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Sadly, The Time Has Come To Say Goodbye To Guatemala

Sadly, The Time Has Come To Say Goodbye To Guatemala

Our 13th travelogue marks our last week in Antigua. And our last week in Guatemala. And also our last week in Central America. But what a week it was! A week full of coffee, chocolate, Jacon, Lenten processions, and lava rocks.

WE SPENT TIME NOMADING ABOUT …

This past week we were nomading about the streets, cafes, and volcanoes of Antiqua.

We started the week with a short, thigh-burning walk, with most of the population of Antiqua, to Cerro de la Cruz (Hill of the Cross).

This well-maintained walkway just a few blocks from the Plaza takes you to a vista overlooking the city. You can take in the entire city backdropped by the impressive, picture perfect Volcano de Agua.

Just above the overlook is the stone cross from which the hill takes its name. The original cross was constructed of wood. The ‘new’ stone cross was erected in 1930.

A little further up is a statue of Pedro de Alvarado who slaughtered the people living here in the early 1500s. This is also the hill where American helicopters landed relief supplies after the massive 1976 earthquake.

From here we were able to see the sawdust carpets (tapetes de aserrín), smoke from the Lental Procession thuribles and the procession floats.

Antigua is, of course, world famous for its sawdust carpets and Lenten Processions. The city swells with an additional one million visitors from every corner of the world on the weekends of the Lenten season to witness the Processions.

Every church in Antigua has a procession that involves hundreds of people. People in costumes dressed as Roman soldiers, church members bearing banners, 50+ people supporting the float, a full brass band, and many, many men and women, and boys and girls in traditional Catholic garb marching alongside.

It was quite a sight.

The processions start early in the morning, some at 5:00 AM, and SLOWLY march through the streets until midnight. We were so impressed that we have planned a return visit next year.

We filmed three videos:

  • Random Snacks of Antigua
  • Walking About Antigua
  • Antigua’s Ruins

This a city of ruins having been rocked consistently by major earthquakes through the centuries. Antigua sits squarely on the border of the Cocos and Caribbean plate boundary.

The Cocos plate is young and active and rapidly moving under the Caribbean plate. This is why Guatemala has so many volcanoes, the second most in South and Central America after Chile, and earthquakes.

If you like sugar, Antigua is for you. The snacks were sickeningly sweet. We threw most of them away after the first few bites.

The culmination of our trip was our last day.

We hiked Pacaya Volcano. Pacaya is an active volcano on the plate boundary. I’ve been to active volcanos before but never so close to the oozing lava; close enough to roast marshmallows, which we did.

This flow is high and slow, inching forward and outward. It’s best not to turn your back on it as hot glowing, newly formed rock are constantly tumbling down as the flow moves.

Here is a sneak peek from our last daily vlog for a bit.

The last night in Antigua we hopped around the town’s cafes. We started with coffee, then moved to sangria, then on to appetizers, and finished at our favorite restaurant.

We had become friends with the bartender and he suggested we try Jacon, a traditional Mayan dish. Only the restaurant did not make it. So he called another restaurant and had it delivered! That’s the hospitality of Guatemala.

WE WILL BE NOMADING ABOUT …

This week we find ourselves back in the US. We are housesitting for my mother and then will be helping our boy move out of his dorm for the summer. Specifically this week, we will be in Descanso, CA – just outside of San Diego.

We will be focusing on editing and posting videos so we will not be posting our daily blogs, because who wants to watch us editing? I don’t even want to be there. We are planning on filming a few videos while we are here and we are looking forward to that.

I can say that our first few minutes back in the US has already come with some serious sticker shock. So we will be getting used to that and getting strict with our budget.

We’ll see you back here next week. Until then, adventure on, friends. Way and (Kim)

OUR LATEST VIDEO

We posted our tour of Isla de Munecus – Island of the Dolls. It is a creepy little island on the last Aztec canals just outside of Mexico City. Enjoy.

Goodbye Guatemala City; Hello Antigua Guatemala

Goodbye Guatemala City; Hello Antigua Guatemala

Overlooking Cathedral of San José (Antigua Guatemala Cathedral).

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. So, maybe that’s a bit dramatic.

Guatemala City is beautiful, historic, friendly, safe, all the things you want in a destination and it should be on your list. But for us, it has not been as smooth a stay as usual.

Kim has not been feeling 100% after that first day of food poisoning, and I’ve had an ear problem all week.

We did make the trek to Antiqua Guatemala (Yes, that is its official name) at the end of the week and that change changed things. Kim is feeling better and I can hear much better.

Antigua marks the end of Guatemala for us and we will travel to the U.S. next Saturday.

WE SPENT TIME NOMADING ABOUT …

Last week we were nomading about the Plaza de la Constitution (the main square) again and it was hot.

The sunshine was in our bones and our moods were cranky. At lower elevations, the sun has to fight to penetrate layers upon layers of air, each layer more thick than the preceding one.

In Guatemala City high in the mountains, the air is sparse and the sun shoots right through. It a searing different between shade and sun. The air is crispy hot.

(Editor’s aka Kim’s note: Can you tell who has been working on his creative writing?)

We filmed the Story of Guatemala City (it’s a story of destruction and rebirth) and we ran for shade at every opportunity.

What the air lacked in density the people made up for. The square and surrounding streets were layered thick with people celebrating the 5th week of the Lenten season.

The streets were layered with colorful sawdust in endless designs and 100 men, or little girls, carried massive platforms on their shoulders festooned with a diorama of some biblical scene over the sawdust creations.

But first came boys riding horses dressed as Roman soldiers and priests filling the air with burning thuribles. After everyone came, men armed with brooms festooned in City uniforms sweeping away the sawdust.

We didn’t travel to Guatemala for the food

The square was covered with food booths. All the corn people got together and formed a corn stronghold. The meat people formed their meat territory and the sweets people formed their place too.

We ate corn and we ate meat and we ate sweets and we wished we had eaten none of it. Our tastebuds were bored while we ate. And our stomachs rebelled through with massive rumblings after the fact. Guatemala is not a place of food.

But that did not stop us! Oh no.

The next day we were at Al Adobe a fine restaurant with not so fine chile rellenos. But the Kak’ ik! This was the best kak’ ik we have had – anywhere in the world.

In fact, it was the only kak ‘ik we had ever eaten anywhere in the world, but it was very good nonetheless. Kak’ ik is a fine soup with many spices we cannot discern. Our tastebuds were no longer bored.

With our tastebuds excited and our stomachs no longer protesting we confidently sat at Doblado. Dobaldo was no random place, it came with two recommendations, the Airbnb owner and my waiter. But it disappointed.

Dobaldo’s are thick fried tortilla shells built of old oil and stale corn and stuffed with greasy meat. The meat was good but not good enough to get through the layers of old corn and stale oil. Our stomachs rebelled again.

We also decided to start filming “Chinese Food In Every Country.” It will be a while before this video gets complete, but we thought it would be fun to compare between countries. Guatemala was our first country. The experiment did not start well.

On our last day in Guatemala City, it seemed fitting to witness the flag lowering ceremony, see it in #dailyvlog 17.

Our week ended with our journey to Antigua. What a city!

WE WILL BE NOMADING ABOUT …

This week we will be nomading about Antigua.

A view of Antigua Guatemala from Cerro de la Cruz.

We have big plans for our last week before returning home. The agenda includes:

  • Climbing volcanoes
  • Touring the city
  • Eating snack foods
  • Watching Lenten processions
  • Exploring ruins

If you want to know what daily life is like nomading about Antigua checkout our Facebook Page. You can type “Nomading About #dailyvlog” in the FB search bar and our videos will pop up.

Until next week, adventure on! ~Way (and Kim)

P.S. We know we’ve been slow to edit videos lately. We don’t want to be slow, but working, exploring, and sleeping is getting in the way. Our plan is to edit and post like crazy when we get back to the States next week. We’re hoping the need to explore will be a little less urgent.

Our Latest Video

In our latest video, we went in search of Street Art in Mexico City. Mexico City street art is colorful, vibrant and all around. The street art is thought-provoking and creative and it is hard to spend time in the historic center without it making an impression on you.

This is just a small taste of some of the images that caused us to pause and enjoy the moment. Street art has a way of making you feel good. We hope you enjoy!

It’s Easy Living in Guatemala City – Mostly [Travelogue #11]

It’s Easy Living in Guatemala City – Mostly [Travelogue #11]

The more we get to know about Guatemala City, the more we like it. The people are nice, the coffee is the best, and it’s an easy city to be in while we work and travel.

Several people told us not to waste our time with Guatemala City. I’m glad we didn’t listen to them. The longer we stay here, the more comfortable we become. Between Kim and I, we find it easy to communicate (of course, it takes two of us) and we are enjoying our time just nomading about.

WE SPENT TIME NOMADING ABOUT …

Last week we were Nomading About the city filming more parades, the Sunday market at Plaza de la Constitution (the main square), and shopping daily at the Mercado Central which is the huge underground market in the center of the city.

We had some work days where we didn’t have a chance to do much. But we were able to work in a drink or two on the rooftop bar at our apartment and run downstairs as a local parade or protest went by.

We started what we hope will be a new series highlighting national foods in each country. Our first attempt to failed, however. We set out to find a Guatemalan restaurant and walked about two miles. We came up short. A lot of Italian and American foods but not traditional Guatemalan.

Finally, we found a local bakery with empanadas, a food that was on our list to try. Attached to the bakery is a restaurant.  We decided to lunch there and film our first national food. The bakery had empanadas, the restaurant did not.

Oh, well. {Sigh}

We did have a great meal, but not what we were looking for. The bakery was great, too. We’ve been back daily for fresh bread and treats.

It’s all fun and games … until it’s not

Not everything is fun and games when traveling. One consistent problem is banking.

Sometimes foreign ATMs will accept our cards the next day they won’t. One bank will issue cash from our debit card another bank will not.

A 45-minute wait for the simplest transaction is normal. Usually, you have to wait in two lines.

We had trouble getting cash this week. Everything worked out but it unexpectedly soaked up 2 and half hours of our day. And until I had the cash in hand, there was no guarantee we would get any.

I also had a problem with my ear. A Guatemalan friend took me to the hospital. The first hospital did not have any experience with ears. The second hospital sent me to the emergency hospital. The emergency hospital said my issue was not an emergency.

Sounds like American medical care. But all medical care in Guatemala is free. In the end, I got some drops and was told to use them twice a day for three days.

I think it’s working, but I am not entirely sure yet. The total cost of the day was Q90 or about $12. Which includes a taxi ride to and from our apartment, the doctor’s visit, and a prescription.

We’ve also been having a lot of discussion about our voice and the kind of videos we want to make. The reality is we are not young backpackers traveling the globe. We are a middle-age-ish working couple that loves history, culture, good food, and adventure.

As such, we are making a concentrated effort to tell more of the stories we want to tell and stop producing videos because we think we should or because everyone else is doing it.

It makes perfect sense when you think about … Kim is a professional storyteller, after all.

WE WILL BE NOMADING ABOUT …

This week we will be nomading about the city filming the story of Guatemala City, as we see it. Guatemala City is a story of destruction and rebirth. This is a city that has risen from the ashes four times.

We are also headed to Antigua for the week before we venture back to the states to housesit for my mother and then help our boy move out of the dorms for the summer.

If you didn’t know, we have been filming very short daily vlogs for our VIP group. It gives people a look into our travels in real time.

Well, we have decided to move our daily vlogs to our Facebook Page so everyone who wants them can view them. So, if you want to know what our crazy, daily life is like make sure and visit us there. Here are a few you might want to see:

Oh, and while you’re there like our page if you haven’t already, please. And Thanks! People often ask us how they can support our art. We’ve been playing around with a few different ideas

Until next week, adventure on! ~ Way (and Kim)

OUR LATEST VIDEO

We posted a tour of our neighborhood in the Historic District of Mexico this week.

We landed in Mexico City for three weeks and found a quaint Airbnb in the historic center of the city. It was the perfect location to explore Ciudad de Mexico. We were a 10-15 minute walk from the Zocalo, Bellas Artes, Alameda Park, and street markets galore. Join us for a walking tour of our neighborhood.

Art, Celebrations, and Shopping in Guatemala City [Travelogue #10]

Art, Celebrations, and Shopping in Guatemala City [Travelogue #10]

We filmed a street art video starting with this image in our Airbnb lobby.

As we mentioned, last week, our introduction to Guatemala City was not kind. Our first meal sent both of us to the bathroom with terrible food poisoning. We were violently sick for a full day and slept for another day recovering.

But, after that, the City has been sensational. We are staying in the Historic District, Zone 1. This area is being revitalized and I think it will be the next hot spot for tourism.

We can see the Central Square (Plaza de la Constitución) and the giant Guatemalan flag from our apartment.

Plaza de la Constitución.

The city is packed with cathedrals and interesting old buildings and walking streets surround the Plaza de la Constitución.

A lot of women are dressed in colorful traditional Mayan dresses – not to appeal to tourists (of which we are apparently the only ones) but because that is what they wear.

And from what we can tell there is a parade almost every day.

We spent time nomading about …

Last week we were nomading about our neighboorhood which centers around Plaza de la Constitución.

Just like the Zocalo in Mexico City, Plaza de la Constitución in Guatemala City is flanked by the National Palace, Metropolitan Cathedral, and Portal El Comercio (market) and in the center is a very large Guatemalan flag.

Guatemala City is a city of celebration. We have experienced four parades in our first seven days here. And maybe we missed some?

We explored the Mercado Central and underground market next to the Plaza de la Constitución. As well as the market streets adjacent to the Mercado Central, where one will encounter goats being herded down the street.

Inside the Mercado Central.

We happened upon a peaceful protest of coffee farmers who had covered the street in front of the National Congress with coffee beans. They were camping there until Congress passed a long-awaited bill to support local coffee growers. We arrived just as they passed the bill and the farmers were celebrating.

Coffee farmers celebrate as the government votes in favor of providing financial help.

Their protest was next to a high school, and the students were helping them roast beans and do other activities.

We also explored Zone 4 which is being revitalized and gentrified. It is full of hip cafes, bars, shops, and is covered in street art. We filmed a street art video while we were there.

Also last week, we introduced our “Daily-ish Vlog” to our VIP Facebook Group. We are trying to share more of our journey in real time. The two minute-ish vlogs give a sneak peek into our day.

We were actually able to share the moment the coffee farmers found out the bill passed, some footage from one of the parades, and toasting sunset from the rooftop bar on top of our Airbnb apartment building.

It’s $5 a month to join. If you want to travel with us in real time, click here.

We will be nomading about …

This week we will be nomading about the city delving into its history, exploring the neighborhood, attempting to capture the Mercado Central, and take you on a food tour in the Plaza de la Constitución.

We’ll be filming the history of the city, stopping by all the major landmarks. The city has a tumultuous history and the people here want to make sure it isn’t forgotten. We’re going to do our part.

Additionally, we are going to start filming the Guatemalan food story, where we explore the history of and taste of traditional dishes.

Until next week, adventure on! ~ Way (and Kim)

Our latest video

We posted, Tenochtitlan, The Ancient Aztec Capital.

Tenochtitlan was a large Mexica city-state located under much of what is now the historic center of Mexico City. It is quite remarkable that an entire ancient Aztec city exists under the city.

The ancient city discovered when a local worker was drilling to access electricity cables.

Once found, the government had two square blocks excavated by demolishing the existing buildings. Additionally, there are places throughout the Zocalo where you can see the ruins below ground.

I was most excited to see Tenochtitlan after we decided we were headed to Mexico City. In fact, it was the very first thing we did. I was not disappointed.

Exploring Flores, Guatemala, The Gateway to Tikal [Travelogue #9]

Exploring Flores, Guatemala, The Gateway to Tikal [Travelogue #9]

We just left magical Flores, Guatemala and are now in our lovely Airbnb in the historic center of Guatemala City. Our first impressions of our neighborhood were fantastic.

It is lively, interesting and there is plenty to keep us busy. We went out to lunch and to the market so we could head home and nap. Our alarm was set for 5 a.m. that morning.

After napping, we planned a lazy evening and thank goodness. That is when the worst bout of food poisoning hit us.

Kim got it first. I came down with it about four hours later. And before you ask, we did not eat any street food. Luckily our bathroom was newly remodeled and spacious because we spent the whole night in there.

Four days later and we are still not 100 percent, but the adventure continues.

Last week we were nomading about …

We spent the week nomading about Fores, Guatemala and Tikal National Park. If Tikal is any indication of what the Mayan civilization was like, then it was one of the greatest civilizations to have existed.

It’s one thing to see pictures of these immense temples, it’s another to be dwarfed while standing in front of a 64 meter (212 foot) tall temple.

Getting to Flores was not wonderful. We decided to take a bus (this must have been a drunken decision). But, Flores was beyond our expectations, we might move there. No, seriously.

The lake is clean and clear, the people are friendly, the food is good, the pace is relaxed, and there is a focus on keeping the environment clean.

Visiting Tikal National Park

Walking into Tikal is like walking into a fairytale. The buildings are out of proportion from our perspective and the architecture is so foreign it could be from another world. In fact, George Lucas used Tikal for the scene of another world, Yavin 4, in Star Wars – Episode IV.

Lucas, George, dir. Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope. Twentieth Century Fox, 1977

The day was perfect. It was warm, but there was a steady breeze and plenty of shade. Kim was worried since her last outing to a Mayan ruin ended in heatstroke. Nothing to worry about. We hydrated and hung out in the shade as much as possible. We even brought umbrellas for shade, just in case.

We spent 4 hours at the park and it was not nearly long enough to see everything (even for Kim!). I was in Tikal in 1992 and it was not as developed. Today visitors can access the temples via well constructed wooden stairs.

In 1992 we were climbing on questionable handmade ladders and clinging onto roots and rocks. It was better then. If Tikal is not already on your travel list, put it on the list and put it on top of the list.

Nomading about Flores, Guatemala

We spent most of our time in Flores, which is the capital of the department (state) of Peten. I was also here in 1992 and the lake smelled of sewage and the island was dirty.

Today you can swim in the lake, and many people do, and the island is spotless. When we arrived 100+ university students were doing an annual clean up of the island and lake and daily we ran into the ‘island custodian’ (my term), who walked the island with a broom and bucket.

University students cleaning up the lake.

Flores is like a little mini Italy. It’s built in a Colonial Architecture style and has cobbled streets, and narrow walkways [picture]. It is a tourist town, the gateway to Tikal, but it does not have the tourist vibe.

Flores has found that elusive place between being local and having all the things tourist want; modern accommodations, excellent restaurants, fun bars.

We filmed our next video in the series, “What $100 will buy you.” In Flores, it will buy you a lot. It was difficult to spend $100 without an outlandish dinner or some expensive tour:

  • Good coffee is $1.50
  • Lunch $3.50
  • Transportation is free (walking – the island is small)

In fact, we enjoyed several coffees from our office for the week, the rooftop bar. The apartment we were renting did not have a proper workspace, so the owner opened the bar so we could work. Needless to say, Kim and I didn’t mind working quite so much this week.

We reluctantly ended the week flying to Guatemala City and you already know what happened on the first few days here.

This week we’re nomading about …

We will be Nomading About Guatemala City this week. We plan to:

  • Explore our neighborhood
  • Visit some unique architectural landmarks
  • Learn about the rich history of Guatemala City
  • Hang out with some coffee farmers protesting for long-promised financial help
  • Appreciate some local street art

Additionally, We plan on taking our “What $100 will buy you?” series to the next level. Guatemala is super inexpensive. So we are going to see if we can live on $100 for the week – not including our Airbnb.

And that’s about it for now. We’ll see you next week.

Until then, adventure on. ~ Way (and Kim)

Our latest videos

We posted two videos this week, Recommended Las Vegas Food Joints where we eat at friend recommended places in Las Vegas.

We were able to get to The Donut Bar, The Bagle Cafe, Ethel M. Chocolates, and The Nine Fine Irishmen. This was one of our favorite videos to do because we love to eat and the food was fantastic.

We also posted the first video in our Mexico City series.

It’s a tour of The Zocalo in Mexico City with a tour of Diego Rivera’s murals at the National Palace, a walk through the National Cathedral, views of the 700-year-old Mercado De Artesanias, and the flag lowering ceremony.

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