Saturday, October 2, 2010

Interlude: Around Antigua, Guatemala (September 6- 20, 2010)

Sunset colors the sky over ruined walls in the city of Antigua

The city is characterized by colonial Spanish architecture, cobblestone streets, and Volcán de Agua looming in the background

At the market, we discovered fresh tortillas topped with black beans and tomato salsa. Price: 1 quetzal, or about $0.13 each

Blue and white corn masas await their fate.

Souped-up school buses sparkle and shine at the bus terminal near the market.

Here, a 6 ft. long, 500 lb. pig heads for the chopping block

Easily the biggest pig we had ever seen, 

it had surprisingly good breath.

Ah ha! Salad greens! For pennies! If there´s one thing we never get enough of as cyclists, it's fresh green veggies. We decided to make a feast...
Mike prepares some hearty stir-fried veggies

Served with rice, sauteed greens...

A huge salad with avocado-mint vinaigrette dressing...

and for dessert....frozen raw vegan blackberry banana pie with oat flax crust. That's right.  We are taking full advantage of a long stay, a kitchen, and a cheap local market to prepare some elaborate meals, which we haven't done in many months.

Feeling well-nourished, we headed to Guatemala City for a night, to pick up Craig. Here´s the painted-on headboard of the bed in our seedy hotel room in a rough neighborhood. (As we ate french fries across the street, two guards stood ready with shotguns to protect the little restaurant.)

A beautiful arch in Guat City's historic district.  The flag is flying in anticipation of Guatemala's Independence Day on September 15.

The city is a like a mall for shoes. Shoe shops are everywhere. We were each able to find a used pair of sneakers for as little as $2, to be used for climbing a handful of Guatemala's volcanoes.

...some interesting graffiti seen in Guat City...
"I love my country but I reject its system"

More new blood.  This is Craig Caparatta, a friend of Jeff's and Mike's from Barcelona days.  We all met as English teachers while living in Spain, and would talk excitedly about future bike trips that we would do together one day, nous voila... Craig joins us here in Antigua...
We headed out of Antigua for a day to visit some nearby waterfalls. Unfortunately, the sun was in and the site was developed. But we didn't mind, because this lightning-fast water slide kept us enthralled (pictured is Jason as he flies past at 90 mph)...

View of the pool,  the valley below, and a shivering swimmer

Packed like sardines and surrounded by a bunch of schoolgirls on the public transport back to Antigua

Mmm...fruit salad for dessert, while Jason strums a guitar in the background

Tamales, tamales, tamales.  These are in the Antigua market.  The speckled ones are savory - filled with chipilín leaves and delicious.

the view from the rooftop at Hostel Ummagumma in Antigua.  This is Volcán de Agua (3766 m) in a rare moment of clarity in the rainy season, looming over the historic city.  We climbed it as our first volcano ascent in Guatemala, free agents (without a guide) as usual, but due to numerous reports of armed robbery of climbers, we brought no cameras and almost no money. We needed more than 12 hours to climb and descend - through cloud, mist and later thundershowers, and negotiated more mudholes, mudslides, landslides and badly eroded trail than imaginable.

this then is our upcoming course, snaking through Central America in no particular hurry.  After Guatemala, we will first pass through El Salvador.

having a communal lunch on the rooftop chillout spot at Hostel Ummagumma, in celebration of Guatemala Independence Day.  The four of us, plus two English folks, and three Guatemalan staff from the hostel.  For this meal we prepared a Thai-inspired salad (with a sauce of peanuts, garlic, ginger, cilantro, scallions and honey); sauteed greens (including cress, sweet potato, cilantro, and some local varieties whose names we don't even know); steamed broccoli; a fava potato mint dish (!!), and brown rice.

pictured here are the nearby volcanoes of Fuego and Acatenango, an extremely rare moment in which they can be seen from cloudy Antigua (during the rainy season).  They are to be our first stop out of Antigua...

No comments: