Walking around Quetzaltenango

Trip Start Dec 14, 2007
Trip End Nov 04, 2008

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Kiktem-Ja: the best shower in Latin America!

Flag of Guatemala  ,
Tuesday, August 5, 2008

What a fun evening yesterday. We met up with Claire and Emmanuel at Cafe Tecun which states it is the oldest bar in Guatemala (since 1934...). Food is great there, so we managed to share travel stories for quite a few hours before our eyes were way too sleepy and forced an escape to the hotel.

The cafe is inside an arcade very similar to those that can be found in London or Paris. Its original intention in 1900 was to house expensive shops and cafes, but it never worked out (probably due to the lack of sufficiently wide higher class). Now it is a collection of bars and restaurants which are a hit with the locals (and the gringos although happily we were very much outnumbered by locals).

A funny coincide: Emmanuel worked for 1 year in the same building as Marcos in Paris at La Defense!

Back in the hotel we got all the blankets and bed covers available as the temperature here falls sharply in the evenings. We are now at a certain height (2.300 metres above sea level) so the fresh air and low temperatures are extremely welcome after weeks on end using fans and air conditioning to keep alive!

After a good nights sleep, we had what was probably our largest breakfast in the last 8 months at the Baviera Cafe (see picture for details). It had everything you can imagine in the modern day guatemalan diet (eggs, sausage, banana, frigoles, bread, butter, marmalade, spicy sauce, coffee, goat cheese...endless!).

So after such a calorie injection we forced ourselves to a little walk around the town to take some pictures and see if anything else was on offer. The town, as mentioned yesterday, is a lovely small one with the mountains surrounding it 360 degrees (which compensates a bit for the incredible pollution the little existant traffic creates).

In comparison to other places, it has plenty of stonework in the architecture, so not too many white clay walls as we saw in San Cristobal. The place is very relaxed and worth a days stay.

To earn some cultural brownie points we went to the Natural History Museum, which to any European must create the question of what exactly they want to show there, and what sort of logic or order they followed when they planned it. Luckily today it was free access so no valuable Quetzals wasted (although we do recommend it even if paying)

The information cards next to the objects just state when they were donated to the museum, and most of them state "use and date unknown". But the weird thing is that the whole place just looks like someones store room, with a mix of Mayan vases, coke and fanta bottles (with no explanation of why they are there), packets of cigarrettes (and an explanation of how tobacco is made), and the weirdest (and scariest at time) the "zoology" room.

The so called zoology room has about 200 works or a taxidermist that seems to have started with very bad results and never really got the hang of it. Most of the animals seem to be handicapped and their eyes popping out in extremely unnatural forms.

The top ones are indeed the sheep with 8 legs, the calf with 2 heads, the 2 bodied piglet or a seaform which they have called "Diablillo de Mar" (Little Sea Devil) which can be described as a squashed shrimp mixed with a starfish. Sadly there is no information about the creature and most if it is covered by a big sign with its name.

Tomorrow we will continue our trip towards the East. It will be a five hour trip to La Antigua Guatemala (via Panajchel and Atitlan Lake) in a shuttle bus. We decided on the comfort and safety for the last 3 bus rides we have left in Central America, and especially because the chicken buses in Guatemala are just too much on the dangerous driving qualification for us. At this stage we feel the $25 per person for a 5 hour drive is well invested.

A few final comments on the pictures we have attached today:

1- Marcos feels there is a hidden message in the 4 Celtic crosses which are spread in the Parque Central (see picture). For those who feel to the contrary, here is the link to help on your decision:
Link: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Image:Neo-Nazi_celtic_cross_flag.svg

2- There was march with loads of children holding balloons and similar crossing the centre of Quetzaltenango. Marcos took this picture without being too obvious given the sensitivity there is Guatemala with foreigners getting close to children or taking photographs of them. We know its an exagerration in a large town, but in the past few years tourists have got into trouble with the natives as there seems to be a kidnap for human organs network, or misunderstanding of illegal adopting when foreigners get close. Just in case its better not to talk or photograph children...so a rare glimpse for us here.

3- The smallest security guard. He guards the Baviera Cafe. He really measures about 1.20 metres, but he does have a gun with him!

Next entry from La Antigua. Cheerio
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