Antigua, Guatemala

Travel Day from Roatán to Antigua Guatemala

I got up yesterday and did a little packing. I ate my last breakfast at the Splash Inn Dive Resort. Down at the Mares Dive Shop, I bought some gift certificates for the staff and collected what I could to provide tips to everyone else. Not once could I get cash from the ATM, though interestingly, when I was leaving the West End in the taxi to the airport, I saw the armed guards delivering the cash to the ATM. It looked like a SWAT operation.

I finished packing and learned how to make a granny square on YouTube while I waited for my taxi. At the airport I had to fill out some annoying online forms on my phone to exit Honduras and enter Guatemala, which bills itself as “two countries, one territory”, but I finished them and got to the waiting area two hours before my flight. It was turning out to be a day of waiting around.

Finally, we got on the stifling hot plane and we took off for San Pedro Sula on the mainland of Honduras. The flight was just 35 minutes long. At the airport, I managed to get a bite to eat before the three shops closed up for the evening.

I waited another hour before the flight to Guatemala City. That flight was 55 minutes of air pocket hell as we landed after a thunderstorm. I got through passport control and customs and then waited an hour for another passenger to share a taxi with me.

The ride to Antigua was long and likely pretty in some parts but it was dark and rainy. All that I could see were shopping centers anchored by massive, new, impressive McDonald’s. I think I saw 15 or so on the way here.

The streets of Antigua are a car- and body-jolting cobblestone situation. We found my hotel and I hopped out. I rang the bell, pounded on the door knocker, and waited an uncomfortably long time in the dark on the street before the receptionist let me into the Hotel San Rafael.

Inside the 7-room boutique hotel is absolutely stunning. It’s an old colonial home with courtyards, art, and fountains, with breakfast served in the handsomely furnished porticos. My room is amazing. It has old furniture and an impressive bathroom.

It’s about 1000 degrees cooler here than Roatán and the humidity feels nice and normal, so even though it was late and I was exhausted, I took a shower to wash off the dust and sweat of Honduras. Long may the cooler weather prevail.

Antigua Guatemala, Guatemala

OH.MY.GOSH. This is a fun and beautiful place. I had a nice sleep, and a delicious breakfast here in the courtyard of the hotel, and then wandered all over the central part of Antigua. I visited art museums, churches, artisan markets, a wine bar, and good restaurants. It’s a lot like San Miguel de Allende. I think I should come back to see the lakes and mountains.

My only problem is that my feet and ankles still feel sore. My left Achilles area doesn’t just have a scab, it’s tender and bruised.  I think tomorrow I will turn the corner. Still, I won’t be hiking up any volcanos. 

Tonight the mountains started showing themselves as the clouds lifted. The big volcano here isn’t massive like Mt. Fuji, but it’s pretty tall and dominates the town’s horizon. There are mountains all around Antigua. Tomorrow I have to find a suitcase because I bought a bunch of textiles They were so beautiful.

Tonight, near my hotel I found a wine bar and had a few drinks with the nice people there. I met Oscar from Guatemala, Lauren from Austin, a group of folks from Columbia, and some Brazilians.

Day two in Antigua

Today, I had yet another delicious breakfast. I got ready and walked to the regular market and bought a suitcase. I brought it back to the room and then walked to the convent of the Capuchin. It was large and important. People work in the spaces now converted into offices. It had a museum, an office for the construction team working on the site, and gardens.

I found Cactus Tacos and ate shrimp and bacon tacos. They were pretty good and the place was cute.

I went back to the artisans’ market near my hotel and bought some huaraches for Charlotte and me. I came back to the hotel to rest and pack. I took the suitcase to a DHL office and shipped it home for less than the airlines were going to charge me to check it twice.

I walked on to Sky Cafe for the view and a beer with a cool young guy from Manchester who was on a post-law-school-grad trip before he plans to start an international law master’s in Amsterdam.

He walked me back to the Cactus Taco place and this time I had carnitas tacos. Again, very good, but they have nothing on tacos in Tucson or San Diego. I’m waiting for the Michelin-starred taco food trucks in DF starting tomorrow.

I went back to the wine bar near my hotel and tried some famous rum made in Guat but it wasn’t too special to me. Wine is fine.

I’m all set for my trip to Mexico City tomorrow. I decided against the Spanish-language study trip to Oaxaca for now. I had lots of reasons but I’m tired of thinking about it. I’ll be home now in less than two weeks and that sounds pretty good.