La Antigua, Guatemala
Guatemala is volcano country, and with volcanoes come earthquakes. I’m a California boy, and as such I’m no stranger to earthquakes. However, I must admit these are real shakers down here. Strong and long-lasting. Historically, over the years, they have killed thousands and thousands of people—typically from the accompanying landslides and building collapse. We’re halfway through our second month here in Guatemala, and we’ve already experienced three powerful earthquakes so far (one just a few minutes ago). The largest one was a couple of weeks ago when I was in [the] hospital.
Streets of Antigua
La Antigua, Guatemala
We are starting week 2 in La Antigua, Guatemala. Antigua is a favorite of travelers, and it’s easy to see why: a beautiful, quaint little town of approximately 35,000 people, replete with fine restaurants, hotels, shops and sightseeing. And of course the warm and generous people. It has rapidly become a favorite of ours, and I can see our stay extending even as I write this. A few days back we met a young 25-year old local named Alex who manages a local coffee shop. Alex introduced us to his father Marco, who is 71-years young, and still works as a professional tour guide in both Guatemala and Honduras. Tomorrow, Monday, we will be spending the day with Marco exploring the surrounding countryside—later on we’ll be traveling with Marco to spend the day on the coast reconnoitering a possible future stay there.
Two days ago was Joel’s birthday, and we spent three hours at a local, very intimate cigar bar celebrating the event. By intimate I mean that it only held about 10 people—it had a walk-in humidor with premium smokes (no fake Cubans to be found), a diverse selection of premium Scotch Whisky, Cognac, Rum, Wine and Martinis—and great jazz music (this night it was Cuban jazz). A delightful international crowd was in attendance: a Hollander, an American, a Brit, 3 Canadians, 3 locals and us. Great conversation, superb smokes (large Torano Exodus 1959’s), tasty Cognac and soothing music. It was just about a perfect evening, and it was difficult to break ourselves away later in the evening. La Antigua has been described as quicksand: once you put your feet in it it’s difficult to extract them again. I seem to be regaining my health more and more each day, and I am in a good place right now.
Stephen F. Dennstedt