Wednesday 26 September 2007

Antigua – Guatemala

Located between the volcanoes of Agua, Acatenango, and Fuego Antigua was the central city for Spanish Central America. After an earthquake in 1773 the capital was destroyed, and the administrative centre was moved. However a lot of the old colonial buildings remain here. I arrived amidst a cloud of fog which obscured the vistas but did give the city an eerie feeling.
Given it was Saturday accommodation was difficult to find. After a long search of some pretty drab places I finally found a hotel called Los Amigos, it is on 7a. Whatever you do, don’t stay here ever. I was given a private room, where I thought my stuff was safe. After I came back from dinner someone had gone through my stuff and my mobile phone was missing. There were only two keys and I had one. So the only possible thief was the owners. I questioned them but they denied it. The excuse offered was they had plenty of phones, where she promptly produced two phones and her kids all had nice phones also.. Couldn’t help thinking how many other guests they had robbed. I called the police but they were useless. Just as well the phone was the only thing of value in the room. So to the owners of Los Amigos .. in my best Mexican “Chinga tu madre”!!!
But apart from this sour note the rest of Antigua seems quiet nice, there is a good market where I picked up a Barcelona replica shirt for the equivalent of 6 euro. There are some good bars also; the best I found yesterday was Mono Loco, a lively sports bar.
Sunday I took a tour to see Pacaya Volcano which was amazing. The minibus wound it way up these really atrocious roads, seemingly impossible until we reached the village of San Francisco. It’s a far cry from California and really a very poor purely indigenous hamlet. From here we met the guide and set off up the hill. It is a 3 km walk through the jungle until you emerge on a ridge for a perfect view of the lava field. We proceeded down to the lava, so close we actually cooked a head of corn in the lava and got within feet of a flowing river of lava. No were in Europe could you do this! The insurance guys would have a fit. I met some nice people, including two people from Lanzarotte in the Canary Islands. It was really satisfying to be able to continue a conversation for a few hours in Spanish.
The journey back was weird. The darkness came down really fast, and we found ourselves stumbling down the side of a mountain through a jungle, with only a walking stick for feeling our way. Torches don’t exist in Guatemala I think. But it was an experience. We got some really cheap beers back in San Francisco while waiting for the bus. Also was great to see how the kids reacted when we gave them some bread.. the oldest took charge and shared it out equally so they all got some! I think in Ireland one would have run off with it. But I was sad to see that they were barely surviving and a small piece of bread was like gold dust.


Jeanette said...

.the lava looks v cool!! deadly that ye could cook on it. did you eat the corn?

kevin Foley said...

Yes! it was really quiet tasty!! if a little dry, needed some butter and pepper.