Savouring the Local Cuisine of Guatemala: McDonalds and Curry

24 08 2010

We arose quite early and caught the last chicken bus of the day to Xela, also known as Quetzaltenango to anyone who allows proper nouns in Scrabble. The journey was relatively uneventful; apart from an old woman who greeted Antonia with the sort of enthusiasm normally reserved for meeting a famous rockstar who you’ve been following closely since their debut single 3o years ago.

Another point of note was when the bus suddenly slammed on the brakes and we started to reverse down the busy highway. What the hell is happening we wondered? Did some luggage drop off the roof? When we finally did resume our forward progress on the wrong side of the carriageway the reason became apparent: a large mudslide had blocked the road. We were also fleeced of 40 quetzales by the driver’s assistant when he came around to collect the fare: I can guarantee that the locals don’t pay that much.

At Xela we got a taxi into town with two other gringos. They didn’t actually seem that keen to have us share their taxi. I’m not really sure why; since we were all heading in the same direction and could get a cheaper rate. In any case we got dropped off at the Black Cat hostel in the centre of town. We then proceeded to walk to the centre where Antonia struggled to get some cash out: all the cashpoints seemed to be visa only; which didn’t help with her maestro card. Whilst Antonia was on her mission to get cash I decided to go to McDonald’s and enjoyed my first Big Mac since Panama (not that long ago really but you have to get your fix whilst you can). They even had free Internet computers there too so I was able to sate two vices in one.

We then just wandered around town. It wasn’t that interesting or photogenic: Xela is too much of a real town for that. The weather was also pretty average so eventually we went back to the hostel and camped out on our computers. In the evening, much to Antonia’s chagrin, I persuaded her to go to Sabor de la India which was now in a completely different location to the guide-book (thanks once again dated and useless Lonely Planet). The curry there was awesome (allegedly the best in Guatemala) and I completely pigged out.

Me with my curry

From there we went to Infinito vegetarian lounge. It was really busy there with lots of large groups so we found ourselves some space upstairs and ordered a drink there. Pretty soon it started to fill up upstairs too and eventually the bar staff tired of us drinking our beer at a leisurely pace and practically forced us out of the bar. We went back to the hostel and sat in the deserted bar there playing Janiv. Much to my disgust Antonia completely thrashed me. There too they slowly packed the bar up around us and for the second time that evening I almost felt evicted.