bit suspicious.  Around 4:00 I went back through customs and got my 90 day extension.  There was only one bus company in El Carmen and they told me the earliest bus left at 10:30 pm.  I chatted with some guy on the street who told me that if I took a microbus to Malacatal (about 40 minutes away) I might get an earlier bus back to Guatemala.  So I tried that but by the time I got to Malacatal all the early buses had left and the next bus back to Guatemala was at midnight.  I should mention that the microbus driver was a dink and charged me Q100 (around $10) for the trip, which is pretty much highway robbery but he was getting aggressive and I thought, “screw it, just pay and find something to eat”. 

So I found a restaurant where I ate a hamburger and chatted with the owner for a couple of hours.  We talked about my job (HIV prevention, teaching healthy sexuality, all that fun stuff) and about recent events in Guatemala.  There is a national election here with 26 candidates running for president.  One candidate is wife of the outgoing president who had to get a divorce from her husband in order to constitutionally be able to run.  And I thought Canadian politics was a gong show. 

After that it was getting dark so I went and sat at the bus terminal which was just kind of an open room with a couple of chairs facing the street.  I sat there for about 4 hours with nothing to do.  Did I mention that I’ve got a really bad cold and am hacking up all kinds of stuff about every minute or so?  Yeah, and I had run out of my cold meds and was very tired and miserable.  At this point I had Joni Mitchel singing in my head about traveling on a lonely road and how negativity unravels joy.  It’s funny how all the work I used to do as a mental health therapist with clients (and with myself) around mindfulness, especially in stressful circumstances, was so difficult to practice.  Mindfulness is basically about being present and simply noticing situations, internal responses to the situations, etc. without letting your mind run away with them, which causes more stress and anxiety.  But being mindful helped me put things in a little more perspective which was basically, “Lynden, in the big scheme of things you are still sucking air and nothing insurmountable is happening at this moment.”  Ok.  And at 12:30 a.m. I got on the bus, dozed on and off until Guatemala city (around 6 a.m.) and took a cab to my jefes house.  They had been expecting me at midnight and so were really worried but hadn’t been able to call because my cellphone doesn’t work in Guatemala. 

I slept a bit and then went to the office to check email and get a cash advance.  Then I went to the bus station in Guatemala city around 2 pm, caught the bus out at 4:30 and arrived in San Salvador at 10:30 p.m. last night.

Have I mentioned how much I like El Salvador?  Funny how it already feels like home.  Once I get into the city I notice the landmarks, and once I get to something like El Salvador Del Mundo I know exactly where I am and how to get to where I want to go.  On the other hand I always find traveling stressful because I don’t sleep well on buses, in airplanes or cars, trains, you get the picture.  But there were some interesting and enjoyable points during the trip, mostly getting to talk to people along the way and hear about their lives.


  1. WOW! Ya, you looked pretty beat, now I know why! Well, again, so glad you made it back safely and so happy you're my brother:) Love you! Hope you have a relatively boring next couple of weeks ;) (its easier on my heart) lol and you know in the long run its all about me!!!:)

  2. What an adventure you're living. I'm glad you are getting so good with the spanish, that will lead you to good places and great people.