Saturday, July 26, 2008
The Guatamala Chronicles:Part 1
Our trip to Guatamala was an amazing trip filled with some really incredible, once in a lifetime experiences. And since I know most people just look at the pictures, myself being one of them, I figure I'll put all the pictures first. For those interested in the words, you'll just have to scroll down!!
After surviving an excruciatingly long layover in Dallas-Fort Worth, during which time I scoured the airport for a glasses repair kit, we arrived in Guatamala city late in the evening. Our car rental place closed before we were able to get the car, (which they weren't supposed to have done) and so we took a taxi to our hotel in Antigua, about a forty-five minute drive. The first thing I noticed about Guatamala were the large garbage cans in each stall in the bathroom. I quickly learned that flushing toilet paper is a big no-no in Guatamala. That is very much an ewwww for me, but I survived!
The roads in Guatamala are at best horrid. (There are a few decent ones, but they are few and far between.) In the city of Antigua it is cobblestone, and thus a very bumpy ride. Although I was exhausted, I was fascinated by the hotel we stayed in. The streets were very narrow with very little sidewalk. All of the buildings, including our hotel, had heavy wood doors. Our hotel also had a big wrought iron door for security. Needless to say, this made me a tad nervous! I was very nervous about the whole sleeping situation, and checked the bed for bugs before getting in! I'm happy to report that none of the places we actually stayed in were scary!
After surviving our first night, we got up (which wasn't difficult as the beds were very, very, very firm)and went in search of breakfast. Much to my relief, we found a place called the bagel barn. I was perfectly happy to have a bagel for breakfast since eating was the number two concern on my long list of concerns! We wandered around Antigua for a bit whilst my brother-in-laws had a long and exciting experience attempting to rent a car. We went to the bank to change our money to Quetzales and saw our first of many armed guards. It's a little unnerving to walk into places of business and have a man standing there armed with a machine gun. I'm just used to seeing the little handguns!! They take weaponry seriously in Guatamala.
We drove to a place called Chichicastenango and got our first taste of bartering at the market place. The drive itself was an adventure. You've never seen a switchback until you've driven through Guatamala. Plus we saw two giant trucks that had crashed and/or gotten stuck.
Guatamalans are relentless and never give up! That's what we learned at the market! We got the kids some great souveniers and had a lot of fun. It was amazing to see the people with their goods out on tables, and on blankets on the ground. They had things everywhere. After the market, we drove to Lake Atitlan. It was breathtaking. We chartered a boat to cross, which was done by my brother-in-law (thank heavens one of us knew more spanish than what we learn from Dora!). We walked around the little town on the other side and looked at a couple of scary hotels. (By scary, I mean moldy, ceilings falling down, questionable beds scary!) We ended up taking some tuktuks (the funky red taxi's) and staying in a very nice hotel called the Bambu. It was nice, and the restaurant was fabulous! We learned to ask for pure water, which was bottled, and we had no problems with eating or drinking.
Our hotel had a pool, and after dinner, the crazy boys went swimming. It was very cold, and the girls were smart and just watched the crazy boys! After a long, busy, amazing day, we had no problem crashing on our very, very, very, very, firm bed!