Probably the best carry out shop in the world!
Trip Start Mar 21, 2007
87Trip End Ongoing
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The bus journey from Santa Elena to Coban was the scariest ever. The driver was a maniac! We were in a tourist bus and were racing a people-carrier to pickup passengers further along the road.
Arrived in Coban about 8pm thankful to be alive, and thought 'bloody hell this town is a bit more like it'. Hunners of folk in the streets, a real party atmosphere - 'at last we've found a place where they know how to party' (felt we deserved a fiesta after the previous week!).
Had expected a change in climate because its 1320m up in the mountains, but was pleasantly surprised by how mild it was.
Guatemala, along with producing brilliant coffee (the best is exported but whats left is still goodstuff) is also the largest producer of cardamon seeds, so the year-round soft rainfall called chipi-chipi is welcomed whole-heartedly. They put cardamon in everything!
Had picked out a couple of places to stay so tried the first place - full, not to worry onwards, second place - full, mmm, Ok, carry on. 3rd place - full! Right what the hell's going on?? Turns out the biggest thing in Cobans calendar - a half marathon - is happening the next day and 5000 (at least) extra people had decended on the town that day!
Walked around trying anywhere and everywhere but people just laughed at us. We thought our luck had changed when a guy stopped and said he knew where we could kip for the night. He took us to a little old lady's pad. She showed us the floor of her dining room and tried charging us Q150 for the priviledge - I don't think so - gracias, adios!
On route we'd seen a German couple (Jan and Bianca) obviously having the same difficulty we were. On our next attempt at a hostel we met them again. They'd hooked up with a French Canadian (Pierre) who'd arrived the previous night, gone out for the day and got back to find his belongings in a poly bag at the entrance to the hotel. He'd offered to pay for another night before he left in the morning but was told not to worry, then got back to discover they'd already had another booking for that night and he was out on his ear. Decided 5 heads are better than two so we all trooped round together for another hour or so, by this time it was getting on for 11pm. (Bumped into Sara, half of the German couple we'd met in San Jose - nuts!). We were told there was one room left for 3 people in one hotel a few blocks from the centre - anything was worth a shot so off we trooped. Nothing. Then, as if by magic - Bianca knocked on another hotel door and the guy said he only had one room left but it had 5 beds(Q100 each - inflated prices for the night)! Yipeee! What are the chances of that! Excellent! Dumped our stuff and then headed out for food and beer.
Went looking for a bar to relax in after dinner, it was by midnight by this time. Jan, Bianca and Pierre were all knackered so they went to bed and me and Wellington went out. After a couple of beers in the central square everything was closing up but we fancied more so asked a local where to find it. They pointed us in the direction of a 24hr carry-out shop - nice one! Found the shop, it had an iron grill closing off the whole shop entrance, with a hatch to pay etc. a bit like your bevvy shops in Glasgow. Surprisingly there were quite a few Mayan women hanging around having a bevy, hadn't seen that before. So bought a couple of beers and hung around to see what was happening. Before long the majority of people left. Then the girl serving inside the shop motioned to us to come in and have a seat. She opened up the gate and let us in. Nice one.
We bought a couple more beers and sat watching the folk coming and going buying their drinks etc. It was quite weird initially because we weren't talking to the girl, she was putting tunes on on the computer, but we went with it. After a wee while her husband came along and then some of his friends, thats when it turned into a party in the carry-out shop. Our 'hosts' were Yohanna and Hans, a young couple who'd just opened the carry-out shop only 2 weeks before. 'Probably the best carry out shop in the world'. We were chatting (and dancing) away with one guy, Eric, in particular who was a right good laugh. We danced to some popular Guatemalan tunes and generally had a right good knees-up until about 7am. Decided to go back to our room, freshen up and head out to see the start of the Marathon at 8am.
Changed memory cards in the camera on the way (and accidently lost 2Gb of photos, yep the last couple of weeks of Mexico, the first border crossing and whole of Belize was gone for good - not good, didn't realise until a good while later).
Headed back to the room after the start of the marathon and after some crash we moved rooms - price dropped to Q120 for a big double room with bathroom. Settled in, then went out for a wander and food. We were trying to find a particular restaurant (but it seemed to have disappeared off the face of the earth) when a guy with his wife and child asked if he could help. We showed him the name of the restaurant but he didn't know it so suggested that he drive us round to have a look for it! We introduced ourselves etc, his name was Carlos and he'd just run the half marathon. Although he came from Coban, he didn't live there and therefore didn't know the restaurants etc. He drove us round the whole town for ages, about 45mins, it was quite obvious that the place had shutdown and all other restaurants were pretty much shut also by that time. So then he offered to feed us too. We went back to his house and his sister cooked us up a fantastic meal of beef, platanos, beans, tortillas, cream (a kind of sour cream that goes really well with the beans and platanos) and beer! Fantastic. He just wanted to make sure that we went away with a good impression of Coban and its people - outstanding! Then he insisted on giving us a lift home. A big cheers for Carlos!
Also took a walk up 180 steps to an old Catholic church, it was a bit nuts because on the lead up to the church there are little alters used for offerings. There are 2 religions being practiced similtaneously, now thats toleration
The next day we went on a day trip to Semuc Champey...