Sunday, April 22, 2012

And Finally, Guatemala

From Copán, it was a (relatively) fast, (relatively) comfortable, (relatively) cheap shuttle across the Guatemalan border to Antigua...

to meet Dave!  YAY!  Central America just got that much cooler.  And I'm never running off without this dude ever again.  :-)

Right on cue, I got sick.  It started with stomach cramps and fatigue and quickly progressed to cascading waterfalls.  Bummer.  I started an antibiotic right away, and by the following day was feeling better.  This time I think it was from untreated water.  I got lazy and drank the "pure" drinking water at our guesthouse.  When in doubt: treat it.
Alternating between the happy and the sick, Dave and I had time to wander around Antigua, climb part of Volcán Pacaya, and move our base of operations over to Quetzaltenango.

Antigua wasn't really my style--I called it "A Nice Town If Gringos U Admire" in my journal.  There are some great restaurants and nightclubs filled with English speakers, but I don't enjoy either.  There is a ton of petty tourist crime, which I don't enjoy either.  And there is very little street life--for example, Dave and I found only one woman selling tamales near Merced and one woman selling tostados in the central market.
couldn't find tostados, but did find the statues from semana santa
One morning, we hiked up Volcán Pacaya.  Pacaya had an eruption back in 2010, and we were hoping to see some lava, but unfortunately the guides are no longer allowed to take tourists into the volcanic zone.  We had to content ourselves with climbing into a break in a lava tube (cooled lava, of course!).  Natural sauna!
dave gets roasted
We decided to get the heck out of Antigua and head for Quetzaltenango, aka "Xela."  Already I am liking it SO MUCH MORE than Antigua, because it feels like a functional city.  Even in the very heart of the old city, there are people who live, work, and play.  There is an ex-pat, gringo, and Spanish student presence, but it is secondary to the primary day-to-day workings of the urban fabric.  All the "good stuff" goes with that--people are friendlier, street food is abundant, and the markets sell bananas and colanders instead of keychains and postcards.
just some ladies out with their kiddo
Just for kicks, we decided to take a bus to a smaller mountain town called Zunil.  There is really nothing of note there, but I liked it.  We visited the little church, walked up some of the hilly streets, got a relaxed lunch in a cafetín, and stumbled upon the entire village getting ready for the next day's market (I have never seen such huge bags of enormous carrots).
Zunil's central plaza, with church and chicken bus
From here, Dave and I will be out-of-communication from Tuesday, April 24 through Sunday, April 29.  We are headed up to Nebaj to hike to Todos Santos with a group called Quetzaltrekkers.  I am really looking forward to getting out of the city and hiking.  I will definitely post photos and updates when we get back!

No comments:

Post a Comment