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Antigua

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We’re up early and get set for another big day of driving. Our opposing maps combined with the general lack of quality road signs means the 400 km to Antigua might take 10 hours – we really have no idea. Gas here costs about 28 Quetzales per gallon or around $3.50 USD / gallon. It’s a little strange to see gallons being used, as everything else in the country appears to be metric.

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Driving through the mountains of Guatemala

We make excellent time and having Kate to navigate across the top of Guatemala City helps immensely. After a quick lunch break in the big city we move on and roll into Antigua in the early afternoon. We heard about free camping in the Tourist Police compound in the middle of the city, so we head straight there and make it our home for a few days. It’s nice to know we have armed guards patrolling our free campground simple smile
I’m really surprised to see Tyler’s beat-up Subaru sitting in the lot and I’m told he’s around the city somewhere. I haven’t seen Tyler since La Manzanilla in Mexico months ago.

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Our free campsite in downtown Antigua

Our campground is right next to the main market so we wander over there to buy a few odds and ends we both need. We start out on the outskirts looking through all the junky stores before moving into the middle and getting throughly lost in the endless identical fruit and vegetable stands. The Mercado De Artesanias, a market just for local artists, is right next door and Kate’s eyes light up as she almost runs from store to store perusing the goodies on offer. I’m pretty sure she buys two of everything, to the point that she has to buy another bag to carry it all home.

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Kate going crazy in the markets of Antigua

I’ve heard the Cerro De La Cruz, a lookout above the city is really worthwhile and our guidebooks say it’s not safe to go without a free Police escort. I end up climbing on the back of a motorbike with a Policeman and we zip across the city and up the mountain. The lookout is pretty good, and the ride up and down make it great fun.

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The view from Cerro De La Cruz

In the compound are quite a few “overlanders” – people driving across continents like myself. I’ve been meeting quite a few lately and have been thinking a lot about vehicle choices. On one hand there are people that are totally dedicated to their chosen vehicle and have enough spares and knowhow to go around the world ten times. Others are driving vehicles they barely know the name of and carry no spares or tools at all – they rely completely on local mechanics. I like to think I fall in the middle somewhere and it’s really fun to see how everyone is doing it differently.

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The city of Antigua, surrounded by volcanoes

Here in Guatemala American made vehicles have become exceedingly rare and have been replaced by makes and models I have almost forgotten about since leaving Australia. Everywhere I look I see Toyota Landcruisers & Hiluxes, Mitsubishi Pajeros & Mondeos, Range Rovers & tough looking Mercedes off-road machines. Almost all are diesel.
I’m told the further south I drive the rarer American cars will become.

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The steets are full of character

We really enjoy wandering around the streets of Antigua, poking into stores and eating cheap meals. We’re in a bookstore when we feel an earthquake strong enough to make everything in the store sway and rattle for a solid five seconds. A few people mill about in the street afterward, then resume their daily lives.

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The markets of Antigua are full of colours

-Dan

13 Responses

  1. Jolene Ford says:

    Dan,
    Greetings frm Oregon. 😀 I have been following your travels and all I can say is WOW!!!!!!! You have a great ability to tell your stories, I enjoy following your travels. WOW!!! Stay Safe….. Enjoy!!!!

  2. Tyler M. says:

    Hi Dan,

    Stumbled across your blog yesturday and have been reading feverently to catch up on your adventure. Sounds like an absolutly amazing trip. I’m planning to do something similar once I finished school (probably another year or two). For now I’m passifying the wander-lust with smaller road trips and books, your blog is a welcome addition. Best of luck on your journey, know that you have kindred spirit pulling for you,

    Tyler

    • Dan says:

      Wicked Tyler, glad to have you aboard. What plans do you have when you finish school? An overland trip like mine or something different?

      • Tyler M. says:

        Most likely an overland trip of some sort, I’m still bouncing around a bunch of ideas and it seems like I change my mind every month or so but thats just fine by me, afterall its not the destination that matters but the journey and actually getting out there and living life. It’s just shocking to me how many people a content to lead their lives in day to day monotany trying to accumulate more material stuff that they don’t need… truely living is all about the experiences. It’s always cool to meet others who have realized this, we’ve just got to keep spreading the word and hopefully we can start to change the societal condition.

        • Dan says:

          I agree it’s all about the adventure and the destination is not really too important. The choice of destination will have an impact on the type of experiences you will have though. I think there are some people in this world who are genuinely happy going to work every day and acquiring material things, which is great because they are doing what makes them happy.
          I also think there are a lot of people living that life who have absolutely no idea it’s a choice and they could do something else if they wanted to.

  3. Amy says:

    This is awesome, Dan. Wish I could do it too! How interesting it must be to see how people live in so many different settings and experience the special beauty that our planet offers. Peace-

    • Dan says:

      Amy, one of my major goals when I set out was to inspire people to get out and live their dreams. If you really want to do something similar, there is no reason in the world that stops you – anything is possible if you try hard enough.
      I am continually amazed by our planet and the variety of people that live on it!

  4. Ron Parker says:

    That camp site Dan,Doesnt quite fit into one of the BIG 4 parks status does it? I am sure the standards are somewhat substandard.Enjoy all.

    • Dan says:

      Haha, well, the quality of the site was not the best, but the location and price were spot on.
      Cold showers are actually a good thing when it’s so hot out.

  5. Jesse says:

    Wow. I never thought there’s also a cone like volcano in Antigua. Nice find their and great blog!

  6. Your mum says:

    Love this one Dan: ‘You must be the change you wish to see in the world’ Mahatma Gandhi.
    With love & pride
    Mum :)

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