Saturday, May 30, 2015

Guatemala, 1st stop

After a few delays, we finally boarded the plane that brought us to Guatemala!!

The first impressions from above showed us a city that looked like it was built of slums (Guatemala City) and a lot of an intense green around. It was, at the same time, a feeling of wonder and the first impact of a reality that we already knew tat existed but never saw first hand (at least, not on this part of the World).

After we passed immigration we are welcomed to the country with a live band of typical music of Guatemala! It was 10am and I wondered if they were always there for any flight! So it was with our spirits full of this country sounds and our backs free of any weight (see "How to survive with little so far away from home" post) that we exited the airport. With luck, and despite the many delays, the arranged pick-up service that we had agreed with our hostel was actually there, which made everything much easier! So there we were, on our way to our first stop in Guatemala: Antigua!

Antigua in the old capital of the country that was abandoned after a strong earthquake in the XVIII century which destroyed most of the city. There still are some ruins from that time, some of them are now being rebuilt (or at least, that was what it seemed).

Nowadays, the city comes as a mix of a simple and traditional way of living, with all streets made of large coble stones, buildings with no more than two stories of height, shops that sell a bit of everything and places where you can eat galinha (hen) instead of just pollo (the usual chicken) - the galinha meat is a bit harder but a lot tastier as well, with modern day references such as Burger King, McDonalds, Dunkin' Donuts and North Face! All these international chains have a store there; even Dunkin' Donuts!!

This is one of the main streets in Antigua
And then there is the people you see in the streets. Being a hub in Central America both for Spanish lessons and Volunteers programmes, Antigua is full of foreigners (a lot of Americans but not only), most of them staying here for more than just a couple of days (like we were). On the other side Antigua is full of women and children dressed in the colourful traditional clothings. It is true that a lot of the people with these clothes were actually sellers (of fruit or typical art&crafts) you could see that the clothes were still part of the city's and country's culture. This was later confirmed as we were travelling in the rest of the country. Beyond that, the way they use the "clothes" to carry their children (some, not that little) is something that will stick with me , just like the photo below:

Yes, walking, gaining a living and breastfeeding in one go! This is, for me, the ultimate multitasking!

When talking about Antigua, you HAVE to talk about the setting as well. The city is surrounded by 5 volcanoes and mountains which brings an amazing background for when you want to linger in the central plaza or in one of the roof tops. In fact it was an amazing scenery for whatever you wanted to do. Antigua is, indeed a very beautiful city and I wouldn't mind at all to come back and stay a little longer!

There was a lot more to say about Antigua, but I will let the images to do all the speaking for me:

The fountain on the main square had 4 of these statues
The central square is beautiful even at night
Antigua has one of the largest celebrations of the Semana Santa (Easter) when these are used

The arts&crafts market

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