Thursday, December 17, 2015

Road Trip From Chiapas to Guatemala

      I can’t apologize for the lack of availability of the internet, since it is beyond my control.  Usually I post while sitting in the vicinity of wifi.  I haven’t really have a convenient place to do any posting, and the internet has been pretty sketchy, so I have just put it off.  This is where my apologies come in.  Since I have procrastinated there are a lot of days, activities, and details that are going to be askew or left out.  There is this really cool thing called “text edit,” it is an application that allows me to journal now and copy and paste onto the blog later.  It is a lovely tool and I am encouraging myself to use it more often so that I can journal while my thoughts are fresh.  

     We got to Marina Chiapas and spent a couple of days in the town of Tapachula where we ate A LOT, shopped a little, and purchased a sim card for the telephone.  We had ordered some new zinc for the prop shaft and had to wait for them to come in.  This would take a week or so, so we decided to take a little side trip into Guatemala.  Grant would stay at the marina and become more familiar with the Velvet Sky and tend to the business of polishing her stainless.  We left on a Thursday afternoon, it was December 3rd.  We loaded into the a van with five of us.  Paul and Judy from a boat named Grace, Marshall, and Scott and I.  It was a short 4 trip to Quetzaltenango, AKA Xela.  It is a pleasant little town, we had arrived just in time to drop our things at the hotel and walk downtown to find dinner.  We had dinner that consisted of the local dish of meat and sauce called “pepino.”  The sauce is very popular and has a couple of different variations.  We were back in our hotel by 7:30 to meet with our tour guide, Gabby.  We made arrangements to leave Xela after breakfast and head toward Antigua.  We stayed in Antigua a total of 3 days.  We saw many museums, including a jade museum, and archeological museum of Mayan artifacts. 

     On our second day in Antigua we went on a coffee tour.  We met one of the 35 families that share in the growth and production of the coffee brand "De La Gente" (meaning "Of The People").  We walked through the coffee plantation, then to the home of Cecilia and Armando to roast, grind, cook and drink a cup of the freshest coffee I may ever drink.  While we were exploring the plantation we came across a fruit, new to us, called jocote.  We also enjoyed some of the oranges that had fallen from the trees nearby. We had the pleasure of viewing a volcanic eruption while on the coffee tour as well.  Actually it was Scott who spotted the big clouds of smoke being emitted from the mountain top.  He called us away from the ripening coffee beans to enjoy the three eruption show.  

     The next day we went into Guatemala city and went to a couple of different museums, drove through downtown, had lunch at “Pollo Comprero,” a local version of “KFC,” we do not recommend it.  We ended back in Antigua at our hotel (Hotel Lucia), around four o’clock and were in desperate need of a nap before we were to walk downtown to join in on the “Quema De Diablo,” festival.  This is a celebration that starts off the Christmas season for Guatemalans.  It is translated to “The Burning of the Devil.”  It is a customary ritual that is performed on December 7th every year.  It is meant to symbolize cleaning out the trash, negativity, the years bad memories, unwanted thoughts, etc.  once the “devil” has been burned, the house is now clean to welcome the celebrations of Christ. 

     While napping, the bed started shaking, slowly at first, then it felt a little rumbly.  I knew we were experiencing an earthquake.  This was Scott’s first ever earthquake.  Later we found out it read 5.1 on the Richter Scale.  

     The next day, we started out after breakfast, and headed back to Quetzaltenango.  We were just beginning this leg of this journey when we heard there was a nationwide highway strike.  The medical staff, who were striking for more medicine and better medical facilities, would be blocking the major highways until they got their demands met.  Would we be getting back to Chiapas anytime soon? This was the question we all had.  And if not, by van via highway, how?  As it turns out, the strikers take a lunch break and they all clear the high way at the same time, leaving an exit route for a couple of hours. Funny! We made our break and made it Xela with time to walk around and enjoy the quaint little town for more than half a day.  We needed to get up and out early enough to beat the strike the next day, it started back up at 8 am.  We left at 6 am and made it to Chiapas by 10 am with no issues.  Who’s to say the driver that was heading back to Xela didn’t get caught up in the strike.   And we never did follow up to see if the medical demands were met.  I hope so.

A small peak at the banana orchards that surrounds both sides of the highway for at least five miles.

If you don't have a visa or a passport you can raft or swim across the boarder....good luck.

Follow that motorcycle....

There were trucks lined up for miles waiting inspection to cross the boarder....we could see no end.  They must plan on a 24 hour lay over.

The cemetery was the most colorful part of this small town in Guatemala.

Who is that guy sitting next to me?   The one with the gray hair?
Notice we are wearing warmer clothes....we were at 10,000 feet elevation....70 degrees felt cooooold!

I am looking for design features for my house (if I ever live in a house again).  This will be  the knob for my front door.

This graffiti was completed on took one and a half hours.

Our hotel in Quetzaltenango.

Banana, cream, raisins, and chocolate.....local dessert of Antigua.

This is what you get when request a room for three.

Bunking' it!

Morning coffee at a french cafe.

Raw coffee beans.

Raw coffee beans being dried on the roof top.

Scott trying out the coffee grinding apparatus.

This is of De La Gente Coffee of Antigua.  She is carrying her 7th child.

Eruption number 1.

Separating the bad beans from the good.

Marshall knows a good bean when he sees it.

Scott going to school on roasting beans to perfection.

Sometimes it takes two....

A picture of Cecilia and Armando's expanding can buy their coffee online "De La Gente Coffee"

They are in it for real.....

Still roasting
Grinding the perfectly roasted coffee beans.

A small sample of farming on the hillsides.....a must see!

Who could resist buying was "For the baby."

Such a common photo.

This is called a "Chicken Bus," they are unbelievably elaborate!

Seven yards of hand woven material.......

Will make ONE of these traditional wear Guatemalan skirts.

Traditional wear for men (yes...the men really are this short, and yes....they really do wear skirts.)

At the market
A photo of the exact statue we watched go up in flames on December 7th.

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