Saturday, March 03, 2012

Albamar Restaurante

8AM - Albamar Restaurante
This morning I got up out of bed around 7am, and then took a hot 20 minute shower. After that hot shower, I was warmed up, head to toe!

New Mavicita and I decided to return to the Albamar Restaurante for breakfast. You may recall that we were there yesterday for breakfast as well. The Albamar is located right in the middle of where the big fair was held yesterday evening. We wrote to you about that fair yesterday. We were sooooo surprised to find that the fair was completely cleaned up. All of the rubbish had been swept into piles, ready for the garbage men to arrive and haul it away.

The Albamar Restaurante is a very lovely place. Sweet marimba music plays to fill the air with sound. Would you like to see a pic of the Albamar's dining room? Hmmmmm?
Albamar pano using AutoStitch software to join 10 pics into one

PS: Note that there is a slight error in the lower left of this pano pic. I had to go back and retake that lower left because I missed it when taking the first set.

10AM - My breakfast
This was a very leisurely breakfast. First I ordered a cup of coffee. When my waiter brought the coffee he reminded that this is Guatemala coffee, grown right here in the Xela area. And, he added, it is the best coffee in the World. In my opinion, this coffee is exceptional. Deep flavor, strong, but not harsh. I drank three cups of this delicious Guatemalan coffee.

After publishing our blog, I ordered the rest of my breakfast. A plate of fruit and pancakes. The fruit plate is huge. So much fruit. Enough for three people! But very high quality.

Cost of breakfast, 52 quetzales [$6.76US]. Excellent value for this high quality restaurant where all of the wait staff wear ties.
Jorge's breakfast at Albamar Restaurante

11:30AM - Jorge buys a cap!
It is not important at all what I am doing while staying here in the City of Xela, Guatemala. Simply being here is treat enough for me. Walking the streets. Experiencing life going on here. Talking with people who live here. That is what is important for me.

After leaving Albamar Restaurante, I came upon a woman street merchant. She had all of her stuff displayed on the sidewalk on top of two large carpets. There were a few caps for sale. I needed a cap!

I found one cap that fit perfectly. "How much are you asking for this cap?", I asked. "40 quetzales", she replied. "Do you like to bargain?", I asked. A quizzical look came into her eyes. A hesitant, "Si" was her reply.

"Would you take 35?", I asked. She told me, "Si". I told her that I was just asking to see what her answer would be, and handed her the 40 quetzales that she asked for originally. [40Q=$5.20US]

She gave me a BIG smile! "Gracias", I told her.
My new Guatemala cap

12:30PM - A walk to the hills?
New Mavicita and I went up on the hotel roof and captured the pano pic below. The pic shows the hills looking to the southwest of the hotel. We are thinking about walking up to these hills. Or better yet, take a taxi up there, and walk back down.

If we do go up there, we are going to need some more food first!
Pic showing where we plan to walk this afternoon

3:30PM - Back from the hills!
New Mavicita and I have just returned from our adventure in the hills. So, the entire trip, going and coming, took only three hours!

The first place we went to was a little panaderia for lunch. The place is named ChechaPan. A sign out front advertised "Pollo Empañada" for sale, and I ordered one. Deliciously fragrant bread was for sale too. While waiting for my empañada, I ate two breads.
ChechaPan Panaderia

My pollo empañada

A taxi picks me up
The dueña of ChechaPan tried to call me a taxi to take me up the hill.  But none could be found. So, I began to walk up the hill. Soon a taxi pulled up and dropped off passengers. "Would you drive me to the top of that hill?", I asked, pointing to the hill ahead. "Si!", he replied. "But first we have to stop for some gasoline", he told me.

After buying the gas, I noticed that the gas gauge was still on empty. "How much gas did you put in the tank?", I asked. "Only 30 quetzales", he told me. The taxi driver explained that 400 quetzales fills the tank, but he always puts in 30 or 50 quetzales, because he does not have that much ready cash.

The top of the hill
The taxi climbed up the hill for about 15 minutes. We were pretty far up! When we came to a leveled off place, I asked the driver to drop me off. He charged 85 quetzales, which seemed like a lot to me. But I paid without bargaining because he gave me the service of knowing where to go. Which I did NOT know.
Road view at hill top

The first thing that caught my attention at hill top, was that farmers were growing a lot of flowers here. A fellow who was sweeping the road in front of his home told me that this place is called, "Chiqua".
Flowers are a big crop at hill top

Two brothers building a hotel
We came to a place with a nice view of Xela below. There was a dirt road going passed a building under construction. We walked by that building, and took the pano pic below.

Two brothers were working on this building. The brothers said hello, and asked me where I was from? We talked a lot together. One of the brothers had attempted crossing the Arizona border three times without success. I asked him if he used a coyote [smuggler]. "Yes!, he replied" He told me that he paid 15000 quetzales each time [About $2,000US]. Of course he lost that money when US immigration caught him using helicopters. He is not going back again.

The two brothers are building a very nice looking hotel way up here on this hill. I told them that they were very lucky to have the money to build a hotel like this. The two of them just smiled at my comment. Of course I did not ask them where two young guys as themselves got enough money to construct such a building as this one. I do not ask such questions anymore in either Mexico or Guatemala.
View of Xela from the brother's hotel
It's hard to see Xela thru the haze

Hitched a ride down
We were thinking to walk all the way back down the hill to the City of Xela. We began the downhill trek at 3pm. By only 3:15pm it was becoming obvious that walking, even downhill walking, was a bit much for me.

Pickup trucks were passing every few minutes carrying passengers down to Xela. Pickup trucks are the "taxi" for the ordinary folks of Guatemala and Mexico. I stuck out my thumb, and a pickup truck stopped. There were no other passengers in the back.

I rode down the hill standing up in the pickup's bed holding onto the raised frame for support. Wow! What a kick!

Clear sky