La Antigua Guatemala
A few weeks ago Nate and I traveled to Antigua, Guatemala where I had a week-long meeting for work. The meeting ran Monday through Friday, so we flew down the preceding Friday for a couple of days of vacation before the less-fun (i.e. work) part of the trip. Here are some of the incredible things we saw, places we went, and the unfamiliarities we stumbled upon. Things we ate will be in the next post!
We arrived around noon in Guatemala City, breezed through immigration and customs, and took a shuttle to our hotel in Antigua. We explored the city and booked a volcano tour for the next day.
We also got quite lost, until we studied the map and realized there are two Santa Lucia streets and we’d been trying to find the wrong one to take us back to our hotel. While we were lost, we came across a procession of school girls carried a huge float of Jesus carrying the cross. It was a couple weeks before Easter, which I guess is a pretty huge holiday for Antigua.
We got up bright and early for our hike up the Pacaya volcano. It was about a 2 hour drive from our hotel in a shuttle with 14 other Americans. The hike was like 7.5 kilometers coming and going, with a beginning altitude of about 2,000 meters and a final altitude of 2,550 meters. In other words, it’s a long steep hike. I’ll spare you the details, but about half-way up I thought I was going to die. So I took a horse the rest of the way! Best decision of the weekend. While I’ve been riding horses since I was nine, I’ve never had a machete strapped to my saddle before…
I got to enjoy the nice views on the walk up, and I arrived at the top rested, happy and comfortable. You can see the volcano in the photo below, and the stuff that looks like clouds is actually smoke.
The views from the top of the volcano were amazing– you could see all the way to Guatemala City and all three of the near-by volcanoes. Antigua is surrounded by volcanoes and it’s also on a fault line (which explains all the ruined churches). There was even a mini-earthquake during the meeting.
Nate and I decided to follow a walking tour laid out by the guide book. It started on a hillside over-looking the city, and then we meandered down and basically just walked by lots of churches and ruins of churches. We wrapped up the tour with mojitos at a funky rooftop bar (which was an ex-pat bar, and now I remember why I hate ex-pat bars. Great mojitos, though!)
Here’s the view from hill over-looking Antigua, with the Pacaya volcano in the back:
Ruins of churches:
Mojitos in Antigua:
Later that night we walked through the city and stumbled across another procession, this one featuring little boys in purple robes carrying a huge float of Jesus and Sodom and Gomorrah. What Sodom and Gomorrah have to do with the crucifixion is beyond me. This is what we saw when the float was coming at first:
And then we saw the rest of the float:
What? And please note the small boys wearing purple robes carrying the massive float. There were even some pushing the generator that powered the lights so the band could read their sheet music. Personally, I’d much rather have to push the generator.
Monday through Saturday
No photos or meaningful anecdotes… I was too busy spraining my ankle and getting food poisoning. It was kind of terrible. Nate left on Wednesday, so luckily for him he wasn’t there when the food poisoning hit.
One last thing: An interesting/strange aspect of the hotel we stayed at was that they had a knack for setting up little scenes with colored sand or grains. Easter-fever hit the hotel too and here’s what I found one morning on the floor of the hotel lobby:
The whole thing was probably 12 feet long and 4 feet wide, taking up most of the floor by the check-in area. Those little figurines were about as tall as my index finger. However made this has a lot more patience than I do!
Next up, Guatemalan food!