Skip to content

La Antigua Guatemala

April 18, 2012

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!

2 Comments leave one →
  1. April 24, 2012 10:10 pm

    I thought I’d fill in some of the information about your wonderings. Yes, Easter is huge in both Guatemala and Antigua. People come from all over the country, region and world to see the processions through the streets that you saw. Processions, with the floats, are held every Sunday during Cuaresma (the period of time between the start of Lent and Easter). Some of the processions (like the one I saw a few weeks ago) last for 14 or 15 hours. They’re truly magical to behold.

    As for the scenes from sawdust, those are traditional too. They are called alfombras (carpets, in English) and are made of either colored sawdust or flowers/seeds. They are most often laid out on the cobblestone streets of Antigua and then are walked over by the processions.

    You were clearly there at a great time!

    • April 25, 2012 10:02 am

      Thanks so much for your comment! The processions were amazing and the dedication of the people that carry the floats is truly remarkable. Apparently the Saturday we left Antigua they were expecting millions of people to travel into the city for processions throughout the weekend, as it was the week before Easter. Hopefully we’ll have a chance to go back at some point!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: