Logan’s Musings Ep. 2: Cafe No Se

Hello again, this post may be a bit long but I wanted to share a quirky, fun, and funny experience I had in Antigua.

During Heather’s illness in Antigua I had the opportunity and pleasure to accompany Kandace, our other homestay “roommate,” and a number of other spanish students out to a bar that was truly a gem (in my so-called “strange” taste in bars). The night I went out was actually the second night that Kandace had invited us out and I decided that Heather was going to be ok without me so I accepted with some slight reservations (I was promised more than once that we would be having a dance party at our second stop and many of you, dear readers, know exactly how I feel about dancing). The gem was a one “Cafe No Se” (“Cafe I Dunno” or “Cafe I don’t know,” not that you’re supposed to) which was quite a hike from our homestay so we waited for the group to materialize at the corner of the park next to the Merced. The group ended up being over 15 people, all of various nationalities, and during the walk I talked to a man by the name of Jerome. He was a Hollander in the middle of performing a mission in Panama and during his 3 week break decided to take some spanish. Interesting fellow.

Now, the bar. I quickly learned that “cafe” really means “bar” or only means “cafe” before about 8 pm. It was located in a nondescript building, behind a nondescript door, and — just like all the other places of business in Antigua — under a nondescript hand-painted sign. You could easily walk right by it and have no idea what you were missing out on (and I think we did on Mon. when we were walking around). Cafe No Se is just the kind or grungy dive bar with poor lighting (done only by candles and oil lamps in this case), red painted walls with graffiti-like writing and pictures covering almost every available flat surface, ugly bartenders with scars on their faces (not kidding about that one; he looked to be from Eastern Europe and was quite friendly despite being a bit scary), and a confusing labyrinthine layout that I love in a bar. This place was spectacularly unique, fun, and had an owner with just the type of dry, sarcastic humor that you all are likely very used to hearing from me. One such example was a framed blank square of canvas that read “very ugly painting on other side.” Another would be the list of so-called “illegal” and yet “more illegal” cocktails that one could purchase. Or possibly the laughably short, 4 foot high doorway that led to one of the three bars and was covered by an old refrigerator door (also covered in graffiti and with working hinges). Needless to say I loved it right away.

When we arrived the bar I was quite worried that we wouldn’t all fit. But there was a hard to see room all the way in the back that we claimed for or own. I settled down with a cerveza Cabro (“ram” in spanish, a Guatemalan beer) and talked with Kandace, Rob (a Londoner but not of the “southern rabble”), Johan (pronounced “YOO-ahn,” from Sweden), Johan’s girlfriend Emelia, and Kandace. We talked about everything from “real” football to scuba in Australia while Johan proceeded to get very drunk on his drink of choice: vodka on the rocks with a wedge of lime. I think he managed to drink about 7-8 standard shots of that in about 3 hours, plus a significant amount of Emelia’s drinks (she was quite the lightweight).

We ended up staying for 4 hours because no one was trying to organize a bar swap (which I was of course excited about) and most people were pretty drunk. Towards the end of the night I decided to go to the bathroom, which only had a small, battered latch to hold the door open, and as I was preparing to wash my hands someone tried to open the door. He jiggled the door just enough so that the latch fell open, paused for half a second when he saw me, and promptly bent over the sink in front of me and projectile vomited into the toilet. Needless to say I didn’t wash my hands, but I did admire thee guy’s aim. We left when the bar closed at 1 am, not realizing that most of the others in the group had left a while ago and (as I later found out from Kandace) went to a house party for a total of 15 minutes of dancing because they had to wait for over an hour for the guys in charge to pay off the police (noise complaints seem to be common in Antigua) with the money they got from the Q10 cover charge. However, I didn’t bother trying to find them as the earlier schedule that the locals follow means that we have been getting up at or before 7 am.

Hope you all enjoyed my long-winded ramblings almost as much as I enjoyed going to Cafe No Se.

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