You might remember that our first couple of weeks in Guatemala ended with quite an adventure, and a night camped out on our new friend’s property. We woke up the next morning refreshed and ready to go, but we weren’t out of the woods quite yet! My Family still had to get us, the big truck and our camper out of the mountains, through Guatemala City and into the city of Antigua. It was going to be a long day, but my Grandparents were at the end of it! I love my grandparents (which are called abuelos, in spanish), almost as much as I love treats, so whatever we had to do to get to them I was happy to deal with.
We said goodbye to our friend Ariel and headed off for Guatemala City, the biggest city in the country. Ariel had mentioned to us the night before that there was a river up ahead we would have to cross, and that the bridge had been washed away in a storm two years ago. My Family had already crossed a bunch of rivers during the Big Adventure, so no one was too concerned. When we pulled up at the edge of this particular river, however, my ears perked up in a hurry. It was HUGE! The drive to get to this point had been anything but easy. We had driven on gravel and dirt, found a way around a washed out road, crossed mountains and almost set our brakes on fire. There was no way we could go all the way back. The only thing to do was to cross it. Luckily, this is a pretty normal thing in Guatemala.
Jason spoke to a nice lady standing by the river, who pointed out a man whose job it was to help you get across. He spends all day navigating cars across the river for 20 Quetzales (that’s Guatemalan money). Before I knew it we were descending a steep slope and splashing out into the river in our truck. The man told us to turn down the river, and suddenly we were driving right down it. I could tell Jason was pretty nervous, but Victoria was enjoying it enough to snap a bunch of photos. I didn’t like being in the middle of the water one bit, but the whole thing was over super quick. We drove up the far shore, thanked the man and were back on our way.
The rest of the drive into Guatemala City was pretty uneventful even though the roads were absolutely crazy. Thin dirt trails through the jungle, rocky roads passing by Mayan villages, and nothing but huge hills all the way there. I tried to snooze as much as I could, even though I was pretty excited about the visit. The first thing I noticed was the change in smells. To this point, Guatemala had smelled like farms, horses, chickens, other dogs, and a few people here and there. As we got closer to Guatemala City, I smelled something I hadn’t smelled in a very long time: smog. And there were people everywhere! Guatemala City is big, noisy, colorful and packed with people. It was a bit overwhelming for me, and I noticed that Jason wasn’t particularly happy with the fact that there didn’t seem to be anything resembling lanes on the big highways. We took it all in stride, and soon pulled into the parking lot of what seemed like an office building. What was this all about? Jason went inside, and soon came back with a big cardboard box. It was packed with Christmas presents from Victoria’s parents, and some of them were for me! Apparently, this was something My Family was supposed to receive way back in Mexico, but it had just reached us here. Delay or not, I was super happy to have some new bones and toys to chew on.
I discovered that picking up this box was the only reason we went to Guatemala City. From there, it was a straight trip into Antigua. My Family was pretty excited to see this town, and once we got there I could tell why. It was so beautiful! Surrounded by volcanoes and set in a big valley, Antigua is what is known as a colonial city. That means there were some really old people, a long time ago, who built the whole place, and it basically looks the same as when they were walking around. I’m not too sure how this whole time thing works, so you’re going to have to ask My Family if you want some more details.
We bounced along the cobblestone streets and soon stopped in front of a hotel. Not only were we going to have visitors, but we were going to stay in a hotel! I had barely had a chance to jump all over the bed in our new, temporary home, when My Grandparents showed up! Okay, so they’re not my blood grandparents. Lorna and David Palmer are Victoria’s parents, but I think they love me as if I was their own, real, non-adopted granddoggy. And I love them the same way. From the moment I smelled them my tail started wagging, and I don’t think it stopped the entire eight days we spent together!
Before I tell you all about the fun we had, I should say that the hotel was pretty sweet too. Lorna and David treated us to a little over a week in the hotel which meant we didn’t sleep in the camper and we got to stay in the same place as them! The people who run the hotel were more than happy to have me there with My Family. The inside was so pretty with flowers to sniff and a nice breeze and… our room had two floors! That means I got to run up and down the stairs, jump on the couch, and generally stretch out in ways I never get to in the camper. It was super fun.
Even more fun was exploring Antigua with My Family. My grandparents love going for walks, and they LOVE taking me with them. I was more than happy to wander beside them, taking in all the sights and smells of this pretty city. All the streets are cobblestone, which isn’t particularly fun to walk on, but I got to go almost everywhere. There were huge buses, covered in paint, lights, horns and chrome, and people lean out of them yelling “Guate, Guate, Guate!!” all through the day. There were parades, fireworks, and music almost all the time. There were parks, churches, shops and restaurants to explore, and I think we checked them all out. I didn’t get to go out with My Family all the time, though. One night they went to a bar to see something called The Super Bowl. I was picturing my food bowls, but bigger than me, and filled to the brim with grilled chicken covered in melted cheese. I guess the Super Bowl wasn’t anything as cool as that, because My Family seemed kinda disappointed when they got home.
The next few days were pretty much a mix of one fun thing after the next. We walked all over the place, stopped for lunch at all sorts of restaurants and snuggled up at the hotel. I basically spent the whole time jumping from one lap to the next. I think my favorite is Lorna’s, but don’t tell David that!
A few days later My Family packed our things and we got into a car. It wasn’t the big truck though, it was a ‘rental’. I guess that means it’s not ours forever and David drives it instead of Jason. We were driving out to spend the night at a place called Lake Atitlan, but our day’s adventure was almost over before it started. We ended up stuck in a huge traffic jam, the biggest one I think I’ve ever seen. David asked some of the people hanging out at the side of the road (he really likes speaking Spanish), and found out the road was blocked by something called a ‘protest’. That’s what happens when people are angry about stuff. I protest all the time, but no one pays any attention. Anyway, we spent more than three whole hours stuck in the same place! People were walking up and down the street, selling food, playing music, throwing frisbees and basically looking for any way they could possibly pass the time. Eventually the protesters decided to go home, maybe to take a nap or something, and we finally got to keep going. We stopped for a yummy lunch, drove down a HUGE mountain, and made it to Lake Atitlan.
The lake is surrounded by three volcanoes and a bunch of little villages. The one we were heading for was called Panajachel. It felt a little bit like Venice, with its bars, street vendors and general craziness. We stayed at a Bed & Breakfast that was really pretty, with a huge garden and several other nice dogs to play with. Jason settled in to get some work done, while Victoria, Lorna, David and I went out for a nice, long walk.
After the walk things took a turn for the worse. My Family went out for dinner, and I got left behind. I don’t know what My Family was thinking, but they zipped me up in my travel bed. Now don’t get me wrong, I actually kind of like my travel bed. It’s soft and cozy, and just the right size for me. But something about this Bed & Breakfast just rubbed me the wrong way. There were strange smells, and the other dogs kept messing with our door. They weren’t as nice as I thought. I couldn’t help but make some noise, but apparently this wasn’t allowed. Before I knew it the owner of the Bed & Breakfast came into our room and took me out of there! She carried me into a thing called a yurt, and expected me to play nice with her dogs. Look, I may have made some noise, but I certainly DID NOT want to leave my cozy bed for some weird yurt thing. And I sure didn’t want to play with some strange dogs. I was more than a little relieved when Victoria and Jason came home and rescued me from this strange situation. They couldn’t believe that someone had come and taken me away, and it seems like they were pretty scared when they came home and I wasn’t there. When we snuggled up in bed I was more than a little bit relieved to be ending the night safe and sound with My Family!
The next day we got up early, checked out of that strange place and went down to the dock. We were getting on a boat! Sure, I thought the lake was pretty, but only from far away. You better believe I didn’t want to get stuck out in the middle of it! That’s exactly what My Family wanted, though. We spent almost the whole day taking a boat from one place to another, with some breaks for walking around all the cute little towns. Each time we got out to walk around I thought I was safe from the water, only to find we were getting right back on the boat again! I loved all the time with my grandparents, but after a while I was feeling a bit woozy. Just when I thought I couldn’t take it any more we came back to Panajachel and ended our boat trip. My Family was so happy; they really loved it. I’ll never understand humans.
We drove back to Antigua and spent a couple more days having fun with my grandparents. We walked up to the top of a big hill where we could look out over the whole city one day and drove up to a very pretty place called the Earth Lodge one another day. Finally, it was time for Lorna and David to go home. I surely didn’t want them to go, but I didn’t really have a vote. They gave me some final kisses, said goodbye to My Family and drove away. I spent the rest of the day waiting for them to get back but apparently, this was just a visit. I was kind of hoping they were going to stay with us on the rest of the Big Adventure, but yeah, like I said, I didn’t get a vote. We had so much fun, though! I hope more humans come visit us!
Although my grandparents had left, we weren’t leaving Antigua yet. We did check out of the hotel, though, and drive the big truck to a parking lot just a few blocks away. The police live there, and it seems they let some traveling families stay with them when they are visiting Guatemala. We set up camp in a nice sunny spot and took some time to settle back into camping life.
I didn’t lift a paw, but My Family took some time to clean the camper from top to bottom. We hadn’t been in it for a while, and it had needed a cleaning since the time we got all that rain. Jason wasn’t too thrilled about the process, but Victoria seemed to enjoy it. We spent about a week camping with the nice police (I found out later they were police people who were only there to help the tourists – what a cool job!), met a couple of other campers, and did a bunch more walking around Antigua. At one point we packed up the camper and took it into a garage to get our brakes looked at. Jason wanted to make sure everything was okay after our experience trying to get into Guatemala City. It took almost a whole day, but everything worked out great.
On our last day in Antigua, Victoria noticed an ambulance with New York City license plates parked on the street. She got super excited, thinking these must be other adventurers. And they were! The ambulance belonged to Team Last Responders, a group of super cool people who were driving to South America to donate the ambulance and some medical supplies to people who need them really badly. You should check out their story – it’s pretty neat.
When we packed up to leave Antigua, I couldn’t imagine where we could go that would top this. It’s a beautiful city with super nice people, and we had spent half of our time there with my grandparents! What could be better than that? My heart sunk a little when I heard where we were heading next: San Pedro La Laguna. That’s one of the small towns we visited on Lake Atitlan so that meant we were going back to the lake!. If they expect me to get back on a boat again…
PS: To see some of the photos My Family took click here!