Our adventure started in the wee hours on July 6th, 2011 in The Dalles, Oregon and moved fluidly through our trip to PDX (thanks, Isaac!), a flyover the Cascades (Mt. Hood, below),
a layover in Dallas, and arrival in Guatemala City. It continued through immigration and customs, into our prearranged shuttle van (note the creative spelling),
and into our beautiful little room in Antigua at Casa Cristina (photo was taken the next morning).
Fonda de la Calle Real offered fabulous pepián, a savory local soup, and chairs marked with the names of famous people who sat in them; Bill Clinton shared his with me.
We slept in, took in the view of La Merced from the rooftop terrace
and enjoyed a wonderful típico breakfast a few doors down at Fernando’s; their good cat Misha took a turn on my lap, a repeat pleasure from 2009.
We stopped by the Academia Antigüeña (Spanish school) to visit old friends and meet the Spanish teacher, Dilia, who I’ve been taking Skype video lessons plus a 2nd good cat named Misha.
Then we went next door to the ice cream shop to spend time with 86-year-old Benjamin, another friend from 2009. He was the head of tourism in Antigua for more than 30 years and has lots of stories to tell. My favorites - and I suspect his - are about spirits and ghosts. I returned later in the day (and the next day) for more stories and more ice cream.
After that 1st visit with Benjamin we headed west to the beautiful ruins of San Jerónimo, just a block or 2 from our hotel.
We walked through the fascinating market
to the bus lot and onto a chicken bus
and headed through Jocotenango to the village of Pastores, famous for dozens of shops selling boots. Mike tried some on but we didn’t buy boots
though we couldn't resist some cashews.
Back in Antigua we bought strawberries, bananas, and gigantic grapes for lunch
and enjoyed the market scenery.
We spent the afternoon exploring, including visits to La Merced and
a non-purchase visit to the amazing museumesque store, Nim Pot.
(ew - left front leg doesn't look so good)
We headed through the famous arch
to the parque central (catedral at dusk below).
We bought a SIM card for our little Guatemala travel phone and eventually made our way to a locals' restaurant by the market where we enjoyed tortillas and chile rellenos and local talent.
Up at 7 on Friday, July 8th, we grabbed coffee (Mike), a fruit licuado (me), and 2 pieces of banana bread at Fernando’s and returned to our room for a wonderful breakfast featuring masses of strawberries and giant grapes. We headed to the office of Don Quijote Cruisers where we picked out cruiser bikes, met our guide, Luis, and hit the road. We bumped along the cobblestones through the heart of Antigua (love those big balloon tires and padded seats!)
and made a brief stop in the nearby village of Jocotenango
before heading to the Filadelfia Coffee Finca, founded in the 1800’s. We made a circuit through the coffee fields
and rewarded our efforts with a stop in the restaurant for wonderful coffee drinks and scenery
before heading back to town.
Our next stop was the home of Claudia for a cooking lesson - delightful!! This was also arranged through Don Quijote Cruisers. We made dobladas,
atole, fried plantains, and cabbage salad and then sat down to the robust and satisfying lunch.
Next stop was the ruins of Las Capuchinas, one of my favorites in Antigua.
There was a noise parade featuring the local candidates for Seniorita Antigua and pickup loads of boys chanting their names
as we made our way to the ruins of the catedral.
Another round through the market for dinner fruit and vegies (the vendor agreed to the photo happily, then chose this pose)
then we rested a bit before I met again with Benjamin - what a treasure!
I purchased our shuttle tickets for tomorrow’s trip to Panajachel on Lake Atitlan through Adrenalina Tours, and this nice watercolor of the arch from Byron González.
My friend Sylvia will recognize this bench in Casa Cristina where the wireless is best, where I leave you tonight. Happy trails!
We headed first to the highlands of Guatemala where we spent a few nights in Antigua before moving on to Lake Atitlán to enjoy the scenery, renew friendships at the Cooperativa Spanish School, and celebrate with our Beca Project students and their families. Then we flew to the island of Roatán, Honduras for beaches, snorkeling, diving, and flyfishing. HAPPY TRAILS!