I am not a superfan of Antigua, Guatemala. Which doesn't mean I don't like it. I'm also not a superfan of hairless cats, but they're ok, you know? I am, however, a superfan of turkey bacon, which marks a significant evolution in my thinking. That said, I am most assuredly not even a normal fan of Happy Cat cat food, which I tried once on a dare when I was seven, and which caused my tongue to fall out. That's why I talk funny now and am a bad kisser.
Antigua is a good place to go if you want to visit Latin America but you want to be around as many obnoxious gringos as possible, but you have a rare genetic disorder that makes your skin fall off in hot and humid weather, so you can't go to Cancun.
Shannon gave me leave to take a long weekend with friends in Antigua, so long as I look into tongue transplants next time we're in the U.S. It turned out that I enjoyed Antigua a lot more with friends than I did last time, when I went with my family. Not because my family isn't awesome, because they are, but because when we family vacation, kicking it in a cafe or people watching are NOT options. Shannon gets twitchy after about 10 minutes of sitting still in a restaurant while on vacation and also starts demanding to know how many Cokes I have drunk so far today and talking about how we need to hike something NOW, and I can hear her muttering under her breath about the potential fitness quotient of hiking up and down the McDonald's Play Place slide.
So, the Abu Halen & Friends Caravan rolled into Antigua on a Saturday afternoon. Jimmy found us a sweet house on the edge of town, which came with a lion-sized golden retriever named Barack, which offended me because I feel like dogs shouldn't be politicized. Also, the golden retriever raised for me the obvious question of whether President Obama was in fact even born a human. Can he produce a certificate proving he is not a dog?
Antigua is a nice place to be if you like walking and eating. I like both of those things. I recommend That One Cafe, the Name of Which Escapes Me at the Moment. While placing my side order of bacon, I mistakenly asked for "tres porciones" of bacon, which to my stupid gringo brain meant "three strips" of bacon, but which in actual Spanish means "three orders" of bacon. When the waitress brought me my ample main dish of French toast, along with a large plate heaped with crackling bacon, I realized my error and endured the well-earned mockery of the rest of the table. I meekly explained my gringo error to the waitress, who laughed and took back my order, thus saving me from paying approximately $20 for something like 42 strips of bacon. That's why I recommend That One Cafe, the Name of Which Escapes Me at the Moment.
Another fun place to eat is That Faux Texas Barbecue Joint That Plays Electric Americana Music. Note that the hamburgers do not fit in human mouths, but possibly might fit in the cargo hold of a C-130, but you probably won't be able to get the door shut with the hamburger inside.
A bad place to eat is That Hip Mediterranean Place With Hummus, because I think the owner is snotty and hates kids and I want to punch him in the clavicle, or maybe nunchuck him in the clavicle because punching him there would really hurt my knuckles. When we arrived at That Hip Mediterranean Place With Hummus, I was carrying a kid who is not my own (with permission from the actual parent, because I have proved my ability to not drop children by not dropping my own very much over the past 15 years), and the restaurant was pretty crowded. It looked like there wasn't room for us, which was understandable. But I asked the owner behind the counter anyway, I said, "Hey, how many seats do you have available?" And he said, "None, we're full." And I looked down at the empty three chairs at the bar, and I looked at him, and he looked at me, and I looked back at the three empty chairs, and I looked back at him, and I said, "You have zero chairs available?" And he said, "Yes, we have zero chairs available." And I said, while looking at the three empty chairs that sat less than two feet from me and less than two feet from him, "You have zero chairs available." And he said, "That's right, zero chairs." I am certain that he doesn't like kids, or guys without tongues. Maybe both, he's such a bigot.
If you're ever in Antigua, you should visit Cerro de la Cruz, a hill on the edge of town with a big cross on it. I took a tuk-tuk up there on Sunday afternoon, with two other adults and two children. I bet you thought that three adults and two children couldn't fit in the back seat of a tuk-tuk, but you're wrong and the weakness of your intellect is why you didn't invent prosthetic tongues. The road to Cerro de la Cruz is very steep, so at several points the tuk-tuk driver made me get out and walk, apparently because I'm fat. I felt like that was the unspoken understanding between us. And that's why I want to punch the tuk-tuk driver in the tibia, which would probably require me to pretend like I'm tying my shoe so that I would have a clear shot. I think I could do it, because I'm good at pretending to tie my shoe, thanks to my tiger mom who wouldn't let me watch Hee-Haw without my shoes tied, but who was lackluster at actually checking to see if they were tied.
There were a lot of people and dust up by the big cross on Sunday afternoon, and a thick haze from nearby burning sugarcane fields obscured the view. So the next morning me and Brent walked back up, and there were only two gringa ladies up there doing yoga. We explained that we worked at a U.S. embassy and we had the day off for President's Day, to which one of the ladies expressed dismay that we would celebrate the current U.S. president. Me and Brent cast sideways glances at one another, and then proceed to explain that President's Day is, in fact, not a celebration of the incumbent president at any given time, but is actually a celebration of the birthdays of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, both of whom were born in February. The yoga ladies were mildly pacified by this explanation.
I hope you enjoyed my review of Antigua, Guatemala, which is what New York Times travel section stories would be written like if the New York Times had awesome travel writers like Abu Halen. But, sorry, tough luck, New York Times, Abu Halen is already gainfully employed, at least until the do-nothing State Department is eliminated. Then, maybe, Abu Halen will permit you to pay him to travel to exotic places, forget basic details about the trip, and mostly just write nonsense about himself.