Sunday, November 11, 2018

Even More Beautiful Lake Atitlan and BIGGER Kites

One thing that I haven't had a chance to do here in Guatemala yet is go to see the giant kites of Sumpango. It happens every year on November 1st, which is unfortunately the day after Halloween and a day on which I'm usually recovering from partying the night before! This year was no different so I didn't go to Sumpango. From Panajachel, we'd have to go to Antigua and stay overnight to get up at 4am to go to Sumpango before the crowds hit. I've heard that it's so busy that if you don't get there super early, you'll never get in.
Here is some amazing drone footage shot by Slowly Anywhere at this year's giant kite festival! Sumpango Kite Festival 2018
Anyway, I was thrilled to see on Facebook that some of the giant kites were going to come to Lake Atitlan this year! I had thought that all the kites were burned ritualistically after the Day of the Dead, but I guess I was wrong. So Amazing Iva and I went on an adventure! 😊

Step One: catch some sort of transportation up to San Andrés Semetabaj
We got in a colectivo (minibus) and paid Q3.50 to go up to San Andrés. The driver said we could catch a tuc-tuc from there to the festival and it would cost us Q15 each. That's expensive! There was a Guatemalteca girl on the shuttle who spoke a bit of English. She found us a fleta driver (pickup truck) who would take the three of us for Q35. Bargain! He warned us there was lots of polvo -- dust. Well, he wasn't kidding!
Our Guatemalan friend, Iva's legs, and my hand... in the back of a pickup on the dustiest road EVER!
Our first look at the lake and field.
We arrived, dusty and laughing, and took a quick glance at this giant dirt field and some weird contraptions in the distance. Then we said, "We're hungry. Let's go eat!"

The smell of food cooking was so enticing! Look at this awesome BBQ!
We decided to try a bit of something new, plus a bit of something usual. We ordered an arepas rellenas de pollo y queso, a Venezuelan sandwich of chicken and cheese. Turns out it was freaking DELICIOUS! I wish we had gotten more! We also got BBQ (churrasco) which was also delish. (Plus I got to share my bones with a doggie.) The sandwich was Q30 and BBQ plate was Q20.
A peek at the chicken salad sandwich to the left, and my plate of BBQ chicken, coleslaw, beans, potato, onions, and tortillas, of course!
For those who want to learn more about the arepas, click HERE for a video and recipe. So yummy!

After food, we immediately headed back to see the kites!

Amazing view of volcanoes at Lake Atitlan.
My adventure partner! That's as close to the cliff edge that we got. That's Panajachel down there! I can see my house!
This is also where paragliders take off over the lake.
Could you run off this cliff?
Sharing the view with friends near and far.
What a view. Even bluer in real life.
Selfie! Kinda windy up there. Plus I got sunburned. 😊
My camera doesn't do panaramas, but this is close.
On to the kites, and a bit of the view of the hills behind.
This poor kite must have collapsed earlier in the day. You can see the snapped bamboo. All the kite dudes were resting in the shade.
This kite frame was HUGE. But also torn apart by high winds.
Last picture in this blog, you can see the top of this kite from down in Pana.
This kite flying was actually pretty big, like I'd say 3 meters across. There were five or six guys with thick gloves holding the line.
Kite guy climbing a pole to fix some pullies. Quite impressive! Also safe. (Ha!)
Iva and I were standing really close to this giant kite and we figured they were going to try to raise it soon. We kept starting videos, then stopping, cuz the kite guys would give up. There are multiple short videos on my YouTube channel of half attempts. We finally got a bit bored and decided to walk up the hill, and that's when they finally raised it. And then 3 seconds after I stopped filming, it collapsed! 😖 The announcer said, "A round of applause for the strong young people!"

The big kite collapsing!! Iva got it on video.
All the kies were super pretty, especially with the light shining through.
Another big kite with interesting details.
After we had seen all the kites, had a small sideshow adventure with a young boy making me a granizada (slushie), ate some chocolate wrapped in beet leaves, and perused the craft tables, we decided to head home. We went to the exit and asked the lined-up tuc-tuc drivers, How much? They all paused. They were trying to calculate how much to rip off the white girls!! Then one said Q15 a person. The next said Q10. SOLD! We got in his tuc-tuc and it CRAWLED painfully up the dusty hill. He literally had to track back and forth across the slope to get up it! Then his tuc-tuc stalled! Ha ha! We did finally make it to town and Iva gave him an extra tip. 😇

Waited a bit by the side of the road in some tiny town, then caught a colectivo back down the hill to Pana. I had to ride backwards, which made me ill. We paid Q5 to go down the hill. (Uphill was Q3.50) It never ends, the greediness. I swear. *sigh* To travel 15 minutes up a hill and 5 more minutes to the site, then back again, cost us each Q30. For comparison, the chicken bus from Pana to Xela and back, two hours each way, is only Q40. Sheesh!

Walking home from the market to my house in Pana, I could see the top of that big kite waaaaay up on the hill.
All in all, it was a jaw-dropping kinda day. I'm really glad we went! It was a nice taste of a Guatemalan tradition without a long trip to Antigua and huge crowds. 👍

P.S. The absolute BEST part of my day? Bert cleaned the house while I was out! 😍

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Beautiful Lake Atitlan and Kites

"Bert" and I still sometimes stop and look around and go, "We live in Guatemala. Whoa." 😲

View from the center of the tuc-tuc bridge, looking down the San Franciso River towards Lake Atitlan.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Trying Black Sausage

So it's Day of the Dead time of year here in Guatemala, Día de Todos Los Santos and Día de Los Muertos, and that means FIAMBRE!! Fiambre is a traditional dish served at this time and is basically a big platter of cold meats and stuff. So the grocery stores get all these new types of sausages and processed meats and things in, and a lady sets up at the back of the Despensa to dole out tasty foods by the pound. I wish I could afford to buy some fiambre but it's like Q80 for a half pound or something. It looks delish! Like a cold cut platter with veggies and mystery stuff. 😆

I decided to buy a special sausage not found very often. It is chorizo negro. (Spanish pronunciation: cho-REE-soh NEH-gro, not cho-ree-zoh nee-gro, by the way.). You guys might recognize chorizo as a spicy sausage, normally found in Canada and the U.S. as more dried and cured like a Pepperette. Here chorizo is very common and seems to refer to the type of spices included in the sausage. It's fat and moist and round and we ate it a LOT until we got kinda sick of it. The only other regularly available sausage is longaniza (LONG-gah-nee-sah), which is milder and whiter.

"Bert" was apprehensive. He said, "What's in it that makes it black?" Turns out, it's just food coloring!

As with all sausages and hot dogs in Guatemala, remove the casing! They're not edible. They're actually plastic.

Something a little disconcerting about eating food that's GREY. 
Here's my opinion of chorizo negro. It's GOOD! Are you surprised? Ha ha! It is very weird to eat something that's black or grey, but it smelled delicious right out of the package. It's precooked and ready to eat (listo para consumir), so I ate a slice of it cold. Flavorful and spicy! Bert then fried some up in a pan and we ate them on buns, like a sausage dog, with mustard. They had a nice cumin taste and other miscellaneous spices. I really enjoyed them. I will buy them again, for sure!

So here's the wisdom from this: don't be afraid to try new stuff. It could be awesome. 😊

P.S. If you've been wondering where we've been, we've been busy designing T-shirts. What?? Yes, t-shirts! It's our new side hustle. You can check out some of our designs here on Redbubble and some more here on Amazon. Redbubble ships worldwide; Amazon is only for the States.