Friday, April 17, 2009

"Ruins and Shit"

We paid nothing for our guided tour through Guatemala. Our esteemed guide, Andrew Wigmore, met us at the airport last Friday with printed itineraries for Easter Weekend (Semana Santa, as they call it here) and the rest of our six-day stay. Andrew's friends Marilu, Jose and Eddie joined us for the weekend and we hit the road. We spent Friday heading away from Guatemala City - "only stick around if you want to see nothing interesting and then get mugged," according to Andrew - for the beach on the South Coast.

Andrew stressed the importance of sticking to the itinerary, and for good reason. Our schedule for the beach, jam-packed, included such Saturday activities as "kick soccer ball, float in ocean, cuba libres." The beach in Guatemala looks very similar to that in Bali because of its wide stretches of black volcanic sand. And while the waves pale in comparison to those we encountered in Rio, the current was deceivingly strong. Still, we welcomed the warm water and a chance to relax after our Machu Picchu bonanza.
Saturday night we headed to the center of Puerto San Jose, the town nearest our beach, where "Puerto Rico's reggeaton sensation" Calle 13 held a concert. Our post-taco binge siestas on the beach, however, caused us to be a little late getting to the concert and we missed out on tickets. Dejected but not defeated, we got wind of an alternate party - a surfer rave on the beach - and hitched up our wagons. The rave was, well, what you would expect: lots of surfers camping on the beach in anticipation of a sunrise surf shredding, lots of strobe lights, electronic music, booze and dozens of people passed out in the sand. It was awesome.

On Monday we said goodbye to Marilu, Jose and Eddie, and hopped aboard a chicken bus bound for the town of San Pedro on Lake Atitlan. We spent two nights among the hippies of San Pedro, hippies of all ages but hippies nonetheless, each with their own stash of lanyard material and their own pair of hippie pants. After learning how to blend in, we enjoyed ourselves. The highlight of our visit to the lake, as written in Andrew's itinerary, was an area with "high rocks to jump off, big lake to break your fall." He was right.
In between activities we ate...or rather, in between eating we found time for activities. The cheap Quetzal (Guatemala's local currency) allowed us to dine like kings, and dine we did. Fish Tacos, Beans, Avocado, Shrimp, Eggs, Burritos, Chinese Food, Sausage, Candy, and Pollo Campero (the local fast food chain and one of Guatemala's only multinational corporations, according to Andrew). I gained over 2 kgs in Guatemala, completely negating everything I lost while rumbling up the trail to Machu Picchu in Peru. But it was worth it.

We spent our last two nights in the sleepy town of Antigua, 20 km from Guatemala City and the Cuzco of Guatemala. Old buildings (the tallest building in town had 3 storeys), cobbled roads, and lots of gringos. In between meals and UEFA Champions League fixtures, we followed the itinerary: "wander around town, photos of ruins and shit."

All good things must come to an end, and Guatemala failed to thwart that horrible rule. We said our goodbyes to our tour guide (no tips, though) and flew out early this morning for Mexico City. I now understand why Andrew chose to stay here for the better part of the past couple years.

Not that we can complain with our current situation. Here in Mexico City we are staying with the Neidermires, who lived in Singapore in the early 90s. The Neidermires live in a beautiful apartment, so big that it seems like a house, within a sprawling gated community overlooking part of the city. What part of the city? We have no idea. We do know that the Neidermires have U.S. television channels and a stocked fridge, clean beds and hot showers, and we might not feel like seeing anything else in Mexico City during our two days here. No, serious. We know the backpacking life is rough, but we're just trying to hold ourselves over till we get back to Asia on Sunday...stay tuned.


Anonymous said...

My favorite posting yet. I laughed until I cried....I miss you but was glad to hear your voice yesterday. Happy Trails...Love, mom

Anonymous said...

Too bad you missed Calle 13 - they're pretty damn good.

The Neidermires! Steve is playing golf at Stetson or something, right?

K, bye. -Jake