Yesterday I spent most of the day completely out of my comfort zone.
I’m glad I did.
Captain Andy and I decided to take a three-hour bus journey to a one of the largest craft markets in Central America. We left the house around 9:30 AM and boarded a bus know as a Guatemalan chicken bus. A chicken bus is an old U.S. newly retired school bus. Once these buses have about 150,000 miles on em, they get tossed aside and purchased by other countries to live new lives. You see chicken buses all over Guatemala. Most are colorfully painted and have interesting names.
We had been warned that traveling on chicken buses especially in Guatemala City was dangerous because gangs frequently target them and rob passengers. But since we’re not in Guatemala City, I decided to give this method of transportation a chance. But to be uber safe, I left my purse, phone, and Kindle at home and just brought me. Andy didn’t carry anything except some cash and his phone.
Over the course of six hours, my life passed in front of me perhaps 15 times. I can’t possibly describe the sheer panic I felt sitting on the bus. The drivers seem to have little regard for human life. Playing chicken with cars, animals, and other buses must be in their genes! While driving on tiny, windy mountain roads, we were slipping and sliding all over the place. They were taking corners so fast, I felt like I was sitting in a vat of Crisco! I was hanging on to Andy for dear life. And, to make matters worse, we were packed into the bus like sardines. Each seat barely accommodated two people, (remember the bus is used for transporting kids, not adults) but there were so many passengers, we had to sit three to a seat. On the way home, a very obese man had his gigantic tummy stuck in my face (I was repulsed) and there was a very drunk young man on the other side of me. I thought he was going to hurl all over me. No joke. Not the typical first class bus experience we’re used to in Mexico!
Even at the cheap rate of $4 for a 6 hour trip ($2 each) we’ve decided to bag the chicken buses from now on. We’re going to try traveling via tourist shuttles instead. I wouldn’t mind being on the chicken bus for a very short journey, but anything over 30 minutes is too long. It was a journey we shall never forget.
A few comments about the market… it was fantastic! What a feast for the eyes! Many many women were dressed in traditional clothes and the colors of the fabrics in the market were just spectacular.
Andy brought a really nice woven hat. I didn’t buy anything, but I really enjoyed walking around. The harassment factor was high, with several women following us around, trying to give us the “hard sell”, but we still had fun seeing everything.
Interestingly enough, I think some vendors were trying to misrepresent their merchandise because I saw a lot of clothes I see in Mexico being passed off as authentic Guatemalan clothes. Ha! I knew better. We were also told certain things were hand-made, but I’m pretty sure they were machine made. With traditional embroidery, it’s often hard to tell.
On Friday night, after watching an incredible bluegrass concert in the smallest bar I’ve ever been in, Andy and I went in search of dinner. All of the sudden,. we passed a very large looking building. We peered into the courtyard where we noticed a large photo of an old man with a beard. Could it be? No way!!! Yes, it was! It was the Rebbe! We ran smack into the Antigua Chabad House! All of the sudden, happy young travelers were waving us in. For those of you who don’t know what Chabad is, it’s a Orthodox Jewish religious organization. They provide social services to Jews from all religious denominations including community centers and camps. They have Chabad houses all over the world and on many college campuses. Since it was Friday night, they had just started Shabbat and a spirited song fest had just begun.
There were about 18 young Israeli travelers there, no Americans and one person from Mexico City. The young rabbi and his wife warmly welcomed us.
Shabbat dinner was fantastic! We munched on fresh Challah, Israeli salads, vegetarian soup, and a main course of couscous, kosher chicken and kosher meatballs. Shots of rum appeared too! There was tons of singing in Hebrew and everyone was super happy to be together.
I’ve celebrated Shabbat in many, many places in my life, but this was one of the lovelist Shabbats I have ever experienced. I really want to go back next Friday night.
Two small housing problems in Antigua have plagued our visit.
- We had no water last night at all! The management company came over this morning and fixed it. Perhaps they filled up a tank we can’t see? Now we have water again. I had enough water last night to do dishes so I’m not sure when it crapped out. I think about 9 PM.
- Our hot water barely works. I’m getting a warm shower each day, but certainly not hot. But I’m getting used to it, and it’s bothering me less and less.
- We can’t get wifi downstairs, only upstairs, but this is a minor inconvienance.
Otherwise, everything in our house is good.
Green Acres is the place to be
On Saturday we went to a local urban farm located a 10 minute walk from our apartment. They had an organic market we wanted to check out. It was such a cool place. It was really a large farm and they had live music playing. We toured the property and hung out with the sheeps, and chickens. I inhaled fresh lavendar and looked at the beautiful volcanos off in the distance. Then we read in their lovely yoga/chill space and enjoyed some fresh juice and some fresh ginger ale. I’m hoping to return next Saturday or on Thursday night when they have live music. They have a large organic cafe located on the farm and the food looked incredible.
I can’t use chemo brain as an excuse any longer. I’ve been done with chemo for almost two years. I just have to admit that I have sh-t for brains. I can’t seem to remember any Spanish verbs. I study them, I think I know them, and then they go out of my brain. It’s so frustrating! I’m committed to studying Spanish, but it’s so bad! I know a ton of words, but I can barely put a simple sentence together. You’d think something would start to click by now. I’m taking classes two hours a day of instruction for the next week. My teacher speaks to me mostly in Spanish and while I think my comprehension isn’t too horrible, I can’t carry a conversation with her. However, I refuse to be defeated!!! I shall persevere.
con estoy yo si adios
See, I couldn’t even get that right!!! Andy had to fix it.
Con ese, digo “Adios!”