Friday, May 13, 2011

Guatemala day 1

Well since I have obviously returned from this vacation its kinda weird to say day 1, but this is what I wrote after that first day being in town.  Because I never did get the chance to go online I was never able to post when in Guatemala so I'm doing it after I have returned home. So I figure that I'll try to post vacation stuff and real time stuff together in the next few weeks. Enjoy

OK so I have officially settled into this city and I have to admit that I do feel a little out of place.  So far I have met a few people and they have all seemed really kind, but it’s a very nice blend of my aunt’s older friends and people who I can’t for the life of me understand… Why didn’t I try to learn a little Spanish in the last few months? Oh yeah I was insanely busy as it was and would never have found the time for that addition.  My airport trip in was insane. I have to basically sprint through the E terminal of the Houston airport and made it with only four minutes to spare.  After 12 hours of traveling and not eating anything I made my way though the long hallway and into customs easily and thought the whole baggage, immigration and customs was a breeze.  I met my aunt who was nice enough to come and meet me even though it was past 10 at night and I’m sure past her bedtime. She said that she doesn’t like to make the drive into Guatemala City from Antigua which is about 40 minutes this time of night but can be hours in the day time. As we were heading back I could see why. Antigua is quietly nestled between three volcanoes and so getting into it requires quite the uphill trek. The roads are crazy curvy and visibilities not great. Between the cars, motorbikes, random wild dog and occasion wild horse along the road you have a high chance of hitting something if you’re not really looking out.  Oh and apparently the chance of crime is high along this same road so if you do hit something or have a breakdown or something you might also get robbed or heck something much worse.

Anyways finally arriving in Antigua and getting all settled in my aunt’s house I crashed out for the night with my whole body aching form the crappy seats on the plans and my legs sore from the sprinting. I slept ok this first night. I always have a hard time sleeping in unfamiliar places or in unfamiliar beds. Sometime during the middle of the night I got freezing which is so surprising cause when I went to be it felt like a very warm oven in my little room. The other thing that woke me up was at some point there was some pretty intense rainfall.  Now I am from Seattle so trust me when I say that I have seen some pretty crazy rain showers. This was like the equivalent of what would fall on a whole stormy day in Seattle, but only falling in a maybe hour long period. It was crazy to say the least. But regardless I was able to wake up feeling refreshed and ready to explore a bit.

My aunt who is also named Martha had been telling me about her friends who are running a dog rescue out of the city. We went with one of them and a whole pack of dogs out to a huge coffee fink. A finka is another word for kind of like a plantation or farm, but a very large farm. I guess the rescue has permission to let the dogs run around on the property and it allows them the chance to burn some energy. It was so pretty, so many plants were there and some was in full bloom so you could smell the sweetness of the coffee flowers as you hiked along.

The Coffee Finka

All Guatemalan coffee is shade grown coffee
 Afterward we headed into town where I was given the grand tour of the rescues home. Its was primitive, but you could tell that the people running it have a ton of passion and are really doing some amazing things with these animals. It’s weird to be in a country where dogs run around so freely. There are these huge packs of dogs that chase cars all over the place. Same with the horses, while driving back we got held up because a wild horse pack didn’t want to leave the road way.

Three of the rescue dogs
After spending time with the dogs, my Aunt and I walked all around the city of Antigua. I love it here; it’s so lush and green. It was a perfect day, sunny but not to hot or humid. All the people we passed were friendly and they have so many types of plants that grow its amazing.  We went to some of the old churches and building in town, some had been rebuilt after earthquakes and some were just still ruins. I loved the sense of culture and history you get from being here. They love intricate stone and wood work in the buildings; they use lots of colored glass and fabrics. It’s very much what I expected, but seeing it in person was so much amazing then I thought it would be. I can see why my aunt loves it here.

One of the churches still in use today

walking around town

This place was so freaking cool. and so detailed.

One of the old ruins in town

in the center of one of these ruins.
After walking around we went to a restaurant for lunch, where ironically I had this super yummy Italian pasta dish. I started to notice that all the building might look unassuming form the outside street but inside they could have these huge courtyards or open air gardens with trees and fountains. This restaurant was like that, it had a huge courtyard with tables and fountains and birds galore, and it was the perfect place for afternoon lunch.  After eating we headed a bit out of town and went to a coffee roasting place and Mayan museum music of sorts.  We took tours and I learned all about the Mayan influences that are still heavily in Guatemala as well as all about the coffee grown here. I will say this that from now on I will forever only buy shade grown Coffee. I kind of had already thought to do that because its killing less habitat to grow, but after knowing about how coffee is harvested here it has just strengthen my desires now.  We then made a drive to another small city where my Aunt also has some property and visited some of her friends out there. Everyone has been very nice to me but maybe that’s because I’m her niece. After a long day of seeing a lot about this city I am exhausted but so excited for the next day.  Tomorrow I have another day in Antigua and I figure maybe I’ll get a chance to head out to the finka with the rescue again and walk some doggies in the morning. Either way I’m expecting it to be as exciting as today was.

One of the places to buy traditional Mayan stuff

at the coffee roasting plant.


  1. This is just great Martha..I'm happy for you!! Take care of thoes doggies!! Have fun!!) R.Amado

  2. This is so cool to read about, Martha! I look forward to your next updates. I have been to a lot of the places Martha took you and can totally relate to what you are going through. Mental overload. Many, many short people all around. Not understanding what is going on most of the time. Enjoying the weather.

  3. I am so enjoying reading and it brings back so many memories of our visit to Guat. looking forward to reading the rest of your journey..