Kicking off in Guatemala
08/01/2008 - Guatemala
Hi all, here´s the first of the updates as we make our way round this little planet...
Started at 0430 with a rude wake up call, a dash in the dark to an uneventful flight from Heathrow to Madrid, a close call (5 mins) with the Madrid to Guatemala City flight due to poor Madrian (new word we just invented) security.
Long, long flight of 11hrs+ but on arrival very pleased with the relaxed and efficient immigration officials. Swiftly onto Shuttle Bus for hotel and arrived into Antigua after 1hr.
Hotel was traditional in style, our room with chandelier and 20ft ceiling.
Jose, our guide was swiftly located and pointed us in direction of life´s essentials - food and money! The meal being a challenge to our Spanish, with credit card machine broken, no hot drinks, not being able to take 100USD notes, and something incomprehensible about the lights on the roof... ??
We were also concerned about being shot at, but it turned out that the firecrackers were the locals celebrating epiphany.
Loudest dawn Chorus - ever! So up at 6, although by 0830 all birds disappeared without trace, so we wondered whether the hotel had hidden speaker system to get rid of guests!
Met the rest of the group, we are the youngest, and half the group on a retirement trip spending their children´s inheritances.
Off on Walking tour of Antigua, including Cathedral, Main Plaza, Jade Museum (so much better than Chinese Jade apparently), Nunnery (not still functional). Overall the town is really pretty and a Unesco site, but spoiled by cars everywhere.
Firecrackers still disturbing the peace. Women in group cooing over pretty girl dressed in Sunday Best for Church. Blokes muttering and tutting through it all!
Afternoon, 3hr Kamikaze trip through the winding mountain roads to Panajachel on the shores of Lake Atitlan. Hotel Dos Mundos is a bungalow type affair - went out for group dinner overlooking the lake, the local fish (has eaten all others apparently) is Black Bass, which tastes nothing like bitter! Rubbish.
Power-boat ride to other side of Lake, to the village of San Juan la Laguna, viewed local dying (colour) and weaving processes, and tasted the coffee fruit (a bit like cherry) from a local plantation, and then up to the local co-op where they produce the coffee by hand, by drying the seeds out, before roasting the then beans and selling for real cash money to horrible people from the big city for thruppence (oh, boo-hoo!). Survived our first earthquake - well we are on the most active fault line in the world.
Took a hike along the lake´s shores, and ate a picnic on the run at the bottom of a rich someone´s garden who was away at work or something.
Lots of photo opportunities on the way - and you can see a few of these in the gallery.
Spent bloody hours uploading photos, typing this in, and navigating Windows in Spanish, but we should be more efficient next time - which will be Mexico - see you then.
Love, Nicky and Cameron x
PS. Send money.