He had crossed the border at La Mesilla and headed southeast to visit Zaculeu, a Mayan city built by one of the Highland tribes, which survived until the Spanish conquest. From there he headed south towards the volcanoes he so wanted to see.
As he drove deeper into Guatemala he felt an urge come over him unlike anything he had felt before. His initial reason for travelling, the acquisition of superior seed, began to sublimate to an urge to scratch an itch he had never known existed. He wanted to find himself.
Strange as it felt Sam rolled with it. His proclivity for being in the moment was uppermost and he felt no urge to question this new direction he was compelled to take. Spirituality had never been a part of his life but now it was as though he had awakened from a long torpid dream and felt the need to stretch.
The volcanoes had something to do with it. The closer he got to them the more certain he became. He stopped first at Lacandon, a volcano named after a Mexican Mayan tribe that had migrated to Quetzaltenango. He moved east and took his time stopping frequently to camp out and just inhale the atmosphere of the jungle.
He marvelled at the wildlife that filled the air with exotic sounds as he lay in his sleeping bag at night looking up at a sky full of more stars than he had ever dreamed existed. In all of his twenty-three years he had never seen the Milky Way in its full glory.
The savage cries of the black howler monkeys kept him awake for hours the first time he heard them. The grunting of the jaguars was no less frightening but after a few nights it all became familiar and he relaxed into it. He was beginning to fall in love with Guatemala.
As he made his way through the area, read his guidebook and interacted with the locals he knew he had to pay a visit to Lake Atitlan. By all accounts the deepest lake in Central America; a volcanic explosion formed it. A deeply spiritual place, it was calling to Sam with each passing day.
He arrived at the western edge of the lake one early morning in May and stopped his van on a hillside overlooking it. It was the most beautiful place he had ever seen. He stared at it for the better part of an hour before he could bring himself to drive down to it and have a look around.
The lake was dotted with small villages of Mayan descendants in traditional garb. He drove around most of the day taking in as much of the scenery as he could and when sundown came he looked for a place to spend the night.
He built a small fire near the edge of the lake and had a light dinner. Exhausted from his explorations he decided to turn in early and put out his fire and climbed into his sleeping bag. He was drifting off when he heard the sound of a vehicle moving slowly along the road about ten years from his campsite but he paid it no mind.
Minutes later he heard the snap of dry wood and he opened his eyes to see two men approaching him with stealth. His hand closed around the hilt of the hunting knife he slept with for insurance and his muscles tensed as he waited for them to come closer.
Part 3 Tomorrow