Wednesday, December 16, 2015


After the long day of bad roads, tiring riding, and getting lost in Guatemala City, a lazy day was in order for me Antigua. Breakfast at the hostel was followed by a bit of relaxing by the pool, and then the four of us headed out to explore town for a bit.

First we headed over to the market - I've found that no matter how many markets I've gone to in Mexico and Central America, I still find every single one interesting. I don't have much room on my motorcycle for anything, so I'm not usually going to the market to buy anything, but just navigating through the narrow aisles, listening to the merchants hawking whatever they're selling is interesting enough for me.

Inside the market I found a few phone repair places, and asked them if they thought my phone was fixable. I told them that someone had already taken it apart and decided it needed a whole new screen, which each of the shops quoted around $200-$250, but none of them had the part in stock. I wasn't about to wait around two weeks in a place for them to get a part when I could just drive to Guatemala City and get it myself if I really wanted to.

With that bad news in hand, I started thinking about what I might want to do. On the way out of the market, we went past a phone store, so I ducked in to see how much a brand new phone would cost. $700 for the same model I had before - which was not much more than I'd paid in the United States, and was far less than the $1100 they'd quoted me outside Flores.

I was tired of not having a GPS, of not being able to take pictures, of not being able to stay updated on anything without getting out my entire laptop... so I went for it. Swapped the SIM card into it, and immediately was up and running (still loving T-mobile's international plan). Wasn't able to find a waterproof case for it, however - they said I'd probably need to go to the capital for that. You'd think with all the people selling phone cases - from stands in the market to street stands to guys with a pole in their hand that had cases hanging off of it, someone might have a waterproof one. Apparently not.

New phone in pocket, we all walked together to the north end of Antigua, where we took a side road up to Cerro de la Cruz (Hill of the Cross). From there we got an amazing view of the town, and I was finally able to take some pictures again!

Hey look, I see a cool building and can actually take a picture of it again!

Hey look, I can take selfies again!
We walked back down the hill and over to the main tourist street in Antigua - lots of stores selling trinkets and crafts, lots of people offering (in English) tours as you walked by. But we'd heard there was a restaurant up on a mountain that had a great view, and  you could take a shuttle up there. We were all pretty excited about checking it out, but when we talked to the guy who organized the shuttle... we all kind of looked at each other and told the guy we'd think about it. After comparing notes as we wandered through one of the stores, we realized that as excited as we had been about the idea, somehow talking to this guy, who was clearly hawking things to tourists, made us all a little less interested in checking it out.

Note the tourist leaning on the car getting his picture taken. There were large groups of older people with huge cameras hanging around their neck all over the place on this street.
So we continued onward down the tourist street, and eventually made our way back towards the hostel. We started planning what else we wanted to do while we were in town, and decided that one of the things was a two-day hike up the volcano Acatenango. For around $50, you would head up the volcano with a guide in the morning, spend the afternoon setting up camp and relaxing, camp out there overnight with gear provided by them, and then after getting up and watching the sunrise, hike back down.

But... Mylène's foot was still hurting her pretty bad. Even just the walking we'd done during the day had left her hurting pretty bad. We talked to the people at the hostel, and they warned us that it was a super strenous hike, and probably wasn't a good idea with a hurt foot, which even had me worried about my ankle. We decided to talk about it a little later, and Dan and I decided a massage was in order.

We talked to the girl at the desk at the hostel, and it turns out they have someone they refer people to who was cheaper than anything we'd already seen, so we went for that. What we didn't know is that it was basically in the back room of someone's house, with two massage tables set up close enough that I could sometimes feel the girl doing Dan's massage bump against me.

But... man oh man did I need that massage. The ride to and from Semuc Champey had caused me to develop knots in my shoulders so huge that she actually gasped when she first felt them. It felt like she spent half her time just on that spot, and yet still when I left they weren't completely gone. But I did feel way, way better, and much more prepared for a two day hike with a heavy backpack.

When I got back, Mylène had called her mom and they had decided a trip to the hospital for an X-ray was in order. If there was something seriously wrong, it would be better to know, and if there wasn't, having the peace of mind of knowing that would be worth the trip. Being the only one who spoke Spanish in our group (and already having been through all this for my own ankle) we headed over to the hospital together.

As it turns out, she probably didn't need me - most of the staff there spoke English, and she could even understand some of the Spanish that was close enough to French. But it did give us a good chance to talk, which we hadn't had as much of - with her English not being as good, and the other two mostly communicating in English, I hadn't been talking to her as much in French. So I buckled down and started trying, which involved a lot of accidentally using a Spanish word instead of the equivalent French one, or just plain forgetting French words that I'd learned a long time ago and used over and over again. But little by little, with a little help from translation apps on our phones now and then, we started talking a bit more.

After she got her X-Ray done (nothing broken, but the doctor strongly recommended not doing the volcano hike) and we got the doctor to sign off on the insurance papers (took twice as long as getting the X-Rays), we walked back to the hostel. We both thought about stopping at a street vendor for food... but decided to wait since we'd all made plans for dinner at a restaurant that had advertised Bluegrass music.

The bluegrass "band" ended up just being two guys, but it was super interesting because on each song they switched off instruments. Sometimes it was banjo and fiddle, other times guitar and mandolin, or any other combo. I really enjoyed listening to them, and though I missed the local street food, a burger and some pizza hit the spot that night. We also met up with Evan, one of the riders I'd met in Palenque who was now in Antigua doing Spanish lessons. His Spanish was catching up to mine pretty fast, considering how little I'd been practicing it over the past few weeks.

After that it was time to pack some things up back at the hostel and call it an early night in preparation for a volcano hike. Turns out, purchasing a new phone/camera was definitely 100% the right decision for that.

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