The Spice of Life

Guatemala was never on our original itinerary, but things change. Talking with travelers along the way convinced us to do a “highlight” tour of Guatemala. According to the travel websites, guides, travelers, and even a few locals, these are the places you visit if you are in Guatemala: Flores/Tikal, Antigua, Semuc Champey and the Lanquin caves, the villages of Lago de Atitlan (there are more of course, but these are the big ones). So we have managed to get to all, with the exception of Semuc/Lanquin, which we opted not to do since we’ve had our monthly fill of water and caves.

Right now we are in one of the lakeside villages of Lago de Atitlan, called Panajachel (also known as “Gringotenango”, 1) because of all the tourists and 2) the fact that many of the nearby towns end in something “-tenango”. After arriving and looking around for a place to stay (wow…have I reached the point of not having to have reservations?? Stay tuned.), we settled on the third option, Villa Lupita, slightly off the main drag. First option-too expensive; second option-too grungy (the shared bathroom was gag-reflex inducing). At this point, I have developed travel standards. They are that the room be relatively clean (spotless is not something you get at the places we are staying), and in a relatively secure area or building. TV, internet, soft pillows, clean towels, mirrors, and additional furniture other than bed and occasional shelving unit are serious luxuries. I have learned that there is no such thing as a mattress pad, which is why I love my sleep sack, and that “hot water” means that at least sometimes there is hot water.

Aside from the dual bouts of food poisoning, we have been lucky so far with food. Very few places we’ve been to have had anything extraordinary, but when you’re aiming for under $4 per person per meal, you don’t expect it. My problem is that I love food and living in San Francisco has spoiled me beyond belief when it comes to variety and cuisine. We found a little place here in Pana that serves dinner; a piece of chicken, coleslaw, rice, tortillas, and beverage for 10 quetzales (roughly $1.25 USD). It’s nothing fancy, but filling and a decent meal for an unbeatable price. Jeff said he could easily eat there every night of our six day stay (and in all seriousness, he really could). I wanted to say “Me too!” It’s not that it’s a bad meal, but after our third night in a row, and looking at all the other menu items that are available, not to mention the row of restaurants across the street, it’s the lack of variety that gets to me. But I remind myself that I am in “Travel Mari mode” now, so I will suck it up and enjoy the especial de la semana (“weekly special”).

Posted: March 31st, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Guatemala | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment »