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Published: November 21st 2018
Fri 16-Sat 17 November - Day 21 to 22 - Antigua
We arrived around 2.00pm after negotiating the busy, large city of Guatemala, at the UNESCO World Heritage Site, Antigua, one of the most delightful colonial towns in Central America. After booking in at the very friendly Hotel Posada Los Bucaros in our spacious room with 2 double beds and a single bed, Alfredo took us on the usual orientation walk around the city.
The local indigenous could be seen throughout the cobbled streets and plazas of the city in their colourful costumes, selling their crafts and textiles. They are very short people, wearing colourful blouses and full skirts. Often, they were carrying their wares on their head as well as carrying a baby in a wrap.
As the cultural centre of Guatemala, Antigua was an ideal place to experience the traditional music, architecture and art of the country. Rich in ornate churches, convents, parks, plazas, cafés, restaurants, bars and colourful street markets and surrounded by awe-inspiring volcanoes, Antigua is one place that we will never forget as we fell in love with it.
We headed towards the town
Active Fuego Volcano outside Antigua
The next day it errupted and some of the town was evacuated
square after walking under the famous arches of one of the pedestrian streets. Government buildings, the cathedral, restaurants and many retail outlets lined the square. During our second day in the town, they were celebrating the Festival of Flowers, so all the streets were heavily decorated with the most magnificent flower arrangements. Hope you enjoy the photos.
We also visited the Chocolate Museum where you could also attend chocolate-making classes.
We found wonderful restaurants and coffee outlets. We visited the beautiful artisan markets with good quality and colourful items for sale. On the other side of the road was the market for hardgoods and fresh produce. We also visited the local bus stop. Why? Because it was full of privately owned, highly decorated, colourful busses. It was incredible to watch the busses coming and going. We had to watch where we were standing otherwise, we might have been run down!!!
The next day we got up at 5.00am for a 5.30am breakfast before driving for 1 hour. We were about to do something I had come to central America for, to climb an active volcano. The last one I climbed was
in Chile, but we had to turn around at about 200m before the summit as there was a snow storm approaching.
A little village was at the base of Volcano Pacaya. The villagers collected the 50 Q (Guatemalan Quetzal 5.5Q = $1.00 AUD) for the entrance of the Pacaya National Park. They also had many, many horses which they encouraged us to take as ‘taxis’ up the volcano. They were very persistent and was walking up the path with us. They were a little nuisance as the horses competed for path-space. The horse owners were watching the slower trekkers of our group, hoping they would change their mind and take a horse ‘taxi’.
Half way up the volcano was a little tin shop with jewellery made of lava. It was very unusual. Anyone who bought a piece also received a little purse which was made from a villager’s blouse and skirt material. They were very enterprising.
We then walker carefully over the sharp, hard lava where we started to feel the heat of the rocks. Our guide stopped and cooked us some marshmallows in the heat of the lave. We could
see the lave flowing down the side of the volcano. As it is so active no one was allowed to hike to the top.
In the distance we could see 2 more volcanoes including the very active Fuego Volcano. This volcano erupted in June/July 2018 and killed many people. We saw the path of the lava when driving back to Antigua. The devastation killed the trees, destroyed many houses, bridge and roads and waterways. There was extensive roadworks being done and the construction looked very organised and advanced.
The day after we left the town the Fuego Volcano erupted again. Part of the town had to be evacuated. We will see the results when we return to the town in 5 days time.
After arriving back in the town, we found a wonderful little Fernando Café for lunch and the best cappuccinos and empanadas.
I then hiked up the Cerro de la Cruz, a lookout over the city. There was a large cross at the top as well as extensive markets. The path zigzagged up the mountain. Tom came up part way with me then returned to the hotel.
That night, after messaging Kerrie & Gemma, we met 5 new members of our new group, after saying goodbye to 11 members of our previous, most of us went to the Londoner Pub for dinner and music. We were going to a well known crepe restaurant but there was a very long line of people waiting to get a seat. On our way home, the line was still long!! It was earlyish to bed as we were departing at 6.00am for Chichicastenango & Panajachel.
A bit of Antigua history : It was the capital until a disastrous major earthquake in 1773 damaged most of the city. The Spanish Crown ordered the Capital to be moved to a new location, which by the name "Nueva Guatemala de la Asunción" became the modern Guatemala City. In 1776 the old capital was ordered abandoned. Not everyone left, but from bustling capital it became a provincial town, filled with the ruins of former glory. It became known as "Antigua Guatemala", meaning "Old Guatemala".
In the 20th century there was increasing appreciation for the large amount of preserved colonial Spanish architecture here, development to host visitors, and
the city was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1979.
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