Friday, February 21, 2014

Shore Leave

After days at sea, eating our way south on our Ship Of Food, we reach our first port today Puerto Quetzal Guatemala.

Our shore excursion for the day was to tour the Filadelfia coffee plantation and the city of Antigua. 
The crew had everyone that was going ashore assemble in the theater. Then they gave us group numbers that we stuck on our blouses. When the crew was sure all the busses were ready, they led us down to the forbidden deck 4, and off the ship we went to a waiting bus.

Our tour guide Abraham met us and loaded us on his bus. He was so anxious to have his bus full of tourists that he forgot to save himself a seat. He really didn’t need a seat anyway because as soon as we got under way he grabbed the busses microphone and with the volume turned up LOUD he started to belt our fairly good renditions of popular songs.

Honest Abe Our Guide For The Day

He would also interject things aboot the coffee plantation, and his country. All in all the bus ride was good. The divided highway was paved, and lined with trash.  The bus was air-conditioned, and our guide’s voice kind of grew on you even though the volume was too LOUD.
The Filadelfia coffee plantation is portioned off into organic and not organic, and grows its coffee under shade trees. The coffee trees we got to see were several years old. Some had white blossoms, and green or riper red beans. The pickers were working back in the rows. I had hoped to be able to get some shots, but we did not get to see the pickers in action

Filadelfia Coffee Plantation

Like most tours ours ended at the gift shop, where we were treated to fresh brewed coffee. It was very nice.
Back on the bus we motored to the town of Antigua. Our driver skillfully maneuvered his huge vehicle down narrow cobblestone streets. Pedestrians, motor scooters, and small vehicles, all in fear of being crushed, gave us a wide berth.


Almost as soon as our feet touched the ground street vendors were on us like flies on…They were on us…

Antigua Street Vendo

We had a delightful lunch in the local hotel, and then were lead to shops, so we could contribute to the local economy.
Most of the houses we saw in Antiqua and along the road were gated compounds complete with razor wire and glass shards along the tops of the walls.  When I asked our guide If there was a lot of crime he would only say the wires and glass were for protection.

Street Vendors Lunch Break

Back on the bus Abe sang opera sonnets. We pleaded with him to turn down the volume, which he finally did. We drove through rain and fog on our way back to the ship. The bus got cold, and we requested heat. Abe was tired by now and he turned up the heat then sat on the floor next to the driver. When he got up kilometers later we sang We are too hot, turn on the air conditioner. He did, and we were soon back to the ship, that looked larger than when we left her in the morning.
Our trip ashore gave us a snap shot of Guatemala, a peek at daily life in Central America. It’s on to Costa Rica for another snapshot of life..

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