Once again while in Guatemala, we traveled by mini-bus. The trip from Lanquin to Antigua was similar to the one from Flores to Lanquin… except for the fact that about 4 or 5 hours into the drive, the landscape was no longer lush jungle and a horizon filled with mountains, but sandy, dry and very much like a desert. I’ve actually never been to a desert before — the closest I’ve seen to a desert is probably the Badlands — so I thought the unexpected sandiness and cacti and lack of vegetation and everything was actually really cool!
After about 8 hours, including a McDonald’s stop in Coban, we arrived in Antigua with a few hours of light still left in the day. And here we parted ways with our friends, Scott, Shannon, Ringo, Kian, and Finn. Ian and I had a hostel booked already, I think Ringo was looking for a job at a hostel, and the other four were going to Roo’s which sounded like a really fun hostel.
So Ian and I wandered around looking for Yellow House Hostel for 10 minutes or so before realizing that we had been dropped off just two blocks down from where it was located! So we found it, checked in, and the girl who worked there gave us a little tour of the place. It was an absolutely beautiful and charming place to stay. The roof balcony was so cute and cozy with all these hammocks and comfy chairs. And the room that Ian and I were staying in had its own private little section of the balcony! So nice! I would also like to point out the fact that the crappy Knights Inn we had stayed at in Jamaica, New York the night before our flight left costed more for one night than three nights at this really nice “hostel”. Unfortunately, because we had extended our time in Lanquin due to me being sick, the three nights we had planned on staying in Antigua became only one. So tonight was sadly our last night in Guatemala!
We relaxed and got settled in for about an hour before getting hungry enough to begin the search for dinner. We didn’t want to lay around all afternoon when we still had to see the whole entire city! So we headed three or four blocks to the east to Parque La Merced outside La Merced Church where there were tons of stands set up selling food. And then, of course, we saw our old friends. They were eating their dinner and recommended we had what they were having. So Ian got the sandwich thing and I got the tortilla thing and they were both very good and so cheap compared to what that would have cost in the States. Even the “Taco Stand” back home, which has comparable food to what we ate, has way higher prices than what that cost us. They were finished eating by the time we got our food, so they were off to the next thing, but told us where they were going and to meet them there! We said “okay, see you later” because both of us seriously loved that group of people and would do anything to hang out with them again.
When we found the bar they were talking about, it looked completely empty but we walked halfway to the back and didn’t see them, so we decided to check back later. Anyways, Ian and I hadn’t done any souvenir shopping our entire time in Guatemala, so now was the time to do so. We mostly just browsed around and took in everything, thinking that we could start to think about what we wanted and then continue tomorrow and get what we needed (wanted) then. I knew that I had an interest in getting postcards, a wallet or purse of some kind, a magnet, some kind of Guatemalan textile, perhaps an ornament, and Ian and I both wanted to get shirts!
We then decided it was time to meet up with them at the bar they said they were going to so we headed back there. This time, we ran into Ringo on our way and he sounded surprised when we said we hadn’t seem them there. So he led us to the very back, and sure enough, there they were. We then proceeded to meet some new people; there was a really nice Kiwi couple from the others’ hostel and they were both great to talk to! I can’t remember their names, but the guy said “Now that’s a handshake” when we introduced ourselves and told me that I had one of the best handshakes out of all the women he had ever shaken hands with. I took this as a great compliment, but was surprised and couldn’t imagine the types of women he had shaken hands with! I had been taught that it’s bad to have a limp, dead-fish handshake… Come on, ladies!
We caught up with Eddie and Katie, too, who we hadn’t seen the past few days. And then this Latino pop star (apparently) started to play his guitar and sing VERY LOUDLY. His mic and guitar were connected to huge speakers which created quite the problem as we were sitting directly in front of him and were all trying to have conversations! It honestly just got to be too loud so we all got up and left. Which was probably looked pretty rude but oh well.
We were then walking around when everyone started to want heading back to their hostels. And so they did. Eventually it was just Ian, Kian, Finn, Ringo and I and we still wanted to do something, so Ringo asked a local where we should go and he pointed us toward this little bar that was playing music only in Spanish (yay) and everyone was dancing. So while Ian and I started dancing, the other three were feeling pretty awkward I think. Finn danced with a pole for a bit. I don’t get why they didn’t ask anyone to dance… don’t they realize that a British accent can get a guy pretty far? But yeah so they ditched us and then Ian and I only danced for a little while more before heading back and going to sleep.
The next day, our last day in Guatemala, we woke up to breakfast being served in the courtyard. The spread was great: fresh watermelon and pineapple, omelets, pancakes, bread, beans, potatoes, orange juice, hot chocolate, and coffee. Delicious! We ate on our cute, little patio surrounded by beautiful flowers and a wonderful view of the volcano. It was late morning and, when we finished eating, we found ourselves basking in the warm and welcome sunshine. The sun’s warmth was a soothing feeling, even in the midst of my decently bad sunburn. We had to check out soon after so we packed up all our stuff and got ready to spend our last few hours in Guatemala. We left our bags at the hostel and headed out on the colonial cobblestone streets.
I hadn’t taken nearly as many pictures as I had wanted to on the trip, so I spent the day trying to capture the beauty of Antigua — not just with a camera, but with my senses and my mind.
There was a lot to do and see, especially since we were there around the time of Semana Santa. There was a little parade with kids wearing purple robes, carrying what looked like coffins (but were really parade floats) down the cozy colonial streets. The kids were tiny and straining under the weight of what they were carrying. It was slightly alarming but also charmingly funny to see little grimaces on their faces. Most of them were probably only 7 or 8. It seemed like their parents were walking along with the parade, though, so I’m sure it was fine!
Ringo walked by looking for a place to do laundry. We told him we didn’t know. Then we ran into Kian and Finn (it seemed so easy to run into the few people that we knew in Antigua!) and they told us that they had gone to the market to get shirts so we decided to find the place they were talking about. And I was so glad when we did! It was a huge market and there was a lot to see there. It seemed like you could find pretty much anything you wanted there. Anything from shoes to DVDs to jewelry to fruit to phone cases to furniture to baby toys! I only ended up buying a headband and a bracelet, but Ian got a drug rug (pictured below) — if we had more time I totally would have just wandered around there all day, taking my time looking at everything.
We ran into the chicken bus terminal which seemed so confusing and chaotic. Buses were going in and out and I constantly just felt like I was standing in the way. We ended up booking a bus from a travel agency anyways that took us from the sidewalk in front of Yellow House to La Aurora Airport that evening. I had kind of wanted to experience a ride on a chicken bus, but I guess it’ll have to wait till next time!
During our last few hours in Guatemala, we got lunch for under $7 for the both of us, Ian got his shoes shined by a 14 year old kid named Israel, I finally found and bought postcards but when I finally found the post office, it was closed, and we just had a good time exploring and taking pictures. It would have been nice to officially say goodbye to all the people we met, but we never ran into them. I hope they all have safe and exciting travels! Last I heard, they’re all still traveling Central America together!
Antigua was beautiful; I just wish we had those two extra days. I’ll be back for sure.