Thursday, February 17, 2011

La Ciudad de Guatemala

After yesterday's rocky start the sun came out this morning and things looked pretty good again.  I didn't see any flying pedestrians although I caught some kids smoking weed on La Sexta with both PNC and city police close at hand.  Am I the only one who can smell that?  Had a wonderful breakfast at a local chain called Los Cebollines (the scallions or something to that effect).  Don't know why but it seems like all the local chain eateries play US pop tunes in english for background music.  I got my pot of coffee, pan tostada, and fresh fruit with granola and yogurt, and then the muzak hits me with "I touch myself".  What's up with that?  Way too early!

Did the downtown museums today and put a few miles on the sneaks.  Tried to hit the Presidential Palace but was turned away till after lunch and never made it back.  It is a huge green edifice befitting the nastiest military strongman replete with the mandatory balcony for reviewing the troops.  No president has lived in it since the 90's but they did entertain dubya there when he visited in 2007.

A few blocks down the street is the National Museum.  I paid 50q. (about $6.50) and had a private tour guide who tried her hardest to speak slowly and in simple language so I could follow along (asi que esta hablando con un nino, por favor).  It's not a must see but I did learn a lot of Guatemalan history that I was not aware of before.  Really liked the part about the deposed leader's head being on display in the central plaza for three days after it parted company with the rest of him complete with artist's rendition.

Los pies carried me fifteen or twenty blocks south to the Museo de Ferrocarril.  Lots of old trains and railcars on display along with the history of rail in Guatemala.  Spoke with some former gringos there who have been saving souls up in Chiapas, MX for the last twenty years and were in Guate to pick up a visiting pastor.  So many souls. so little time.

La Sexta (sixth avenue) is a pretty cool pedestrian mall that runs for a dozen or so blocks south of the central plaza.  There are both PNC; scary quasi-military guys in four door trucks with lots of big guns, and cute friendly local police on scooters patrolling it but they still roll up the sidewalks between 7:00 and 8:00.  In the more modern gringo-friendly part of town things go on till one but all the old stuff downtown makes it a must see for me.

 Presidential Palace anchoring one side of the central plaza

 El Correo's front entrance, I'm sure if Pam shows this to her landlord he'll want to do something similar

The mailman doesn't like to fight traffic so he has this nice pasarela above the fray

Lots of good looking stuff happening downtown through an initiative to revitalize el centro

Crutch supporting tree shading lovely alcove suitable for reading while doing laundry in one Hotel Spring courtyard

Born in Philly retired in GT
Ceasar didn't plan ahead and still has to work as an ex-pat (Pam recently wondered why he wasn't stateside)

One tough rooster when it comes to fighting dirt

I'm staying at the Hotel Spring, two blocks off La Sexta.  It's very colonial with at least three interior courtyards and fifty or so rooms.  My $23/nite single has wi-fi, cable, hot water, and is a very doable walk from all of el centro.  Sin cable is $18.  Tomorrow it's a double decker bus to Puerto Barrios and then on to Livingston and the garifuna part of GT.

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