Guatemala - Tuesday 30 November 1999
I sleep in until 11:00 am, delightful. Then I head into Antigua. During the day, there's a pleasant, peaceful atmosphere. People wander around, enjoy the sun, and chat a bit.
I have breakfast (lunch) in a small restaurant on the edge of the large square. Despite its lovely location, it's almost only Guatemalans here. Although it's not a dirty or unpleasant restaurant at all. They sell delicious toasted sandwiches, listed as 'sandwiches' on the menu. You can also buy them from a counter along the street.
Most ice creams here are from Ola, although it's called Wall's here. In Mexico, it was Holanda. However, the ice creams are still named Magnum, Cornetto, and Solero. There's another ice cream with a chunk of chocolate inside. I choose that. It's strange that they don't have that in the Netherlands.
There's a massive fake Christmas tree on the big square. People enjoy taking pictures here. Quite odd, in such a sunny country, wearing a T-shirt in the sun, looking at a Christmas tree.
We hardly even flinch at how many children have to work here. Almost everything sold on the streets is sold by children. When an Israeli couple has a chat with a few children and gives them a candy floss, you suddenly see the child in them again.
On the way back to the hotel, I run into Wolfgang. He knows of a German coffee house near the hotel. We catch up extensively over a delicious espresso. Later, we meet the rest of the group. We have wine together in Gail's room.
Gail takes us to a "nice restaurant". She says, "Just to be sure, I made a reservation. It's always quite difficult to get a table with such large groups." Hmm.
The restaurant has a nice setup and plays Spanish music. However, it's entirely empty and quiet. Unpleasant.
When I receive my food, it's completely cold. Liz's is too. We have it reheated, but it's still not enjoyable. It's supposed to be stuffed pepper, but it's more like a kind of schnitzel, quite soggy. We are quite disappointed.
Liz asks about the 66 quetzals discount on the bill. Gail, alarmed, says it's for her meal. We already knew that tour leaders eat for free when they take a group to a restaurant. Now that the food is so bad (and expensive!), we're rather upset about it.
As we walk back, we see a group of musicians on a street corner. It's genuinely spontaneous, very atmospheric, and very good. We stand and watch for a while.