Sunday, March 28, 2010

Guatemala, pt. 1

So, I went to Guatemala like...8 months ago. None of this is news to anyone, but:

SARAH, THIS IZ 4 U. (Hopefully it won't be another 8 months until I post pt. II, which is probably what you want to see, since pt. II includes you...)

Friday, July 24
Had to catch a taxi at 4am to get from my apartment to the Union to catch the bus to the Chicago airport. Ugh. I got off to an inauspicious start, as I ended up losing one of my luggage locks (In the taxi? Didn't latch it right?) and forgetting my sunglasses (which I apparently lost, b/c I still have yet to find them). No sunglasses in Guatemala? Great...

Anyway, I got the airport fine, but my flight to Miami was delayed 2 hours. What sucked especially bad about this was that we boarded the flight on time...and then they discovered some sort of mechanical problem (with the fuel pump?) after we were all on the plane. So we all sat on the plane for an hour and a half. It was really hot. And stuffy. It took about 45 minutes for air to start circulating, and over an hour for any sort of air conditioning to be turned on. At one point, the captain told everyone on one side of the plane to shut their window shades so the sunlight wouldn't continue to bake the inside of the plane. Anyway, after sitting on the plane for an hour and a half, they finally announced that they had no idea how much longer we'd be delayed, so we all had to get off the plane (with all our luggage). We all get off. 15 minutes later, they make an announcement that the problem is fixed, and we all had to board again. Figures.

I wasn't concerned with my connecting flight to Guatemala, because I had a large layover. Turns out, my flight from Miami to Guatemala was delayed 2.5 hours, anyway. Ugh. But I finally made it to Guatemala late at night, and customs and immigration were a breeze. I walk out of the airport and there were tons of people standing out there waiting for people. I couldn't find Brighton in the crowd, so I just stood there feeling lost and idiotic for a few minutes. I was approached by some man with flowers asking me about Mexico. In Spanish. That was interesting. I finally saw Brighton (and Tribble), and was driven home my Jaime. ::sigh:: Jaime...

I met Mita (Ana Maria, Brighton's grandma). She is quite the energetic and outgoing grandma! Even in the dark, I could tell that her house was beautiful!

Saturday, July 25
So, meals at Casa de Mita are quite the event. Very delicious. For breakfast this morning, I had scrambled eggs, refried frijoles negros, bread and jam, cocoa, and coffee. Delicioso. We (me, Brighton, and Ros - B's mom) then left for Iximche and Chichicastenango. We were driven by Jaime. ::sigh:: Jaime...

Jaime had a little trouble navigating through the streets of this one town to get to Iximche. Turns out there was some sort of festival going on for some saint or other. There was even a parade that we were able to see from the car. :) Iximche are Mayan ruins, on a much smaller scale than Tikal. Originally, we were going to go to Copan (just over the border in Honduras), but Honduras was in the middle of their coup, so it wasn't the best time to be going there. Boo. But Iximche was interesting, although you couldn't climb on any of the ruins (which I appreciate from a preservation standpoint, but am sad about from a "I want to climb on them!" standpoint). Brighton, with her good grasp of Spanish, ended up translating the Spanish-only informational plaques for these other two women. She would make an excellent tour guide.

For those of you interested in history: Iximche was the capital of the late Postclassic Kaqchikel Maya kingdom from 1470 until its abandonment in 1524. The Spanish burned down the city in 1526. The site’s central core is bounded on three sides by ravine walls and separated from the main residential area by an artificial creek. The site center consists of four large and two small plazas, each of which contained at least two temples. Along with elite palaces, there are two ballcourts, the larger of which is 40 m long. President G.W. Bush visited the site on March 12, 2007. Local Maya priests said that they would be conducting purifying rites after his visit to cleanse the area of "bad spirits" brought by the president, who they say persecutes their "migrant brothers" in the United States (from Wikipedia).

For lunch, we went to a place called Katuk. It was pretty good. There was this excellent green dip stuff. We then headed for Chichicastenango. We stayed at a beautiful hotel in Chichi, full of all kinds of antique furniture. We all had a hankering for pizza, so we went to this restaurant we had seen earlier that boasted pizza (Kieq-ik Waim Ja). We sit down and order and find out that they're out of pizza. Bummer. So we got nachos with runny cheese and some fries. There was also some excellent green dip, like we had at Katuk. Then we went back to our hotel and slept.

Sunday, July 26
We went out and explored the giant market. It was a crappy day, and was raining. I didn't buy anything. The language barrier and haggling for prices intimidates me. We had breakfast at a place called Casa San Juan. I had pancakes (panqueques), fried plantains, refried black beans, scrambled eggs with salsa, and some hard cheese. And coffee. It was tasty.

We left fairly early (due to crappy weather) and headed back to Antigua. The roads are absolutely crazy! Very curvy, and they were doing construction which made them even crazier. We got back to Antigua and ate lunch at a place called Tartines, where I had an asparagus crepe. It rained pretty hard that day, so we watched some TV. Since we were denied pizza the night before, we decided to get pizza tonight...but after we got there, we discovered that the pizza place was closed. Bummer! The world did not want us to eat pizza! :D We ended up going to Nokiate, a sushi place. It was delicious. And I have in my notes that the waiters were anal retentive.

Monday, July 27
Woke up and had my usual breakfast (see Saturday above). We then went to the Antigua market. I didn't buy anything, yet again. We toured a big ol' house, which was very cool. Back at the house, we had a delicious lunch. It was chicken with green sauce. Pollo de jacon, or something, with rice with lorocos (?), carrot soup (yum), and tortillas. We later had some chips and salsa at a place called Cafe Sky, where we sat on a rooftop and had a great view. We went to some ruins within Antigua, toured the Spanish Embassy, and also toured some sort of mechanical school where they train Guatemalans to do...mechanical stuff. For dinner we went to El Pescador Italiano, and we shared pizza (finally), some sort of balsamic eggplant dish, and sweet potato gnocchi. Delicious.


Tuesday, July 28
We toured a bunch of awesome houses in Antigua. For lunch we had pepian and fried plantains. We toured the San Francisco church ruins. For dinner we went to JP's Rum Bar where I got a mojito and shared fries, jumbalaya, and quesadillas. We also apparently went to Cafe Flor and had egg rolls. Hmm. We must have been hungry that night!

Wednesday, July 29
Had the usual breakfast. Toured another lady's house. It was awesome, and she even had some great looking pre-Columbian artifacts that I could see up close and personal. We then went to La Merced ruins/church. I bought a beaded bracelet that day. We had lunch at a place called Epicure. It was good. We went and bought tickets to Pacaya for the next day, then had dinner at Nokiate again. There was a thunderstorm that night.