Ciudad Vieja

With all the volcano eruptions, earthquakes and dead animals on the side of the road, how could we not enjoy our time in Ciudad Vieja, the “Old City”. The place was founded in 1527 and abandoned in 1541 due to a lahar, or volcanic landslide.The Old City is located about 15 minutes southwest of Antigua. The locals were friendly and welcoming to the only two gringos in town. 


Jim Saves the Day, Twice!

When we first arrived at our place and after I unpacked I joined Jim in the backyard for a drink. As I shut the slider, I heard a click. Jim didn’t need to say a word, I could tell by the look on his face, “honey the slider locks when you shut it.” SHIT. I did it again!  I locked us out in a “PRISON” backyard.  How is one to know that a slider automatically locks and why would you have that kind in a backyard like this? We both immediately go into our modes….. I sit down and start to cry and shout out crazy ideas…….Jim stays calm and summons his inner “MacGyver” and once again saves the day. From that point on we left one of the sliders cracked and I am embarrassed to say it happened a few more times.  

The second time, more importantly than being locked out, was the day we ventured into Antigua to scope out the markets and grocery stores for our upcoming stay here.  Whenever we walk through narrow outdoor markets congested with people, dogs, vendors, scooters, cars you have to pay attention for your safety, and since I am easily distracted by pretty much anything, Jim always leads the way in these situations. Obviously he has done a great job in keeping us safe and today I am especially glad he was paying attention. We stopped to check out some stuff and to also get out of the way of the van that was approaching that was being driven by an old man who could barely see over the dash. All of a sudden Jim darted in front of the van, banging his hands on the hood, trying to hold it back and shouting at the driver to stop. I had no idea what was going on until I looked on the other side and there was a mother grabbing her daughter who was inches away from being run over. My heart stopped as I realized what could have just happened. What happened next surprised and impressed me. The mother didn’t yell at the driver, she drug her daughter back across the street and whipped her ass. Jim was already back to haggling with a vendor over prices before I could ask him if he was O.K. 


It took us a few days to realize the loud boom that rattled the windows, a couple times an hour was Volcan de Fuego erupting. We also realized that when we heard that sound and it was a clear evening we could actually see it from our front porch erupting and lava flowing down the mountain. In the evening whenever we would hear it erupt, we’d both run out front. The picture really doesn't do it justice and Jim was beating himself up for not bringing his good camera. It was a scary feeling being that close, but mesmerizing and amazing to watch. Then one night as we were upstairs barely asleep the bed frame started slamming into the wall, banging and banging. This one shook the whole house and lasted longer. Jim shot up and asked if it was me. It took us a second or two to realize what was happening. Jim takes off downstairs and is almost out of the house before he realizes what he’s dressed in, or rather that he’s not. It wasn’t the volcano, it was a 6.2 earthquake located 75 miles from us. Thankfully, no deaths and little damage to the area. We both slept a little uneasy that night, however I noticed Jim took some necessary precautions involving clothes. 

Cerveceria Catorce

About a mile and half from our place was the Cerveceria Catorce brewery. We figured we would walk it. The hill getting there was no joke, but you were then rewarded with cold beers, the view of Fuego, a chill atmosphere with live music and a beautiful set up.  

Chicken Bus

It was pretty cool, clean and cheap to ride the chicken bus into Antigua, about .65 cents per person. We just stood on the side of the highway and waved down the right bus. We both didn’t remember the isles being so small, you literally had to walk sideways and that was still a struggle. As the bus pulled back onto the highway Jim picked the seat with the hump for whatever reason, and we crammed in. On our way home we spent some time searching for the right bus and eventually gave up and took an Uber. ($2.00). The names of destinations were written on the front and ours just wasn’t coming. They use old school buses from the U.S. and I told Jim it would be cool if our school buses were like chicken buses, I think kids would enjoy that. 

Falling Nuts and Shortcuts!

Both Jim and I thoroughly enjoyed Valhalla Organic Macadamia Farm.  A cool story of the owner who is from Redwood City, California. He started the farm in 1979 and opened to the public in 1989.  They had the best deep fried pickles with Macadamia nuts on top and the bathroom was the nicest in all of Latin America as we were told, multiple times. We had an interesting tour of the farm, the process and left with a bag full of yummy goodies. It was a beautiful day so where to next…..the brewery was only an 18 minute walk uphill.

The weather was much nicer and we had fun in a little corn-hole
 competition. As we started to leave Jim suggested we take the shortcut we took last time. It sounded better than the long walk around, however if it's gated, it would be a bitch of a walk back up the hill and all the way back around. Okay why not try.

As we walked closer, I could see the gate was closed and made of wooden poles wrapped in barbed wire and extra barbed wire at the top and bottom, along with a guard carrying a pistol-grip shotgun.  Jim said maybe the guard will open it for us.  As we got up to the gate, the guard walked away from us. Jim looked at me while starting to climb an avocado tree and said, see if you can jump over your side of the fence. Are you crazy….I am not risking my life climbing trees, avoiding razor sharp wires to get into a parking lot patrolled by a guy with a shotgun for a shortcut home. I let that sink in for a moment and when he looked at me I thought he accepted defeat, but instead he said….we can’t go through, we can’t go over…let’s try under. He lifted the gate for me to go under. Not doing it Jim. Hurry, the guard is coming. CRAP!  I get under without any problem. Jim quickly showed me how to hold it so he can go under. As he started to lay down in the dirt prepared to crawl under I lifted with all my might. When I looked down Jim was face down, doing the soldier crawl in the dirt trying to get under a fence that was barely off the ground. I just started laughing and couldn’t stop. I really wanted a picture, but didn’t want to risk Jim getting tetanus. 

Our stay outside of Ciudad Vieja was warm and quiet and a big relief from freezing in Panajachel. The roads were littered with trash and dead animals which was a constant reminder to stay far off the shoulder.  The walks on the road somewhat interfered with the tranquil surroundings and beautiful views of three massive volcanoes, however almost everyone that drove passed gave a great big smile and a wave. It was also a great place to practice Spanish as no one spoke English. 

Prison Backyard

Beautiful night view though!


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