On our last evening in Antigua, the Missus wanted to have a nice meal...... She was still thinking about our meal at Churrasqueria Momo's in Copan Ruinas, and asked me if I could find something similar in Antigua. I recalled seeing a sign advertising a Churrasca, basically a steakhouse. And ironically it was located right under the landmark we took the most photos of...... The Arch of Santa Catalina:
There just happens to be a hotel right under the arch. I had read a sign in front of the hotel, and recalled that it had mentioned the restaurant specialized in Churrasca.
since this was located right smack in the middle of 5 Avenida Norte, we both knew that this would be more touristy, and the prices would reflect that.
The marinade was not as tasty as the version in Copan Ruinas, but the meat was of higher quality, very beefy, moist, and relatively tender.
The Missus went for the Filet Mignon, which came to about $12.50/US.
It was a nice relaxing last meal in Antigua.... we sure were going to miss the splashes of color of the town.
Now it's on to Mauricio:
When we first arrived in Guatemala City, we headed out to the feeding frenzy of shuttle and taxi drivers. For some reason, we noticed a clean cut young man holding a sign..... and he spoke excellent English. This was Mauricio. We arrived at his mini-van, and immediately noticed a young woman and a young child sitting in the passenger seat. It was Mauricio's wife and son. This immediately put us at ease. From that point on, Mauricio was our driver...... he was always prompt, so friendly, and flexible. We enjoyed many wonderful conversations on a wide range of subjects. As we found in our travels, folks seem to be just as interested in us, as we were in them. On our return trip from Flores and Tikal, returning to Antigua from Guatemala City, we made arrangements for our return trip to the airport. As he was dropping us off, Mauricio asked us if it was okay to pick us up early in the morning. As he explained to me, "we'd like to show you the town we live in, and a bit of Guatemala City, not as customers, but as friends......" How could we refuse? And so on our last morning in Guatemala, a young man arrived in Maurico's mini-van with a note in hand:
And we were driven to Mauricio's hometown of Amatitlan, and met up with Mauricio's family, including his Mom. After breakfast at Pollo Campero, we were given a short tour of Amatitlan. The heart of Amatitlan is Lake Amatitlan, which had almost been reduced to a polluted mess by being the catchment area for Guatemala City. Luckily, the lake is on what will probably be a long road to recovery. Mauricio's Mother told us stories of swimming in the lake when she was a child, and though I don't think anyone will be able to do that for a while, perhaps in my lifetime, I hope that one day children will be able to......
We snapped that photo after taking a ride on the aerial tram. The views are beautiful, and you a get a good view of the active Pacaya Volcano. You also have great view of the town of Amatitlan.
A massage and shower later, and we were relaxed beyond words.......
The last stop on the way to the airport was a drive through Naciones Unida National Park. Located within the park are smaller scale models of Guatemala's most famous sites, like Antigua, and even this:
Yep, it's a mini-Tikal! Who needs to go to Flores! And these were much easier to climb too.....
While driving through the park, we came to an area where the road was blocked.... what was it? Banditos, a bad accident, a hold-up??? Not quite......
There were kids dressed in traditional garb, swaying from side to side enthusiastically, with a woman dancing in front of them......
As we arrived at the airport, I felt sadness coming over me. We had been blessed again, just as in other trips. Beyond the sights and the food, it's the people we've been blessed to meet that stay with us. I could never thank Mauricio enough, not only for his generosity and kindness, but for also providing us with an anchor, and a sense of security during our travels.
Flying through Mexico City, and "gripe porcina":
This being April of '09, we were around Lake Atitlan when the 2009 Swine Flu pandemic story broke in mainstream media outlets. By the time we hit Flores, and actually had access to a television, things were going crazy... the whole Sanjay Gupta at "ground zero" thing had us glued to the television. The bad thing was, we weren't able to change our flights, as everyone seemed to be in a panic, and we had to fly through Mexico City airport. We were in a state of not really knowing what the heck was going to happen. Mexico City had been pretty much shut down by that point. I had expected the flight from Guatemala City to Mexico City to be empty, but it was packed to the gills. Mexico City airport, usually a mass of humanity had an eerie sober feel to it. And scenes like this were somewhat surreal... as in, is this really happening.
People were making sure not to be too close to one another. And even though we knew that the face masks we got, even doubled up, was no replacement for having TB masks and being fit-tested. We still wore our masks, and took this classic photo of us:
The flight to LAX was almost empty..... only seventeen passengers on a 737!
And even though at first glance it looked like business as usual at LAX, both Immigrations and Customs was a ghost town. We made it through in fifteen minutes....amazing. Two and a half hours later, we were home........ with some interesting stories to tell.
As always, thanks for reading!