Guatemala is strikingly different than the other countries we had blown through in the past week or so. It’s startlingly green and so jungley. One of the most beautiful countries to drive through, even if the roads leave a bit to be imagined. Despite its recent, and pretty disturbing past, Guatemalans are some of the nicest people we have met so far. They remind us of Colombia! Extremely eager to share whatever they have with you, and welcome you to their tables without a second thought.
Although we literally had no plans when crossing the border, Antiqua was a good accidental first stop. Pretty much the perfect city; all walkable, all colonially beautiful, and endless things to explore. The gringos may be plentiful, but they haven’t destroyed its character yet!
To top off all these awesome parts to the city, is absolutely free and secure camping within the Tourism police campground. We counted upwards of 6 Overlanders either parked or camping there, including these two who we exchanged tons of advice with as they are going south and we are going north. They are traveling for 5 years. We aren’t jealous.
We upped out street food intake by 100% while in the city, and also we assume our parasite intake. Something is still mucking around with our insides (2.5 weeks later), but at least it seems friendly. It did cause some problems at the campsite, as you are not allowed to use their bathrooms and must run like crazy down the street 3 blocks to the dominos pizza.
Maybe it was this tostada that gave us the friends…
In any case, slowly the arepas are getting thinner as we travel north, turning into tortillas… and slowly Mexican food like tacos and tostadas are filling our souls.
The food market in Antiqua is fucking fantastic. Not only price range, but also simply what they have on offer. So many weird and amazing things like dried chilis, candle makers, candy makers, old lady mushroom sellers, and seamstresses whose primary market is frilly aprons. Seriously, every single Guatemalan lady must have the frilliest of aprons. So naturally, does Jessica.
The prices are the cheapest we have seen yet, definitely get much cheaper the farther you get away from the front most visited areas. We got this carrot, which compares in size to a small child for 2 Q (30 cents). Also a pound of beans for 4 Q (60 cents).
Because we loved the city so much, and we wanted to stay one more night and enjoy the new bike cop recruits do more awesome bike obstacle courses around the police compound (full set of orange safety gear on, of course), we planned a day of being touristy. This meant using the handy map we got at the border (thanks friendly border guard) and targeting the oldest most beautiful colonial buildings in town. Then taking pictures. Do we remember what they are? Nope! We totally lost the map.
We do remember the Church and of Capuchins though, one of the only places we paid entry into due to recommendations by both our mothers. It is worth the $7 to get in. Even for the uneducated like ourselves, seeing the remaining structure, and living quarters (arranged in a perfect circle of small rooms) was interesting.
At the end of our Tourist day, I jumped in front of a fountain (again) and Brett was commandeered by a bunch of highschool girls for a photo-shoot-with-the-cute gringo, obviously. No big deal.
We also made friends, and nearly adopted, the police dog seen below. He followed us all throughout town one day, staying with us as we worked outside the coffee shop for hours. Whining when we didn’t pet him enough. It was a close call not taking him.
We have a brief mention for El Paredon, a surfside village in the country. The Pacific Coast of Guatemala is seriously underdeveloped; leaving it at once stunning and untouched, but also in extreme poverty. Since the surf is out of season, we were the only ones at Paredon Surf Camp, but still it was lovely. Met some wonderful locals, and Brett got in some good surfing and kayaking while Jessica threw her back trying to drag him into the waves.
A good place to be laid up in a hammock though. Great view.