Guatemala

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Guatemala.
A place where there is so much culture and beautiful sights to see – from  mountains to lakes to architecture.
A place where my heart was left pounding wildy from a bit of fear but push those aside and bring out thy common sense, for if you are short on time, in that region and are looking for a country where you find a diverse range of scenery and still want some cultural elements involved, this could be it.


Taking the overnight bus, we arrived at the border from Tapachula, Mexico in the morning.
I had to pay an exit fee as I was a foreigner, about 200 mexican pesos (USD 17). I heard the exit fee has gone up to about 310 mexcian pesos now – Apparently it’s “official” exit fee but as I doubt it is set by the government but just extra pocket money for the border guards pockets.

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But that’s ok, I was excited to get down south and continue into Central America.
Crossing the border, I felt like I was in Indonesia, forest, tropical weather and all. Bring it on, I was ready to shed my winter wear.

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At the border, there was this lady selling freshly squeezed orange juice for 40Cents. Oh yea, breakfast time – OJ in a plastic bag.

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This guy cracked raw eggs into his OJ! Eeks, i wonder how that would taste but guess its a power packed breakfast there.

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Trusty TICA bus that got us around city to city, country to country in Central America.
Each journey was about 10 hours which we thought was long at that time, but once we hit South America where each bus journey was 30 hours at least, tell us the next bus ride was only 10 hours and our hearts would leap in joy, exclaiming “Omg yes! Anything less than 15 hours? That’s short”

We travelled on to Guatemala city and went right on to Antigua on a chicken bus,  arriving at night, checking into the hostel and then on to a slumber.

ANTIGUA, AKA CITY OF ETERNAL SPRING

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Good morning Antigua!! As I arrived late the night before, I was blown away when I was greeted by this volcanic setting the next morning as I climbed up to the roof top for breakfast. Breathtaking.

528770_10150732731697470_1974132178_nI remember snapping this shot and sending it to my Dad, and he immediately texted back saying it was so precious to have this scenery during breakfast – his scenery then was his excel sheets 🙂

Breakfast with Volcanoes. Cool Air. Tranquility.
Soaked it all as best as I could.

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A walk around after breakfast, I love how in they colour their walls with bright yellows and reds.

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The iconic clock on most Antigua posters.

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I find in Guatemala, many locals still don on their traditional wear, which was nice to see, to see that they still own that tradition of theirs, in a world where many cultural groups are shedding theirs.

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Got up Hill of the Cross as I wanted to see the city.

543685_10150732741482470_1133210411_n Wanted to hike up the volcano behind, but after consulting with the local police, they assured me that I will definitely be robbed, mugged, assualted and the list goes on. His probability count : 90 %.
Hence, nahhh.

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Local Tienda selling sweets.

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And my favorite ? Cocadas – sweet coconut fried flakes, yums!

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Pardon the language, but this was really funny when I saw it. They really pushed you to buy the cashew nuts, literally every corner of the street had someone selling them nuts tts bundled with much hardcore pestering.

Tuk tuks – Bangkok, jade necklace – China and Cashew nuts – so C.America!

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Volunteered and spent a day in an organic farm. It was hard work, my muscles were sore after! But the view behind was just beautiful, and the air was cool. Weather in Antigua is cool year round, neither too hot or warm, which is they call this place the city of eternal spring.
I belong to the eternal summer camp but throw in farming? Thank you cool weather.

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After a few days in Antigua, headed off to the next city, Panajachel, in a chicken bus.

I remember trying to find the bus in the morning and it so happened it was waiting by the side about to leave, what good luck. Hopped into it, no waiting and off we went.

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Quite a common sight – Women / Mums keeping their food warm in the basket covered by cloths, taking it to the markets to sell them.  They carry it by fixing it on their head so their hands are freed to carry other stuff or hold their children. Respect.

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That metal chain there? It’s the bus’s horn.
So the driver’s got to move his hand between the wheel, the horn-chain, and his driving stick,  so much multitasking going on.
Oh i forget, he also has to cling onto the window every time he swerves around some bends because his  seat doesn’t come with a seat belt.
Respect!

I think four of us were cramped into a bench that could only sit three skinny humans going there and in another bus, we ended up standing near the entrance with the doors opened, a bit crazy but I enjoyed the thrill thoroughly.

PANAJACHEL – Loveliest lake side town with warmer weather!

It was crazy how as the bus went from Antigua to Panajachel, the weather got really cold at certain stops and then once we descended to Panajachel, the sun came out and all of us felt warm again.

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Our hostel for the few days here – Hospeda Je Casa Linda

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There was a lady selling arroz con leche which I got for my breakfast.

She buys raw milk the day before, and at 4am the next day, starts boiling the rice for 2 hours, then with the milk, cinnamon and other yums. And only for less than 20cents.

I remember telling myself I will recreate this after this trip – nope didn’t happen and hasn’t happen until today.

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On a cold morning, this was soo good.

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Everyone seemed to have a hair wrap so I decided to get one done by this lovely 8 years old girl !

She was soo fast, less than 2 mins and bam, its done!

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Roamed around the streets and the lake and caught a gorgeous sun set.

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Before I slept, I came up to the roof. The night sky’s always such a mystery.

It was a full moon that night.
I remember it felt like I was in Yangshuo China. It kinda amazing to think how places so far away have some similarities, or is able to evoke nostalgic feelings because it transports you back to where you’ve been before.

SAN ANTONIO (PANAJACHEL)

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The next day, we decided to boat out to the little towns on the volcanic islands. First up – San Antonio

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Common sight of traditional goods sold

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Sad to say but I actually felt threatened/scared here in San Antonio.
Tried looking for the Mayan prayer place (which was set up for tourists by the way), which was in this quiet little alleyway, and while looking for it, saw two guys ,who were looking at us weirdly earlier on when we arrived on the island, coming towards us. It just didn’t feel right and I literally turned around and ran down into a shop for cover, heart pounding.
And then after coming out from the mayan temple place, saw another guy with his machete knife (very common for them to carry their machete knives) and having heard too many horror stories,again, ran down, heart racing, a more busy street! 

SAN KATARINA

We left and Hopped to another island, San Katarina.

This island definitely felt a lot safer and I really liked it 🙂

 

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Ladies selling their scarves, their design apparently only found on this island.

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An old lady weaving her scarf the traditional way – no machine, just her hands and years of experience and skills.

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This lady was sooooo kind. Despite knowing I didnt want to buy anything, she welcomed me in, showing me how she made her scarves and even told me to take pictures! And at the end, even thanked me. A sharp contrast to other vendors who didnt want you in their shops if you werent gonna buy or kept forcing you to buy it with “Very Cheap, Buy one for me”. None from this lady, who held high value in her craft. Would have bought from her if I had enough backpack space just because of the way she conducted her business 🙂

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We walked all the way back to Panajachel, round these mountains.

Again, at certain points, I felt like I was in Yangshou China. Was a bit strange to feel that way but really enjoyed the long walk back with this beautiful view.

Chichicastenango

Decided the check out Market Day at Chichi.

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I wished I could bring all them carpets home.

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Was seriously craving for my grandma’s steamed sweet potato the night before and I found it the next day in this market !!
& This is how they keep the food they sell warm, by hiding it under layers of cloth.
& This simple method actually works

GUATEMALA CITY

Guatemala city was the last stop and we had a day or two here.

I remember roaming the city centre, watching a soccer game here (Think it was the world cup then), heart almost falling out again when this guy suddenly turned when I walked past him and I thought he was going to do something, watching a few street performances, walking by a park.

Such simple, carefree days.

We checked into a hostel that Che Guevera stayed when he was in Guatemala. Hostel had all these cool graffiti, found one of my fave quotes then.

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Apparently, I’m in his room, sitting on his bed.
Didn’t have this room of course, had another room but thought it was cool that he was actually here years ago.

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I remember roaming the main town market and coming across this – Jesus CROSSING HIS FEET under the table! and it’s hilarious how the guy in green’s rocking a “cool” sign, secret closet poser!..
Latino’s take on the last supper – It just cracked me up
& they have their versions of different saints : e.g. virgin mary is called guadalupe and dons a colourful mexican outfit in Mexico instead of the usual white gown.

It’s funny how I have forgotten so much and seeing these pictures again remind me of the lovely quirks this region has.

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Last plastic bag drink run before I hit the next country.

Bye Guatemala, You got my heart racing so many times! Despite this, I  enjoyed the messiness of it all.

Now, Hello El Salvador! —

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