Thursday, October 20, 2011

A Weekend in Antigua, Guatemala

20/10/11
Kristen says...

Well, we made it! After being in either Honduras or the US for the past year+, we finally had the opportunity to visit a second Central American country!

It was a happy coincidence that this trip, my birthday, and a 3-day weekend all collided.

The trip rally started on Friday when one of my classes surprised me with a delicious birthday cake (and a funny story--the student who actually ordered the cake wrote on the instructions to her driver to have the cake say "Mrs. Fink" and be top de mantequilla (buttercream frosting)...what actually happened you can see below:
Hahahahahaha!!

Either way, it was delicious! :)












That afternoon we took off via plane to Guatemala City...the plane was nice and big, and the flight was good. We were quite surprised with the size and modernity of the Guatemala City airport...much bigger than either Tegucigalpa or Des Moines...

The drive between Guatemala City and Antigua isn't long, but it is windy, hilly, and (inside the city) full of traffic. Oh, and if you haven't heard, we're in a bit of a tropical depression down here, so there were small mudslides and tree limbs that we had to maneuver around. What should have taken 45 minutes actually ended up taking 2+ hours!
We got to Antigua around 8ish PM and checked into our hotel, the Hotel Aurora. Just FYI, if you ever go to Antigua, stay at the Aurora...it's AMAZING! It was built in 1926 and, based on the photos of the outside and inside gardens that they have hanging around in the building, it's exactly the same now. It's been so well kept up!












Our room was absolutely awesome, with a wood-beam roof, antique furnishings, and room to sleep 6(!)...even the door to the bathroom was beautiful with stained glass.


















After we checked in we decided we needed some food, and went out to walk until we found something we wanted...we made it a whole block and a half before we were stopped in our tracks by the delicious smell of Christmas...or ginger cookies, whichever you prefer...



The Doña Luisa Xicotencatl Restaurant may be one of the best places ever to eat...we had food from there four times; our first meal, our last meal, on the second day when we needed something warm after being out in the rain, and that same evening when we were too cold and tired to eat at a real restaurant, so we ran down to the bakery and bought ham and cheese croissants and giant ginger and chocolate cookies. OH, DELICIOUS!!




We spent our first full day in Antigua (eating, of course) and wandering the streets of the city...One of the things that really struck me about Antigua were all the ruined churches. I would say we passed 5+ of these structures. Our tour guide to the market explained that about every 65 years or so Antigua is struck by a devastating earthquake, and after a while, it doesn't make sense to rebuild every time...still, the ruins were beautiful to look at!




























On our second full day we went to a market that was a 2+ hour drive away from Antigua...it was apparent how much rain there had been by all the mini-mudslides we had to dodge on the way. We had a great time visiting a Catholic church that had small altars all down the main aisle for the Maya to pray to their own gods (no pictures, sorry) and then to a textile/flower/vegetable/thread/anything else you can think of market:












































































Needless to say, I came home with a "few" things...we all need 3 table runners, right?!

Our last day (my 28th birthday, by the way) was spent back in Antigua, running around buying all the things we hadn't purchased already...and it seemed the purchase of the day was:
Apparently in the '70s a US citizen and her husband had a sneaking suspicion that jade could be found in Guatemala, came down here, found it, and made a gazillion dollars selling it! They have a factory/museum dedicated to the stuff, as well as a couple of stores (so, guess what I got for my birthday present this year :)
That afternoon we drove back to Guatemala City and spent time relaxing at the airport before flying to San Jose, Costa Rica to catch our plane back to Teguc (kind of roundabout, wasn't it?)













All-in-all, it was a GREAT holiday/birthday weekend, and a great trip outside of Honduras. Antigua was a beautiful little city, and I would recommend any of you to visit it (although, be ready to fend of the funny little Guatemalan vendors..."You buy this for your friend?" "You buy this for your enemy?" "Business is business" So exasperatingly funny...

Well, just because I haven't put enough pictures in this post (haha), I'll leave you with a few more pictures of us and beautiful Antigua






















































Thanks for reading!
KF

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Nothing New...

9/10/11
Kristen says...

Hi everyone! Hopefully you've had a chance to watch the video or peek at the pictures from our trip to the Lago and behind the waterfall...

After those two weekend of fun fun fun, we've now had two weekends of lame, lame, lame! Why? Because our car broke...again!

Luckily it's not the tires again (we actually had a bulge in one a few weeks ago and had to replace it). This time it's the transmission!

Apparently this is a "problem" with the type of car we have, so Chris at least, wasn't wholly surprised. It all began LAST Saturday, when a couple friends and we went to the local pewter factory to buy lots of awesome heavy pewter things we don't need. As we were dropping them off at their respective houses, Chris started doing things like turning the car off and on and making a worried face...especially when he was flooring it up a hill and we were barely moving...

Anyway, we got onto the main boulevard near our house (totally clogged by massive traffic, of course), and I really thought we were going to be stranded. Luckily, by the grace of God and Honda we did make it home, but as Chris was backing it in and out of our allotted parking spot, the "go forward" part of the transmission decided not to go forward anymore. The car would back perfectly, but forward...not so much.

So we called the mechanic. On Saturday afternoon. On a Honduran holiday weekend.

He came to look at it...on TUESDAY!

He towed it away on a flatbed...on THURSDAY!

Chris texted him today...we should have it back...on THURSDAY!

That means we've been existing without a car for over a week now, and it is driving me CRAZY!!!!!

Luckily we have awesome friends who have been taking me to school and to important places like the pharmacy and grocery stores, but it takes losing your car for this long to realize how much you appreciate freedom of movement!!

On the bright side, being confined to the house meant I had a very productive weekend...I did my lesson plans, my school blog post, rough drafts of my narratives for this week's midterm grades, and sketched out what I'm going to teach between now and Christmas...

I also watched a couple more capitulos of "La Mentira" (I'm ready for 19/100) and tatted a bit...but I'm not putting pictures up because what I made is a gift and a surprise...so you'll get to see the finished product in December!

Anyway, hope you are all having a good weekend, and if you get Monday, off, enjoy it! (I don't get this Monday off, but that's ok, I have the next two off! :)

KF

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Two Weekends, Two Trips (Part 1)

2/10/11
Kristen says...

Happy Birthday brother Timothy!!!

Well, here I am on a Sunday night, decadently staying up late because there's no school tomorrow! Actually, this is going to be a theme in October, because we don't have school 3 of the 5 Mondays in October! Thanks for this go out to Francisco Morazán for having a birthday (tomorrow), Christopher Columbus for accidentally running into the Americas (for some reason we're celebrating that one on October 17), and the Honduran Armed Forces for existing, I guess (October 25)!

I meant to post this a LONG time before today, but my friend/Spanish teacher got me totally hooked on a Mexican Telenovela, "La Mentira" (the lie). It's AMAZING! I have spent so much time watching it on YouTube that I've been neglecting lots of other things like tatting and blogging and my husband ;)

If you speak Spanish, or feel just adventurous, feel free to check it out here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QT3W3SRqgZM

Anyway, I just finished capitulo 11, so I thought I would take this opportunity to tell you about our first weekend trip from a few weekends back...Chris and I went with a group of friends up to Lago de Yojoa, a popular tourist destination just a short 3.5 hr drive away from Teguc. We went in a small caravan, stopping along the way for a delicious lunch with an even more delicious view:












After that we settled into our lodgings at a nice brewery located quite near the Lake, and then set out to do THE MOST DANGEROUS THING WE'VE EVER DONE!! (And yes, this beats flying into Tacontin Airport)...
It has to do with that "innocent" looking waterfall behind us. It's actually called Pulhapanzak Falls, and it's 43-meters high...

No, we didn't jump over it...we went behind it!!

Here's a short (5:00) video clip of the experience...it's a little choppy in places, and some of it actually takes place underwater (yay for waterproof cameras!) but it should give you some amount of understanding what it feels like to actually go underneath, behind, and then back in front of a waterfall that dumps quite a bit of water over its sides each day:


I'm sorry the quality's not awesome...I had to reduce its file size for web streaming.

If you don't want to take the time to look at the video here's a few photo highlights:




































After that we were pretty much pooped, and went back to the brewery for dinner. Funny thing was, it rained like crazy that night and mostly what we got was wet. Our dinner was delicious, though, and we went to bed soon after.

The next morning we were planning to go walk though a wildlife refuge, but we were still a bit tired from the day before's waterfall adventure, the rain the night before, AND we knew we had holiday traffic to contend with on the way back (if you haven't ever driven in Honduras I can't explain to you what holiday traffic can be like...miserable is one word) so we decided just to get back and enjoy the rest of the day in Teguc...the drive home was georgous, and relatively traffic free, amazingly...














We did make a few stops on the way home...I had to get a paleta!
Anyway, that's it for the trips...until the next holiday weekend! I am very excited because we are going to spend Columbus Day weekend (Honduran version) and my birthday in Guatemala!!
KF