We took off at 12:35 am from Calgary Wednesday morning. Had great flights. Our expected two hour layovers turned into mad dashes from customs to our next connection but we made it! Landed around 4:15pm in Guatemala City. Our expected shuttle was not there waiting for us. So we took another shuttle with some Americans to Antigua. The biggest thing we missed out on so far was not having the guy at the airport waiting for us with a sign with our names. I always thought that would be cool. On route to Antigua we were stopped by the polica. I was a little worried but all they cared about was to see if our driver was legit. And he was so we were waved on with a smile! We arrived at our hotel and checked in. Tired and exhausted we headed out to find a place to eat. The quaint little town of Antigua was quite alive. Motorbikes, scooters, taxis, and chicken buses racing by on the cobble stone streets. One thing we noticed right away was the absence of North Americans. I'd expected this to be more of a tourists town. but so far the overwhelming majority consists of Guatemalans. And quite a few of the still dress traditionally with beautiful colours. We walked into one of the first decent restaurants we saw, once past the entrance, to our suprise it opened up to an open air courtyard with plants, and handmade tables and chairs with candles and flowers on the tables. We were greeted by the owner and told the music we heard was the band practicing for tonight. We had a delicious meal while listening to some beautiful authentic pan flute Central American music. It was a great first night. Beside the fact that we might have been slightly ripped off with the exchange rate by our server in our exhausted state. We headed back to our hotel early and fell into our bed.
This morning we woke up eager to explore Antigua in the daylight. The air was warm, no jackets needed. 24 degrees! What a treat from Calgary weather!! Our housekeeper gave us some bananas and bread and we were off! We walked the streets for hours! Taking in the sites, the people, and their way of life. Stopping at great shops with wood furniture that Matt inspected meticulously. Saw many churches and the ruins from previous earthquakes. Met a fellow Canadian photographer in Central Park who bought us coffee. His in-laws live in Antigua for 3 months of the year. So him and his family were out to visit. We swapped stories while we were repeatedly interrupted to have our shoes shined. When we replied "No Gracias", one boy then continued to offer us marijuana or cocaine. He couldn't have been more than 13 years of age. We were surprised at the number a huge cathedrals. All of them hundreds of years old. But way back in 1776 a pair of massive eathquakes struck. now there are these ruins right in the town with incredible damage, huge domes had collapsed and thick walls crumbled in places. Today the ruins are still lived in and worshiped in ( even if there are no roofs). Some have been repaired, but only to a certain extent. We only saw one complete cathedral. We hope to attend mass there Sunday. Tomorrow morning (Friday) we are scheduled to be picked up at 6 am to go on a hike up an active volcano. Supposedly we get close enough to roast marshmallows on the liquid hot lava. We'll see. Till our next blog.
Steph and Matt Corbel
Delicious Guatemalan Coffee
A Land Rover just like ours. =)
Matt inspecting the fine wood furniture. He was quite impressed.
An amigo trying to open a car with a coat hanger. Hopefully his. =)
Ruins of a collapsed cathedral dome.
One of the parks.