Hello Family and Friends,
It seems that we are taking our time more and more between updates.
Now Semana Santa has settled down, things are almost going their old ways in Antigua. It is a little quiet, now all the locals have to recuperate from their spending during Semana Santa and the tourists are back to their home countries to work or study. And we're still here!
We just love being here. I spent my afternoon today hanging out in the park with a book, practicing my Spanish with some locals. It's really getting better! We also are officially back in school, that definitely helps. Julio is our teacher, and he teaches us four hours per week each, in our clinic. Very fun, teacher comes to us, so we can use all the materials we have in the clinic to help us better our chiro-Spanish. He is one of those people that makes learning fun, and in just the 4 hours of class I've had from him right now I have learned a whole lot already.
In our previous update we had not mentioned a very important happening: my parents visited! They were supposed to make an update over their visit, but I think we might as well do it by now...
My parents arrived Friday afternoon, and came to stay for a whole week. We decided to make it a visit they would never forget, so the opening night we took them to a klaverjas-cafe. As most of you will know, klaverjassen is the favorite card game of the Dannenberg family, so it was very important that we played during this vacation. As some of you might recognize, the klaverjas-cafe happened to be right in the patio of our clinic!
The picture of me and my dad under the little palm tree was taken especially for my sister and her love for palm trees. Here you go, Kaat! After that evening of introduction, and a very short night's rest, we all took off to Panajachel. From there we took a boat to one of the prettiest hotels on the shores of Lake Atitlan. The picture below shows the highway leading to the hotel, and also the high traffic that travels the highway. The second picture is the entrance to the hotel from the highway. Jaibailito, the town were the hotel is, does not have roads. The only way to reach it is from this path or by boat. I like to call them chickenboats, since they will board as many people as will fit in the boat.
After going to bed early (9!) to recuperate from our short night's rest before, we got up just as early: just a little before 6. Since the hotel is in the middle of nowhere, we also enjoyed our dinner and breakfast there. Henk had to take a picture of his food after he got it, since it was just not quite what he is used to... This breakfast features black beans, fried bananas, guacamole and an omelet smothered in tomato sauce. It really is pretty tasty.
After breakfast, we took the boat back to Panajachel, and then a little bus to Chichicastenango, or Chichi. Chichi is known for its big market, especially on Sunday. We got to see all of it! Mom and dad personally got to be harassed by lots of vendors following them around, offering woven materials, wooden masks and lots more. (If you look closely, you can even see me in the picture above!)
After a fun afternoon of shopping, we took the chickenbus back to Antigua. That was a new experience, for us too! The bus driver wanted to make his best time ever on the track from Chichi to Guatemala City, and was very determined to do so. He passed two other busses on a very sharp blind turn right next to a ravine. The expression on my mom's face would have been worth a picture. However, it would have been fairly impossible to take a picture without motion in it... Luckily we all had a seat.
Just for the record: in the USA a school bus sits 36 people. That's 9 rows with 2 seats that all seat 2 people. A Guatemalan chickenbus is an old USA school bus. Sometimes it even has the school districts name still on the side. However, a chickenbus sits 63 people + kids. That is 3 people on each seat, kids on the lap, of course, plus one person standing between the seats. It gets crowded at times!
After changing buses in Chimaltenango (this time the driver was awfully slow!) we arrived safely in Antigua. There we enjoyed a nice rest of the week with my parents, visiting big cemeteries, coffee plantations, drinking real coconut milk and climbing a live volcano (see picture below: that white smoke is sulfur gases coming out of the crater). When will you be coming?
Nathan has also picked up his favorite hobby again: painting. In the last couple of days he has produced a number of good looking pictures, something to be proud of! They form a perfect series being a castle, a monkey and a picture from tikal.
As a closing we decided to have a little contest on this oh-so-well traveled website. Who can tell us what this extremely ugly looking plant is?
The winner will receive a PERSONALIZED email from the two of us. Good luck!
Lots of love, Annette and Nathan