Monthly Archives: March 2014

2/23 to 3/3 Guatemala

We left Stray Catz securely tied to the dock at Nana Juana Marina and jumped on a bus to Antigua.  Kylan met two other cruising kids about his age and had a great time for the couple of days before we left. The marina is part of a hotel and resort so it has a nice pool and grounds. Other marinas in this area have special events on certain nights of the week like movies, games and potlucks. Some even provide a launcha service ( small boat transportation) to and from the event. Quite a community of cruisers here.

In our sense of continuing adventure, we headed inland to what everyone here calls the real Guatemala. (?) It seems very similar only the mountains are bigger.  This area seems just as real. Based on our experiences so far, we felt it was prudent to start with at least a week of Spanish language lessons.  We found a school online to go to, but as it turns out there are over 50 language schools in Antigua and probably another 30 up the road in the Lake Atitlan area. The schools offer a total immersion option where they place you with a local family. We opted to all be placed in separate families in hopes of faster learning. It didn’t really work like that though, because there were other English-speaking students in the same house.  Still it was a good experience.

Antigua is a very old and beautiful city. It is preserved well. The streets are all cobblestone and quite a challenge to walk on. (walking on any street in Guatemala is a challenge because of the driving) There are many churches dating way back. A few were destroyed in earth quakes in the 17 and 1800’s, but the ruins are still kept for history’s sake. There are three volcanoes surrounding the town. One of which is still very active and erupted while we were there.  It sounded like a sonic boom, thunder and fireworks all in one. The houses and buildings are up against each other and there is a central park which has activities almost nightly. It is a very popular tourist destination which was nice because you never felt threatened or in danger in the more popular areas. The homes in which Anna, Kylan and I (originally) were within walking distance to the downtown and all the activities. And yes we got together every day probably also not helping our Spanish. All of the old school buses that we used to ride come here to Guatemala to gain new life. They have never looked so good. Plenty of chrome and colors and horns that can be heard a mile away.

We were in Antigua for the last week in February. Leaving on March 1st headed to San Pedro in the Lake Atitlan area for another week of language school. I’ll share more on that in a later post.

 

Pictures from Antigua

From the cobblestone streets to the surrounding volcanoes, Antigua has an amazing amount of charm.

Fresh off the bus

Fresh off the bus

Famous land mark in Antiqua Arco de Santa Catalina

Famous land mark in Antigua
Arco de Santa Catalina

Maybe I do like soup.

Maybe I do like soup.

He told me to walk this way...

He told me to walk this way…

Local Mayan clothes

Local Mayan dress

Street vendors of all sizes.

Street vendors of all sizes.

One of many churches damaged in an earthquake that are preserved in their damaged state.

One of many churches damaged in an earthquake that are preserved in their damaged state.

Fountain in Parque Central. Modesty is important

Fountain in Parque Central.
Modesty is important

Anna and her host Mom

Anna and her host Mom

Street performers

Street performers

Rio Dulce, Guatemala (written 2/13 but not published)

As I said before, we are currently in Fronteras. This  area is called Rio Dulce. It’s on the Rio Dulce between El Golfete and Lago de Izabal. The area is quite popular amongst cruisers. It being a hurricane free area in the midst of the hurricane latitudes. The rivers and waterways are a lifeline here. Where boats of all makes and sizes are used for fishing, transportation, delivery, commerce and even recreation. There are many marinas in this area. They mostly cater to the boaters who have migrated here from all over the world. Some come for a short visit and continue on their way. Others come and stay just for the hurricane season, and still others have come and never made it any further for what ever reason. The services here are great for boaters. Especially compared to everywhere we went to in Belize. Because of that we will stay here for at least a month getting things fixed on Stray Catz. Parts are an issue, but labor isn’t. The daily wage here for general labor is about $15 US.  The only challenge is no one seems to understand me and I can’t figure out what they’re saying. 🙂 So during the repair process of Stray Catz, the three of us are going to head into the heart of Guatemala and take some Spanish language lessons in hopes of narrowing the communication gap. Kylan has been invaluable as a translator even with his limited Spanish.

On the way between Cayo Quemado and Fronteras we let Kylan do a little wake boarding due to the lack of wind and how hot it was.

No wind entertainment.

No wind entertainment.

As far as repairs go, Stray Catz looks somewhat naked at the moment because we took all the sails off to be repaired. Nothing major wrong, but after the gale in the Yucatan Channel there are some small tears and worn stitching that needs updated. We also lost an alternator during that storm and our windlass went out later. Those too are off the boat.  One other important item we’re working on is a chart plotter. It would be nice once again to know where we are going. Or maybe not?

Any body headed to Guatemala that can bring a chart plotter with them?