I left Xela around 8AM, taking a taxi to the Alamo bus terminal and ,putting my guitar and backpack below, I had a nice trip to Chimaltenango, where I had to step off, as the bus was going on to Guatemala City and I was going to Antigua. I was hungry and tired so I found a comedor quite near the turnoff, and had a thin piece of steak and tortillas, beans etc. A couple of young men, already drunk, sat down nearby and started talking to me about where I´m from etc. After my meal they convinced me to play a couple of songs, and I have to say I´ve never had a more enthusiastic response, singing along offkey and everything. “You´re Fantastic! Uno mas por favor!” I didn´t think they would be happy with one more, so I slid out as quickly as I could and heaved my luggage a block to where a “chicken bus” was waiting. They heaved my backpack on the roof, hopefully secured it in place, and I climbed in the back door with my guitar in front of my seat. It was a not unpleasant bumpy, half hour or so to Antigua, where I descended into one of the most busiest chicken bus centrals I´ve seen.
I struggled with my luggage to the address of Jungle Party Hostel, recommended my Lonely Planet, and it was everything they said it would be. It would have been a perfect place for me twenty years ago, but I felt too old to hang with the crowd, who enjoyed a great happy hour listening to reggae music and cool rap until late in the evening, long after I was asleep. I shared a dorm room with some Australian surfers who were heading to El Salvador for what is reputed to be the best waves in Central America. I wasn´t thrilled with my lodgings, even though it was only around $6 a nite including a decent breakfast, so I was happy to meet Lhena through Couchsurfing, who offered me a place to stay at her home.
Unfortunately Lhena lives a long uphill twenty-minute walk from the center of town, so it wasn´t the best arrangement. Her house is located near a beautiful park where I enjoyed my morning Qi Gong exercises under the pines, just a few yards away from these beautiful Spanish ruins:
I hit all the restaurants I had a line on that I could find, and I got a gig Saturday night at Rainbow Cafe, which coincidentally happened to be the same restaurant I had visited 15 years ago, and which I had been thinking about playing at for several years now. Sometimes things are very interesting in that way. Had a good show, got paid, and got a very good plate of food to boot. Might be playing there again when I return in February next year. Late at night I had to take a taxi back to Lhena´s, so that cost a bit. Next day I moved to a new hostel just a block from the Plaza, and though it is a dorm, so far I don´t have to share it. Got a great weekly rate, around $4 a nite, so I´ll be in Antigua until next Sunday.