Antigua, muy tranquilo.

Trip Start Oct 06, 2004
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Guatemala  ,
Saturday, October 9, 2004

So I'm finally on my way then. The flight down went without a hitch, luckily, as I was a bit worried (well not really, just wanted to mention it) about my one-way ticket to Guatemala City. I've heard about people flying on one-way tickets from the US to Latin America, being forced to buy a return ticket (refundable, so no big deal I guess) for different reasons. It turned out to be a non-issue on this flight.

Currently I'm in Antigua, as planned, my first destination so far on this trip. Antigua is an extremely agreeable and pleasant old Spanish colonial city (one of the great cities of the old Spanish empire, so they say). The perfect first stop I would think, to kind of ease your way into the backpacker style.

So I'm here on my fourth day, just chilling. So far it feels very different from the other trips I've done over the years, not being restricted by a limited number of days or weeks to see and do as much as possible (in the shortest possible time.) Nothing wrong with that, but it feels great not to have a schedule set in stone. Traveling solo also make things a bit different, although I very much like my own company! I guess it's one of those things some solo travelers consider before they set out on their own. How easy will it be to meet other people, or strike up a conversation with a stranger? Not that I was getting a tiny bit worried, but I spent the whole first day on my own, and much of the second. Doesn't anyone want to talk to me? I'm approachable, ..or? Hmm, wonder where the guys on the bench next to me are from? They seem friendly enough, oh.. they are leaving already. Ugh!, saved by a Korean guy studying Spanish and a group of local teenage school girls. It feels good to finally talk to someone, just wish they could speak English, or I could speak Spanish, or Korean for that matter. Well, well. Maybe tomorrow...

I've been idling enough for now. Time for some action. I signed up for a day trip to Volcan Pacaya, one of the active volcanos close to Antigua. It's a two hours hike to the top (about 2550 meters), the last 30 minutes being pretty steep. Unfortunately we're not very lucky with the weather (foggy and lots of smoke), but at least we can hear the puffing from Pacaya and the rocks shooting up in the air before they come smashing down into the crater. It's clearing up, wow it's pretty impressive, oops I think I'll take a step back from the ridge. Wonder how many "careless" people end up down there every year? Time to go back down, or actually it was more like shoe-surfing on the loose lava rock, great fun.

So I didn't have to worry about meeting people on this Round The World trip (not that I really did), just open your bloody mouth and start talking to people. Today I met 4 Peace Corps guys from the US, on a two years stay in Honduras. The clueless Dutch guy on a 3 week trip with his brother (the brother organized everything, so he had no idea about what the next day would bring or what city/country they would stay in for that matter.) Another Korean, who didn't speak Spanish, or much English for that matter. Friendly Matt from Melbourne, almost at the end of his two months trip around Cuba, Mexico, Belize and Guatemala. His friend Stephanie from Germany. Well traveled Steve (Kiwi) and Catherine (UK) on their way to Panama, just like me. I'll probably bump into them again. Ana Lorena (from Guatemala, living in Brusells) who spoke Swedish as she used to live in Leksand. Her friend Maritza from Guatemala and her stock-trader boyfriend from Switzerland, living in Antigua. The 3 Israelis of course, they are pretty much everywhere. Jackie from Montana, working at the local orphanage. The two girls from Norway (probably "lesbians" as they didn't want to talk to Matt and me for very long, go figure :-) Cool, I'm sure I'll meet a lot of nice and interesting people on this trip.

Tomorrow I will head for the famous Sunday market up in ChiChi (Chichicastenango).

Hasta luego...
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cajunkayak on

Antigua, Guatemala
Stevefn, I just wanted to say thanks for sharing your experiences with the rest of the world. I will be traveling to Guatemala for the month of September (06) and during those 4 weeks will go to Antigua, Xela, Lake Atitlan, San Pedro la LaGuna, etc. (to Belize for a few days as well). Your sharing of experience and pictures is pretty cool and are making me more excited about the time I will be spending there. Enjoy the rest of your trip, as I will enjoy reading about it.

Lafayette, LA, USA

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