Another Day, Another City

Trip Start Sep 05, 2005
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Guatemala  ,
Saturday, July 22, 2006

Dave and I got talking last night about what our final destination on this trip could be. We had originally planned to head down Central America as far as Panama City and then head back up to Cancun before flying back to the States and our flight home to London. But we started thinking about just blitzing it through Central America and seeing how far south we could get in a short amount of time. The prospect of reaching Columbia or Ecudaor sounded like a real challenge, over land all the way, and it was something for us to seriously consider.

Either way we were heading further south again today and to the 4th new town in 4 days. Good going if you ask me but I doubt most people could keep up travelling at that speed. We were going to Antigua and wanted to get there as early as possible as I assumed I would really like the town.

So we got up before 8am and walked the short distance along Hippy Boulevard to flag down the first chicken bus out of town. Took us less than a minute to find a bus that was heading to Guatemala City and we were soon on the road out of Gringoville.

An hour later we were still on the bus and back where we had started! The bus had driven up the hill to Solola dropped off all the passengers except for us and then returned to Panajachel. We were getting pretty fed up but a very large group of American tourists turned up and the bus switched destination to a direct journey to Antigua which was a bit of a bonus.

The journey was a bit interesting. Instead of travelling along the main highway we took a route through the country lanes, winding around the edge of a very steep mountain with 2-3km drops on the side. The road wasn't the greatest and was still being built in sections but we finally arrived in Antigua a few hours later.

On arrival we were completely lost. It says in the LP that Antigua is better sign posted than most towns in Guatemala but that was rubbish as we couldn't find a single street sign. There were foreigners everywhere and it was a nightmare trying to find accommodation. All of the hostels seemed full and we ended up at some little guesthouse back near the bus station. To be honest it really wasn't that bad as the room was big, had 2 double beds and was reasonably cheap.

We were starving so headed towards the park in the centre of town and went to Burger King. Yes I should be eating the local food but I just couldn't be bothered today with all the hassle of trying to find a cheap local place and decipher the Spanish menu. Either way Burger King was very satisfying.

After lunch I went to checkout Parque Central while Dave went off to find directions to a hospital in town. His hearing still hadn't cleared up so he needed to visit a doctor to get it sorted. The town centre was really busy today and loads of people were busy setting up for a party later in the night. I sat around in the park waiting for Dave to come back with the information and just watched the world go by. There are 3 volcanoes surrounding Antigua, one active, and I looked around but couldn't spot where it was. The big one was quite impressive though.

Dave returned and we set off to the doctors. Took about 20 minutes and I had to be used to help translate the doctors instructions at the end! I hardly know any Spanish but we managed ok. By the time we had finished at the doctors and purchased all the medicine it was 4pm and the clouds were closing in so we quickly walked back to the hostel. 10 minutes later and it started to rain....again!

The rain every evening was really starting to get to me. It meant I couldn't do all the sightseeing I had wanted to, I didn't even see the famous cathedral, and just had to sit around mopping in the bedroom. When it seemed like it wasn't going to stop any time soon we got suited up in rain gear and wandered off to find a net cafe. If I can't do any sightseeing then I may as well use the time to get some more pictures uploaded.

After a couple of hours at the Internet I was feeling crap. I was coming down with another fever and just wanted to go back to the room and rest. The rain had stopped though so we wandered around the streets and went to see the cathedral. I thought it would be all lit up but it was pitch black so we decided that was enough and I really needed to rest.

It was still quite early so I sat around reading for about an hour before finally turning out the light. One thing that's very common about the cheap places we stay is we normally get the box rooms. They have no windows but it's normally OK for a night or 2. Tonights room was a bit different. For the first time I can remember the room was completely sealed. I hadn't noticed it earlier in the day but when I turned the light off it was complete darkness. Not a single crack letting in any natural light! It was so dark that I could sleep with my eyes open! I sat around for about 10 minutes to see if my eyes would adjust to the darkness but nothing changed! It's an incredibly weird feeling and not exactly too pleasant.

I had expected to really like Antigua but I wasn't overly impressed. It was very similar to San Cristobal but with far too many tourists. I do like the cute cobbled streets and colourful crumbling buildings and can understand why people stay here for a couple of weeks learning Spanish. It just wasn't for me though but no bother; another day, another town, another country tomorrow! Keep on marching south a day at a time.
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