For the next weeks I’m not going to talk about libraries, but instead my trip to Guatemala. I’ll try to post whenever I have wifi.
So…I arrived at about 1:30 today, Feb. 2, 2012.
Tiene hambre! And I can’t remember ever being so tired. I’m sort of staggering around, looking for the things I need. Money first (paid an 11Q commission–is normal?) Then food & drink. I’ve had nothing today at all and it’s 3:45. I have been awake for…let me think…32 hours so far. Then I need a phone. I wasn’t planning on buying one but the hostels aren’t answering my emails yet and I’m starting to worry about where I’m sleeping tomorrow.
I’m at the Tienda de la Calle Real in Antigua. It was recommended by Cecilia at Yellow House. There are actually two of these restaurants, one with a courtyard. I’m at the smaller one across the street. Five tables and the nicest wait staff in the world.
I ordered the Pollo de pepian. It came with fantastic rice, very hot fresh tortillas, and una tamalito con chipelin. Wow. I had it with a Diet Pepsi which tastes different here–more floral. I finished with coffee so rich it coated the spoon, and I took it black with one sugar, unlike my usual sweet milky concotions.
I’m facing the door, watching people go by. I’ve heard French, Japanese, Italian, UK accents,and lots of Spanish. It’s confusing and wonderful, the babel. Many Mayan women are trying to sell textiles and jewelry to me, even as I sit in the restaurant. Well, the doors are wide open to let in the 72 degree sunny weather in. And sales pitches.
So far I’ve walked extensively in Antigua, largely because I was lost. All of these beautiful, decaying, brightly painted buildings are confusing at first. And the cobbles are deadly. I’ve already turned my ankles a couple of times, thankfully very minor turnings. But I can see why people love this place. For all the hard sell, polyglot vibe, it’s so alive. I can’t imagine people walking around like this in the US.
Hundreds of people are swarming over every road, many of them obviously locals. It’s not all tourist like a Disney created fantasy. It’s real.
Since I’ve been here (a whopping 3 hours since I’ve landed) I’ve been struck by how beautiful even the poverty looks, from the outside anyway. The ubiquitous corrugated metal panels that overlap like dragon’s scales may not do a good job of keeping out rain or wind, but they are a tapestry of grungy colors. I’ve seen several people painting their shops here today, which is why everything looks so colorful, even though the paint doesn’t seem to hold up well.
And el volcan! I know I am a tourist. I had to take several photos of it, the arch, and of course, El Merced, churches…
Driving in from the city I saw a mishmash of chaotic crammed city streets and tiendas, gorgeous flowers of purple, magenta, yellow and orange, tiny shacks that still seemed picturesque, and gorgeous gated communiites, replete with razor wire. And the requisite gun-toting store guards, of course.
Please forgive my typos. I try to edit but some always slip by–I swear my Android tablet jumbles the letters after I spell check!