I remember walking in Cafe No Se. I instantly knew I had found something special. Something not quite Guatemalan, but certainly perfect for Antigua. At the entrance sat several expats discussing what must have been something philosophical – it just looked too important.
One guy at about age 50 worked at the book store next door and sported a long ponytail. I coincidentally remembered him from earlier in the day as I was browsing the local shops. He couldn’t have looked more relaxed if he tried and that was the same thing I remember thinking when I saw him in the bookstore earlier that day.
The bartender was several years sober and didn’t touch a drop of alcohol. While he made drinks for the rest of us he quietly sipped on coffee and complained about the “gringo bar” next door. Something about the way he sipped his coffee made him seem wiser than the rest of us. His almost perfect English made me nearly forget I was in Guatemala until he would shout a few words in Spanish to patrons entering the bar.
Here and there sits graffiti and signatures carved on the walls made by past and present customers who want to leave their mark. No one seems to mind and certainly not enough to ask anyone to stop. You sit at the rustic little bar for an hour or two and once you have become reasonably intoxicated and stupid enough the bartender suggest you try a few shots of ilegal Mezcal. Mezcal is a tequila-ish liquor that the bar employees claim to be the grandfather of tequila. It goes down like poison, but by the time they offer it to you it’s too late to say no anyways.
Perhaps the best part of the entire bar is closing out your tab. After a long night of drinking and conversation I fully expected to be robbed of what little dignity I had left with a giant bar tab, but that’s when you realize – you are in Guatemala and have been paying Central America prices. I close out my tab at about $40 (US) and escape with enough money to buy a cup of coffee in the morning.