Antigua, Guatemala is quite a pretty town, filled with the ruins of churches from an earthquake in 1773. Until you realize it's been over 230 years and it hasn't been cleaned up. I realize that they are now historic ruins, but for the first few decades they were just rubble. I'm taking a page from their book, if I wait a few years to fix the broken shed door it will then be ruins (instead of just a lazy by-law violation). I can charge $2 a head to bus loads of Japanese tourists, so they can swing by and take pictures. The pricing stucture for the ruins is kind of baffling, some are $0.15 (less than the cost of using the toilet) others are $7. I couldn't tell the difference in rubble quality.
Our first day in Antigua, we were looking for a hostel recommended by someone we'd met in Belize. I had a map. A small and discrete map, not a large and obvious touristy one with matching tilley hat and fanny pack. Trying to get my bearings, I asked for some help from Susan who helpfully pointed out we were on "Una Via" street. Hopefully you have figured out by now that "Una Via" is spanish for "one way". And you don't have the benefit of having it written on a reflective white arrow, with a black background. One of the joys of having a web page...none of my acts of idiocy make it on here.
The last picture in the first row is of a "circus" being erected. Third world carnies may be the most frightening things I've ever seen.
We also climbed the Pacaya volcano outside Guatemala City. It was one of the coolest things ever. You can go right up to the edge of the crater, which has a little mini peak inside it and another big magma filled chamber. You could throw softball sized rocks right into the magma (it's a boy thing). Sitting on the rocks you get a nice warm ass, from the heat and steam coming up from the ground. It's about the same as sitting on vinyl bus seats in the summer without AC. It turns out I'm also some sort of god with control over volcanos. I can control their eruptions. I could stare through my camera viewfinder for ten minutes waiting for a good eruptions, and the second I lower it. Boom. I try to use my power only for good.
As thrilling as the flying magma and roaring sounds were, it didn't even compare to the 2 hr bus ride back. Within the first five minutes of our descent down the treacherous, snaking, rutted, dirt mountain roads, the one working headlight started to flicker. Then went completely out. Two hours of driving with no headlights on a cloudy rainy night. Nice.
My wonder was slightly diminished, when I picked up the National Geographic waiting for me at home. The photographer in that was wearing a fireproof suit and breathing apparatus right up close. He's so much better than me. Damn It.