Monday, September 20, 2010

sipacate

ok folks, heres the quick and dirty resolution of my last post "good and bad":
im told that i dont have to worry about loosing the villa and that the owner will continue our deal leased directly to us...so lets hope so.

and now onto other news...

Yesterday we finally made our way down to the pacific coast and it was amazing, like really and totally amazing. One of the best days that i have had here yet. here we go.

The adventure began on Saturday. We hoped onto to a pickup to take us up the mountain away from Antigua to a little hostel overlooking the valley called "Earth Lodge" and yes, it is exactly as it sounds. It is a down to earth hippy factory in the avocado plantation hills of guatemala where there is nothing to do except hula-hoop, hackysack, dred your hair and talk about the man. we planned on making a weekend of it, but the treehouses (yes tree houses) were all booked due to a gap-year program that was currently inhabiting the entire facility. It was great. the ride was steep up the mountain with an evermore beautiful view of the valley. we snaked through village after village, plantation after plantation, and dirt dirt road upon dirt road. we arrived at the end of the road and were told to follow the dirt trail through the woods until we saw signs leading us to the lodge. the trail led us up a mountain, down a mountain, through a trickling waterfall (that may or may not have been mostly human sewage from higher altitude towns) and finally down a long hill that dead-ended at earth lodge. there really was nothing to do there but to sit on benches drinking gallos (not for me, sad) and talk to germans. the sun was out and then it was away, then out, then sprinkles of rain, and then out again. a nice welcome reprieve. (this was yom kippur).

I got a call from somebody who found me on couch surfing around mid-day, and we arranged for him to meet us back at the house before dinner. We hopped another pickup and made our way back down the mountain in enough time to stop at the super market and grab some provisions.

the couch surfer was a german dude who wad been taking an epic bike trip from san fransicso all the way down through central america with no certain end point. He was a great guy and we had a nice dinner (break-fast for me) of bagels, veggies, cheese, eggs, platinos fritos, refried beans, and of course, wine. i was too tired to go out (i had spent all day friday building a house for a small guatemalan version of habitat for humanity and was still beat on saturday) so instead we watched superbad on the roof until the buffer ran out. it was a very nice evening.

the next morning, we slept in (i actually got up around 8 and moved myself to the roof where i slept in the early morning sun) and made breakfast with the leftovers from the night before. We had heard rumors that our friends (with a car) would be heading to the pacific coast that morning, so we had that in the back of our minds as we walked to the cafe down the street for coffee after breakfast (couch surfer picked up the tab!). when we got back to the villa, we ate a sandwich and chilled out for a bit until we got a knock on our door around 11am. our friends were indeed going to the beach and wanted to know if we were planning on joining them. Of course we were!

we changed into our suits real quick and hopped into the jeep for the beginning of our saga. the trip was about 2 hours to get there, but knowing Guatemala, everything takes longer than expected. traffic, road conditions, mudslides, weather, and children in the road all made our journey exciting. we must have passed through a dozen different elevations and climate zones on the way to the coast--they had a thermometer integrated into the dashboard and we watched the temperature climb up into the nineties and drop well below 65. it was one of the most beautiful drives that i have taken. more sandwiches made the ride delicious as well. our German cser friend remarked upon the beauty of the trip far too many times.

we arrived at the launcha point around 130 and hopped into the boat after buying tickets only to find that after 30 minutes of waiting for the launcha to fill up, we were on the wrong one (who knows where that one was going!). we begged for our money back and ran back to the car in which we drove to another launcha point 15 mins away. this time the launcha took us down a windy river to a dock which opened up to a beautiful pacific beach. there was a specific surf lodge that we were looking for and we had a 50/50 chance of walking down the beach in the correct direction. we chose the wrong one. However, 20 mins in the wrong direction proved to be an amazing 40 min stroll down a blazingly hot but breezy black sand beach with literally not a soul in sight.

Finally we came upon el paradon (a little surfers paradise on the guatemalan pacific). there were cabanas with hammocks, a pool, a restaurant, and bar that was completely deserted. we met some friends there and that was it. the entire place was to ourselves. of course, i immidiately made my way to the water which is reportedly too dangerous to swim in, but i had a ball of it. swimming was a constant battle against the waves that pulled out to sea and down shore (dont worry ma). It was invigorating and i didnt want to leave the water but i had to because our lunch of fresh red-snapper and grilled veggies was ready for consumption. it was light and delicious. after eating, the group hung out on the patio with gallos, but i found a cabana which was nice and sunny in the setting sky and laid there for a good 45 mins baking just the right side of my body. the wind was soft and the waves were loud. all i could hear was the ocean.

i got the sense that we would be leaving soon so i went looking for a bathroom. instead, what i found was a beautiful shower that resembled a little desert oasis with bamboo floors, cacti, and a waterfall. I washed the salt from my hair and stepped outside just in time to discover that we were taking off. we got a ride back to the launcha point and called the guy who ferried us from the car earlier in the day.

the ride home was in treacherous rain, but we had it good compared to the myriad motorcyclists who we passed on the road squinting through the downpour. we arrived home at 830 and made our way to pollo compero where we gorged on fried chicken (a guatemalan delicacy), fries, and orange soda (who loves orange soda?!). An early bedtime made the day complete.

seriously people...come visit me already

fin









Tuesday, September 14, 2010

good and bad

so i have good news and bad news. lets start with the good news because its just too amusing. I just got and started a job at the swankiest cigar and wine shop in Antigua (well the second swankiest if you count wine/cigar bars, but this isnt a bar, its just a shop). Literally i walked in off the street and asked if Spanish was required, and she was like "nope! can you start tomorrow?" and i said "yup!" and now i am a sommelier! how couth. She's like, "how much do you know about wine?" and im like, "not much, but i know what I like", and shes like "well how much to you know about cigars?", and im like, "far less". and shes like "alright". and then she broke out a bunch of cigar and wine books in Spanish and said that i could read them if i wanted to but that she usually just chats online all day because maybe 2 or three people come in a day to buy stuff (cause its so swanky). Most of this stuff could be bought at the supermarket for 20 percent less, but the tourists dont know that.
I was not required to have a liquor license or anything...they collected no personal information, and i signed no contracts, in fact, im not even sure if they know my last name. gotta love th 3rd world.
This place is located on the nicest drag in town underneath a beautiful historic archway, its smells of unburt tobacco...mmmmm yummy

AND BAM! the story just got that much more interesting. as i was tying this a dude walked in and in Spanish, asked my if we carried Ron Zacappa which is the most expensive rum in the store, the country, and as far as i know, the most expensive rum in the world. And i was like, AHHH, my first sale is like a million Queztales, and then i was like, oh, wait, Andrea told me that they sold the last bottle yesterday. so then i recommended the other most expensive bottle in the store and he was like, well hoe much is it, and i was like umm, i dunno cause they of course they dont lable a bottle that expensive, and it wasnt listed in the price list, so i just was like, erm "1200 Quezales?", ans he was like, well id like to pay 1000, and im like, sorry the prices are non-negotiable...and theh hes like, "ok, well i only wanted the price anyway" and im like," ok, ta ta then"...and i know you guys are all wondering, "well did you sell it or not?" and you are waiting for me to tell you that i did (cause i did such a good job building up suspense and all) but sorry, he walked out and i was sad. Anyway, that was all in Spanish, and i dont speak Spanish so kudos to me. Although the entire time i felt like an impostor, like i shouldn't be working retail in a Spanish speaking country (and i knew that the guy was thinking that too).
the good news is that while i was writing that part that i just wrote, another lady walked in and was like "please tell me you speak English!" and i did, and then she asked for directions and i gave them to her in perfect English...i was so proud.

Anyway, now for the bad news. today the guy that my friend and i are subletting our rooms in the villa from told us that his bosses had come down yesterday and shut down the business and that basically, unless we wanted to rent the villa directly from the owners, we are gonna be booted out at the end of the month...i cant go back to the hostel, i just cant! Anyway, we are gonna try to find two more roommates and rent it directly, cause its massively cheap for 4 or 5 people, like as cheap as my place in Rochester except that its a massive villa...so thats gonna be a new adventure, i really want to keep this place. Does anybody want to come down here and move in...commoooonnnnnnn!!!!! you can get a job here, they are everywhere, you'll get paid more than a local because you speak English and you'll live like a king!

Thats all,
jake