We arrived back from Antigua, yesterday afternoon. We were graciously afforded the company of Beth and James during an extended stay in Antigua this past weekend.
The school that Iniyal and Beth are with, brought the new staff to Antigua to give them a taste of this very beautiful city, within reach of Guatemala City. We were driven out in microbusses – the road was winding and the scenery beautiful, and often curious. We spent the day on a bit of a scavenger hunt, developed to give us all an opportunity to search out a few items that would help acquaint us with some Guatemalan culture. We searched throughout the day for items on the list in a small group. We gathered photographic evidence of items on the list, took a short break for a snack and a drink, and generally breezed through the city… enjoying, for many of us, our first experience in this beautiful city.
An unfortunate turn of events…
…brought one of our comrades, Jamie, down early in the day when she realized that she had been stung by some sort of insect on her finger. Her finger had gone numb, a small red welt tightly holding the remains of a stinger… perhaps from a wasp or bee. Jack, who had clearly seen at least one classic western in his day, sucked the venom from the wound, and then thoroughly cleaned the finger with bottled water and hand sanitizer. We did what we could to save the finger, with what limited medical supplies we had hauled into Antigua. The finger was fortunately saved, and Jamie felt somewhat relieved… this was short lived however as Jamie had started to feel faint a small time later. We called in Support, and one of our guides arrived in the nick of time to gather Jamie and bring her to an assumed safe house for recovery. The rest of our scavenger hunt was overshadowed by our absent associate, and so, we fashioned a reasonable facsimile of her out of paper.. which I later realized, may have been a subconscious homage to the wasp itself. We were sure to include our crude two dimensional effigy of Jamie in a few photo ops… Jamie, quite thankfully, survived the ordeal and currently in high spirits and living quite comfortably at the Hotel San Carlos with her super niceness intact
As the field trip came to a close, the rest of the gang split back to Guatemala City by van, while Iniyal and I remained in La Antigua with Beth and James. The four of us spent some time with Jennifer and had a drink at a local pub. Jennifer, who kindly provided us with the opportunity for a ride back the following day, gave us some insight into Guatemala living and the city of Antigua… later dropping us off at our Hostel; leaving us for the night, with plans to reconnect the next day for a trip to the market.
The Hostel we thought we were going to was not the right Hostel at all, and so, a kind fellow from the wrong Hostel guided us several blocks to the right Hostel we had made reservations at. We thanked him kindly and he left us in the capable hands of the woman who ran the Hostel. She gave us a brief explanation as to how things worked. Toilets and Showers at one end, and the rooms along the corridor. We parted company to get ourselves settled, have a nap and get ready for dinner. We were to reconvene in an hour. Iniyal and I went into our room which was fine if you need a simple and secure place to sleep for the night while in Antigua, however, it gave us a slight (uh…slight?) sensation of claustrophobia, and we quickly decided that we may need to find a hotel with a window to the outside. Iniyal had a discussion with the understanding owner who quite quickly prepared another room upstairs for us to switch to. The new room faced the street. It had a window that opened wide to the night air..and we were both relieved. I wrote James and Beth a quick note… hoping not to disturb them from their nap. I went downstairs and attempted to slip the note under their doors as teenagers causing a cacophony watched intently…. luckily for our friends, not even an ant would be able to penetrate their sanctum sanctorum. Unluckily for me… I could not path the note beneath the door… which was alright I guess…. since.. the fellow that took our previous room, unbeknown to J & B, transmitted the information to them that we were no longer there. Wicked!
We met up, had a laugh, and headed off into the Antiguan evening for some dinner and drinks. Curry all around the table… not terrible as a stir fry with cream sauce on rice – but by no means a curry. Certainly giant portions to fill our hungry bellies. After dinner we headed over to the Rainbow Cafe (excellent coffee) for some drinks and live music. The place was packed, lots of locals out to support their mates in what turned out to be a college rock band… they gave a solid effort. We had a couple of drinks, paid our tab and split at the end of the evening. Returning to the Hostel, we made plans for breakfast and went off to our rooms for some sleep. Iniyal and I crowded together into one of the two single beds for the night… head to toe. We drifted off to the sound of Chicken Buses blasting their air horns, and the cool night breeze rolling in through our open window.
We awoke early to roosters, as we do in the city Hotel, quite early and rose to get into a shower before the warm water ran out. Downstairs, I could already hear another flock of roosters cockle doodle doo-ing disdainfully… these roosters.. a small but loud group of teenagers were effective it seemed at waking an already sleepless James and Beth from their sealed room… sealed of course… airtight, but unfortunately not sound proof. – so sorry amigos.
We headed out into the morning to find some breakfast. We found a nice open air eatery, and ate. The coffee was weak, and I reminded James about the delicious coffee I had had the day before at the Rainbow. James is a coffee fiend of sorts.. and was clearly dying for a really solid coffee… of which he had not yet experienced – yet, I taunted him still. After breakfast, we wandered in a direction that Beth and Iniyal took us marveling at the view of volcanos… leading directly into a loud procession seemingly celebrating the Virgin Mary. This was a treasure. A moment came and passed when I thought the revelers were carrying a casket covered in flowers.. but with a closer look.. I was pretty convinced that the casket, was more of a vessel for the flowers sprouting out of the top. If it was a casket and this was in fact a funeral… what a truly marvelous celebration of ones life and passing! We lost ourselves for a moment in the swelling crowd and watched the parade of musicians (a marching band) leading a trail of people down the street. Firecrackers exploded occasionally in bursts of a few hundred. We marched on ourselves, salmon upstream.. I took some pleasure in that. Going towards where they had come from.
We returned to the Hostel to check out and head towards the Antigua market to reconnect with Jennifer.
Jennifer met us at the market as planned. She took us on a very educational tour of the marketplace where we saw everything; Clothing and textiles, to shoes, belts, masks, artwork, fruits and tongues…
We wandered through the market for a spell before returning to Jennifer’s car for the trip back to Guatemala City. The road was winding and the scenery beautiful, and often curious.
Arriving back at the hotel that afternoon… Iniyal and I said our “hasta luegos” to our new friends and retired to our room. We were tired and wanted to stay in together, have dinner, watch tv, check email and sleep early… drifting off to the soothing rain that had begun to fall outside.