Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Report # 129 Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala May 7, 2014 Wednesday Partly cloudy, 75 degrees, still hot and humid

Here we are.....Guatemala
Our window is a jungle

It was going to be another hot and humid day as we sailed into the harbor of Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala early this morning. While watching the news, we saw that the coast of Central America all the way up to Mexico was going to get hit by a rainstorm of significant size. It has been hanging in the air for days now.


Pontoon to bridge

Bridge

A different type of dock system

Shore excursions here included nine tours. That is because, without taking a tour, there really is not much to do in Puerto Quetzal. 

Welcome to minimal port of Puerto Quetzal

Bridge from ship to shore
Gangway to pontoon


Takes us right to the village

Palapa  (thatched hut)

Welcome

Some tour were offered from here (about $45)

Jaguars are indigenous here

So are sailfish

A monument, maybe Mayan

Selling short tours

The band of locals
Taxi rates


The main attraction from here is the colonial capital of Antigua, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Most of the excursions there included a stop in the convent, the jade museum and factory, and a stop at a coffee plantation. Another long tour took in Iximche, where you can see Mayan ruins and learn about the so-called 2012 end of the world theory. Many of us wondered about that, but obviously, the event did not occur. One other over-the-top tour took folks to Tikal by airplane to see the ruins there for a hefty price of $650. Not sure how many people, if any, did it. 


Several years ago, on our first visit to Guatemala, we took a tour to see the volcanos and a coffee plantation in the mountains. It really was a nice trip with a delicious lunch, but it was a long ride to get there and back. We stopped in Antigua on the way back, but most everything was closed, except for the Jade Museum and shops. So a half hour stop was all we needed. Today, we chose to stay here at the pier for the day.

On our way out across the bridge that connected the ship to the shore, we saw Barbara H. and chatted for a while. She said that the Amsterdam will be the last ship in this port for the season. It will not resume until later in the year, at least until the rain and the unbearable heat relent. 


A flame tree

Lots of treasures here
T-shirts and bags galore

Each stall had the same things, different price

Handmade crafts

Very clever for hold plastic bags

Travelers palm

The best beers, sodas, and wines

Blankets and table runners

Guatemala dolls

Small beaded jewelry

Belts and bags

Vibrant colors


Wood animals

A mola quilt

Love the colors

Many shoppers, many vendors

Lots of stuff

Pretty neat

The one art stand

A painting

Another painting

Table runner and quilts


Hammocks

A friendly face
So much to look at

Like them all

Blouses

So, so hot
So we are thinking that the local vendors will be happy to bargain. And.....yes, they did. With a little back and forth dealing with a nice vendor, we ended up purchasing a tall wooden giraffe that comes apart to pack easily. He came down in price over half within minutes. Looking at it before on two stops here, we decided to buy it today, even though we are not sure where to put it when we get home. If nothing else, the grandkids will like it, because he is painted differently, almost whimsical, compared to the Mombasan carving we already have at home. Not wanting to pack the heavy bag all day, we took our new addition back to the ship.

Yes, we bought a similar giraffe

Native tree of Guatemala


All of the services

Native Indian figures

Vendors relaxing


We ended up going for lunch on the second walk over there. There was really only one restaurant there, and a fairly nice one at that. The name of it was Pez Vela Restaurant, with an outdoor patio that was exposed to a most nice breeze. 


On the way to the cafe

Pez Vela Restaurant

Sailfish is their sportfishing gem
Beer is good

Not too many customers yet

There's Peter, the purser

Several our our crew members were dining and drinking there, so that is always an indication that it is good. Even Peter, the purser, was enjoying a beer and we assume, a fish lunch of some sort. We ordered two local beers, Gallo, and an order of chicken/cheese nachos, which was large enough for two to share. 

Great Gallo beers, locally made

Chicken/cheese nachos

Since the restaurant was not too busy yet, we took our time, watching the many iguanas sunning themselves on the large pier rocks. Cold-blooded, they need the heat from the rocks to warm up. They were slow to move, unless you startled them. They are great subjects for photos, as prehistoric as they look.

Iguana welcomes us

Iguana

We see you.....

Small iguana

A larger one

Sunning himself

Some were shedding their skins

Look prehistoric

Wonder what they eat?

Something they like is in these rocks

Posing

Perhaps small crabs

A different shade of green

Got stripes?

Got grass

Maybe they eat grass, turning them green


Before we left, we checked out some tiny-beaded jewelry we had been admiring. Even though we were not planning on making any more purchases, the price was too good to turn down. So we ended up with two necklaces for the price of one, after he already dropped the price in half. Later on, we came back to find matching earrings, as no vendor had all of the pieces to sell at one place.

Belts

Bought one pair of these earrings
Boat harbor

Tree-lined walkway

Have to try this beer

Some very nice boats in the harbor

Ship docked right near these boats


OK, time to leave. All aboard time was 5:30pm, and we needed to get back once again to the air-conditioning. You know, temperatures like these at 75 or even 84 degrees would not be too hot for us in California. But here, the humidity gets the best of you. No matter how much you drink, it is never enough to keep you cool.

Cooling off

By the time the sailaway party was in progress, it had finally cooled down with a strong breeze blowing across the decks. 

Raymond at sailaway

Oooh, appetizers of quiche

Pool looks refreshing, but wasn't...too hot

A flock of ibis

They flew by once, and  never came back

The music at the aft pool started late, but when David, the guitarist, started up, he had the crowd dancing once again. 

Guitarist David at sailaway

There goes our stack again

Then we waited and waited for the ropes to be dropped, but it seemed to be delayed. For some reason, maybe we were waiting for late passengers. It was getting dark, and the sun simply disappeared behind the clouds, going down unceremoniously this evening. The only cool thing about leaving in the near dark, was being able to watch the lightning show over the mountains in the far distance. We had been hearing rolling thunder for the last hour, and knew the storm was moving in. Although it never did rain today, it would later on.

Bridge to the shoreline

The big palapa or thatched -roof hut

The Pez Vela Restaurant as seen from the ship

Many boats for deep sea fishing

Container port nearby

A smaller hut


Here comes the tugboat
Tug is ready....so are we

Seen better days

A stretch of dark sandy beach on the Pacific Ocean

A military complex, we think

Power plant
There goes a tanker


Off limits

Small boats


A shrimp boat

Coast guard vessels

Could be Coast Guard guys and gals jogging

We had just enough time to download photos, get cleaned up, and head for our first of two complimentary dinners in the Pinnacle Grill Restaurant. We had the caesar salad, now made with the anchovies placed on the top, not mashed. The dressing was already blended, we suspect it was the same dressing from La Fontaine Dining room. It was much less garlicky,which was actually better, we think. Oue entrees were a New York strip steak and a veal chop.....both excellent. Although it may have been better if one of us had not come down with a cold over the last couple of days. Darn, we were 2 two for Bill, Mary Ann for one cold this trip. Now we will be equal. At least it happened at the end of the trip, and not the middle of it.

Wanting to see if the storm had hit, we walked the promenade and found the decks were wet. We could still see some lightening and hear the thunder, so we went up to the top deck to check it out without all the lights lit. It had rained pretty good after we left Puerto Quetzal, and was drizzling at 10pm. Wonder what the next few days hold for us?

Oh no, we had a note on our bed saying to put the clocks ahead one hour. We do not like that, but since we will be in Mexico shortly, we must comply. Losing one hour of sleep is not what we need at this point.

Tomorrow's port will be Puerto Chiapas, Mexico, and if we thought today's port facilities were minimal, tomorrow's will be even less.



Interesting skies

So much for the sun?

That's all we saw of the sunset tonight

As good as it gets

Finally gone by 6:10pm

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