Matt comes back from town, pouring with sweat, and says, “Let’s just jump in the car and head to Antigua. Have a break and cool off for a while. I want to take you for a steak at Hector’s Bistro.”
“What, today? Right now?” Oh, man, soooo tempting. Antigua is one of my favorite cities. It is up in the mountains, so it is a reasonable temperature. It has art, architecture, a super vibe, friends, and great food; everything this place is lacking. We are suffering in the heat, have bug bites everywhere, and Graysen and Matt have ear infections. But it’s already 10 and it takes 6 hours to get there. We need to pack, find a place to stay, and get things locked up here. Yes, I want to go to Antigua, but let’s go tomorrow.
The next day, we are on the road by 9am. The boys have a snack and fall asleep soon after, and by 11:30 they are up again, hungry. Matt has to stop to go to the bathroom and announces that it is like an inferno out there. Somehow it is even hotter. I am so thankful for air conditioning.
We see a sign for Burger King and give each other a look. I had a feeling this day would come, the day when we really need an indoor playground. So, without discussion and without guilt, we pull in. It has been so long since I’ve been in a fast food restaurant, that I don’t even know how to order. I run to the bathroom with the kids and make Matt do it.
We let the kids play in the air-conditioned playground, and let them drink soda and eat chicken nuggets and French fries, and congratulate ourselves for being such good parents. This is what they needed in the middle of a long car trip.
When it’s time to get going, we make a dash for the truck. It feels very similar to the dash we used to make in Alaska in the winter because of the cold. We drive in our little bubble, listening to stories, singing songs, and playing games. Everyone is happy to be off the boat, out of the heat, and in the familiar truck again.
Our hotel room is small and windowless, but it still feels like a luxury. We are all tired from our long day so we go for pizza at an Osteria close by. We can never resist an Osteria, which is an Italian version of the original French bistro, a neighborhood spot that serves up home-style type food at reasonable prices. Plus Matt’s last name is Oster, so it just feels right.
The next day Matt does some paperwork while I take the kids on an adventure to find some ruins to explore. We find some ruins, but none that we can go in so we go to a bakery instead and get a treat.
In the afternoon, I go on a walk while the kids are sleeping. I go to a nursery with tons of unusual plants and geek out. Then I just keep walking down the beautiful road, captivated by every detail. Everything looks so artfully arranged, but it is really just time and loving care that makes it beautiful. I come upon an organic farm and wander through the gardens.
I can’t help but think this is where we should be. This place speaks to me. There are like-minded people. And I can function without the blinding, brain-melting heat.
We meet up with our friend Andres for drinks and dinner. A wonderful soul, he has been a bit lost since his divorce. Matt used to manage his marina in Rio Dulce and Andres is thinking about trying to revive it. We talk about possibilities and contemplate moving into one of the rentals on his property here in town.
The next day we head over to the market to get our favorite smoked chile de Coban. We navigate the narrow pathways between the stalls, overflowing with goods. It is crowded and noisy and pungent. It doesn’t take long before we are all ready to get out of there. Maybe we are not ready to go back to Guatemala quite yet. Let’s stay in our Antigua bubble a bit longer.
Everyone is a bit tired from our late night and early morning, but we are going to another friend’s house for lunch. Markus is from Austria and married Angeles, from Spain. They moved up to Antigua after the birth of their oldest daughter because it was a better place to raise a child than Rio Dulce. Their daughter is just 6 months older than Graysen and speaks Spanish, German, and a little English. They also have a 4-month old daughter and run their own solar company. We have a lot to catch up on as well, but our time is limited by our children’s melt-downs.
In the evening, after long naps, we muster up the energy to go to my favorite restaurant, Hector’s Bistro. When we first wandered in here 10 years ago, there was no name on the door, just a really friendly American-trained Guatemalan chef named Hector, who greeted you with a smile and marinated olives, and prepared whatever you chose from the 4-5 items on the chalkboard. Hector’s no longer there, but the food is somehow still mind-blowing. I watch as a man sitting alone eats a crème brulè like he is making love. Then our steak comes and with the first bite, I fall into a trance as well.
We are not ready to go back, so we stay one more day. We eat bagels in the park and meet up with Andres again to see his apartments. We talk seriously about how we could move up here. The kids could have playmates, or even go to school. We could team up with Andres and create a really cool business. Or Matt could work with Markus while I tried to get my business going online.
But it comes back to the fact that we just bought this boat. It needs some work and it needs people living on it. Boats do not like to be left alone. If we want to advance that dream, we need to be there. It may not be the most comfortable place right now, but it is where we need to be.