Saturday, May 22, 2010

Day 2: Chichicastenango and Panajachel

Well, where do I start...I’ll try and keep this short, especially since they are charging  me by the minute here (what a bunch of bs) but I’m sure it will be long again. :)

I remember a few things I left out from yesterday.  When we were walking out of one of the churches, I saw these little heads pop out of a taxi. 

There were 7 beautiful golden retriever puppies hanging out the trunk of a taxi parked on the street by the park.  The guy was trying to sell them, and they were SOOOO cute!  I really wanted one, but I’m pretty sure that wouldn’t make it through customs with me on the way back to the US.  I took tons of cute pictures of them though. 

There are dogs EVERYwhere here, not so much pets, just running around not being taken care of.  There was one almost to the top of the volcano yesterday, and she was SO skinny and a momma (she had teets hanging on the ground) so I took a big swig of my water bottle and gave the rest to her.  As soon as she saw me open it up and bend down she about attacked me. 

God only knows how many diseases I got from her licking water out of my bottle as I poured it in my hand, but it was so worth it to see her little tail wagging!  I also gave her some marshmallows.  Probably not the most healthy thing for a starving dog, but she needed SOMETHING and no one was taking care of her!  SO SAD to see all the dogs around here.  I can´t belive we´ve only seen ONE dead on the road, since they are constantly in and around the roads and no one cares.  :(  Oh and a crazy story I heard when I got back to Antigua...just last week a girl from Argentina and her private tour guide were hiking Pacaya and climbed to high and got too close to the lava and fell and DIED!!  OMG I can’t imagine falling in that lava...nuts!!  Other thing from Saturday, Irene and I did a little shopping in Antigua and I bought a soccer jersey.  I’ve definitely got the bargaining thing down pat, I mean come on, I lived in Beijing!  I got a jersey for about 5 bucks that started out at 30.  Poor girl was maybe 9, I worked her over pretty good. :)  And I've got the currency exchange thing down too...rate is about 7.8 Q for 1 USD...  And my Spanish is getting much better! (leaves plenty to be desired though...)

Okay, so today...  We had breakfast at my hostel at 6am and then went to the bus station in Antigua

Turns out everyone and there dogs (or chickens actually) were headed to Chichicastenango today.  NUTS!  We absolutely could NOT get on a bus... the locals were ramming on there and yelling and pushing, I was SO frustrated.  Irene isn´t quite as pushy and outgoing as me, so about the 4th bus we missed I said, alright Irene, you hold on to my pants, we are getting on this !(·&/=· BUS!!  And we did. :)  Barely though. I pushed our way on there and may have knocked some kids down, but hey, we finally got on one at about 7.  And NOT on a chicken bus either, they are NUTS.  And that´s saying a lot coming from me, because I am one crazy driver.  This is about 10 steps beyond’s like completely gambling with your life to get on one of those crazy things packed so tight you can’t breath!  We got on a little nicer shuttle bus for not much money, but so worth it.  The locals were actually pretty nice once you got on the bus with them.  A few hours later, we managed to change buses at this crazy road side intersection in Chimeltanango and boarded another to Chichicastenango. 

You should Google that place (Chichicastenango) and see what it says about it.  It is a very old town in the highlands...WAY HIGH UP...much cooler temp up there.  We drove up and up and up forever it seemed like!  TONS of people selling everything imaginable!  I mean people literally come from all over Guatemala to this little town  to buy and sell.  You could walk up and down the streets for days I think and still not see it all! And we didn't see any tourists either - it was all local people - which made it even better!! :)

Needless to say, I bought a cute bag and stuffed it full of things to bring back to everyone!  Lots of bracelets and jewelry and other fun things!! 

We had a nice little brunch when we got there.  Best pancake I’ve had in a LONG time!!  Irene had scrambled eggs.  Beautiful churches all over the town as well, and this being Sunday, there were rituals going on, people burning incense and praying all over the steps leading up to the church.  Really something to see. 

The little kids hound me like no other, because it’s obvious I’m a tourist, and they are so stinking adorable I can’t help but talk to them.  One little boy followed me for SO LONG I finally gave him one dollar just to leave me alone.  Never seen a boy so happy!  I saw him about 30 minutes later eating ice cream.  :) 

I also gave another little girl a dollar who was crying and being consoled by some other little kids, made her happy too.  I didn't get a picture of her until I had already started walking away.

It’s amazing how YOUNG these kids start working.  I’m talking by 8 or 9 years old, they are running there own shops, carrying around babies on their backs, and balancing crates of eggs on there heads.  So sad that they are not in school learning but that is just how things work around here I guess. :(  I have TONS of pics of the children in all there bright traditional clothing.  Pretty neat and just SO different from life in the US

So after a full day of shopping, I was WORN OUT!!

Irene and I hopped back on a bus to Pana on Lake
Atitlan.  it took a couple of hoursk, via a long windy road down a volcano.  This place just might be the most beautiful  place I have ever been, and I’ve seen A LOT of really beautiful places.  Lake Tahoe where I used to live was absolutely beautiful most of the time, and this places puts it to shame!  Crystal clear blue water surrounded by lush green volcanos.  Seriously.  Words, and probably even pictures, will never do it justice. 

Irene and I found a little restaurant to eat at on the main strip here in Pana.  I had a pepperoni pizza, real original I know, and she ordered some weird kind of steak that turned out terrible.  Needless to say, we shared the pizza...haha.  We’ve also had lots of great fruit smoothies around here!  Strawberry banana are the best, and they make them with real fruit! 

Everyone has been very nice and helpful here in this country! :)  We are going out on a boat tomorrow to travel to some of the other remote villages around the lake, I can’t wait!  We walked around after dinner along the streets and shopped some.  Irene bought a belt, I bought more jewelry. :)

I read in the Lonely Planet book about where to stay here since we didn’t have any arrangements, and of course we went out to find the cheapest place in the book.  Place is a little sketchy but the owner is SUCH a sweet old man, and we paid about $7 total ($3.50 split between us) for one tiny room with two beds, two pillows, two sheets, and two towels and toilet paper!  Most places don’t throw in the towels or toilet paper!  The bathrooms are probably the worst I’ve seen since Vietnam, but hey, it’s CHEAP and it’s only for one night! 

I am sitting at an internet cafe right now trying to type as fast as my little fingers can type.  I better get off here before they charge me like a whole dollar for all this time! ;)  We are going to walk down to the lake, which is about 3 blocks from our room and see what there is to see around there.  We are both pretty worn out so I’m sure we’ll hit the sack pretty early tonight, nothing crazy for us!

Tomorrow after the lake tour we are heading back to Antigua in the late afternoon or evening, whenever we can find a bus.  I’m going to try and find a bus to El Salvador tomorrow night or Tuesday morning to get to the orphanage.  Irene is heading to Mexico City to fly down to Argentina to meet up with some other friends for a few weeks.  I'm sad to be without her, she has been great company to have around!

Okay, I’m leaving out a ton of details, but that was much shorter, yes??  Bye for now!


PS I seriously have like a thousand pics already. :) 

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