Trip to Antigua & Tranmission Pick Up…..

Dear F&F,
February 22-23, 2009

After breakfast onboard, we climbed into Carmina\’s Toyota Yaris (similar to a Corolla) & enjoyed the air conditioned 1 hr drive to Antigua. Guatemala has 36 volcanoes, several active. We stopped to let Scott photograph the grey smoke puffing out of the one called Fuego (fire). At least 2 are currently active in this area. As the road climbed in elevation there was a steady change in climate. Hot & humid in the marina, it was almost cold in Antigua. It is a colonial town, quite sprawling & bustling with tourists. Carmina is a wonderful tour guide, showing us the highlights. Including a former convent turned into a beautiful hotel where Bill Clinton stayed when he was President. The gardens, fountains & grounds are lovely, the staff friendly; a very successful establishment. We used the ATM there to get our first local currency called Quetzals. The exchange rate is about 7.5 quetzals to 1 dollar. Or 10 quetzals = about $12 USD. All over town there are many restored historical buildings turned into shops & cafes. Various indigenous people were out dressed in colorful native costume, selling & exhibiting weaving. We enjoyed a cup of Guatemalan coffee and later a delicious lunch in a different hotel. It was the largest group of Americans we have been around since our tour of Copper Canyon. We kept pinching ourselves as our being there with Carmina & Alejandra seemed somewhat surreal. Twice Carmina & I dissolved into hugs & tears right on the street. It is not that we did not plan on seeing them & visiting here. We did. From El Salvador, in about 2 weeks. With the transmission failure we just altered our plans. So far so good, we are quite hopeful that it will all work out fine. But after 14 months in Mexico we are somewhat amazed that we are now actually somewhere altogether new & different.

We had a lazy evening on the boat. Scott delved into the English language book on the history of Guatemala. Alejandra, Carmina & I tried to attract fish with the lights we can turn on to shine under our boat. We tried feeding them cooked carrots, cold cereal & bits of turkey sandwich. They were most attracted to Alejandra\’s fingers!

February 23
Ziggy & Eldon the mechanics showed up about 8:30 am. They confirmed the diagnosis of broken transmission drive shaft. DHL came through again, our new unit is ready for pick up in Guatemala City. I decided to pass on the 4 hr round trip drive, so am catching up on my emails & other paperwork. Scott & Carmina will drop Alejandra off at home, pick up our delivery & head back.

Scott got a quick tour of Carmina\’s house and met \”Tia\”, Carmina\’s 80 something year old aunt.
The view from her home of two volcanoes and Guatemala City was spectacular. Carmina said when she bought the house she needed a dose of \”Edwin Place\” (Where Scott\’s parents lived in Los Angeles with a spectacular view of the San Fernando Valley).

The haul out yard may not be ready for us until Wednesday. But we will be ready for them whenever they call us. We must drive over a sandbar to enter the ship yard area at Iztapa Lagoon. It will be about a 1 hour trip door to door from here. We must time our entry with a high tide. A panga will guide us in to avoid shallow underwater obstructions.

The 3 of us will stay in a hotel while the boat is hauled out. Hopefully only 1-2 nights. It is such a help to have Carmina for translation, transportation & cheer leader. She helped me transfer my frozen food to the smaller freezer in her cabin. It can run on batteries/solar power & we shut down the main unit. My main fridge must also go offline when we haul out because the keel coolers do not work out of the water. We should be able to eat down most of the food & will give whatever is left to the mechanics.

There are no other cruisers here. The main tourism is sport fishing. They practice catch & release of various sail fish, taking photos & drinking beer. They stay at hotels not on the fishing boats, so it is not that busy here in the marina, especially since the US Coast Guard cutter left this morning. Besides the fact that it is pretty darn hot, one bummer is the ash from the farmers burning the old sugar cane crop. It rains down black soot on us. Thank goodness we have air conditioning and can use it all we want with the dock power. Even the inside of the boat is getting filthy with a fine layer of black dust. And the outside is very sad. We cannot get too fussed about it since the ship yard will add its own layer of dirt.

We are taking it one day at a time. So far so good�..

Scott and Cindy
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