Sunday, March 19, 2017

Guatemala City

Today I decided to visit Guatemala City the capital of Guatemala just to get a feel of the place and see how its like. I had read on several travel blogs and posts that tourists normally just pass through the city and base their stay elsewhere but I was still curious to check it out for myself. I told the host family that I am staying with about my plans and they said that the city isn't very safe unless you know exactly where to go and hang out so they referred me to one of their friends who knows the city very well, to accompany me.

I had heard that on Sundays Guatemala City is usually very vibrant with lots of people and activities so I decided to spend my Sunday in the city. Mauricio the family friend picked me up in the morning accompanied by his wife and young daughter and off we went. There wasn't much traffic so the drive was pretty fast and we managed to easily get parking.

We visited the central historical area which was buzzing with so much activity. The presidential palace which is located in that area was closed today and we couldn't get in to check it out so the most I could manage was a photo in front of the building.

Next we stopped by the cathedral which is the main church in the city and located right next to the presidential palace. There was mass going on inside and I just felt so uncomfortable wandering inside while people were praying. I took a quick peek inside then stepped outside. I normally don't like taking photos in places of worship while people are in the process of prayer as I find it rude so once again, I settled for a picture in front of the building. Didn't manage to capture the whole building but Ooh! well......

I spotted some really cute traditional dresses that really drew my attention, the colors and designs were so lovely that I had to take a photo. The sun was super intense and my forehead was burning up hence the weird expression on my face, once again I didn't see this photo until it was too late to do a re-do.........why won't the sun let me be great??!!

Later on we took a walk along avenida sexta (6th avenue) which is a long pedestrian street full of shops, restaurants, entertainment and people. I love such streets where you get to see so much going on, it makes everything so lively.

As luck would have it, I came across some ladies who were braiding along a section of the avenue and since yesterday's visit to Tikal really dried out and shrunk my hair due to the heat, I could not resist to get some simple braids just to stretch my hair out and give it a little break from combing. It cost only $8, can't beat that price! my bad hair day turned out to be not so bad after all.

After getting my braids we stopped by one of the many restaurants to get some lunch. I typically like eating where most locals prefer to eat because that's where you get the best food in my opinion and get to sample local food that you may otherwise not have the opportunity to try. Mauricio and his wife knew exactly where to take me after I explained my preference and we ended up at a restaurant called Comida Tipica (I think that was the name of the place).

Close up of my dish which was DELICIOUS!!!!!

Mauricio recommended I try one of the typical Guatemalan deserts called Platano Rellenito or Rellenito de Platanos, its sweet plantain stuffed with sweet black beans. Yes! you heard it right, sweet black beans that have been mashed into a creamy paste. I think they add sugar to the beans to make it sweet, they also include sugar on the side if you want to sprinkle on top of the desert. The desert was already sweet as it was so I didn't need anymore sugar. Who knew? sweet black beans, huh? does look like chocolate though right?

My main dish with fresh fruit juice and desert came to a whopping $6! I am loving the prices down here.

After that heavy lunch we continued walking along the avenue and came across a procession. It was interesting to watch although Mauricio and his wife were telling me that processions in Antigua are far much better and elaborate as Antigua is like the capital of catholicism in the country and people really hold strong catholic beliefs.

With the intense heat I can only imagine how the people carrying this on their shoulders were feeling, must have been exhausting.

That's it folks, we walked some more and visited other sites before calling it a day and returning to Antigua. I of course proceeded to black out through out the drive to Antigua, with the heavy lunch and intense heat who can blame me. It was a good day and a bit chill, just what I needed today.

Random Thoughts of The Day:

I didn't realize how bad my sunburn was until this morning when I noticed my forehead peeling. I really should have brought a hat with me on this trip. The sun in the city today was also very intense, my scalp even got burnt after I got my braids done, I can't wait to get home and give my skin and hair proper TLC.

Speaking of hair, I am never ever going to travel with my hair out again. Its too much maintenance especially on holiday when you are up and about and don't necessarily want to deal with certain hair routines. Waking up in the morning to comb it out, braiding it before bed to avoid tangles in the morning, dealing with certain weather conditions that affect your hair and not having your regular hair products nearby to take care of your hair's too much for this girl right here. Braids are just so much better and easier to deal with when on the go. The heat here has not been good on my hair for sure.

I was having a conversation with Mauricio about the American school buses that end up on Guatemalan roads and I got to learn some very interesting facts. Turns out it's a huge lucrative business! when these buses acquire certain miles the schools in the US decide to replace them so they sell the older buses to car dealers and what not. These dealers sell the buses to mostly central American and Mexican business men/dealers who transport the buses to their respective countries. The buses are sold as is but when they get to Guatemala for example, they are totally refurbished with a new motor, seats are modified to occupy more passengers, TV's and very good sound systems are installed in some. After all the refurbishment the buses are sold to individuals who want to get in the business of public transportation.  One bus for example may cost about $30,000 but it depends on how much work is done to it, either way there is a lot of money to be made in this business.

Mauricio's friend was also telling me that there is a very interesting documentary that gives a really good insight into the ins and outs of this business. Its called La Camioneta, I have to watch it when I get the chance.

PS: They buy these buses because the overall cost ends up being way more cheaper than buying a new bus.

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