Friday, 20 January 2012

Getting to Guate (aka Guatemala City!)

So after our 3 days in Copan, we booked a place on a small shuttle bus headed for Guatemala City, so we got on board at 6am and tried to enjoy the 5 hour bumpy journey in a minivan. Traveling by bus really doesn’t bother me that much when I think about it, I just can’t stand it when everyone is cramped on into one great big bus, when I have a little bit of space, I am happy, but to be honest, in these minivans the seat are so close together that no one really has space regardless of where they sit!
Anyway, when we arrived in Guatemala city we were dropped off at this restaurant called ‘Los Antojitos’ where we ended up having breakfast after calling our hostel and arranging for someone to come and pick us up from ‘Quetzalroo’. So shortly afterwards, our lift arrived and it was packed with other travelers as Quetzalroo hostel had just finished their city tour and were on their way back when they came to pick us up. So we soon arrived at the hostel and were greeted by one of the best hostels I have ever stayed in, run by such a nice family and everyone their knows their stuff about where to go and what to do! We asked Manuel (the man who runs this joint, who also looks like a guatemalan Jack Black) what we should do whilst in the city and he gave us this map and pointed out the locations of a few museums and other such places and even a great restaurant that we should go to. So Ally went ahead to all the museums and I went around to explore and do some shopping as I wasn’t really in a museum-y kind of mood, so we agreed to meet at this restaurant later in the evening for a bite to eat. However, with me not being the greatest man to trust for directions, I soon got lost in amongst their ‘calle y avenida’ system, much like New York’s block system, but different due to the fact that not every single avenue or street is signposted, anyway, it transpired that I was actually about half an hour late for when we arranged to meet for dinner. After a very big apology and finding out about each others day we had an early dinner and headed back to the hostel (about an 8 minute walk away), we then decided that we should go out for a drink or something and make the most of Guatemala City’s Zona Viva, however when we were walking down the street, we were very shocked to find out that we couldn’t get a taxi to stop for us, so we were waiting and trying to get one to stop for about 10 - 15 minutes before we went back inside to ask if Manuel could call one for us, however he said that a big group of them were all heading out for something to eat at the restaurant we went to earlier and that we should tag along, which of course we did, and just sat and had a beer or two.
This dinner was great as we got to know everyone staying at the hostel and also got to know some of the staff really well. We met a great australian couple called Mitch and Claire and also an american girl called Cindy. All seem really cool and such great people. One of the best things about traveling is just meeting so many different people and hearing everyone’s different stories, about where they started, where they are going, what was their favourite place e.t.c, and even just bonding over the fact that everyone is doing roughly the same thing as each other. So after dinner we headed out to a bar and had a few beers in a very overly packed bar, where all (i think) 7 of us were squished onto this one table at the very back of the bar, oh well, still very enjoyable ... even more enjoyable when we got up to leave and got a taxi and managed to fit all of us into this one cab which normally held about 4 people, including the driver! Quite a feat I may say!
The next day we organised to go on the ‘Peligroso Tour’, Quetzalroo’s city tour, which takes us through the old section of the city, through some central parks and into the best market I have ever been to. This thing was about 2 floors, and about the size of a football pitch! Massive! We even stopped at one of Manuel’s favourite food stalls where he made everyone try traditional Guatemalan cuisine, starting at level 1. Of course Ally and I are not ones to turn down a challenge, so we went all the way up to level 3 (the highest) and during our time we tried fried pigs stomach, liver and ‘Chile Rellenos’ (a sort of stuffed pepper like thing, with meat, onion and pepper all chopped up into a ball and put into a batter type thing ... actually now one of my favourite things I ate whilst traveling, these things are all over guatemala!
Anyway, we spent the rest of the day just chilling out, watching some much missed TV with the rest of the hostel and even having a roof top party whilst watching some amazing fireworks (for the guatemalan equivalent of KFC’s 50th birthday, this place is called Pollo Campero), and eating some amazing Guatemalan Hot Dogs whilst chilling (and trying to warm up) in my newly purchased PONCHO!! Yeah baby, a proud and happy owner at last! This night was great and I wish I could relive it, hopefully if I get the chance to go back once again. Sadly there isn’t really any pictures of Guatemala City as I really didn’t want to take out my iPhone as we had heard that ‘Guate’  (aka) is very dangerous and don’t even bother taking out anything expensive!

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