a day in Costa Rica before I meet Erie
01.06.2015 - 03.06.2015 18 °C
As I write this latest blog entry, the tears glide down my cheeks because my best friend has just left my side after three wonderful weeks together. But before I can write about today, I need to go back to the beginning of our crazy adventures.
I left Billy at 2am in a bundle of goodbye tears, overstaying immigration fees, and ticket confusion at Santo Domingo airport. I flew to Costa Rica for what was the longest day of my entire life as I waited the 16 hours until my next flight to Guatemala. Thankfully I was allowed out of the airport to explore the nearest city; Alajuela. I slept in a park for a while and kept waking up to concerned Costa Rican citizens asking me if I was ok. I even overheard a couple of children asking their grandfather why there was a white girl asleep in the middle of the park. The grandfather replied that not everyone is fortunate enough to have money or a home – I laughed to myself because at this point in my life I actually don’t have either!
I had enough of wandering around the small city and spending money I didn’t actually have, so I returned to the airport to waste the rest of the day. I fell asleep on the floor of the airport, which again can’t be a normal sight in Costa Rica because this time I woke up to a man taking photos of me! Not every day does one end up on Instagram wearing a cat shaped eye ask and pink earplugs while snuggled beneath a stolen airline blanket (thanks Condor). Finally, the time to fly to Guatemala arrived and it was a short while later that I arrived in Guatemala City (commonly referred to by both Spanish and English speakers as Guate). It had been 24 hours since I leaving Billy in the Dominican Republic – nearly as long as Erie’s flight time from New Zealand. I got to my hostel without any problems and settled in for some real sleep, in a real bed, without the paparazzi or confused children.
The next morning I woke up with butterflies in my stomach as if I was 5 years old on Christmas day! I headed off to the airport to wait for Erie, and was super gutted to realise her plane was 3 hours delayed! I literally paced the grounds waiting for her to appear, drinking coffee after coffee, and trying to sneak through customs so I could be with her just a few minutes earlier.
Finally, there she was in full Erie glory and it was so great to be back together. We used the taxi of my friend who was already driving me around everywhere, and he drove us as we chatted absolutely nonstop towards the gorgeous city of Antigua. The city itself was once the capital of Guatemala until it was shattered by a devastating earthquake in 1773. Because of the huge threat of future damage to the city due to its position between three (still) active volcanoes, the entire city moved an hour’s drive away to form what is now known as Guate(mala City). Because the architecture of Antigua dates pre- 1773, the old city itself is gobsmackingly beautiful.
The old buildings remain everywhere, the streets are of cobblestone, and everything is framed by the beautiful volcano named el fuego (the fire).
It was quite late by the time we arrived to Antigua so we found something to eat (recommend Cactus Taco restaurant to anyone who ever goes to Antigua, get the prawn burrito!) before deciding to have a quiet night and just one rum… Well, of course one rum always leads to a bottle, and next thing we were dancing reggaeton, bachata, and salsa with the local cool kids in a bar on a Monday night!
The next morning, despite the hangovers, we explored most of the city on foot as we made our way up to see the lookout point of Cerro de la cruz. On the way we found a market and we tried the weirdest, spikiest, oddest fruit ever - Lychee!
We had been walking for about 4 hours over cobblestones and of course Erie was very jetlagged. When we saw the huge hill we had to climb to get When we got to the base of the lookout we just looked at each other, laughed, and pulled over a tuktuk to take us up!
When we got to the top, the view out over Antigua was just gorgeous.
We took our first photo together at the top as we looked out and spotted everything that we had walked past. We also realised there was also a lot more to the city that we had not seen on our walk!
One of our favourite things were the chicken buses (called parillas in Spanish) that were everywhere in Antigua (and as we soon saw, throughout Guatemala). In the USA, school buses can only do about 150,000 kilometres before they are deemed useless/ unsafe for driving school children. Thankfully instead of sending them to the dump yard they are sent to central America where they are pimped out, driven with great pride, and provide the cheapest transportation around!
That night we booked the Pacaya volcano trip for the following day and actually managed to tuck ourselves into bed at a reasonable hour. The following morning was due to start at 5.30am so there was no way we were going to climb our first central American volcano with a rum hangover!