We always want our visitors to have a real cultural experience outside of the US - so rather than take plush transports to and from our destinations, we opted to ride on chicken busses with Rick.
These beauties are out of commission school busses from the United States, that are painted all sorts of amazing color, with added chrome accents, semi-truck horns, and sometimes they even take the seats and put them closer together to fit more in (as if school busses had extra leg room to start with). They are pretty much a glorious part of traveling through Guatemala.
We went from Antigua to Chichicastenango, which is famous for its Thursday markets. We were super excited to see it, but we were not prepared for the death ride to get there. Chichi is in the mountains (well everything in western Guatemala is in the mountains) and the roads are ridiculously windy to get there. The driver was really in a hurry to get there, so he was taking the corners at top speed, and of course, we were nice and snug in our elementary sized bus seats.
Once we got to our destination, we set out to find our hostel... a ridiculously cheap hostel recommended in our Central America on a Shoestring book. It was only $3 or $4 a night, so we thought it would be perfect! Well, as soon as we got into the hostel, Rick started to panic. I don't think he had ever seen a hotel/hostel that run down before. It was clean enough, and the roof had a great view of the colorful cemetery, but compared to our last hostel, this one was a hole in the wall. Luckily though, we left to find dinner and had some amazing pupusas that made everything seem better.
The next day we set out to find a fun place to eat. We ended up in a second story restaurant/coffee shop that had some amazing food. I got toast (made from home made bread) and fruit, Caitlin had french toast and fruit, and Rick got a traditional breakfast of eggs, fried plantains, beans, tortillas, and fruit. We all shared, and everything was delicious.
The best part of the restaurant though, was actually the view of the market. This is the outside of the market, but imagine this for dozens of blocks - and at the center, there are no buildings to help keep things orderly - we must have wandered through the same isles at least 3 times, but we never really knew where we had been or where we were going. There are so many bright colors and fun things to see, you never really get bored. Rick bought a few souvenirs, and Caitlin bought a post card - but we really left the shopping to Rick.
We spent a few hours shopping for souvenirs, bartering, and gawking at local life - but finally we decided we were ready to head back home. So we boarded another chicken bus and made our way to Lake Atitlan. Where we continued to have adventures with Rick Roper.