We re-entered Guatemala through the Mexican state of Chiapas, and followed the Pan American highway to Quetzeltenango (Xela), where we had taken Spanish lessons just three months ago. It had rained off and on ever since crossing the border, but as we rolled into town, the skies opened up and we were forced to navigate the slick narrow cobblestone streets of historic Xela, trying to find suitable shelter for the night. After knocking on a couple of doors, we booked into a hostel that was incredibly cheap and not entirely rundown to wait out the storm till the next morning.
It felt kind of nice being in a familiar town, but we were eager to see something new. After crossing the border, all of our schedules and time-tables fell by the way-side and it felt very good being able to dawdle again. I often look at the route we've taken around the Americas and it looks like the path of a drunken sailor - lots of loops, meanderings and detours... which is exactly what we were intending when we first set out!
Dodging tourists in the historic town of Antigua
As we were now in the central highlands of Guatemala, even summer temperatures can dip into the low teens overnight, and this coupled with the rain made for some cold temperatures. Because we were without our waterproof riding boots, for the next morning's ride I wrapped plastic bags over my socked feet and then wore my hiking shoes over this. And as everybody knows, the more prepared you are for wet weather, the drier the ride it will be. It was only a couple of hours riding eastwards, but I felt very dorkey having those white plastic bag sockies peek over the tops of my shoes...
Cobblestone streets and painted buildings
Antigua used to be the capital of Guatemala before earthquakes decimated most of the city in the late 1700s. It's a beautiful city that's managed to preserve a lot of the Spanish colonial architecture, and there is a high concentration of ex-pats that have made this place their home. We've been feeling burnt out from travel for a couple of months now, and now that we don't have anything scheduled ahead of us, we've decided to settle down in this quaint town for a little bit of time to recharge our batteries, and also to do some exploring.
Our first B&B in Antigua was home to cats! Because I was allergic, I had to use my zoom lens for this shot!
We wanted to find an apartment or residence for a few weeks, but didn't want to rush into anything so we booked into a B&B and scoured the city for more permanent accommodations. It only took us a couple of days to find an apartment right in the heart of the city. Short-term rentals are very easy to find in Antigua as there are a lot of tourists that visit and vacation in this scenic town.
Arch of Santa Catalina - Antigua's most famous architectural landmark
Antigua is surrounded by three large volcanoes - one of which is currently active!
We found a place! This is our driveway.
Courtyard parking - we shared it with a KTM from California, but never met the rider!
Feels so good to have a kitchen and fridge again!
World-famous delicious NedaBurgers!
It is so amazing having a home-base to dump all our stuff in and just relax without having to worry about foraging for food and shelter. Stocking up the fridge means not having to grocery shop everyday, and with a hot stove, spices and cookware, we're able to make meals that were not possible while we were on the road. Being nomadic is a great lifestyle for us, but we still need some kind of sedentary life to balance the intensity of all the new things we're seeing and experiencing.
Indigenous women selling their wares are a familiar site
The ruins of the El Carmen church are right across the street from our apartment.
Tourists flock to the little market that springs to life in front of it every weekend
Homemade handbags for sale. I had to pull Neda away...
Arch of Santa Catalina at night
My idea of relaxing is to hibernate like a bear, and I stayed inside the apartment for the first week, not even venturing out once. Neda explored the town and showed me pictures she took of what life was like outside the cave. Her idea of relaxation was to book herself for a month of Spanish lessons. I believe at this point she is actually teaching Spanish, not learning it...
After the wi-fi Internet got installed in our apartment, that sealed the deal. I was never ever ever leaving this place. Like, ever...
I gorged myself on downloaded TV shows and motorcycle races, and wondered when they kicked out all the non-Spanish riders out of MotoGP...?
We relaxed. The bikes relaxed. It was very relaxing for the whole RideDOT.com family...
Arch de Santa Catalina after a rainfall
The Central America rainy season is fascinating to experience first-hand. Here in Antigua, it rains every single afternoon like clockwork. Everyone in town wakes up early and gets their errands done and by 2PM, they've scurried themselves indoors somewhere to wait out the afternoon storm. Sometime around 6-7PM, the rains stops and the street life resumes once again until the overnight rains return. I've never seen such regular weather patterns before in my life. Especially coming from Canada where the weather predictions are as unreliable as a KTM motorcycle.
Neda tinkers away on her bike
Felt great to catch up with family and friends after being disconnected for a month in Cuba
Antigua is full of wonderful architecture and scenic volcanoes everywhere you look!
Volcane de Agua (Water Volcano) just outside our apartment