Tucked away at the top of a mountain high over the town of Antigua Guatemala, lies a small shire with green grass and little round homes built in the earth. If it isn't the shire like we have heard of them in England or dreams, this one still possesses a charm known to the few journey folk that happened this way - the way isn't known to everyone.
Late one afternoon in early March two girls chanced upon the road, and in an equipage surely more modest than the one first used in our first viewing of the Shire came to the foot of the mountain that marked the road.
WELCOME TO THE SHIRE
There was much to be discovered, and they soon embarked on a hike to take them to higher views and as they found, lowlier folk. At the top of the mountain they found two people seated, a man and a woman, apparently enjoying ale in a place unheard of: outdoors. Wishing to be friendly the passers by began to talk to them about the original story that had birthed the idea of Hobbitenango, "Lord of the Rings." The low-bottom dwellers admitted that they had never read the books and only one had see the movies, but began to talk enthusiastically and at length about another story called "Game of Thrones."
Sensible to the fact that no real friendship was to be found here, and that the two sitting there were half drunk already, as all watchers of Game of Thrones must be to endure the carnage, the girls passed on to see sights imagined, realized.
The place was rustic enough, but to travelers weary of foot it was everything they needed, and full of the friendlier side of mankind. No doubt Samwise would scoff at the lack of many flowers, but even he would have been mollified by the food. The service was thoughtful, and in all the travelers found refreshment there.
The Prancing Pony, A.K.A. El Restaurante de las Nubes
The food at Hobbitenango was excellent, and for people who cared about such things might have mentioned that the food was attractively arranged. Not exactly Elvish, you understand, but of heartier fare such as men eat. Noted as 'El Caballero' this burger was reputed well among the people who passed through.
Perhaps, most charming of all was the view of the valley for the diners. So high on the mountain fresh breezes frequently passed this way, making the nearby sun less overwhelming. In this part of the world it was more common than in Tolkien's time for country folk to be poor, but nevertheless the lower hills were full of coffee bushes, corn, flowers, and strangely, intrigue and robbery. One would not have thought these two could live side by side, but one often sees strange things while traveling. The worst of people, and yet more commonly, the kindness of the race of men.
The magic of beauty is always there for those who want to find it.
And as many had done before, the travelers passed on, content to have drank and eaten of the hospitality of the place. It is, after all, a delight to find in partial reality a place of which one has only dreamed.
DETAILS SAM WOULD BE INTERESTED TO KNOW
The website for Hobbitenango.
How to find the road at the bottom of the mountain. Our two travelers hired a shuttle from Roos Hostel for 150Q R/T, together.
The cost of the restaurant is comparable to middle-class Gondor, otherwise known as the South ($10-$15). Ales for purchase.
Many come just for the food, though it is also a place sought after for lodging.