Antigua Guatemala: Muchos Gringos

First when we got to the boat dock a local dude that new really good english tried to scam me and a french woman I'd met who was going my way. He told us we had missed the boat and the next one wouldn't be for another hour and a half, but if we wanted to pay an extra 6 Quetzals a little motorboat could speed us over so that we could still catch the bus. We thought about it and decided we werent in a hurry, but then the regularly scheduled boat that he told us had left early started filling up with locals and we knew he'd been screwing with us. This was pretty interesting, and made me realise that kind of thing probably happens all the time but even if the gringos notice, they dont care much, because the difference is like one dollar or something.

Anyway, then we caught a bus, and then I said goodbye to Eugenie to switch buses. She was going a different way, east into El Salvador. She is French, and was in the process of going from the Yucatan, where she'd been working for 9 months, to Costa Rica, where she wants to get a job and live. I had met her the night before and the 2 of us and this guy from Denmark hung out quite a bit. She's one of those rare ultra interesting people you meet when you're travelling. I've been thinking about how when you're travelling you meet other travellers and because of the nature of budget, backpacker-style travelling, just about everyone is at least somewhat more interesting than the average person you'd meet back home, just because in order to be the kind of person to take the risks and the discomforts and unpredictability of this kind of travel, you have to be somewhat unusual.

And so if you're lonely, which you usually are, you think, cool, another cool person who is from some other place... and sometimes they are really really cool. but lots of times they are a wide range of types that vary from relatively normal, to fratboyish, to dorky, to freakish to... well, you get the idea.

Anyway, I jumped onto a few more buses and eventually got here. each time i was worried about my large pack, which had to be stored up on top of the bus. I crossed my fingers that no one would steal it or slash it or something, but everything worked out.

I'm skimming over things cuz I don't want to spen a lot of time here.

But let me just briefly describe Antigua: it's a beautiful and pleasant little city. It used to be the capital till an earthquake demolished it, but it still has lots of wonderful old colonial architecture. It reminds me a lot of Cochabamba, especially the Parque Central, or what they'd call in Bolivia the Plaza Principal, or in Mexico the Zocalo. The big difference from Cochabamba is that there are way more white folks here. This place is crawling with gringos - i use gringo in the larger sense of foreigner, not just U.S. citizens. There are foreigners from all over, mostly here to study espanol. Antigua is the foremost town to do that in, and you can tell that from the businesses that have sprung up to serve that demographic. It's kind of disturbing, actually. I feel like a typical north american collage campus has been sort of pasted down over the city. For instance this morning I stumbled onto a little placed called The Bagel Barn. It might as well have been any typical hipster cafe in Portland or San Francisco. It even had wireless internet.

I'm really glad I'm not staying here to study spanish. I wanted to see it, cuz of the history, but I expected to not like it. I'm here for just 2 nights, and then onto Xela tommorrow, to get situated with my host family and stuff. Then on Monday I get started with classes.

In other news, I am still sick, but a different sort of sick that is new and strange. For the last few days I have had this growing and ebbing wierd tingling in all my extremities, and a slight dizziness, and just a feeling of extreme fatigue and weakness. But I don't have a fever, that I can tell, or any other symptoms. I can't figure it out. My theory right now so far is that it's a side effect of the malaria pills I've been taking. I don't know, though. It's worrying me. Could someone please google chlorquine phosphate and find out?

Don't worry about me though. When I get to Xela, if I don't get better in a couple days I will see a doctor.

that's it for now. chao.

re: Antigua Guatemala: Muchos Gringos side-effects, which include, well, just about everything. so i would guess that was it. lists side-effects and also talks about what to do if you miss a dosage; which seems a little counter-intuitive to me, so may be worth knowing. this page also lists symptoms you should "call your doctor immediately", but seems a little on the paranoia side, e.g. upset stomach? drowsiness? .... who doesnt get that when traveling?

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