The afternoon of getting to Flores, Guatemala was longer and more bumpy than I thought it would be. I swear that every major road in Central America had speed bumps every 50 yard that will seriously damage your car if you don’t crawl over them. I guess it would be a little insight into what the night bus would be like. Elisia and I hit up a couple ATM’s that didn’t seem to work when we arrived at the Flores bus station. Finally, we did find one that had money in it and we were able to go out for a bit of street food. Unfortunately the bus arrived later than we were told, so going into the island part of the town was out of the question. Since I would be missing the ruins at Tikal, I was hoping to have at least a little time to walk around a small town. I guess I’ll have to come back another time! If I ever end up near Cancun or back in Belize, I’ll definitely be making a quick flight over to check out the town and Tikal Ruins.
The night bus to Antigua, Guatemala was pretty nice. It was a double decker with bed type seats on the bottom half and seats on the second level. Elisia and I got stuck up top because reservations for the bed-seats needed a reservation days in advanced. The seats up top were comfortable, regardless. There was one point I got pretty pissed off though. The lady sitting in front of me had the audacity to try putting her seat all the way back without consulting my comfort. I stopped her in her tracks as the seat came down and I stopped the seat where it was ok for me. An hour later she tried putting the seat back all the way again right onto my knees, even though I was protesting, she didn’t care. So, I decided to just start punching the seat over and over. When my knuckles started to hurt I then just grabbed the top of the chair and started shaking it as hard as I could until she moved the seat up a bit. After a few minutes of this she finally moved it back where I said it was okay and told her “thank you” in Spanish. Seats are getting moved closer together these days to add rows and make more profits for all these corporations. People need to understand this and I refuse to sit back and say nothing while someone’s head is basically in my lap and my knees are jammed into the back of the seat in agony.
Other than that little incident, the ride was crazy. The roads were super windee and I swear the bus driver was purposely driving in a way to keep as many people on the bus awake as possible. Boy did his driving suck!
We arrived early in the morning in Guatemala City. As with most bus stops in the world, this one did not have a very welcoming feel either. It was dirty with litter, poor people were hanging around trying to get money, and the taxi drivers were out in full swing trying to get a fare. Elisia and I just waited for someone from the bus company to find us and point us to a shuttle van to Antigua.
There were four of us in this van and after we made it the hour into town, we all got out and started walking to our hostels. About half way to the place we were staying, I realized my passport was gone. I’m a pretty paranoid guy when it comes to things like my money, phone, and passport, but I thought it fell out of my pocket on the shuttle bus. I was sure of it. Elisia and I quickly walked to the hostel, tried explaining the problem to the front dest guy, but he didn’t speak any English. Fortunately, the girl who was replacing him spoke great English and started the hunt in tracking down the company, driver, and van. She truly was a Godsend, because within a couple hours, I had my passport back in my hands!! Holy crap I hope that never happens again. Rest assured, I’ll be taking even more precautions in the future that that never happens again.
Because we couldn’t check in to our room yet, we napped in a lounge area and planned some trips for while we were there. That afternoon at 2 PM, we jumped on a tour to do a small hike up a volcano. So, I packed a few things in my backpack and got on my hiking shoes. The ride to the volcano was about an hour. As we were heading there, it did start to sprinkle a bit, but it went away. It wasn’t until we started hiking up the mountain that the rain started coming down lightly, but then it started to pour. I was enjoying it because of the opportunity to try out my rain gear. Elisia was not so prepared, along with many of the other hikers. She was wet, miserable, and hating every moment of the hike. It wasn’t just the rain that make it crappy, the fog did too. We got to the summit and could not see anything. There was one area where we got to roast marshmallows from a steam hole, but that was about it. I ended up running most of the way down and met up with all the other soaked travelers. Yea, the rain was not ideal, but I did have a good time.
The next day we got up for a 4 or 5 AM pickup so we could go to Lake Atitlan, which is about three hours from Antigua, Guatamala. Most of us in the shuttle van tried getting a little sleep, but with the crappy roads, it wasn’t that easy. As for me, I just tossed in my ear buds to the psycadelic sounds of the Dead & Company shows I went to last summer.
When we got to Lake Atitlan, we got a bit of breakfast and then traveled by boat to three other towns on the lake. The first town gave us a tour of how some of the painted art and textiles were produced. It was very similar to many of the tours I have been to in other parts of the world, but I try to look at it with the uniqueness it deserves. One of the things that fascinates me is how so many cultures came up with the same or similar processes to do things, like making textiles, all around the same time without ever interacting with each other. There’s something to think about. I feel it is either something to do with extraterrestrials living among us, or our collective human consciousness.
The next town pretty much just involved walking up to the top of a hill and checkin out a church. I was more interested in the people watching myself.
Lastly, we headed over to another city that had a nice church and a dark history which involved the 30+ year war that took place in Guatamala. This city was affected the worse because of the abuse from the military in this area.
This trip pretty much concludes our time in Antigua. We ended up spending one more day here to allow me to walk around the city and give Elisia time to catch up on some work with her small business. The next stop will be Copan, Hondurous.