I have nine - arms, feet, legs, hands, count them - NINE mosquito and other assorted flying/biting insect bites. Today is Malaria Pill Day (and, coincidentally, Memorial Day), and I´m almost excited to swallow that big, pink, acne-inducing pill.
The overnight bus to Guatemala City was uber-sketchy. While it was comfortable and air-conditioned, the driver kept stopping at these random checkpoints and then either leaving the bus idling as he had a cigarette, or honking the horn and having these random guys run out of the bushes and put mysterious sacks in the bottom of the bus. Boys and girls, this is how we smuggle illegal substances through Guatemala.
We got into Guatemala City around 6AM and this crazy van driver drove our group the 45 minutes to Antigua ('It´s necessary for him to take every turn that way,' Mark quipped as the van´s brakes squealed around yet another hairpin turn). We all passed out for another few hours, and then I met up with Hannah and Ebony for lunch and shopping.... I´ve purchased all of Antigua. At one point I made Brandi run with me back to the hotel so neither one of us would be sucked into buying yet another pair of earrings or beaded purse.
Antigua is a great little city. The streets are all cobblestone, the buildings are low and colorful, and beyond everything looms the three surrounding volcanoes, swallowed in mist and clouds. It´s so much cooler here - such a relief from Tikal the other day. There are markets everywhere, and also, tourists. Mark, Brandi and I are a little embarrassed by a lot of the American tourists - no matter the age, old and young alike, they are loud, obnoxious, refuse to try to speak any Spanish and get annoyed when shopkeepers don´t understand English... not all of them, but quite a few. Personally, I love that I´m understanding so much Spanish and am able to conduct transactions in Spanish. I feel like I get better and faster service... and Americans are always complaining about people coming to the U.S. who don´t understand English, so I´d rather not be a hypocrite.
Anyway, we had a crazy night last night. Despite the fact that it's 'winter' in this area, the bars are still pretty full. We had a nice dinner last night as a group, then most of us went out to a salsa bar called La Sala ('the living room'). Belinda made a few American friends - Joe and J.D., two medical students from Nebraska - so when the bar closed at 1AM, those three, me, Mel, Andrew, Katherine, Nadia, and Scott all went to the 'after hours' bar - literally, a barred window that looks out onto the street from which beer is sold. The streets were quiet, except for us and a surprising number of policemen. Our group walked back to the hotel together, Katherine and Mel went to bed, and we all hung out in my room until 3:30AM (when I got too tired and kicked them all out!). The hotel staff kept shushing us....
So Murphy´s Law - I couldn´t sleep this morning, so I went to this store where you can make international calls and tried to change my flight so I could stay another day, since almost everyone else is. That was way too expensive to do, though, so now I´m in a cute little cafe typing this and thinking about sitting in the park for a few minutes... or taking a nap. We are hiking up the volcano this afternoon... and then I´m not sure what´s on tap for our last night. I´m not sure we can handle another like the last one!
Everyone´s really awesome, despite all of the hassles of this trip. I kind of wish I could take them all back to New York with me... but my aparment´s too small. A few of them have plans to be in New York in the next year (Hannah, Nadia, Scott, Mark, Brandi), so hopefully we will get to meet up again! I really should do a tour of Australia, now that I know so many people there.
Oh, almost forgot, those funny Ozzies and their slang: I overheard Andrew telling someone, 'oy, Jaime, she´s cool as,' and all I could think was, cool as what? 'Cool as.' Fill in the blank.