JOE Backpacking Diary #3 - A classic Irish mistake, tummy troubles, Mexican spirits and a crazy graveyard
A week of more lows than highs.
My name is Joe Harrington, I'm travelling through Central and South America for the next eight months, here's what happened on week two.
I left you last week after hiking up the Pacaya Volcano so the following day I wanted to explore the city, get my bearings and find some cool sights.
The first place I headed was to was a viewing point at Cerro De La Cruz which is only a 20 minute walk from the main plaza.
I went the scenic route, because I can't read a map, but eventually got there and the view was amazing.
I felt like
Rose Jack in Titantic but instead of a huge ship it was a wall on a high viewing point in Antigua. Beautiful, eh?
Antigua 😍 pic.twitter.com/eay7HhEt3Y
— Joe Harrington (@ImJoeHarrington) April 8, 2016
After an hour taking in that view, I walked back down to the city and checked out the famous Santa Catalina arch, pottered around and got lunch.
This video will give you an idea of my day.
While I was eating lunch, a little local girl no more than 5-years-old came up to me and started staring at my food.
She looked like she was starving so I gave her a taco and she was so happy. The poverty situation is pretty serious from what I've seen. There are lots of non-profits in Antigua if you're interested, details here.
I went to a very cool bar that night called Cafe No Se. It had live music, candles everywhere, very little light (good news) and a lovely atmosphere with locals and tourist chatting away.
The place has four different rooms and you're only allowed into one room if you drink the Mexican spirit Mezcal.
I said, when in Rome... it tasted like Tequila watered down with Vodka. Sorry if you just vomited on your phone/laptop, they say it's an acquired taste.
Don't let that put you off, the bar is a gem.
The headline of my first diary is "From partying in Miami to shitting myself in Guatemala City, it's been a strange week" and lot of people were disappointed that I didn't have 'a dose of the runs' for want of a better term.
Well, all you perverse individuals will be happy to hear that I suffered badly last weekend.
I went to a highly recommended restaurant with my American roommate, we both ordered falafels and we both had an awful time for the following 48 hours.
It was miserable - lying in a bed, sweating, sprinting to the toilet with speed Usain Bolt would be proud of, getting so far into a YouTube wormhole that I was watching "Oprah's first TV interview," all very grim.
I was out of action for two days so that was crap. When I felt better, I booked the first shuttle to the next destination.
Food: La Casca, Queso y Vino, Travel Menu.
Drink: Cafe No Se, The Snug, Ribbit.
Highlight: The viewing point over Antigua. Stunning.
Lowlight: Having a stomach like a washing machine for two days.
Next stop: San Pedro, Lake Atitlan
I got a €9 shuttle from Antigua to San Pedro, which took fours hours, and the road conditions towards the end were atrocious.
They need one of those Irish auld lads who point at big potholes in local newspapers to come over and sort it out. My dad was one of those auld lads, a real peak moment for the family.
They were shocking though and it was all downhill so a little bit scary at times but we got there in one piece.
San Pedro is the most peaceful and chilled-out place I've ever been to, look at Lake Atitlan.
I went walking around the town the following day and didn't put sunblock on because I didn't think I'd be out too long.
I got back to my hotel three hours later, sprayed on the block and went back out to go kayaking. Be grand.
When I got home that evening and looked in the mirror I knew I'd made a mistake. A huge mistake.
Scalded. It's the only word to describe it.
Look at the f**king state of me.
I'm fairly sure the white patches on my right shoulder and chest really make a statement. Christ, could I be any more Irish? Representin'.
That burn, and the one on my leg, knocked me out for a day and a half and it was so frustrating because there's so much to do here. Sickened.
I was feeling better yesterday so I woke up early and got a shuttle to a place called Chichicastenango. It hosts the biggest market in Central America every Thursday and Sunday.
The place is massive and it was fun to do some haggling with the locals. I left there with a 1894 Mayan coin and a blue bandana. No idea why, I blacked out.
Here's a look at the colour of the place, including the local graveyard.
Accomodation: I'm staying in a dorm room in Hotel Mikaso, which is not central, but it's a 10 minute walk/3 minute tuk-tuk from the main area.
The food in the hotel is great, the beds are real beds(!), the wifi is average and the staff are dead on. It cost me €8 per night.
Here's a view from the balcony at the hotel.
— Joe Harrington (@ImJoeHarrington) April 11, 2016
Food: El Fondeadero, Zoola, The Blue Parrot.
Drink: Hotel Fe, Sublime, El Alegre.
Highlight: Waking up at 6am and seeing the sun rise over the mountains and bounce on the lake.
Lowlight: Being an idiot and allowing myself to get burned to a crisp.
I'm going to Santa Ana in El Salvador this weekend because of a recommendation from a Russian guy I met in Antigua. What could possibly go wrong?
Talk to you next week.