Wherever you go you one of the first words you learn is how to say ‘I am hung over’ in the local parlance. In Spain – tengo resaca; Mexico – estoy crudo; Ecuador – estoy chuchaqui; and Guatemala – estoy de goma. Here, it literally means I am sticky, rubbery! Well today we are sticking to the sofa and the watching movies and eating pizza all day.
August 15 is the day commemorating the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, when many believe that Jesus’ mother at the end of her life physically rose to heaven. Jocotenango, small town just 20 minutes walk from Antigua, holds annually a fÃªte to celebrate this religious festival and so we went along to see what it was all about.
And to be honest, it was just like Honley carnival from when I was growing up in Yorkshire.
We arrived in Antigua Guatemala on Friday night, having moved here for my freelance travel writing work, and spent the weekend wandering around in awe of this beautiful city.
Once the capital of Spanish Guatemala, it was ravaged so many times by earthquakes that after the 1773 biggie the colonial government ordered everyone to abandon Antigua and move to Guatemala City. It is our good fortune that many inhabitants ignored the decrees and began to rebuild the city into what was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979.
We also had spent a day sipping fresh fruit cocktails and eating seafood on the beach in Puerto Lopez. This working beach-town has definitely not been spoilt by tourism. The only travellers here are backpackers, happy to stay in very basic hostels, ignore the rubbish on the streets and eat at plastic tables, knowing that as soon as a swanky resort hotel is built all the authenticity will disappear. And you can’t get it back.
Having decided it costs far too much money to get to the GÃ¡lapagos Islands and do a tour ($1000), it was well worth the $55 for the boat trip to Isla de la Plata to see humpback whales, blue and red footed boobies, red-billed frigatas and turtles .
We were watching a news report last week about allegations that President Rafael Correa’s administration has not been as open and squeaky as it should have. After trying to distance him self from his corrupt brother, video evidence of a FARC leader claiming to have donated money to Correa’s 2006 election fund has been shown on Colombian TV.
Manuel Zelaya may be getting closer to returning to his country, where he was ousted as leader of the Honduran Government last month. Things are not going too well, with clashes between the military and Zelaya’s supporters and talks to try and resolve the crisis having collapsed two weeks ago. We wait to see if his ‘moral obligation’ to return can defy the threats of arrest, made by Honduran officials, if he crosses the border from Nicaragua.
Known as Mass of Fire in Quechua and depicted in many Tigua paintings due its cultural significance, Cotopaxi holds a special place in the heart of most serranos (Ecuadorians from the sierra). And after having just gazed at the peak of Cotopaxi for almost 3 months from the comfort of my terrace, it was truly life-reaffirming to be tearing up the flanks of Ecuador’s second highest volcano at 5789m above sea level (19,347 ft), last eruption in 1940.
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