A Travellerspoint blog

Still hungry!

semi-overcast 60 °F
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I stayed with a family the week I was taking classes. There were three daughters at the house and they were very friendly and talkative. They always tried to engage in conversations so I can practice my Spanish. The youngest daughter who is 13 years old should be a Spanish teacher. She spoke slowly, with a lot of patience and always corrected me. The father was so humble and gentle. He always thanked me when I was done wit dinner which I never understood. Usually people tell you enjoy your meal not thank you. What a lovely man!

I had a double bed there which was pretty exciting but soon enough I found out that the fitted sheets were the wrong size. 10 minutes after going to bed the sheets were no longer on the bed. That was quite frustrating. I was sad to find out that the food wasn't great either. Many mornings I had porridge for breakfast. It was pretty difficult to finish. Lunch is the biggest meal so I always got some type of meat. Mainly a tiny piece of chicken. You quickly learn to fill up with tortillas so you don't go hungry. I believe that's what everyone does here. I must say their home made tortillas were very good.

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The bathroom was another disaster. The shower wasn't very clean and the wall facing the inside of the house was about 5-foot high. I can pretty much see the hallway and whoever happens to be in it. Even worse, There were stairs leading up to the upper floor facing the bathroom. Whoever is coming down these stairs can see the shower. The curtain had all these pictures of different things. Under each picture there was the name in Spanish and English. A little morning lesson in the shower. The problem was there were clear parts in the curtains where people can see through it. Luckily no one came down while I was showering. That would have been embarrassing.

I had arrived at night in San Pedro so I greeted the family and went straight to bed. The next morning I woke up and my arms looked like they've been attacked by "friendly" mosquitoes! I had red dots all over my arms but they weren't itchy! Not uncomfortable but not cool either! I showed Eddie my bites and he thought it was strange then he looked at his arms and he had the same bites he just didn't notice them since they weren't itchy. Apparently there are these tiny little bugs that crawl on walls on onto the bed and feast on exposed skin. The trick is to pull the bed away from the wall so they don't crawl up in hordes. Well that trick worked and no more bites.

The one redeeming factor about the room is the view. The house sat at the top of the hill and my room was on the second floor. I looked out of my window every morning and enjoyed a great view of the lake.

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Posted by nawaf 12:51 Archived in Guatemala Tagged lodging Comments (0)

Woof woof

overcast 55 °F
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Alisha decided to join me to Atitlan a few days before I left. One thing about Alisha is that she does not like to plan at all so instead of buying our shuttle tickets ahead of time we had to buy them the day of. That day we must have stopped by at every travel agency in Antigua just to find out that the shuttles were all booked. There was one place left to check out and naturally we thought it has to be booked too. To our surprise it wasn't and we managed to get tickets a couple of hours before the bus left. That was enough time to stop by at the school and say goodbye to everyone; teachers and students.

The road to San Pedro was very curvy and hilly. Atitlan is surrounded by mountains in every direction so in order to get to it you have to make your way through narrow roads in the mountains. People say that traveling between towns on the lake over land is quite dangerous. Many buses get robbed there. Well as we approached San Marcos the bus driver stopped in the middle of the road. A thought went through my head, "what if the driver told hif friend to meet us and rob everyone on the bus". Then he started backing up and we heard cries. We all got out of the bus and found 7 tiny puppies on the side of the road. They were wet, cold and shivering. One of the guys on the bus insisted that we take the puppies and "save" them. What if the mother went to get them food! Nope we had to take them. So we did! Each puppy can fin in the palms of your hands. They were tiny and so adorable. The driver said that he knows a family that will take them. We dropped off one of the girls in San Marcos then the driver stopped by at a restaurant. The owner family came out and took two puppies. We asked them if they wanted more and they said sure. So we hand the father another puppy and we all saw it coming. He dropped the puppy on it's head on asphalt! The puppy started crying and weeping. It was so heartbreaking. Don't worry the puppy is doing fine according to the driver who later informed us. The family took four puppies and the driver took three home. The driver turned out to be the father at Eddie and Yetti's house. They were telling us about small puppies that the father found on the side of the road. What a small world. Well actually San Pedro is quite small.

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Posted by nawaf 12:43 Archived in Guatemala Tagged transportation Comments (0)

Goodbye cobblestones

semi-overcast 65 °F
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Well it's time to say goodbye Antigua! It's funny how I spent 3 weeks here and I didn't really get a chance to explore it enough! There are always things to see, people to meet and places to visit that you never really get to do it all. You always know the exact moment when you arrive in Antigua by bus. Dip in the road then cobblestone noise. Welcome to Antigua! The city is a major intersection for travelers and commuters, foreigners and Gatemaltecos alike. Buses from all over the country come here so you constantly hear "wat-tay wat-tay wa'taaayyy" that's the Chicken bus conductor's call to Guatemala city.

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At times you'll be walking around the city and a Chicken bus passes by. At that exact moment the driver steps on the gas. Suddenly you find yourself walking inside a black cloud of fumes. Whenever that happened to me I felt like I was in some cartoon scene where I'm walking and the cloud is moving with me and I can't get out of it!

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Everywhere you go there are colonial buildings, ruins or historical churches. It's unlike any other place in Guatemala. There are numerous rooftop cafes and restaurants. It doesn't matter which one you go to you're guaranteed a great view. Sky Cafe is one of them. A bit expensive but the view is fantastic.

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All over Antigua you'll find places that sell Ceviche. I asked my teacher where I can get the best Ceviche. He told me about a red truck that parks at one of the corners in Antigua. The truck drivers pulls up, places a couple of plastic chairs on the sidewalk and makes Ceviche at the back of his truck. I had to give it a try. And boy am I glad I did. It was very fresh and delicious.

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And then there's the Mercado. Certain days of the week the market is just crazy. But to me the market was alive every day. I went there a few times and it was just fun to walk around and soak it all in. Behind the market is the Chicken bus station. Which is pretty much a giant lot packed with colorful buses. The side of the market facing the bus station is lined with little carts selling fried chicken and fries. These carts look dirty but the food looks great. Again, I had to go for a bag of fries. They give you a plastic bag fill it with fries squeeze a bit of ketchup, mayo and hot sauce. The fries were finger licking good. Yum!

Another day me and a few friends decided to venture deep inside the market. The market was packed, crowded and smelly. We found the "cafeteria" of the market. A bunch of tiny comedores with a few tables each. The women that work there stand outside and grab people by the arm as they walk by. We finally settle for a comedor and the menu was quite tiny. I got the steak lunch special which came with a salad, soup, rice and fries all for a couple of dollars. Great way to have a filling cheap meal! People always warn you from eating street food but I never had a problem. So I'll continue to eat at these wonderful cheap places.

Before I left I went up to Cerro de la Cruz to look at Antigua from up above. There's a giant cross that sits on top of a hill where people can hang out and enjoy the scenery. You can see the city surrounded by volcanoes in every direction. I wish I went up there more often.

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And I can never forget the nightly rides in El Amigo. My friend Hadrien got this piece of junk truck from work, The truck is so crappy that it's actually funny. The passenger door doesn't open, there's no divider between the seats and the bed of the truck, the interior lights don't work, there's no radio and the driver window makes this sharp screeching noise whenever you close the window. I rode in the back many times just because I didn't wanna bother crouching to the front seat. Hadrien drives the Amigo as if he was driving the Autobahn. Talk about an uncomfortable ride in the back! But we all loved El Amigo.

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Many will tell you that Antigua is a tourist trap. Well it's true that Antigua attracts many tourists but why wouldn't it?! Walk around the city and enjoy the beautiful surroundings, stop by the Bagel Barn and watch a movie, hang out in Parque Central and watch life go by, walk around the local market, hit up the nightlife every night of the week, meet many other tourists, students and volunteers or just go up Cerro de la Cruz and enjoy a peaceful day. Whatever you're in the mood for there's something for you in Antigua. I surely will miss it and all the people I met there.

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Posted by nawaf 12:00 Archived in Guatemala Tagged backpacking Comments (1)

A bit nutty

semi-overcast 65 °F
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One day Alisha and I decided to go to the Macadamia farm just outside of Antigua. A 30-minute chicken bus ride and we were dropped off right in front of the entrance to Valhalla. We walked in and the place seemed empty until we got to small hut and a couple of people greeted us.

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The tour was free and the lady gave us a brief history of the farm and a bit of information about Macadamia nuts. I was told by others that I have to use the bathroom there so I asked about it and the lady smiled. She said their bathroom must be on of the most photographed bathrooms in Guatemala.

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It's like having a toilet in the middle of a garden. It was very beautiful. After the tour they offered us free Macadamia oil facials. I couldn't say no. It was quite relaxing and I couldn't believe all of that was free. There was a tip box so at the end you just feel like you want to leave them something.

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Posted by nawaf 11:59 Archived in Guatemala Tagged ecotourism Comments (0)

Cremas

semi-overcast 60 °F
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After days of talking about Guatemalan soccer with my teacher the Cremas, which is a rival team to his team the Rojos, was playing the Mexican Pumas. A loss meant that Guatemala would be out of the league so it was an important game. School organized a trip to the game and so I went. The field benches were concrete and we sat right behind the band. The game was fun and to everyone's surprise the Cremas managed to win that game and continue on.

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Posted by nawaf 11:48 Archived in Guatemala Tagged events Comments (0)

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