Thursday, April 25, 2013

Living vs. visiting

Today was one of those "don't need to do anything, see anything, or go anywhere ... we LIVE here  " kind of days.

I don't remember where we had coffee, but we did.
Not sure where we ate breakfast, but we did.
Fairly sure we walked around town.
KNOW we dropped off and picked up our laundry.
Chatted briefly with a few locals.

But ... it's just about 5pm, and I have next to no idea what we did.

Oh, yeah.  Caught 60% of "The Treasures of the Sierra Madre," with Humphrey Bogart, on TV.

The church to our east has bells.  The bells are sounded -- roughly -- on the hour -- roughly -- from sunrise through sunset.

They're also sounded -- roughly -- 45 minutes after the hour.

So far, we've found no rhyme, reason, or pattern to exactly when the bells sound, how many times they sound at a given clanging, or (sorry) for whom the bell tolls.

Yeah.  It's a mystery.  We've come to believe that somebody's unqualified nephew -- probably with a fairly well managed crack habit -- needed a job.

In about two minutes -- roughly -- they'll sound again.

And we'll know we're in Antigua.

My glasses got to Miami, today.  I used the wicked-cool user interface to direct that they be shipped to me, and give them the customs info they needed to create the manifest.

Problem is ... DHL told me that they would NOT receive my shipment if I didn't have a phone number -- NOT my international cell number, and NOT my hotel phone number.

I'm not above wheedling, begging, pleading, cajoling, bribery, or ... prostrating myself before the aforementioned lady, and just humbly asking her forgiveness (the "Ignorant Gringo Play").

So we're on the rooftop terrace.  Cigmo (sp ?) showed up.  He's a San Francisco civil engineer working for a small company that does use cases, utilization studies, and analysis for large building projects.  The goal is to maximize efficiency in almost every way: what are your needs ?  What do you have ?  Here's what we think you should do.

They then install monitoring sensors (telemetry, more or less), to provide feedback that allows them to fine-tune their models/algorithms, both to get better at their mission AND ... to create a software package that does what they do, eventually hoping to sell/license it out.

And Cigno's bringing wine back to the rooftop terrace in a couple of hours.

And he likes burritos.

And there's NOTHING wrong with EITHER of those things, now is there ??

It was with him and his friend, Ellen, that we dined last night.  Mediterranean joint that I'd heard about. Cheap.  Plentiful.  Yummie.

Ellen is on a 2wk Spanish course homestay gig.  She currently works as a medical assistant at a San Francisco women's health care clinic, but -- after about 4yrs leading bike tours abroad -- is going to get her Nursing license, and aim to become an Acute Care Nurse Practitioner.

I seem to gravitate toward that sort ;-)

Cigno and Ellen are probably in their mid-to-late 20's, very bubbly, very energetic, and -- as people who are on /relatively/ short (1-2wks) vacations -- are trying to pack a LOT in to a very little time Canadianspace.

Kind of the opposite of what Donald and I are doing.

They're in the left lane on Highway 405, doing about 85mph, while we're off on the shoulder, checking our tire pressures ;-)

But ... really nice people.  I'm sure that generalizations about travelers are as flawed and worthless as many generalizations (including that one), but ... there IS something about people with a passion for international travel.

Of course, that's a very self-congratulatory statement, so I make it unhesitatingly :-)

So ... with my mail/glasses likely to arrive in Antigua on Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday, we're looking at options for a 3+ day getaway, starting tomorrow.  One that we're considering is some EarthLodge place, a half-hour away.  It's a 40 acre avocado farm bought/started/run by an American/Canadian couple.  They've got dormitories and a few private cabins.  The food is alleged to be pretty fantastic.

And that's really what we're about :-)

We'd have to pack, find the shuttle, get reservations together, and get up there, but ... aside from the sheer enormity of all that ... no problem ;-)

Neither of us, though, has felt any particular compulsion to be done with Antigua.  It's a very easy town to spend time in, and our rooftop terrace is sublime.

I saw an ad, today, at the coffee shop: 2br, 1ba, fully-furnished apartment renting for $500/mo.  Donald saw one, last night, renting for $350.  Without knowing where, in town, they are, that sets the tempo for the cost of the big-ticket item, here: housing.

Not bad.  With a two-bedroom, you could take in the occasional Spanish-studying gringo/gringa about six months out of the year, and live for next to nothing, working on your Spanish in sort of a modified "home stay" model.

Interesting.  Economically viable, even.  It doesn't even begin to create A Life, as I need to find it, but ... it does mean that the math works.

Guatemala City -- a Big City -- is about 45 minutes away, and ... has everything.

Yeah.  I like this place.  It has oodles of half-a-millennium-old-world charm, nearly 200 exceptionally tasty (and reasonably priced) restaurants, the best coffee I've ever tasted, and more than enough of an influx of English speakers to keep the homesick pangs at bay.

So ... for now ... keeping the recurrent food theme in mind, I say ... Chow for now ... from the Upper Level Terrace of ... The Gulag.


  1. Great coffee and burritos? Ah, but do they have peanut butter and jelly? and popcorn??

    Actually, sounds like a beautiful place and an easy being. Don't worry about the 'life' bit, it will reveal itself.


  2. Donald and I are still carrying a jar of peanut butter, purchased in Bariillas.

    We abandoned a jar of blackberry jelly in Panajachel, but know how/where to get more :-)

    Popcorn -- even microwave -- is available at the "better" stores (ie, the ones that won't let us in).

    Microwaves, on the other hand, are not as accessible to us wee folk.

    But tonight was Penne Arrabiata (me) and a pepperoni pizza (Donald).

    Nothing like Guatemalan women speaking Italian with thick Spanish accents (while feeding me pasta) to make me smile :-)