Posts Tagged ‘Antigua’

Antigua – Review

Sunday, May 5th, 2013

We are outta here!  Yep, left Antigua and Guatemala. I was a bit disappointed but also looking forward to our next adventure. W/ has us on a trip to Peru.

Since leaving Guatemala I can talk about the good and the bad. The good was quite a bit, good friends, good beer, good food, good restaurants, and a good Spanish School.

The bad; and it’s not much, was the small vehicles we had to travel in, a few of the restaurants that we didn’t believe played fair, 3 Roosters, Volcanic dust, and my iron stomach was tenderized while here, but due to politics we were having to leave before we’re really, really, really, fluent in Spanish. (I say politics because even if one has income a foreigner can’t remain in Guatemala for an indefinite period of time and two when we bought the tickets for our flight they wouldn’t sell a one way, we had to choose a date and a return flight).

We ate at two restaurants that clipped us a bit (one was Fusion and the other, Sabe Rico – the worst). At Fusion IB and Becca ordered some wine by the glass and Fusion didn’t have the wine listed on the menu so without advising anyone they took it upon themselves and poured the more expensive wine. Now truth be said,  I’m guessing either of them would have said “OK”, but no one likes to be blind sided and we / they were.  The other restaurant;  Sabe Rico delivered “uncorked” wine to the table and didn’t provide anyone a taste test.  Thinking this was the wine the “girls” ordered I kindly poured. It wasn’t the wine ordered and they wouldn’t do anything about the “switch” they quietly pulled on us. We paid the bill and left.

The smallish vehicles I’ve written about – so enough said. The Roosters too. But; the volcanic dust, it  is over most everything and for the most part of our stay there, at the end of the day the bottoms of our feet were the color of lava. No mater how much the floors were cleaned or when, our feet changed color ever day.  And remember, we’re cruisers, we like bare feet and clean decks.  This was, to say the least, a bit irritating.

Since I left the boat in mid November I’ve been sick now 4 times. Four months; 4 times under the weather. Three times in Guatemala. I don’t know if it’s the food or because I was  living with more people or the water I drank. We tried to always drink bottled water and I can’t say bottled water helped much – but I wasn’t going to stop. It could be the “jet” setting around, could be in how some food is prepared, could be in the closer proximity to other people; I don’t know, but those times being sick were not part of my planned adventure.  To put it in perspective; in the last two years on the boat I was sick once; and that was when I went to Panama City.

Leaving San Jose El Viejo was bitter sweet. However; we need to practice our new language skills more, we need to let the words we know ferment in our brains, we needed a break from the formal study. We both miss our teachers; W/ had gotten quite close to Erika, they exchanged some gifts on the final day; and I thoroughly enjoyed working / learning from Isabel. Her laugh is infectious,  and with me she was patient and a little pushy  all at the same time. My day started with talk for about an hour or so (all in Spanish but sometimes I had to ask for the correct word or look it up) and during that time she would then identify an area I needed a great deal more work on. Then we corrected  my assignments and depending on the day we discussed my numerous and other times rare

Mi Maestra Isabel

Mi Maestra Isabel

errors. After a break we would talk for another hour with Isabel patiently waiting for and forcing me to use the words I know. At times she would let loose with this infectious laugh because of the stories we each told and I’m sure too because of some of the ways I used in structuring my spanish voacabulary. About 5 minutes before the end of the morning she would  ask if I wanted to do any homework. I was there after all to learn Spanish so I would always acquiesce to some..more….homework. She was kind in that what she assigned me  I usually could complete in under 3 hours.

So we left Antigua after learning much about the people, enjoyed teasing our palate with an abundance of different food combinations, suffered with some bugs we could never see, and have a 1,000 or so more words in Spanish that we can use. Of course putting them together in the correct order will always seem to be a challenge. If the winds of our life provide any justice we’ll again return to Antigua and spend some more time learning the poetic language of Spanish.

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

Falling … Into Place

Monday, March 4th, 2013

Ironically, events have been moving smoothly. We arrived in Panama City (PC) with 7 bags checked and wrung out like fighters having just lost a bout. However; we did make it through Immigration and Customs without a scratch. Roger picked us up at the Airport and we loaded all our belongings into a smaller then we’re use to room at the Hotel Milan. There we slept like the living dead and planned to commit  the following  for recovery.

PC is like a home to us in many ways. We know where to walk. We have several good restaurants in mind and we even know of  a walking route to one of the malls. On day two of our weekly transitional stay I was updating the computers and phones; internet was part of the Hotel fee and I wasn’t  paying by the gigabyte for data, aka upgrades. So I upgraded the OS’s in the computers and then W/s phone and  lastly mine. Mine went kahooee. I spent all day trying to identify what happened and solve the issue. I wasn’t successful. Both phones are unlocked so when we reach a new country we  purchase a local SIM and have a local number. Having phones in the host country is one way we are  still connected to the rest of the world.

That day the best I could figure out is that either there was a problem in the router setup at the hotel or the factory unlock code for the phone was only good in the US.  I connected with the phone unlock people and found that there should not be any issue anywhere internationally. Good. My next try will be to attempt the Restore in a breakfast restaurant we know that has a good and fast connection. That would be In two days.

The following day we were planning on delivering the boat goods to Elysium and replace the tarps that were keeping her s little, dare I say; LITTLE, protected from the Sun. Alfanso picked us up at 10, we stopped, bought two tarps and had an easy trip to Shelter Bay Marina. There we unloaded  5 pieces of luggage (we kept some at the hotel, clothes etc), and then ferried all we brought to the secure yard where the boat was. The bags were heavy enough we hauled them aboard with a halyard, then emptied them out with W/ doing the rough placement. Little if anything was stored. From that point on we had no more need of the luggage, nor any place to really store them.  One piece went to some friends traveling soon to Macchu Pichuu, two others went to Lopez a Kuna Indian we’ve known since we’ve been coming to SB and the last two soft bags we fold up and carry on the boat.

In the midst of the unpacking I discovered that the house bank of batteries had  drained pretty low so we connected the power up for the charger to top them off. Later while pulling the old tarps off I found the reason of the low batteries,  somehow the solar connector wiring  had been disconnected. 🙁  I reconnected that wire and the batteries are now charging.

After the unpacking we began to re-cover the boat. The old and beginning to tatter tarps were removed and discarded. The new ones unfolded and tied off. This was the trying part. With the boat on the hard we’re in the middle of the storage yard; aka – no breeze, and with the Sun out we were hot and thirsty. The water in the boat was good but not cool. The tienda at the Marina was closed for inventory!  Warm water it is.

About 2 hours later we were finished and exhausted,  ready for a shower and  lunch or since it is 4 o’clock I should say dinner. Bob and Vicki on Fox Sea came to join us and Annette on Tempest stopped by. We shared some quick stories of the recent months and soon Roger arrived for our return to PC. Half way to the locks Roger received a phone call from IB and Becca ( sv Passport) for us. They had found an apartment for rent in Antigua, Guatemala and wanted to make sure we were still interested and all was ok.  Bingo.  Plans are dropping into place.  Arriving in PC  completely tired we soon fell into bed looking forwards to the dawn of a new day.

With all the goods stored on the boat, the boat shaded, us back in the city, it was time to finish fixing or buying a new phone and time to get secure transportation to Guatemala. We started to look at fares and we soon discovered that we had to get a return ticket. We really wanted an open end ticket but ok.  Later IB and Becca had said they could have given us a letter to say we would be leaving on their boat but that may have been more messing with the government people then we wished.

We were lucky. We had breakfast at New York Bagels and there on the second try the phone was fully

Banana Split at Trapici

Banana Split at Trapiche

restored. Don’t think I’ll update it again for a long… long …. time. At least until I see some real benefit from the update. Then back to the hotel for getting tickets to Guatemala. After the light headed feeling of paying more for round trip to Guatemala then we did for the States (which is farther away) we went to lunch at Trapiche. There fate smiled on us as we ordered a Banana Split sight unseen. Sweet!

The following day was a hang out day. Hang out and pack. We packed up 3 bags of stuff and one computer bag to travel with. We hadn’t known what traveling this light is like. The rest of the day we walked some, and just “chilled”. We were ready.

The ride to the airport was akin to an adventure at Disney World. That taxi flew down the freeway and we couldn’t help but smile. We hadn’t been to Guatemala by boat ever so this is all new to us. This and we were flying on Copa Airlines. Also new to us.

For some reason when I tried to pick seats on Copa the web page didn’t load. No big deal. I was quite sure the airline had our seat assignments, they did have our money.  We arrived plenty early  to complete all the paper work and check the bags only to find the line made Disney’s seem normal. We stood in line for close

Big Seats - Copa Air

Big Seats - Copa Air

to an hour and had our black bag twice sniffed by a dog.  The desk clerk was kind and W/ asked about her children. She was pregnant. W/ trying to speak in Spanish and doing admirably well. We then walked another 15 minutes to the gate and waited. When we boarded the plane W/ and I went to the rear where I had tried to get assigned seats. Yeah, the numbers were on the tickets but I ended up mixed up and not knowing if these planes numbered from the back to the front or visa vera. Opps. After hiking to the back of the plane we recognized that we were up front and fought our way back up the isle to be quite pleasantly surprised we had been assigned seats in First Class; the big seats, extra leg room. I”m wondering, did I die? Is this heaven?

We land in Guatemala City, Guatemala and take the looooong walk to Immigration and Customs. On the way we change out some money for Quetzels (the currency used in Guatemala). Immigration was as smooth as when we travel back to the US. Customs must either have known we had been sniffed by the dog or we looked OK. At least W/ did. We walked through the building and met our driver outside; he was holding up a placard “Wendy Dave Kall”

The ride to Antigua was uneventful and enlightening. We traversed up the mountain for 30 minutes and then slalomed downhill –  on all 4 wheels with brakes all the way. We made safely to the bottom  and arrived to a city with cobble stone streets and an old city flair, surrounded by both active and inactive volcanoes. Our driver found our residence and I”m sure was close to laughter as I banged on the door for IB or Becca. The door enters into a courtyard and in the residence one wouldn’t’ hear me no matter how hard I …knocked. W/ read the instructions Becca sent  and I then rang the bell protected in a wire cage to the right of the door. Still no answer. Not wanting to keep our driver waiting we paid him and then unloaded our bags while  planning to await IB and Becca  in the Hotel next door. As we entered the lobby of the hotel IB appeared; with Becca right behind him, all smiles, surprised we had made it as fast.

Nachos at 1 of almost 400 Restaurants in Antigua, Guatemala

Nachos at 1 of almost 400 Restaurants in Antigua, Guatemala

That evening we wandered the town taking in the sights and sounds of new city.  IB told us there are over 360 restaurants here.  (We might be here a little longer. 🙂 )  Antigua is celebrating Lent for the  entire mont and  tourist have traveled in mass to this area witnessing the festival. We had dinner at a quaint Spanish restaurant (4 tables) and then meandered out to watch the procession. There the floats were all carried by people dressed in Purple. The largest float; with Christ carrying the cross, had 17  men on each side and two rows of men inside underneath. The front and back had 4 additional men. I don’t know how light or heavy the float is, but I will say, those underneath carrying the load we’re not on their toes. The float moved like a wave, one side then the other, two steps forward and one back as they moved down the cobblestone street. How many groups of men they had to carry the float I don’t know. The procession made it’s way along the streets winding throughout town, and 3 hours later they came back again. What struck me as the large float moved by a smaller one appeared, this one carried by women.

Erupting Volcano, Antigua, Guatemala

Erupting Volcano, Antigua, Guatemala

As the evening wore on we were slowly tiring out and IB spotted the Volcano erupting. A fit exclamation point to our arrival.

Gos Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

Antigua Behindsight

Saturday, April 24th, 2010

Yep! Hindsight is 20-20. We had a good time in this small country (It’s only 108 sq miles). Wendy would say a great time. The boat was safe as we traveled to the US, thanks to Sea Pony. We enjoyed all the harbors we were in. The food was at best average. There were however two bright spots in eateries, one the Mad Mongoose which caters to cruisers and locals; oh, they welcome the flying tourist too but those travelers come from a different mental place. The other was the restaurant called the Lumber Yard in English Harbor at Nelsons DockYard (specifically the Lobster salad and Wine for $17 US including their tax and gratuity).  The most disappointing restaurant was Harmony Hall which was pricey, touristy, and just not worth the $$$’s.  However; they have a great art gallery and splendid view, they have a friendly place that is one of the only areas in Nonsuch Bay that caters to cruisers too.

I found the island to have a different feel between the N and NE side and the S and SW side. The S and SW seemed to be friendlier and as one cruiser said “not full of themselves”.  One anchorage on the N coast; Long Island with Jumby Bay as the resort only wanted cruising boats as “eye candy”. Seems a first for us that we would be “eye candy”. Going ashore they met you at the Beach and reminded you that the beach was public but the roads and everything else on the island was “private”.  One set of cruising friends asked about eating lunch ashore at their restaurant and they just didn’t want the money, they said “the restaurant is only for guests of the resort”. 🙂 This may be a result of the Ponzi scheme that Robert Stanford was promoting. I guess just too much money in the N.

Contrast that with the St. James Yacht Club in Mamora Bay. The club was more then welcoming and encouraged us to enjoy the facilities and eat at any of the restaurants. It was a nice anchorage and the best thing I felt was that it wasn’t a crowded anchorage.

Maybe in a few years they’ll think again but right now; even though they weren’t filled, they didn’t want / need any more money.

Then the other put off was in Falmouth. There we needed a new ink cartridge for the printer. Damn inkiest; if you don’t use them often enough the cartridges go bad.

Walking to Nelson’s Dockyard we came upon this Apple store (not like in the states) and they had printers and computer supplies. Caribit was the name. We went in and asked about an ink cartridge for our printer and the employee said to let him know the printer make and model. We went back to the boat and the following day brought him the printer make and model. He looked it up and said we needed cartridge XX. So we bought it and took it back to the boat. I opened it; and tried to replace it and it didn’t work. We took it back fully expecting them to replace it with the correct one – He told us this was the right cartridge – and they refused. He then said “I told you to make sure it was the right one when you got back to the boat”.  Yeah, how was I going to do that without opening it up. On the packaging it said the same thing as when we left and it didn’t list that printer. He told us it would work and it didn’t. So that left a real sore spot with me.  One guy in a country of 70,000 people and I’ll remember that owner / employee for a long time -denying that they had done anything wrong. Even accepting 1/2 the responsibility and selling us the correct one at a deep discount would have been better then denying any culpability!

While  back  in  the states I’ve now bought enough cartridges to last till Panama.  And I never went back into that store and made sure other cruisers knew that Caribit in Antigua is not in any way an “honorable” establishment!

Hiking

Hiking

Be that as it may, we walked some of the trails in the park, we took taxi’s across the island, we rode the local buses, we shopped at many of the stores,

Cleanest Market on Island

Cleanest Market on Island

visited the Capital – St. John’s, stopped at various grocers, resorts, met lots of new cruisers and some ex-pats, even played tennis at Teamo Sports one night -which by the way I won a T-Shirt at. So the experience was a positive one, many of the anchorages were what Lison Life likes to call “Sissy Anchorages” and we’re ok with that; and we wave a fond farewell as we head S to Guadeloupe. Not sure if we’ll see Antigua again. But in sailor speak; one is never sure where one goes; only where one’s been.

Au revior Tom & Leslie

Au revior Tom & Leslie

Fair Winds

Back To Eden

Thursday, April 22nd, 2010

Believe it or not: Whew! We made it. We cleared through immigration and customs without a bump. The Disney ride across Antigua was exhilerating. The wait at the dock was exasperating. We unloaded the luggage and looked up so see a rare site; the accumulation of some rain clouds. I couldn’t wait any longer. I strolled, trotted, ran (well almost) out to the end of the dock to make sure our boat was:  a) still  there and b) floating. She was still there and she is floating.

I strolled back and had hoped that W/ had found a cruiser that would take us to the boat. She was still guarding the luggage so I stopped in the marina office to see if (as race week was coming up) there was a water taxi in the harbor. What I had confused as a water taxi was a launch from the small sailing cruise ship that was anchored outside the harbor. Luckily, I spotted a cruiser getting in her inflatable and I asked if she could give two tired sailors and their gear a lift to their boat.

“No problem”.

So we loaded on 4 full bags of gear, 4 full bags we used as carry-ons, and two exhausted sailors. Then we raced the oncoming rain out to the boat. There we hauled, pushed, and shoved the gear over the lifelines and scrambled aboard.  As we were going to the boat; John, on mv Sea Pony stopped by and said he was waiting for us (he had just hauled out another boater that came in too). He had also said he left the key in our bucket for us (he knew we were arriving) and he had checked the boat over a few times making sure there was no water above the cabin sole and untangling the mooring lines. I would feel secure leaving the boat on one of his moorings and under his care anytime in the future.

So finally,  we’re on the boat, it’s starting to drizzle and we as quickly as possible get us and our bags down below. We begin the arduous task of starting the boat up and finding storage for all that we brought back.

Unpacking the gear would wait as the first order was checking systems and making sure everything was as it should be. I ran the bilge pump. No water in the bilge. Good.  I checked the batteries, full. We looked over the boat; nothing seemed out of place. We then hauled the dinghy off the aft deck and were able to open up the aft cabin for air. We made up our berth. We had a snack and fell into bed dead tired.
After having a wonderful sleep on a bed that gently rocks we arose the following day refreshed and ready to tackle the task of finding places for everything we brought back. This would take a couple of days. After a light breakfast (we didn’t have supplies yet for a real  breakfast) we put up the awnings. Then I took the lid to the freezer completely apart as it was beginning to part anyway. We taped and 5200’ed it back together. Now it needed to sit for another couple of days till the 5200 fully cured and we could put it back into service. All the time W/’s asking where are we going to put this, where are we going to put that; and I in my ever so eloquent way of reply said “I don’t know”.

We picked at each other as we slowly got the  items stored and some things installed. After the lid for the freezer I pulled out the old Aqualift muffler for the generator and put the new one in.Wonderful! No more saltwater dripping into the engine pan needing to be removed every couple of days. With those two items off my check list I could respond better to W/’s need of getting our supplies packed away. Now we can run the generator, cool down the refrigeration, get some cold drinks.

Organized Confusion

Organized Confusion

As we were getting our life back in line Antigua was beginning their Classic Race Week. The harbor activity was increasing logarithmically.

Lots of Varnish

Lots of Varnish

We were looking forward to seeing the Yachts that are owned by people with more money then time. FYI; we have more time then money 🙂 . Here the classic yacht owners are going to race them (they say a relaxing fun race and I say they’re crazy).

Getting Ready

Getting Ready

Thankfully we’d be able to watch them entering and leaving the harbor. Our friends, Tom and Leslie secured positions on two boats (I don’t envy them) as rail meat and we will get some of the inside scoop from them.

WindRose

WindRose

Fair Winds