I am now in Antigua, soaking up the sun, enjoying the beautiful architecture, eating plenty of delicious food and taking it all in. Antigua is a beautiful city. While it is a tourist destination and many people and businesses communicate in English to cater to tourists, it’s still very charming and has a local feel (says the tourist). The streets are all cobblestone. Mainly one-way. Lined with brightly-painted colonial style buildings, dark iron accents on doors and windows. Cherry wood finishing, and workers anxious to greet you. Antigua is a friendly place. A welcomed change after living in Coban. It’s also easy to navigate－ I have NO SENSE OF DIRECTION!
I am in the last week of travels and am enjoying this last week alone. Although I have met lots of beautiful & amazing Guatemalan people along the way, I have kept to myself. I’d like to believe that I am highly social, enjoy meeting new people and sharing experiences with them－well, I do like meeting new people, however I tend not to make instant connections. It takes me a little while to warm up. I’m like a curious, cautious puppy. I’ll come up to you, feel you out, sniff around a little, go do my own thing and maybe come back to you later. Initially this is something I wanted to conquer. Over these past few months I’ve accepted that this is a part of my character. I feel comfortable and okay with this habit that may cost me opportunities to socialize, while protecting myself at the same time. At this point in my journey of self, it’s best that I protect myself. I’m still a babe when it comes to self-advocacy and making sure Ashley is okay without compromising self.
I plan to do some light souvenir shopping to fill family requests but nothing too insane. Souvenir shopping can go from thoughtful to ridiculous. When I have to think about it too much and my armpits start perspiring, I know it’s time to stop! Plus I’ve got the perfect excuse, “you know I only had the one book bag” as I simultaneously raise my eyebrows, shoulders and arms while looking helpless.
The next few blog posts after this will not be in chronological order because I’ve got some catching up to do on happenings in Guatemala City and Coban. I wasn’t feeling inspired last week.
Now on with the good stuff. All I’ve done thus far is eat, and walk around a little. So food will be the topic
Upon arrival to Antigua last night, it was already dark so I was all about heading straight to the hotel and showering after riding in a shuttle for 10 hours.
Traffic through Guatemala City is absolutely insane! It reminds me of Chicago traffic, on a two lane expressway, for 5 hours straight! Reading helped keep me sane. Getting lost in a book during traffic has taught me patience－well I dunno if I’m teaching myself patience or just how to distract myself. Either way problem solved.
When I arrived to the hotel and showered, I planned to hit the pillow, but my stomach and headache were reminders that I’d only had juice, a Twix ice-cream bar, a bomb chicken sandwich and 23 fries－I love fries so yes I count them.
Let’s talk about my shower for a few sentences. One thing I dislike about travelling abroad is the electric shower head. What this is, is a shower head that is plugged into an electrical current, that heats up water passing through it. So the water itself is cold, but the electric shower head heats it. I dislike these because if you touch it, even slightly you feel a tingling sensation throughout the area of the body that is meets. I wonder if it’s a tiny electric shock that I’m feeling when I do this (thinking a-loud)?
At the recommendation of hotel staff I had dinner at Pappy’s BBQ. I was thinking the same thing. I’m all the way in Guatemala and have managed to find a BBQ joint owned by a guy from Austin, TX.
The decor was that of a classic BBQ joint. Bar stools, wood finishes, both high top tables and family style seating on benches. Huge, red, BBQ signs hung throughout and lit with small bulbs, Texas staples to include cow heads (and tons of other Texan stuff－google Texas cowboy decor if you need a visual), a huge TV on the spanish equivalent to Sports Center (of course discussing the upcoming Mayweather fight) and American pop hits from last year blaring on the crisp sound system.
After looking over the menu, it was clear that this place was all about classic Texas BBQ.
Even after driving through rural villages, seeing pigs pitifully tied to trees within the boundaries of property lines. Tugging for their lives trying to get loose. Where I vowed to never be tempted by a piece of apple wood smoked bacon. I ordered the smoked rib and beef brisket with corn and baked beans.
The highlight of the meal for me, was the corn!
The corn was beautiful, bright yellow, still slightly sweet. It was tossed with herbs, possibly a hint of cheese, smoked meat, and jalapenos that delivered a slight punch of heat.
The baked beans were different from the sweet baked beans I have become accustomed to. The beans were still slightly firm in texture and the flavor combination reminded me of pinto beans from the slow cooker. The beans were in a slightly tangy, savory sauce. It was evident that the house BBQ that dressed the table was added to the sauce. The beans also had a smoky flavor. While they were tasty, I didn’t particularly enjoy them and ate only a spoonful.
The pork rib was smoked. The meat, tender and had the right amount of fat that blended perfectly with the meat. It seems like they used a dry rub on the meat prior to smoking in the electric smoker I saw in the open kitchen area. I didn’t use BBQ sauce. When I do enjoy a cut of meat, I like to savor the flavors without the distraction of sauce.
The beef brisket. First, I’ve enjoyed several beef briskets smoked for hours with love. My chef boyardee hun-bunz fed me smoked meat on our first unofficial date and I was so impressed watching him stand over the smoker with his serious face. He timed everything perfectly making sure to periodically check on the meat to ensure it was cooked to perfection. When I bit into that slice of tender meat, I tasted hard work, dedication and a labor of love on my sensitive, prepared for the gag-reflex at the hint of something gross, taste buds. My mom had a crappy boo-thang in my youth who could cook like no other. I watched him too start cooking brisket early in the morning after marinating it the night before. I watched him meticulously time the meat, watch the meat, check on the meat. When it was finally time to eat, his brisket was savory, delicious, mouth-watering, seasoned. It was amazing－not better than bae’s though.
This brisket, was not that. It was seasoned, it had a smoked flavor, it was aesthetically pleasing, it just wasn’t amazing. It wasn’t even as good as Texas Roadhouse.
As I ate and looked around, I noticed several plaques and awards on the wall. BBQ Master, Grill Master, Best BBQ. But what did the judges know, had they been to Texas? Or ate bae’s brisket? Or moms crappy-ex brisket? I didn’t think so!
I slept satisfied, full and with the smell of artificial, electric-smoker meat-smoke in my nostrils.