On Thanksgiving we docked in Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala. Although our dock area is used primarily for cargo ships, our arrival was handled well by both a local Pilot who guided us through the narrow harbor entrance, and the dock crew who handled the many passengers who left the ship to tour this part of Guatemala.
We met our guide, Diego, a 23 year old college student, and his driver and driver’s helper (I will explain this later), and once our bus was full, we departed the pier.
I have not been back to Guatemala in nearly 19 years, but I was so happy to see how far the country has progressed. The streets are well paved, the yards of the local people were clean, and most of all, the children looked clean and healthy.
We started our tour by driving towards Colonial Antigua on a four lane divided highway. On the way we could see four very large volcanoes, one of which is still active, and an enormous rock formation, that resembles the face of a Mayan looking to the heavens. U.S. Geologists have determined that this is, in fact, pieces of an asteroid.
We saw several of the more important crops grown there, like sugar cane and coffee, before arriving at the Jade Factory and Museum in Colonial Antigua.
At the factory we were given a short talk on Jade and then wandered through the museum, which led us directly to their gift shop (of course). I learned that I have good taste in Jade, as everything I liked was very expensive! LOL
After that we drove to La Merced Church and Convent (completed in 1767), where we toured the grounds before headed to Casa Santa Domingo, which was formerly a convent (built in 1642, destroyed by an earthquake in 1776). The ruins have been partially restored, the grounds carefully maintained, a museum created, and it is now a luxury hotel.
In this convent/hotel we were served a delicious lunch consisting of chicken, beef, tortilla’s, guacamole, and yes, black beans and rice! For dessert we had flan.
After lunch everyone was allowed to roam around and explore the ruins, but I found myself in a lovely garden with the Macaws. I became totally captivated by this one pair. They were mates, and their love for each other was so sweet that I could not leave the spot.
Macaws mate for life. If one of them dies or if one of them is taken (poached) then they will remain alone for the rest of their lives. There were several Macaw couples in the garden, but also several single Macaws, whose mates were gone from them. Poaching (stealing) of Macaws and other exotic birds is a real problem here in Central America. Now that I have seen these beautiful birds in the wild, I will remember that this is where they should be.
We went to the market place where we went through a maze of shops until I found some gifts for my family and friends. Then it was back to the bus for our trip home.
Now I will explain why it is so important for the drivers to have helpers. In Colonial Antigua the streets are all old cobblestone and very narrow. The “helper” would jump out of the bus and clear the bus around corners or past cars or, if necessary, go knocking on doors to locate the owners of cars which were double parked. The man was invaluable!
Our trip back to the ship was pleasant and once we had arrived, and changed our clothes, we all met in the dining room for dinner. It was Thanksgiving. Turkey was served with sweet potatoes, and stuffing and we had pumpkin pie for desert, but it was still an odd dinner. The International chef just couldn’t quite capture the Yankee Thanksgiving that we have always had. The food was delicious, but just not what I expected.
We arrived in Hualtulco at noon. It has a beautiful inner harbor and our first impression was that this would be a fun place to come and spend a few days. Once the ship was secure, we had a quick lunch and then headed out with Carole and George to explore the dock area.
We found a market area full of souvenirs and a small grocery where I bought some diet coke. Since there wasn’t a lot to do and it was so hot, we all headed back to the ship where we sat on the balcony and enjoyed cold drinks. By 5:30 we were under way again, headed for Acapulco.
Tomorrow, November 24th we will fly to Boston stay overnight and then drive the rest of the way to our home.
Our trip has come to an end.