Costa Rica. Arenal and Rincon de la Vieja NP


We’re back to being our itinerant ways, only this time we have a car. For the next month, there will be no more waiting in the park till whenever for a bus to near where we want to go. Like, I chilled out in this park in the charming little town of Tilaran, looking after our stuff, while Myung walked around.


That’s all fine, but when we got to La Fortuna, it became obvious that renting a car is definitely the way to go in Costa Rica. So many places, especially the parks, are accessible only with a car or with an expensive tour or even more expensive taxi. So, we are stylin’ in a teeny Suzuki.


We’ve been here for nine days. So far, we’ve done some of the things tourists do in the Lake Arenal area and Rincon de la Vieja National Park. La Fortuna is where most people base themselves for the Arenal area. Even though we could have stayed anywhere because we have wheels, we first arrived there via public transportation and it’s there we stayed. There’s little photoworthy about La Fortuna. There’s a park and a volcano, of course.



We stayed in a hostel, as we usually do, because they usually have kitchens, and that saves a fortune on food. Just coffee in the morning adds up. It seems so far that the main way people make coffee here is to put the coffee in what is basically a sock, and drip it through that. It works fine. I first saw this as the usual way back in Malaysia about 15 years ago. Here, the hostel manager is making herself a cup o’ java.


Lake Arenal is a lovely lake surrounded by parks and scenic areas. It rained a lot of the time we were there, but here is a picture we took during one of the brief periods you could see fairly well.


The first nature walk we went on was a little wet and slippery, over this bridge and into the forest.


We aborted that one after a couple of hours because it was too laborious dealing with the rain and the mud. Later that afternoon, though, we indulged in a soak in one of the free public hot springs around there. There are many resorts which charge $10-$75 to partake in the spa experience, with swim up bars and everything, but the springs create such a volume of hot water, whole creeks are hot. This spot is not more that 50 meters off the road. Just scramble down the bank and you are there.


Rincon de la Vieja National Park is a World Heritage site, north west of Arenal. Boy is it worth going there, even if you did have to spring for a $30 per prson tourist shuttle! It’s a beautiful hike through forest which is dry during the dry season and mostly green at this time of year. The main hikes people take are the 10 km round trip to these falls and a 3 km loop. It’s muggy hot, so a cool dip when you get to the falos is refresshing, to say the least.


We have pictures of the walk, like this one…


… but you’ve seen a lot of tropical vegetation photos, so I’ll spare you. The only good animal picture we have is the lizard at the top of this post. There are bad pictures of a tapir, a raccoon-type creature with long legs, and some birds. Myung saw a couple toucans and some wild pigs, but didn’t get a photo. There were capuchin monkeys we saw and some howlers we couldn’t see.

After that part of the day, we returned to the start and went on a little 3 km loop which is the main attraction of the park. There are fumeroles…



… boiling hot springs…


… and boiling mud pits. These pictures don’t do them justice. Just use your imagination and picture these water and mud pits, fumeroles being very active, not to mention very hot to be near.


Blurp, blurp.



I don’t know what this town is, but driving around, this is a typical, lovely Costa Rican setting.


Costa Rica isn’t quite what I expected. I knew it was going to be considerably more developed than Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua, but I didn’t expect it to be this developed. It really seems it has tried to emulate the US. The style of development is very like in America. The stores and shops are like in the US, and we haven’t seen a traditional town market yet. You might guess correctly that the produce isn’t nearly as good as in the CA-4 countries, which is a shame. We both miss that. I haven’t asked anyone if they mind having American quality, pretty but lousy tasting produce. They must be getting used to it. We did. The amenities are nearly what you’d expect in the States, though noticeably funkier, for sure. What is a bit of a shock is the the cost of things. Nearly everything is more expensive here than in the States. All the more reason to cook in accomodations with kitchens. At least the car rental is cheap, $20/day.

One source which studies the happiness of people around the world uses criteria which awards Costa Ricans as the happiest in the world. Y’know, one of the first things you notice about the people here is that they are not only nice, but seem happy. I, for one, feel like I’m being out of place when I’m perturbed about something like the slowness of the check out at the supermarket. Everyone else is fine with just about everything, it seems. I’m hoping it’s as infectious as it seems to be. This is a sweet country, so far at least. I’ll keep you posted on that experience.

That’s going to be it for now. This was a good time to post something, as from Rincon de la Vieja we went to the Pacific coast and are currently doing the tropical beach thing. A post on that should come soon.

Be well, all of you.

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El Salvador and Nicaragua


And I thought Honduras went fast! We had 8 days left on our four-country visas, and blew through El Salvador and Nicaragua in that time. Basically, we did two things, scope out La Ruta de Los Flores in El Salvador and Granada, Nicaraqgua. I think it’s fair to say we have now technically been to those countries and can tick them off the list, but have only impressions and really know little more than we did before.

So, this story can be short. It took almost all day to leave Honduras and get some distance into El Salvador. We got to a town and spent the night in a No-Tell Motel across the road from the bus stop to continue on. No wifi, but the porn was on cable so we didn’t have to worry about bandwidth. The next day, we went to the main tourist town on the Route of Flowers, Juayua. Here’s Juayua…


La Ruta is one of the main tourist destinations in El Salvador, along with the beaches and the capital. There aren’t any more flowers along there than anywhere else at this time of year in Central America. I guess it’s catchy draw, though. What you notice immediately after coming across the border from any of the neighboring countries is how relatively colorful it is. All I know is what I saw in three days, and maybe it’s only around there, but everywhere around there is brightly painted. The people dress in bright colors. At least in a couple of the villages, mosaics are popular. All in all, I can see why tourists enjoy coming to this area.












There are, of course, flowers. Myung has taken hundreds of flower photos over the years. Here’s a few from there.








Another thing almost everyone does during their stay in Juayua is walk to this falls. It only takes about a half hour to get there on foot. It’s modified natural. The water blasts out of the rocks and from above. The pool and the artificial looking lower part is obviously man-made. It’s still nice.


On weekends, there’s a food fair. It was gourmet, by Central American standards. That red tint in the one picture is from bright sun through the red tenting over the area. Gotta love the frog on a stick.





We like ceviche.



From there, we bolted for Nicaragua. They put their best foot forward at the border post. Another thing you notice is El Salvador is more prosperous than Guatemala, Honduras or Nicaragua.


Granada was our only stop in Nicaragua. For the first 200 years of Spanish rule in Central America, Granada was second only to Antigua in importance. It isn’t nearly as preserved as Antigua. It remained an important city after time passed Antigua by. Old buildings were replaced, whereas in Antigua there was nothing happening after the capital was moved to Guatemala City, so the buildings were left to crumble on their own. It’s still a very nice city to visit, with enough of it’s colonial heritage left to give you an idea of how it was.












Granada sits on the huge Lake Nicaragua, which is the dominant geographical feature in Nicaragua. While we were there, there was a stiff breeze off the lake for the whole time, making the hot temperatures quite bareable. The east side of town features a wide prominade, lined with many mostly fancy restaurants, heading toward the water. Then you get there.





Actually, much of Granada is a bit scruffy. Here’s the market and a street off to the side. There seems to be a lot of this in Nicaragua, from what I could tell from Granada and looking out the bus windows.



The good news is they sell ceviche by the bucket-full for about $2/pound. Yum.


I don’t remember whether I was asking directions or negotiating the price of eggs, nor if she was pointing the way or stayin’ alive, stayin’ alive.


We had two full days in Granada and got into Costa Rica in the afternoon of the last day of our visas. So that’s it for the CA-4 countries. There is so much more to see, someday I’d like to come back.

We’ll be in Costa Rica and probably Panama for a month and a half. It’ll be nice to not zoom around like we just did after leaving Antigua. This phase of our journey will be completely different. For the first time since Africa, we have a vehicle. Costa Rica is very Americanized; we rented this puddle jumper from Alamo.


We will be looking at a lot of nature stuff and for places to maybe plunk down for an extended period. I’ll try to be timely with the posts.

Until next time, be well, all of you. Continue reading

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Even though we were only in Honduras for a couple of weeks, it seems like we did quite a lot. Usually, we go pretty slow, but we went faster this time because our four country visa expires July 11 and we have to get into Costa Rica by then. This means we did what most people on their two week vacations do. We did the Copan Ruinas area, went to the locally famous D & D Brewery and Resort near the north end of Lake Yojoa and took in nature stuff around there, checked out La Esperanza and Gracias, then split for El Salvador. Fast and nasty, but perfectly fine.
If you are on the two or three day tour of Guatemala and Honduras, you would probably go from Antigua to Copan Ruinas on the shuttle and come back the next day. We took it one-way and continued on in chicken buses. There are two main things to do there. One is to see the Mayan ruins. The other is to go to the hot springs.

The ruins are significant and interesting because of the good condition of the sculptures and inscriptions. The structures are far less impressive than major sites like Tikal, Pelenque, Chichen Itza, and so on. I don’t really care about the historical details, so here are just a few pictures with little verbiage.





The archeologists consider this stairway a treasure. Inscribed on it is the dynastic history of the area over it’s three hundred year glory days.


This altar and statue of a bird with a fish in it’s mouth are in the site museum.



After so many posts about Mayan stuff, I’m going to leave it at that, even though we have many, many more pictures. You’ve kinda seen it all already.

I think the better thing to do in Copan Ruinas is going to the hot springs. They are 23 km and an hour away on an awful road, but worth it if you don’t have to stand in the back of a pickup the whole way. It was developed beautifully in the forest by an Italian hydrologist. This has to be one of the very nicest hot springs I’ve ever been to. And that’s saying something.

You go over this bridge and through the trees, and you’re there. The pools get cooler as they go down.






Here’s the area for massages.




There’s even mud for your do-it-yourself facial. Man, it really does make your skin feel good.


D & D’s is a favorite place to base yourself for a few days while you partake in the many activiites around Lake Yojoa. It was started and continues to be run by a 27 year old guy, Bobby, from Portland, Oregon. What a great job he’s done, and at such a tender age! He make four different beers which are available on tap. The food’s decent and the beds are cheap.

From there, we did three of the things to do, visit a falls, go on a birdwatching boat trip, and take a nice 7-8 km walk in a nearby national park.


Pulhapanzak Falls is right nearby and reached by a short walk. You can drive if you have a car. It’s just a couple of views and a zip line in front of the falls.



Next up was the birdwatching. Actually, there is an ecopark area along the canal. We walked that the day before.






Okay, here are ther boats and the ride. The guide was essential for spotting the birds. We’d have missed the frickin’ toucans without him! No toucan pictures here. They are too small. The other bird pictures are hardly National Geographic quality, so here’s just the boats and some water lilies.





The last thing we did from D & D’s is take a day hike in Meamber National Park. It’s basically a forest shlep up a mountain into the cloud forest and back down. Most of it is jungly.




There are miradores of the lake from the openings.


After descending, there is a fall right close to the entrance anybody can reach with ease and is a popular swimming hole.


That’s almost it for Honduras. From D & D’s, we went around the south end of the lake and looped back toward southwest Honduras near Copan/northeast El Salvador. On the way, we spent a day in La Esperanza. It’s a peaceful place of no particular interest. We did have a very nice day with a very nice American/Korean couple. Myung identified the woman as Korean right away. (There aren’t many Koreans in this neck of the woods.) She chatted with her for awhile, and we ended up going over to their house to watch the US/Belgium World Cup match and having lunch. La Esperanza is forgetable. Meeting these people, John and Ana, is what we will remember about La Esperanza.


We spent a day in the equally calming but forgetable town of Gracias. For a short time in the 16th century, it was the capital of Spanish Central America, but that was then and this is now. Time has passed it by.


From there we went to El Salvador, where we are now for a few days. We’ll stay in this one place, Juayua, on La Ruta de las Flores, and go through Nicaragua to Costa Rica by this Friday. Then we’ll slow down again.

As always, be well, all of you.

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Leaving Antigua, heading for Honduras

Well, it’s time to go. Tomorrow, we leave for the Mayan ruins in Copan, Honduras. We’re basically biding our time now, not that it looks different than when we aren’t biding our time. There’s nothing we really need to see or do here at the last minute. We’re eating the last of our food and timing the last of our Guatemalan currency, just as if we were leaving any other country. All this time, we hadn’t gone around back of the cathedral to the ruins there, so we did that. The cathedral grounds used to cover six city blocks, but it all was abandonned along with almost everywhere else in Antigua after the third big earthquake destroyed everything in 1773 and the capital was moved to Guatemala City. Only one square block of ruins remains.





Across the street is a facade from that time.


I feel like I should have some final words before leaving what has been home since last October. I can try. It’s been a good time, probably just what we needed, now that we don’t have the mental stamina for travel we did. We stayed a bit longer perhaps, waiting to make sure my Social Security actually happened and we could actually impliment the plan I wrote about in the last entry. Antigua is not on our list of places to stay again for an extended period but, as I said, it has been what we needed.

Here’s a last picture of the group at our place. Norm, the American, moved a couple of months ago. In his room stayed an Argentine couple till last week. Left to right are Santiago, Felix and Annie’s handyman, then Felix, Annie, the Argentines Carolina and Mateus, then Myung and me.


With that, it’s hey-ho and off to Copan we go. Be well, all of you.


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Myung’s and my big news

Straight to the point, I always say.

Myung and I are planning to seek residence somewhere in Latin America, maybe Ecuador or Costa Rica. The best way to qualify for residence almost anywhere is to be married, so we’re going to do it. We’ve gotten through enough with each other and in life to feel confident we’re staying together. It was kind of easy to talk it over and decide. So there’s that, short and sweet.

Plan details: Since I started to receive my US pension, Myung can join me in most countries with pensionado residency programs, even though she herself doesn’t have any guaranteed income. We haven’t got all the details about all the documentation we need, but it does appear being married in the US will streamline some of the procedures. Because of our increased income, we have the discretionary money to make a trip to the US, which we sill do Sept 6-Oct 6. It’ll be fun to show Myung around, and we can take care of some practical matters, particularly that documentation.

We plan to have a simple civil wedding. I don’t expect many will want to attend, but anyone who wants to join us at the courthouse is welcome. Maybe we’ll have a little wingding afterward.

Even if we don’t apply for residence anywhere, it will be good to have some of our i’s dotted and t’s crossed. I’m hoping that stuff doesn’t sop up too much time, so we can tour around and have a good time. Actually, more than a month would be good, but my discretionary money isn’t enough to last longer.

That’s all happening in September. The short-term plan is to stay here in Antigua till our current rent runs out on June 22. From here, we will first go to the Mayan ruins in Copan, Honduras, then probably tour quickly around Honduras, El Salvador and Nicaragua. By mid-July, we will go to Costa Rica. Obviously, we will be checking that place out as a possible place to stay. People say it’s great, though a little expensive. After a month there, we should know about all we need to regarding this. No doubt, we will go down to Panama, too. Panama has a very attractive pensionado program, but it doesn’t have much cool highland. We aren’t into hot tropics. Anywhere we go will have to be cool. Then on September 5 (arriving September 6), we’ll head up to California.

On Oct. 5 (arriving Oct 6), we will fly down to Colombia. We’re headed for Ecuador, but the flights to there are hundreds of dollars more than the Spirit Airlines chicken bus to Colombia. Likely, we’ll stay no more than a week or so in Colombia as we bus toward Ecuador. Ecuador is another possible retirement destination, but it’s procedures are a little daunting. I’m trying to figure out that place now. I wish I could reach a human at any of the Ecuador consulates in the US.

That’s the big news. We’re winding down in Antigua, basically hanging out and eating up our foodstuffs. Not much to say about that. We have spring fever.

I’ll leave you with what is still my favorite picture of us, the one taken on the terrace of the Taj Mahal back in January, 2008. Be well, all of you.

DSCN5305 (1)

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Santa Semana in Antigua

It has been anything but a quiet week in Lake Wobegon. Last time, I was talking before about the religious events leading up to Santa Semana, Holy Week. That activity heated up till it’s culmination on Good Friday, the Friday before Easter. Easter itself was quiet as usual, except there were still about a thousand foreigners in town who were here for the processions and whatnot. The few thousand Guatemalans, mostly from Guatemala City I guess, generally went home most nights.

I have many, many photos. Too many. I need too cull some. for now, I’ll look through and try to pick out some good ones.

The most photoworthy opportunities were of the processions. There was something nearly every night for the last two weeks. Some were huge events, some were not. Sometimes those mandalas, which the Guatemalans call carpets, were placed down, sometimes not. You’ll be able to see from the pictures what a zoo it was around here. I’ll start with the view down our street one evening. This was replayed several times. This first one is right outside our front door where the street had been turned into a parking lot. Very many people from Guatemala City and around here drove into town for this.


This is what it looked like from standing in the back of that red Dodge pickup Myung is leaning against.




Those pics were with zoom. We also watched it like we were on safari. As you can see, some of the participants weren’t totally devotional all the time.


These coming up are of different processions on different days.





By the way, that’s not smog, it’s incense.








There was a cute procession, la procesion de los ninos, the children’s procession. Some of the kids were too little to carry even the little floats.





As I’ve said, they frequently put flower and produce art on the street. They call them carpets. Here are a few more pictures.











So, here we are back to normal. We have a few ordinary pictures, like of Eunice, Annie’s friend who was a volunteer at the chocolate factory where Annie works. Eunice is from New Zealand.


Here’s a cute picture of Bisquit. He’s actually a pretty nice dog.


I was trying to think of what else is going on. My big deal is I applied for and am officially going to start receiving Social Security next month. That will double our income. Needless to say, that’ll be nice.

So, that’s going to be it for now. Until next time, be well, all of you.

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Mandalas on the streets of Antigua

There are many thousands of people in Antigua this weekend. There are supposed to be many thousands every weekend until Holy Week, then for all of that week. The processions and other religious activities continue. Last time, I wrote about the “Christian mandalas”. They are making them again today. Such effort to make them nice! It takes hours, not to mention the preparation of the flowers, the flower powder, and the other plant materials needed to make them.

We went out this morning before the crowds were too intense. Here are some pictures, most of which are of mandalas being prepared and some finished ones.



The little helpers are so cute.


IMG_3660So, here are some mandalas made mostly of flowers. The tan backgrounds are this huge grain, something like oversized wheat. They crush it into powder and lay it down. It’s a little windy today, so they have been spraying a little water on it.

IMG_3674Like I said, it’s a good thing we went out early. Around 3 o’clock, the procession started. In true Tibetan form, all the hard work was obliterated. Some pics of the procession are coming after more mandala photos.IMG_3676








The material for this street art isn’t limited to flowers. Fruit and vegetables are common. Myung and I noticed yellow carrots for sale, which I hadn’t noticed before. I was telling her that I have bought those and don’t think they taste too good. Now you’ll see why they were for sale. When you look at these pictures, just check out what all the different veggies and fruits are. Like, this first one has carrots, yellow squashes, cabbages, red leaf lettuce, green beans, strawberries, mangoes and I don’t know what the blue things are.













This may not be particularly Catholic symbolism, but this mango penguin is toooo cute.


Speaking of cute, my friend Barbara posted a picture of bananas with the stems slit and eyes dotted on them to look just like dolphins. Her photo had grapes in the dolphins’ mouths. Here’s Myung and me plagiarizing her idea.


We have loads of procession pictures. For now, I’m going to go ahead and post this. Be well, all of you.

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Lent in Antigua

Lent, the 40 days leading up to Holy Week and Easter, is a very big deal here in Antigua. Hundreds of people, decorate their homes and business in purple. Particularly on Sundays, boys and men dress in purple robes.


For us, it’s about more photo ops. Last Sunday, there was another big procession around the streets of the city. Along the route and on many of the other cobblestone streets were very many what I call “Christian mandalas”. People carefully make these Christian designs on the street out of flowers, knowing the wind and certainly the processions will obliterate them shortly. The only effort to blunt the inevitability if impermanence is to sprinkle them with water.





Myung took those on our street, and there would have been more if her batteries hadn’t died. Some of the mandalas were really nice. I have never gotten an explanation why some where Roman costumes, except for the obvious connection between Romans and Jesus’ crucifixion.

Generally, it’s been another slow month in Lake Wobegon. It’s been especially quiet with Felix, the primary renter of our place, in England for the last month and a half. When he’s here, there is music all day and general hubbub, as he is an active kind of guy. He had a temporary job there for a lot more money than he can make here. He just got back yesterday. Meanwhile, his girlfriend and the American retiree are here. Annie is quiet and 1) has a day job six days a week, and 2) hangs out in her room when she’s at home and usually goes to her mother’s home on the weekend. Now that Felix is back, there’s already life around here again.

We have our usual routines. Myung putters around, maintaining the outside and doing housework. I chill out. We walk around town together once or twice a day. Going to the market as the excuse for that. One thing we did is go with Eduardo, Felix’s friend, and a few other guys to San Jose for a big fish and shrimp feed. San Jose is the biggest city and port on the west coast. It takes about an hour and a half to get there. Eduardo feels this is the best fish restaurant in Guatemala. He’s been here 14 years, and it was good. We had this big plate of mahi mahi (dorada, true dolphin) sushi and about four pounds of barbecued shrimp. It was not fancy. We bought the mariscos here…


… and ate them at this, coincidentally, Korean owned place.


Embarrassing for me was I fainted after lunch and four beers. I came to fine, but it was embarrassing. There are no pictures of that! You can see one from before lunch.


Really, there is not much else to say. Coming up in April will be a visa run to Tapachula, Mexico, unless we decide to just leave here. At present, my friend, Mary is talking about coming down to visit, along with our old friend Susan. That would be in June, so that’s something to stay for. Another reason to stay is our next major destination looks to be Ecuador. Though we’ve never been there, Ecuador’s residence and retirement visas offer very attractive incentives. We think we’ll check it out. Now, the tourist visas are for 6 months per calendar year. If we get there around the beginning of July we could piggyback tourist visas and see if we actually like it.

Speaking of retirement visas, I applied for Social Security and am a pensioner now. Like most US citizens my age, I’ve been thinking about his for about 40 years. For me and my life, the thing to do is to more than double my standard of living now, decrease the need or temptation to dip into my nest eggs, and chance receiving less money overall if I live past 78. That’s the age I will be when the overall amount I receive if I wait till 66 passes the overall amount I would get if I start receiving it now. I very seriously doubt I will regret the decision. Hey, I might even save some. What a concept!

That’s going to be it for a while. Be well, all of you.

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Getting out of Antigua to Lake Atitlan for a bit


It was about time we got out of Dodge for a while. I have been telling Myung about Panajachel and San Pedro La Laguna ever since I stayed there for three weeks waiting for her to leave China. So, that seemed like a good place to go. We only spent six days there, but that’s enough to get the picture.

Myung took a load of photos, most of which are very much like the ones I posted last August while I was there. In addition to the ones you will see below, you can see the ones I took last year by clicking on the August 2013 link on the right.

I got pretty bored in San Pedro by the time my wait was over, For a week, though, Lake Atitlan is a good place to go. It could be good for a longer time if you had a project like a language  Or meditation course. Or, a lot of people go and never leave, sort of like Antigua.

Like Antigua, it’s easy for people from developed countries to kick back and live the good life on the cheap. I think this photo Myung took is kinda poignant. Here we are, doing self-improvement or whatever with our seemingly endless free time. Regular Guatemalans live in poverty, too chronically malnourished to grow tall, too disadvantaged and backward to escape their existence. This woman is probably sitting there all day under the self-help signs hoping to earn a couple of dollars selling bananas.


I don’t want to dwell on it, but in some countries, once you leave your sheltered vacation or retirement situation, the reality of life for the vast majority sometimes gets to you. The interesting looking people in my pictures look interesting for a reason. As the old Kingston Trio song, Poverty Hill, said:

“They say we have beautiful faces as grainy as wood. Yeah, they’d like to live here of all places if only they could.
Well, we don’t get those wood, grainy faces from livin’ too good.  It’s the rocks and the sun and dust and the heat. It’s too much of work and too little to eat.”

Of course, we went to the Chichicastenanga market. There was a funeral at the church where the flower sellers are.







Here are good pictures of the folks with those wood, grainy faces around the market.




Here’s out on the street.


Back in Panajachel, it’s still a nice place for us to be.





For me, San Pedro was basically good for a selection of good places to go out to eat. I enjoyed the Saturday morning all-you-can-eat breakfast buffet for five bucks, and a nice place serving Guatemalan and Thai food. Again, go to August 2013 for many pictures. Here’s a couple of pics I like just ‘cuz I like ‘em. First is the approach to the San Pedro dock from the boat yhou take from Pana. The second is just some ladies washing clothes and some people hanging out on another pier.



One day we strolled around San Marcos. That’s the hippie dippy new age spot (also where the woman in the very first picture was selling bananas). It’s nice, for sure. This would be a good table to have some of he French food this restaurant has.


Or, you could go to this Japanese place for a Full Moon party/kimbap (sushi roll) fest. These Japanese people are rolling them up for later.


Here’s the Pyramid Garden Meditation Center. I am not kidding when I say visitors here have bought the ranch. When I was here before, they were still mining the end of that Mayan calendar tunnel. There are some faded remnants around town from that phase.



We came back today. It’s a basic three hour chicken bus ride from there to Antigua. It took about three minutes to settle back in. Felix is doing a job in England for a few weeks. Annie works days at the chocolate factory. Norm bets on horse races online. Bisquit chews things. He especially likes big bones.




And we’re fine, just too cute for words.


Be well, all of you.

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New Year in Antigua

Happy Lunar New Year and Super Bowl Weekend, neither of which is of interest anywhere in Guatemala except maybe here in Antigua. What is of interest is it’s Candelmas on February 2, celebrating the  apparition of statue of the Virgin Mary with miraculous powers on the Canary Islands in 1392. Our neighborhood in Antigua is called La Candelaria. You can read about the Virgin of Candelaria here:

Antigua has all kinds of foreigners, many of whom are Americans or Asians, so the Super Bowl and Lunar New Year are known to some extent. I may go out to a sports bar and watch the game.

Myung may look excited at that prospect…


… but really she was just shading her eyes while we had lunch on the terrace of a nice restaurant with a nice view.



As I’ve mentioned several times, Antigua is full of ruins. There are still a few we haven’t looked around in. The other day, we walked around in these ruins of this 18th century monastery/convent which was destroyed by an earthquake in 1751, rebuilt, and destroyed again in the 1773 earthquake, never to be rebuilt. The capital was moved to Guatemala City after that. The Spanish empire was rapidly coming to an end at that time, anyway, and was gone when Napoleon took over Spain in the early 1800′s. So that was that. Antigua was left as a crumbling vestige of the past.







Actually, as I have also mentioned, vestiges are all over town. Just down the street from that monastery is one of the entrances to the public market.


Speaking of Korean New Year, the people we live with really like Myung’s cooking. Annie especially goes for the pot stickers.


Overall, it’s been a slow month at Lake Wobegon. I have some pictures of a macadamia plantation. That was pretty interesting. The zillions of macadamias…


… are fed onto a ramp with gradually separating rods. The nuts roll down and fall through into bags when the rods are far enough apart, thereby selecting them for size.


Then they are crunched under this car wheel and tire to get the shells off. That woman was the guide.


We were thinking of getting out of town for a bit. Maybe next week I’ll take Myung to San Pedro de Atitlan. It’d be something new for her, even though I hung out there for three weeks while she was getting out of Chongqing. It’s nice and I’m sure we could entertain ourselves for a few days, maybe go up a volcano, go to the Chichi market, walk around the lake, all that. Meanwhile, I don’t have much to say. Talk to you later. Be well, all of you


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