Mayans in Nebaj, Guatemala, line up to cast votes.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

English speaking doctor on call 24 hours

Yes, occasionally someone gets sick whether at home or in a foreign country, and I just discovered the ideal solution in Antigua, Guatemala.
    Dr. Oscar Asturias studied internal medicine for several years in Montreal and practiced emergency medicine in Haiti. He is fluent in English, French, Spanish, Haitian Creole and is conversant in Arabic.
    By  telephone .... 4860-3217 or 7832-8049.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Climbing my first volcano

    Volcan Pacaya is one of three volcanoes that surround the vicinity of Antigua, Guatemala,  and is supposedly the easiest to climb, according to the travel agencies that provide transportation and guides, which are included in the price. One of the "adventure" companies charges US $125. Per person, for two people. Half a block away I got a price of US $10. You can guess which I chose.
    My first challenge of the trip will be to get out of bed in time for the 6 AM shuttle bus.  I don't think this one is currently active, but I'll try to play it safe at first, assuming that I can reach the top.
    I have never had the slightest interest in doing this sort of silly activity and don't have a clue as to why I signed up for it. Perhaps, with luck, I'll come to my senses before 6 AM.

I bought a few pounds of blackberries and strawberries at this market

I'm attempting to climb this volcano. --- Volcan Pacaya

Tour group sees a fountain in the central park (El Parque Central)

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Antigua --- My home town

     At last, I'm in Antigua, my favorite place in Guatemala. Actually a small walkable town whose streets fit easily on a map, Antigua has twice been destroyed by devastating earthquakes since its' founding more than 300 years ago. The ruins of several churches are preserved as national monuments.
    After spending so much time here over the past 28 years the town gives me a comfortable feeling of being home. I know the streets, the parks, and the people. Of course, each year brings changes that have altered the character of the place.
    New, super cute stores, bars, restaurants and hotels constantly replace the homes of longtime residents and it's difficult to find the tipical small, family run comedores (eating places) that used to be so prevalent.
    Strict rules govern exterior building modification, requiring adherance to the original colonial style while modern architecture is forbidden. Perhaps part of the charm is the volcano that looms over everything.
    After arriving, I visited my friend Mario Castellanos, who runs an excellent Spanish  language immersion school called Tecun Uman, and he invited me to a party at the school to introduce current students to tradional Guatemalan food.
    I'm staying tonight at Banana Azul (blue banana), and last night was at the Black Cat. Both names are better than the earlier place I stayed, named La Sexta, which innocently means the sixth, but still has a whiff of wild times.
    However, La Sexta was a lot more tranquil then the banana, whose manager is devoting ALL his energy to entertaining two young women guests, and has music turned up to a volume probably injurious to my ears, even through the closed door to my room. I intend to move to another hostel in the morning.