It is the middle of the night, the pre-dawn hour of 2 a.m. and Wednesday, June 6, 2012 is is its first hours. Crickets chirp outside under the full moon. The sky is clear.
I love this time of day. In NYC it was always my favorite time; back in my 23rd or 24th years I would often be walking home at this hour and I loved the sky, the emptier (not empty) streets, the relative quiet of the city, and it’s maybe “new” energy at the 2-3 a.m. hours. In Los Angeles the air was often cooler at this hour and I would finally wind down from my day, feel I had had enough of my Mac, and would finally get outside for a cool, calm walk.
Tonight, in the town of San Marcos on the shore of Lago De Atitlán in the Highlands of Guatemala, I am not still awake, but awakened.
In all of my time in Honduras and now Guatemala, I have been among people that tend to turn in as darkness falls and rise with the sun or shortly after. It makes sense in lands where electricity is costly, rare, not terribly reliable. It is necessary in places such as Roatan where the people are in the resort service industry and must be up and at work by the time the tourists awaken. It makes sense for the tourists in the Caribbean who are there to scuba dive or sport fish. And sailing cruisers tend to be early-to-bed as well.
I have called myself a night person at least since my teens, yet have found myself tired and ready to turn in at 9 a.m. for the past weeks. I have become accustomed to this timing.
Tonight, as other nights, I was ready to bed around 9. I was visiting a friend in his dorm at this “hotel” if you could even begin to call it that — and I sure wouldn’t, really — and got into informative conversation with another woman as she came in. I was then in bad and asleep around 10 or 10:30. However, something woke me and although my mosquito and bug bites are healing well in this cooler, higher more bug-free altitude, My arms, torso, and legs are fully itchy. It is not heat; this is the first place since I left Los Angeles that has not required a fan for a breeze and mosquito avoidance. It is not bugs in my bed; I don’t seem to have new bites. It is not noise. It is not heat.
The loss of — I believe theft of — my flashlight has reawakened my annoyance of being robbed of so much on this trip and I found myself recounting these losses. Life has gone on without these items, of course. Whether items of convenience or productivity, they are simply things, “stuff.” They in no way compare to the loss of a loved one, a person. I happily gave away plenty of “stuff” as I cleared out my rented condo back in August and September and loved the freeing feeling of doing so. However, that was voluntary. I chose to pass those possessions on to people who could use them when I either was not, or did not wish to store them. Irreplaceable and valuable as some items were, each was my choice to give up. These stolen items are quite the different situation. In fact, each of these items was hand selected, then evaluated carefully for its benefit. I had selected many more items to take with me, but then, despite those items usefulness, I had opted to leave them behind. As it has rained recently, I have wondered at the logic of choosing not to bring my small, lightweight umbrella along. (I love it’s press logo as well.) I have marveled at my flawed logic of donating the thin plastic rain ponchos I used to carry in my car for emergencies such as earthquakes or log flume rides. But even as I got wet these past few days, I knew I had opted to get wet rather than carry that “stuff” with me. The items that were stolen were the very items I sacrificed that rain-proofing space (and other space) for. Now a snorkel fills that space in my bag and one loss makes room for another gain or purchase — but I did not opt to be without those needed or perceived-to-be-needed/desired items. They were not just “stuff” in that regard.
I will get by without my flashlight. It will be inconvenient. I will stumble. Hopefully I will not be horribly lost or endangered. I will get by without my MacBook. I know I am losing income and it greatly changed the shape of my trip to be without it, but it was not a loss of life and is, therefore, not so bad. (If I could trade that, and every Mac or bit of tech I have owned, for just one loved one I miss, I would certainly do so without hesitation.) It is not so bad to lack underwater photos, even if they were intended to supplement articles and inspire others to discover the amazing world that lives beneath the waterline of these places I travel. My life continues. My travels continue, albeit differently shaped and with different productivity.
And with these thoughts, my sleep must continue — for the sun will soon rise and another day will soon dawn and bring with it new opportunities, discoveries, joys, sorrows, amazements to experience for myself and perhaps to share through my spoken and written stories.
So, as the roosters crow in the distance and the hour is now well into 3 a.m., I will lay down again and attempt to sleep once more.