Monday, August 26, 2013

Arrival in Guatemala City

Welcome to our latest adventure! Marvin and his fiancé picked us up from the Guatemala City Airport at six in the morning. I can’t tell you how nice it is to be met at the airport. For some reason I’ve never thought it important to meet people at the airport. Gianluca and Egle in Milan, and now Marvin and Evelyn have changed my attitude.

We first met Marvin when he needed a place to live for six months. We gave him our guest room and he’s been like a brother (or a son at times) to us. He announced he’d found the love-of-his-life, was getting married, and wanted us to be in the wedding as his Godparents. At first we thought it would be an inconvenient time of the year to go on a month long vacation, however Marvin convinced us. He is relentless when he wants something.

So here we sit in a café in La Antigua! Guatemaltecos know their coffee. This little courtyard is filled with potted plants, local arts and crafts, a silver cat (named Misha), who likes my lap (and drools), and the cacophony of foreign accents trying to master Spanish. My second novel (3/4s done) takes place here. I’m super excited to be writing here.

Marvin drove us straight to his home where we had a traditional breakfast of tortillas, black beans, eggs and coffee. We were in a fog of exhaustion, but it was pleasant. Finally got to meet the elusive brother who is a pediatrician. Got my hugs from Mom, Dad, and Sister. We both fell asleep for a couple of hours. When we woke up they said it’s time to prepare for lunch. Okay. So off to the market for a chicken, avocados, and chips (we brought the spices from California—Marvin’s favorite food, guacamole). The market was an experience of its own. Jam packed with people, children, hawkers, mud, dogs, and anything you could possibly want to buy.
They drove us to Antigua, and we dropped off Evelyn for her bachelorette party. We found our school and checked in. We had two choices of homes to stay in. The first was next door to the school. I’d requested a private bathroom, but this one didn’t have one. The bathroom isn’t a deal-breaker for me, but the bedroom the size of a closet with no window was. We went to the second house. Perfect. A large room with a window, and a private bathroom. It’s a pretty five minute walk to school. 180 bucks for a week, includes three meals a day and private Spanish instructor for 4 hours/day. The bonus is the stairs, I won’t need a Stairmaster.

We wandered around town last night until we found my favorite wine bar, Sangre. Isn’t that a cool, kinda creepy name? Marvin has become a bit of wine connoisseur. Then we went out to dinner at  . . . McDonalds. I’m not kidding. This McDonalds is absolutely gorgeous! An open courtyard, massive garden, luxurious cushy chairs and of course the giant plastic Ronald McDonald with ten kids climbing on him. We passed on the chocolate cake and mocha at their McCafe, though it looked delicious.
Back home we were greeted by their ferocious poodle and a teenager, Joshua. We unpacked and passed out. Today we are refreshed after a nerve-wracking shower with the infamous “widow maker” showerhead (with live electricity running through it to heat the water!). I made Joe go first.

Random thoughts;
Driving through Guatemala listening to the beach boys singing  “I wish they all could be California girls”, hearing “Hotel California” at Sangre.
The weird feral cat sitting on top of the pile of shirts for sale at the market. It was snarling, meowing in its deep croaky voice, and drooling frothy slobber all over the pile of clothes. Another foreigner was watching it with equal horror, but when I brought it to the attention of the shop girl she just smiled . . . “Yes it’s a cat,” like it was a teddy-bear or something! Yuck.
The wine bar with more people speaking English than Spanish. The crepe restaurant full of locals with the sign “Worst Terrace in Town”. A different terrace with the great view and hammocks, but no patrons. Frida’s bar where Joe was told that he looked and acted like a former president of Guatemala.
The jam-packed artist indoor market which was like a labyrinth . . . where a salesman told me I was from California. I asked how he knew that, and he just shrugged and made a tall figure in the air with his hands “You look Californian,” and asked “Are you from Texas?” to Joe. It’s the cowboy hat.
How giant I feel here, with big feet . . . kinda like Fiona. Maybe I should roar. A lady was walking in front of me this morning whose legs were barely taller than my knees.


  1. How exciting for you! Love your description of the market and the cafe!!

  2. I didn't see that McDonald's when I was in Antigua! LOL!

  3. He was VERY popular. I was amazed I could get a photo of him without his fan club.