Back to Antigua

Published: November 4th 2011
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28th Oct ’11 Panajachel back to Santiago

Up at the crack of to get back to San Jorge to meet up with the group. We grabbed a tuk tuk (which was covered in lights and stickers), did a quick detour for him to get some oil and got down to the lakeside where we got the last 2 spaces on a boat which then sped off over to the San Jorge side of the lake.

We then waited for a pickup truck to get up the mountainside but when one arrived lots of ladies charged for it, I scrambled on but they wouldn’t let Howard on – it turned out it was a ladies only truck!! He had just enough time to give me a couple of quetzals to pay and I was off, bumping, rattling and swerving up the steep road. Once I got to San Jorge (which is now the local transport hub due to the landslides taking out several main roads) I sat on the church steps and waited. Two more trucks arrived but no sign of Howard! Eventually he turned up after an eventful journey. His truck hadn’t been able to get up the first steep section of the road and 8 men had to get out and push, it then stopped again on the next steep bit and more men had to get out and push again, but this time once the truck got going it didn’t bother to wait for them to get back on!

The rest of our group arrived looking exhausted, they hadn’t got any sleep the previous night due to 2 parties going on in the village (celebrating Maximon’s birthday) it seems they lasted all night long, with music blasting out until 5 am and then the chickens started squawking!

5 of the group wanted to go back to Antigua on the chicken buses, which are old USA school buses with the seats ripped out and boards put across instead, they are then packed with as many people as possible. They are called chicken buses as they like playing chicken on the winding roads apparently!

The rest of us chose to use the small minibus as it was a 2 ½ hour journey back, we ended up packed in like sardines as we had the others bags and hundreds of blankets that 2 of the Australian girls had bought! We got back to Antigua about 1 hour before the chicken bus lot and luckily our rooms were ready for us. So we are back in our dark room full of furniture, next to the kitchen with the most indescribably horrible bath/shower you have ever seen for the next 2 nights.

We then went out to explore Antigua, it is quite a lively bustling town with a lovely town square with a small park in the centre. There was a small craft market going on and lots of tiny shops. We found a lovely café which opened out onto a large courtyard with a big fountain in the centre and I had the nicest baguette sandwich I have had since leaving the states!
We then walked for miles through the cobbled streets, we found the local market, saw lots of churches – some in ruins and some not, came across the storage area for all the catholic easter floats depicting Jesus in various states of agony, then after a couple of wrong turns (none of the roads have street signs) found our way back to the hotel. We then sat up on the roof terrace, having a drink and chatting to some of the others.
We were all meeting at 7 for a briefing so the aussie lads got the rum out and it ended up as a bit of a party while waiting for the tour leader. It’s quite interesting now as Daniel (Oz) has copped off with Alex (Oz, but not one of the 2 girls they are travelling with) and Aaron (Oz) has teamed up with Lindsay (who is leaving in 2 days) so the room shares have all been altered and there appears to be some friction. The tour leader was talking to me about it as she doesn’t like any friction or negativity on her tours but there are some very strong personalities in there! Ah well it makes it interesting. Aaron (who has the dreadlocks) has now shaved off his beard for Lindsay and looks about 13! We were also introduced to David the Guatemalan trainee tour guide who is joining us for this next leg of the tour.
We were supposed to be going to the night time food markets for tea but on the way we came across a big procession, loads of men in black suits and white shirts carrying an enormous float with a glass coffin on top containing an effigy of Jesus, as they walked they swayed from side to side. There were lots of priests both in front and behind it and a very sombre brass band following behind them.
The streets were packed with people all lined up along the route watching it go past, some of the women had black crotched head coverings and it was all very solemn and rather weird. We managed to get out onto a side street and then gave up on the idea of getting to the night markets but ended up in a tiny little bar which did food.. The most awful food we have had so far!
The bar was ran by Alan who had lived in England for 17 years as I found out when out having a fag, his mother was from Dover originally. He prefers Antigua to London where he ended up living.
30th? Oct ‘11
Got woken up at 6ish by people using the kitchen then fell asleep again and got woken up at 11 by the maid so feel much better now for having a good long decent kip. We decided to visit the market again and I bought a couple of pairs of lovely handmade silver earrings which the guy even changed the type of beads on for me and a great little silver ring, they were all his own design and by far the nicest things I have seen on this trip and easy to carry too!
In order to try and get wifi we walked back to yesterday’s café, this time in the main square there was a stage set up. Although there were lots of brass bands milling around on the main stage was a rap type singer who we suspect was miming but had all the moves. He was then joined for his next song by 2 girls who I guess were his backing dancers, unfortunately for them almost no-one seemed to be paying them any attention!
By the time we walked back to the hotel the area around the square was filled with people strolling around, with marimba bands on every corner, it was really lovely. While I went to the group meeting Howard stayed in the room, having freaked out at the whole group thing. It was now the start of the next section of the tour so 2 of our original members had left and 3 new people joined – Emma from the uk, Scott from Oz and Annetta from Poland.

We all went out for a welcome meal at a nice restaurant and then back for an early night as we have to leave at 4 am. Neither of us could face negotiating the high rise concrete bath with the 6 inch gap in the shower screen to squeeze through so we just decided to smell!
If this doesnt make sense its because i cant get the delete to work properly!


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