Originally, the plan was for Monterrico to be the last stop and then head back to the U.S. from Guatemala City the next day, but as always is the fortunate case when you know people who know people where you’re traveling, we went out on Saturday night in nearby Antigua with one of Claudia’s friends.
Even though we arrived in Antigua during the evening hours, it was still very clear that Antigua was the city retreat from Guatemala City that is quite similar to the relationship of Arequipa and Puno for me in Perú. Antigua offers the foreign traveler cobblestone streets, spacious public squares, cosmopolitan restaurants and a lively nightlife scene.
We started the evening off with a lovely Mediterranean dinner at a restaurant whose name escapes me at the moment. The cheese and meat platter at the beginning was delicious enough and then for my main, I finally tried hand-made fettucine with squid ink for the first time, which is bizarre itself. When it comes to Central and South American countries, I always recount the majority of my food experiences being that of the current country I’m in, not international cuisine. But I digress, it was all a lovely meal aside from the overcooked shrimp which I failed to bring to anyone’s attention because I was starving and didn’t want to deal with the hubbub of getting a new order.
After dinner, we headed to a nearby bar that was a neverending maze of multiple drinking rooms and proceeded to properly celebrate the last night the three of us would have together in Guatemala. I started to feel super nostalgic about my backpacking days last year when we mixed it up with a couple of other backpackers, exchanging tales of long haul bus rides and shifty border crossings. For me, it was the perfect motivator to commence another year of backpacking through lands unknown.
I left Guatemala the next day with the same feeling that I left Argentina in September 2012 – that although I was fortunate to experience a wide range of culture and environment, there was still a lot more I needed to see and of course I would come back to Guatemala and to Central America. A peculiar thing that Vanessa asked me during the trip was if there was any place I would return to and I immediately thought all of them because of all the travel lessons I’ve learned, one is that there are three things that will shape the experience you have in any given destination – time, your life experiences and the company you’re with. All three of these elements are always changing in relation to each other and all have an impact on what your specific experience is in a specific place. So here’s to continuing onward with the journey!