We arrived in Guatemala after a long but uneventful trip. The flights were bilingual all the way–on the first two legs Air Canada announced everything in both English and French. We got a TACA flight out of L.A., and everything was in English and Spanish. Not very good English, either. We were two of just a handful of gringos on board and even the flight crew spoke English only reluctantly.
I am happy to report that we sailed through security with only cursory inspections. The closest either of us came to one of those dreaded TSA pat-downs is when I was asked to put my hands in my front pockets and rub them up and down. Then my hands were checked for who-knows-what. I refrained from saying that I always kept you-know-what in my rear pockets.
It had not occurred to me that the future of TSA inspections might go in this direction–the self-administered pat-down. I guess it makes sense considering the heat the agency has been getting from the way agents have been groping passengers.
There are already private rooms near the inspection area where people may get groped in private if they wish. In the near future TSA could install web cameras in the rooms. Then passengers would be directed to go into the room, stand in front of the camera and give themselves a thorough pat-down, at the direction of somebody looking at them from a remote location. From what I hear the technology for this kind of thing already exists.
We did see one of the full-body scanners that renders a semi-nude image of the person being examined. I suspect loose clothing would allow for a more flattering image. Tight clothing compresses all your privates, and that is not attractive. No one was going near the scanner we saw, so maybe that is something else that seemed a good idea at the time, but turned out to be unpopular. Who could have guessed?
Not that I don’t admire the technology. I remember ordering a set of spectacles from an ad in the back of Popular Science when I was a boy that promised to do the same thing. What a disappointment they were! I had given up hope that such a thing was even possible. Now I know it is possible, but expensive and bulky. Still out of reach for young boys wondering what naked people look like.
We spent the first day in the Colonial fantasyland of Antigua–mostly trying to catch up on our sleep. The next morning we took a chicken bus to Panajachel, on Lake Atitlan.
On the way up we saw several places where the recently completed highway had been washed out during the last rainy season. (Plus an overturned semi-truck and trailer. That probably had more to do with bad driving than washed out roads.)
The main road down to the lake has been closed for two months, but rumors are that it will open soon, of only temporarily. The closure has decimated tourism, and the business people are hoping the road will be open in time for the holiday crowds that usually show up. This area relies heavily on tourists, particularly ones with more to spend than we have.