I feel semi-settled for a change since Mike and I have stopped in Antigua for the week.

After our brief stop in El Chol we set off on our last day’s journey to Antigua on Sunday. We had about 70 km to bike and we wanted to make it to town by 6 pm in order to get the scoop from our language school. Ha! After a couple hours of biking on steep hilly gravel we’d made it 10 km to a town called Granados. Realizing we’d never make it to Antigua in time at that rate, we hopped into the back of a pick-up truck with our bikes and 7 other men and headed for San Juan. This was as far as the truck was going, but it got us significantly closer to Antigua. We thought we could bike the rest of the way.

Aerial view of the Sunday market in El Chol.

This plan was actually working fine until we made it to the town of Santiago-something. We were waylaid by a huge carnival. Tons of people filled the streets, including some who were 20 feet tall! We saw dancing monkey-people, Mayans in traditional dress, ferris wheels that were powered by tractors and probably banned from the States 40 years ago, and various other hand-cranked tetanus-inducing carnival rides.

20 ft. people walking down the streets of Santiago-whatever.

Some carnival goers. A few of them are wearing the Mayan clothing typical of the area. I think we were almost as interesting to the crowd as the dancing monkey-people, whom we don’t really have any good pictures of…

Treacherous ferris wheel.

Would you put your child on these rides??

As we shuffled through the crowds we tried in vain to locate the way out of town. Our search brought us to a dump by the river where a women was inexplicably hanging out with her children and some vicious dogs. I kept my distance, but Mike thought he’d poke around in the garbage for the answers to our dilemma. He was nearly eaten by one of the dogs in the process, but he came away with the brilliant insight that maybe we ought to just catch a bus to Antigua before it got dark rather than camp in the garbage dump.

Alas, no buses to Antigua. Instead we caught one to San Lucas which was halfway. There, a helpful local told us that he thought we could bike the rest of the way to Antigua before dark because it was close and all downhill. So it was. We made it before dark, but not before our Spanish school had closed for the day. We found a hotel for the night and got up early the next day to go to class.

Mike and I are both taking 4 hours of one-on-one Spanish instruction every morning this week. We’re also staying with a local family in a large and comfortable house. Margarita is our friendly and helpful house mom. We get three meals a day at the house, and so far they’ve been fantastic. I can’t say that I’m absorbing loads of Spanish and that I’ll be fluent by the end of the week, but I’m having fun anyway and it’s nice to rest from our mobile lifestyle. We actually did our first load of laundry since we started our trip. So nice to have clean clothes!

Antigua is a tourist town if ever there was one. You can see just as many gringo’s walking the streets as locals. Most people speak English. We actually passed a hotel that cost $165 U.S. a night! Outrageous! (Our homestay accomodations plus 3 meals is a whopping $10 a day.) The highlight of this being such a touristy town is that I was finally able to find a copy of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows in English! I’ll be finished with the book by tonight.

For my birthday yesterday we went out for dessert after dinner. There are plenty of cute cafes here and we found some tasty cheesecake. Mike bought me the HP book the day before as an early birthday present (not to mention the tickets to the John Mayer concert we went to before we left). And, really, what else could I need or want? I’m already having the time of my life traveling through Central America! Thanks to everyone who sent me birthday wishes and to everyone who’s keeping in touch through this blog. I miss you all!

Okay. Now for the answer to the latest poll.

‘Dis Da Fi Wi Chicken’ is Kriol for ‘This is our chicken’ according to our hosts at the Parrot Nest. Litterally, ‘This the for we chicken’. Mike’s pleased that he got so many votes for his contribution ‘This is the finest white man’s chicken’. Thanks for playing!

I’ll be revealling the subject of the mystery picture in my next post, so you have one last chance to guess. TTFN!

4 Responses to “GringoLand!”
  1. Dr_Omega says:

    Happy belated birthday to you Jackie! Sounds as if it was a good one.Harry Potter & cheescake- it doesn’t get much better than that!Love the pics of the 20 foot ladies & also the aerial shot of the market.Glad you are getting a rest break & hope the Spanish lessons help.Mike, call when you can. We need to discuss a letter regarding payment to AZ apartment. Have fun! Miss you! Love, Mom

  2. Karen Brady says:

    Wow, what a day you had Sunday! Glad you finally made it to Antigua! But at least you had some quaint distractions along the way! Most people’s vacations/travels aren’t nearly so interesting. Your first laundering??!? I guess people should wash their daily-worn clothes once a month, whether they need it or not!! Next thing ya know, you’ll be taking a bath or something crazy like that! Glad you finally found a Harry!! I know you’ve been patiently waiting for that to happen. It sounds like you have it pretty good in Antigua. Glad you had a few treats for your birthday! Take Care! Love, Ma

  3. Dr_Omega says:

    Mike, le dije tomar a españoles en High School secundaria. ¿Usted va a aprender cómo jurar?Feliz Cumpleaños, Jackie.

  4. jenn says:

    happy bday to you…happy bday to you…i know im late on this but that was me trying to sing you happy bday…anyway…im glad you found hp just in time for your bday…and it must be nice staying in one spot for a week…im visiting my fam and friends in cali right now…and will be back next sun to get ready for school (i only have one year left)…i also know how mike loves the cheesecake and i was wondering if it tasted as great as it sounds…mike, does your spanish still sound like an american speaking spanish or are you billingual yet?…and did you cut your mane or are you waiting till oct for jackie’s sis’ wedding?

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