Antigua! What a great city. Cobblestones streets. One story houses. Old buildings and ruined churches. A stroll on its streets is a treat for anybody. I arrived here after a bumpy flight caused by the storm from the NE and with several delays. All the flights in Charlotte, NC were delay and I was afraid that I may miss the baggage connection but the connection to Guatemala City was delayed more than an hour and everything went smooth. Except the bumps because there were clouds everywhere. In the plane I spoke with Peter , a physician from Kalamazzzo, MI who comes in Guatemala every year representing a Foundation that helps a local doctor to put some order in the health conditions of the indigenos from the villages of Lago Atitlan. Extremely interesting, because the efforts are amazing and most of the work done by the local doctor is voluntary because the patients are beyond the level of dirt poor. If they pay the visit, they pay $1 but even this is too much for most of them. And we talk health, is just about clean water, and toilets, etc. Peter will stay only there and like many other gringos is taking Spanish lessons in Xela but is not easy for native American speakers to catch the language.
From the Guatemala City airport, La Aurora, very glitzy and in permanent construction, I shared a taxi with a couple from DC who wanted to go as fast as possible to climb tonight a volcano. The driver, Daniel, practiced seriously his English on us and spoke very nice about his country. We asked for several tips and we got them. The road from Guatemala City to Antigua is about 45 km and it should be the same number of minutes but the traffic is intense and it took us about an hour to come into Antigua, and he dropped us in front of Casa Cristina where the guys from DC had a reservation. I wanted to stay there but they did not have any rooms so I took a room in the nearby Los Nazarenios, a beautiful place, close to Iglesia de la Merced. I dropped my bag and left to the city to exchange money, quetzals, but today was a day of salary payments for Guatemalans so all the banks had such long lines in front like I did not see since the fall of Communism. Hundreds of people were lining up to get their payments and the result is that tonight a some of them were drunk. Luckily only few of them. I did not see in my life so many people lining up in all the banks in town, like the bank were going under. I gave up the idea of the bank and I tried an ATM but it said something and refused to give me money. But is no problem because obviously you can pay in US$. I walked the streets to get a sense of the town, that is not large is easily manageable in one day. When the evening came, I came back to Parque Central and I stopped to eat at Fonda de la Calle Real, where I tried the local dish, Pepiano Pollo, a sort of molle poblano but without mole and something else on top. Good. I tried also an interesting dessert whose name I forgot. In the night, after the restaurant close, 11pm on Saturday, the bars stay open till 1pm and the city is pretty alive, but I saw more young Guatemalans than gringos. During the days is gringotown. Everywhere you see foreigners and they of all the imaginable nationalities. It´s true that Antigua is a major destination and if you come to Guatemala you cannot miss it. After dinner I got my fleece and I went for walk, in some shops selling souvenirs and artifacts, not as nice as I expected, and here I landed in this internet cafe. Good night!