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Will and Janice’s trip to Guatemala

On Tuesday, May 20, we arrived in Guatemala at 7:15 PM local time. Apart from some minor ‘Do you need a cheap hotel?’ offers, we were left alone by the local vendors. The airport looked pretty nice – much nicer than we expected.  After about 15 minutes, Annette and Marcos picked us up from the airport. Marcos invited us to ride in his 18-yr old van. Thankfully, Nathan had prepared a delicious sandwich to quiet our stomachs.

Cruising from the airport through Guatemala City, we saw a lot of Americanization. A Whopper, anyone? Or would you prefer to rent a Blockbuster movie at the local store? Janice immediately got her hopes up for a romantic chick-flic night – Will is just getting worried. On our way to Antigua (In Marcos’ van) we were surprised to see how high the seats were.  Must have been for the Guatemaltecos who are petite and like to see outside of the windows when they are sitting down.  We had to hunch for the entire one-hour ride, making us long for our first chiropractic treatment to straighten our backs. Then again, with the average height of our Guatemaltecos about 5ft, it may be beneficial to not walk up straight for the next week or so. We’ll have Dr. Burke & Dr. Burke decide.

As we drove into Antigua, we saw a much different city – much cleaner and well-taken care of.  The roads were not concrete, but cobblestone, which made it very hard to drive and bike - as Janice would later find out.  Nathan had cooked a great welcome meal for us. We liked Annette’s house a lot – it was well decorated, thanks to the artist Nathan who painted some really nice pieces! We’ll have pictures to back this up.  All the decorations on the walls were either bought in the local market or hand painted by Nathan.  We got settled and ate our first meal (ceviche) consisting of crackers with a topping of tomatoes, onions, fish, shrimp, and lots of lemon – yummy!  After dinner, all four decided there was just enough time left to play a game of Klaverjas. After another smooth decisive victory by the Dannenberg-Lin team, we were all pretty exhausted. We noticed a wealth of bugs crawling around the house. Pa + Ma Dannenberg had warned us for this, so we brought a mosquito net that kept our little friends away.

 


Day 1

After a delicious night of sleep, we started to explore Antigua by visiting the local chiropractic clinic - yes, the doctor looked familiar. After Annette treated Will extensively with severe neck-popping and table-dropping, Janice got jealous and demanded her first ever chiropractic adjustment. This is recorded for later generations:

 

We spent the rest of the day exploring Antigua: the park, the local marketplace and the countless quaint little buildings. Being obvious gringos, we were approached by tons and tons of vendors offering their goods. Guatemaltecos are natural negotiators/salespeople – after we initially ignored their offer, every vendor would first lower their price up to 50%, then followed us until Will explained in his very best Spanish, and very best manual gestures, that we were not interested and would like them to go away. However, there was one vendor that caught our eye.  When we found out he was selling prints of Guatemala, we hurriedly bought two.  Later in the day, we visited some ruins named La Merced.  On the rooftop we had an entire view of the town.  Janice proceeded to take some pictures while Will proceeded to smile and pose in those pictures.

 

Day 2

Thursday was a market day in Antigua.  We walked about 15 minutes to the marketplace to buy some veggies, potatoes, and fruits for the next few of days.  Always taking for granted cashiers at the grocery store asking “paper or plastic?”, Annette and Nathan reminded us to take some empty backpacks to carry the food that we bought.  On our way back from the marketplace, we saw some ruins called La Recollection.  We purchased tickets and went in and were shocked by how massive and beautiful the ruins were.  This inspired some romantic-ism in Will as you will see in the picture. 

 

 

After purchasing a few post cards, we came home and prepared to go on a little bike ride of the town to mail our postcards and buy one forgotten item from the market for dinner.  After another incredible dinner prepared by Annette and Nathan, we walked to a bar owned by a local Danish guy called the Travel Menu.  The place is nicely decorated with dried roses and painted bricks.  We met a Dutch couple that our hosts knew because they had come in for some chiropractic adjustments.  Annemarie and Tony were interested in Yoga, which Will quickly discovered.  Being the curious guy that he is, he “grilled” Annemarie on what exactly yoga was. 

 

 

Day 3

Friday started with Jurgen picking us up for some horseback riding!  After some time setting up the horses, Will and Janice got on.  Will quickly learned not to pull on the reins too much or else the horse would try to throw him off.  Janice quickly learned to pull on the reins harder so that her horse would not go galloping off.  Fortunately, no pictures were taken of either event.  It was absolutely peaceful in the mountains and we had the best time!!!

 

 

After lunch, we decided to grab a coffee and dessert at a café.  We played another game of Klaverjas. 

  

There was also a persistent hummingbird that wanted the nectar from the flowers next to us.  Cute! 

 Finally, we went to the clinic for our second adjustment of the trip.

 

 

Day 4

Since Nathan and Annette did not need to work on Saturday or Sunday, we decided to take a little trip to Panachel and Santa Cruz.  After an early start, we walked to the marketplace to board the chicken bus, which we had seen many times, but had yet to be on.  Not only was the bus P-A-C-K-E-D, but the Guatemalteco driver also has crazy driving skills. 

 

 

During lunch we discussed how much the boat ride was to cost per person.  Prior experience was that we had to pay 15 Quetzales per person, so we decided to offer 50 Quetzales for 4 people.  As we approached the shore, a little boy asked if we wanted to go to Santa Cruz.  “Cuanto Cuesta?”, we asked. His response, “Diez.”  Oh well, so much for bargaining!  The place we were to stay for the night did not have electricity as we quickly noticed.  It is amazing how much we take electricity for granted.  The hotel is a popular place for young Americans, the average age being around 25.  Dinner consisted of chicken quarters, potatoes, garlic bread, and beans.  We were all supposed to play dress up.

 

 

Hopefully, the following picture will be the first AND LAST time Will poses in a low-cut blue dress.  After dinner, Will played chess with an older German man, who we later discovered had many interesting stories to tell about the Guatemalan government and people.

 

Day 5

On Sunday, we slept in and took the boat back to Panachel.  We had breakfast and were told that a parade was about to start.  We saw a bunch of Disney characters on the streets.  As we waited for the parade we were approached by many street vendors selling various items from hair braids to pens to scarves to CDs.  Janice thought one of the children selling items was very cute and asked for a picture.  Then, we shopped around in the market and Annette showed Will a painting of 2 buildings and a volcano that he could not resist buying.  The original price was 800 and finally both parties agreed to purchase it for 400 Quetzales.  However, the painting was mounted on a canvas and then mounted again in a picture frame.  This was going to be a problem transporting, so the store owners helped dismantle the painting and wrap the canvas up into a roll.  It was hard work and they were paid and additional 25 Quetzales. 

 

 

We took the chicken bus to go back to Antigua, but on the way home there was a slight issue.  Let us just say that Janice had drank close to a liter of water and the bus was to drive for about 2 ½ hours without stopping.  Halfway through the trip Will had to ask the bus driver to stop at a gas station for his novia to which the bus driver laughed very hard.  Long story short, Janice had about 50 Guatemaltecos wait on her while she ran to the restroom and then ran back.  Imagine the look of confusion and then laugher on all their faces when they found our what was happening.  Surely, it was not the first time something like this has happened??? 

 

 

When we got back into town, we stopped by the Monoloco (a local gringo hangout place) to have some nachos.  Boy, were the nachos great.  After much coaxing and persuading, Will reluctantly agrees that moving to Guatemala just for these awesome nachos may not be a well-balanced decision.

Will and Janice

***

This was the report Will and Janice wrote about their trip, and gracefully let us publish online to let you have just a little bite of all the adventure that is waiting for you here.

And yes -- the plant issue. Of all the 6 answers we got, nobody got it right, unfortunately. Even though I thought that the coffeeplant answer was very well thought through, and the rose answer was cute. 

This plant was sold to me as being a oregano plant, but always looked ugly and maybe because of that, decided it was not worth living. Too bad. We'll find a new one soon. Our basil, parsley, cilantro and rosemary are doing fine.

Warm greetings from Guatemala,

Annette and Nathan