Antigua, GuatemalaI left Lake Atitlan two days ago for Antigua. After being robbed I was anxious to find a new camera and put the past behind me. The lake is beautiful but isn’t exactly a hot-bed of electronic items. If your interested in purchasing some Mayan craft goods however, your in luck. Anxious to get [...]
I left Lake Atitlan two days ago for Antigua. After being robbed I was anxious to find a new camera and put the past behind me. The lake is beautiful but isn’t exactly a hot-bed of electronic items. If your interested in purchasing some Mayan craft goods however, your in luck. Anxious to get to Antigua and start searching for a camera I hopped on the first bus out of Panajachel on Monday morning.
Side Note: Since I don’t have any pictures of Antigua you should check out the site Lords of Atitlan by Bill Muirhead. I met Bill in Jaibalito and I really liked his photos and his sincere love for the region and the people that live in it.
For the last two days I searched every camera store (there are only four of them) and countless electronic stores. Even in the camera stores the selection was quite meager. My preference was another Canon camera but there were only three models available. A Canon Rebel (which is way too big for my traveling lifestyle) a Canon SD1200 (perfect!) and a Canon A490 (no thanks). The only problem was the ridiculous mark-up in price on all of the cameras. My initial choice was the SD1200 and I found that on Amazon this camera sells for around $175. In Antigua (and the rest of Guatemala) it sells for around $250. Thanks but no thanks.
Given the lack of Canon cameras I began to explore alternative options. Not pleased with the prices I sent an e-mail to Wade from VagabondJourney.com looking for some seasoned traveler advice on finding a cheap camera. I also got some feedback from Craig at Travelvice.com. I would like to thank both of them for taking the time to offer advice and their $0.02. They suggested:
1. Get the cheapest camera that I can find for now — maybe pick one up off of some strung out hippie looking for drug money (not joking) — and then, if you need to, go shopping for a better camera the next time you get near a city.
2. Print out a few fliers and hang them up around town saying that you are looking to buy a camera, and, more than likely, someone will surface with one to sell (maybe they will even try to sell your own camera back to you).
3. Check the forum and blog world for travelers from the USA who are going to be in Guatemala soon. If you find someone that seems trustworthy, email them and ask them to pick a camera up for you.
4. Try Sam’s club or Walmart, as these international businesses seem to be able to sell electronics cheaper than most local options.
Option 1 was out because I wasn’t able to find a strung-out hippie which I was completely baffled by. I probably would have had better luck with this option back on Lake Atitlan. Options 2 or 3 would have be good but I found myself being too impatient. I looked to see if there was a Sam’s Club or Walmart around but couldn’t find one so option 4 was out.
Thinking of other options I decided to try my luck with the ‘sharks’ that bombard you when you arrive in a new city trying to get you into some hostel or hotel. My thought was that these guys would have a network of shady friends in town that might be willing to sell me a camera. I found one shark on the street and had him searching for me. It turned out his friend had three cameras but nothing of real use. These cameras were most likely stolen but considering that I just contributed a camera into this black market I didn’t mind trying to get one out of it.
I was beginning to run low on options so I started searching the local market. Most stalls turned up with nothing. Eventually, I found one stall that had one camera; a Panasonic Lumix DMC-F2. It’s an entry-level camera that sells for about $80 in the States but he was asking for $125. I tried haggling down the price but he wouldn’t budge so I walked away hoping he would change his mind. He didn’t. Thinking it over and doing more research on-line as to what this camera offers I decided to go back again this morning to take another look. I was interested but wanted to pay less. He still wasn’t budging so I gave in. A $45 mark-up as a percentage of it’s total price is awful, but on an absolute dollar basis it’s the best I found and I can live with it given the circumstances.
I’ve used the camera throughout the day and it’s definitely a sub $100 camera but it has pleasantly surprised me.
Ok, Enough Camera Talk
Over the past few days I’ve I’ve been thoroughly enjoying Antigua. The streets and houses are immaculately clean and well kept. There are countless numbers of cathedrals and ruins littered throughout the city. To top it all off the skyline of the city is filled with three volcanoes: Volcán de Fuego, de Agua and Acatenango. On arrival my arrival Volcán Fuego was erupting and I was thinking positive thoughts so I took it as an omen of good fortune instead of bad.
So far this omen has come true and I’ve found it incredibly easy to do a whole lot of nothing here and then wonder where my day went. It’s always enjoyable walking through the streets enjoying the architecture or sitting in the park reading and practicing my Spanish with the locals. I haven’t felt this at ease walking around a larger city during the day, or at night, since I left the States. Overall, things here move slowly, but at a steady pace; kind of like this guy walking down the street.
|From Antigua 2010-11|
I think I’ll be leaving here on Saturday but in the meantime I’m just going to enjoy what the city has to offer. Since I now have a new camera here are some photos of Antigua that I took today.