Red-hot magma in Antigua, Guatemala...

Trip Start Jun 21, 2008
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Trip End Sep 03, 2008


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Flag of Guatemala  , Western Highlands,
Saturday, July 26, 2008

Hmmm...it's become apparent to me as I'm writing this that in every entry I rave about the beauty of a town or the friendliness of the people and you're probably thinking...yeah right, it's not always roses...and sure,  there has been the occasional person who wasn't very friendly and some of the small villages we've passed along the way have been extremely poor and not so pretty (at least from the outside zipping by it at 70 mph). However I have now realized that one thing is true about this trip so far -- the farther we go, the friendlier the people seem to be, the more beautiful the cities become, and the views...yes, they become more stunning!
 
Now we are in Antigua, Guatemala. The ride here was pretty CRAZY, the road was terrible at times and there was construction everywhere!  We soared down the mountains  and arrived in Antigua  thinking we would stay the night and leave first thing in the morning, but we ended up staying three days! Antigua is like San Cristobal only more colonial and more beautiful!  See... this is what I mean!...I  raved about San Cristobal so much in earlier posts and at the time I didn't think we would ever visit a town as cool or beautiful but I was wrong!  So I guess you have to take everything we say with a grain of salt! And although Antigua trumps San Cristobal in some aspects, it doesn't have the richness in terms of active political issues  or the same indigenous presence...
 
Also, Antigua has more tourists than any other city we've been in and wherever you go you can hear American English being spoken, it's kind of nice though. I also have to add that the Danes and the Norwegians are representing but no Swedes so far... a little disappointing!  There are churches everywhere as well as old church ruins mixed in with newer colonial buildings. Again it's difficult to describe the complete experience but to add to the perfectness of this city it has a majestic volcano towering over it!
 
There are cool bars, restaurants, stores, internet cafes everywhere we even found an Irish pub! Since our last name is McKinley we felt obliged to go in and have a couple of pints and it turned out that Nathan who worked behind the bar rode down his motorcycle from Washington state, accompanied by his girlfriend. Jess was excited to have someone else to talk shop with...
 
Antigua is situated in a valley surrounded by several  volcanoes,  one of them called Pacaya is still active. We decided to stay an extra day to hike the volcano and YES we saw lava and several small eruptions...it was redicously cool!
 
Hey Jess here...okay, we've been on the road for awhile now and it's really wearing us down...I know we've taken a lot of beautiful pictures and posted about a bunch of different stuff...but I miss home, I miss my bed, and I miss our stuffed animal - Monkey-Baby. 
 
What!!..what the hell am I saying??...we're just getting good at this!!  True, the initial shock-and-awe of gorgeous vistas, ox carts filled with bananas and mangos, chicken buses, and those little three-wheeled moto-taxis that look like they should be in Bombay, India.... have all become part of our daily reality.  It sounds weird, but yeah, we are getting pretty good this!
 
On the moto front, the Panama Prowler (the bike, submitted by gschowe!) has been kickin' arse!  The oil consumption that BMW's are famous for before they are broken in, is now down to nothing...literally...zero.  The brake pads are holding up better, but the rear disc is bit thin for my liking...so I think I'll still replace it in Costa Rica when our vagabonding gets us there. 
 
Ok...Antigua!!  I really wasn't too hyped to see this place...it's one of Guatemala's oldest expat hang outs and didn't feel like eating at Burger King ...but once again...I was wrong...this place rocks!!  Yes it does have a McDonald's....and yes, we ate there:)... it also has McInternet...a free internet café where kids can eat their Happy Meals and watch obscene videos on YouTube...wish we had that when I was a kid.
 
Anyhow, Antigua has everything...ringed by smoking volcanoes, it lies at a nice and temperate 5000 feet, and has a bunch of cool bars, coffee shops, old churches, and colonial charm.  The first thing we did once we settled into our little hotel, was go find an Irish pub!  We heard that there was one in Antigua and it was high-time for pint of Guinness!  Well, we found Reilly's Bar but they were fresh out of Guinness, so we ordered the next best thing, Guatemala's finest beer - Gallo!  I liked it so much, I bought the t-shirt.  Anyhow, as Malin mentioned, I started talking with the bartender and found out that he's a moto-adventurer too!  And he's doing it on a 1984 Honda CB750!!!...talk about a challenge!  Geez!
 
OK, Guatemala get's a two thumbs up for being a spectacular destination...the word WOW comes to mind quite often.  Tomorrow we leave for El Salvador and honestly, I have no idea what to expect...we only have one day there...and we have border crossing to negotiate as well...just when we're getting comfortable up in the Highlands (we've been over 5000 feet for the last two weeks), it's time to get back to the Pacific coast!
 
 
 
 
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Comments

braden
braden on

WOW ! Is correct
Again, absolutely stunning! Hey Jess, What ever happened to Junior, your stffed dog? Do you remember us trekking on a Honda 150 to the Las Padres overnight and sleeping on a picnic table at Wheelers Hot Springs? Jr.was bungied onto the seat backrest.
That dinner plate looks real inviting. And 'Nathan' the bartender from WA state looks like Proud Annie's Sat night server who is 'Nathaniel (Wagner)'
Does the calendar run slower in Guatamala? Is there a time warp or something? You guys posted your blog yesterday on the 24th? But yesterday was the 29th at least it was here in Tennessee! I am confused, so what's new, eh?
Your nephews Zack and Dylan are coming to stay here at the haunted house for a week and I am so looking forward to it. I miss you folks and I'm sure you'll find a Swede or maybe a whole family in Panama.

Love,

Pop

jloder
jloder on

Legit Barba!!
Jess - your beard looks great, I must admit I am extremely jealous as I can only grow a Neck/Fu Manchu combo beard. Love the video and pics and I would like to be the first to order a case of Gallo Cerveza. If you can't fit the case on the bike a nice Forty will do the trick. Buena suerta en El Salvador!!!

nancylmckinley
nancylmckinley on

No Guinness in the Irish Pub????
For shame, for shame...an authentic pub will ALWAYS have the best beer ever brewed...GUINNESS!!! It's obvious by your smiling faces that you two are having way too much fun. Everyone's jealous...but happy for you. The trek up to the volcano looked like lots of fun and what a treat to be able to see and photo an eruption. Great pictures.

Love,
MOM

skinnyfish
skinnyfish on

truly incredible!
spectacular town. such amazing views, even had to download a picture for a potential screen saver. question: do all central american moto-dudes dawn the sporto-beard? maybe it's necessary for border crossing.

jloder
jloder on

Yo!
Rob, that is a GREAT picture of you.

billyk
billyk on

Hey There
Great stuff guys. I'm sure the photos don't do the real thing much justice but it looks awesome. The lake from your last entry looked like a cool spot too.

I'm reading your blog here with Gavin and he has a question and two comments. Q: Are you still on the 405? C1: That fumey bus needs to go to the fix-it place! C2: You guys must be very brave to walk on top of hot lava.

As for me, I take the same inspiration from your blog and photos as usual - I'm off to get me some good Mexican food and a cold beer!

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