Antigua and Volcanoes!!

Antigua Travel Blog

 › entry 46 of 80 › view all entries

I Arrived in the much calmer Antigua after short "chicken bus" trip from Guatemala City. Getting on the bus was quite funny, Typically the buses have a driver and a wingman who hangs out the door shouting out where the bus is going , trying to beckon passengers on board and taking the money. So this guy is hanging out of one brightly coloured chicken bus shouting "Antigua , Antigua" so I wave at him and shout "si , si". He jumps off the bus and grabs my rucksack and then breaks into a sprint running away from me - in that split second I thought he was legging it with my bag ... so instead of boarding the bus I started to run after him. Then I realised he had actually run off to the back of the bus where you climb the little ladder to put the luggage on the roof .

.. so at this point he was now on the bus , which was moving along  with my luggage, and I´m now standing still next to a moving bus which is disappearing with my rucksack ... so I had to then run after the bus to try and get back to the door at the front and jump on board. Afterwards I just burst out laughing ... it was like Mr. Bean goes to Guatemala.

I spent a few enjoyable days staying in Antigua at a very nice hostel "The Yellow House". Antigua is a hot favourite on the travellers circuit in Central America and its easy to see why with its wealth of colonial architecture and superb setting with volcano backdrop. Unfortunately along with its popularity comes the age-old travellers paradox that the place is totally inundated with tourists , which consequently in my view somehow detracts from it´s appeal.

  I walked all the main sights in Antigua and it really is a very pretty town - there is a main square surrounded by cathedral and a couple of palacios , with the view of the volcano to the South. Then all over town there are many churches and former monasteries/convents which are in various states of repair due to Antigua´s earthquake damage over the centuries - I visited a number of these such as San Francisco , Santa Rosa , Las Capuchinas , La Merced and La Candelaria. However, for me easily the pick of places to see in Antigua is Casa Santa Domingo , a former convent and church which has been very tastefully transformed into a modern hotel , conference centre and group of museums set around the ruins of the old buildings. Santa Domingo really was a truly "wow" place to see and it must be wonderful to stay there , but I enquired as to the room prices and they are my accomodation budget for 1-2 months so alas I was just a visitor for a morning.

On the second full day in Antigua I joined a group trip to hike up an active volcano - Antigua is surrounded by three volcanoes but the most manageable and safe one to get up is Pacaya where the group tours mostly go (Indeed on another of the volcanoes I heard someone was shot recently , so the tours are off at the moment !). Pacaya is 2552m and is maybe about an hour and a half hike to get to the part of the volcano where you can walk around on the hard black cinder and get rather too close to the molten lava flows. The hike is not a walk in the park and it works up a sweat but it wasnt as arduous as some people seemed to find it who jumped on horses within about the first 15 minutes - they take horses up on the hike so as to profit from the stragglers/strugglers.

Its pretty amazing to wander around on a live volcano which is erupting continuously , not exactly totally safe either I am sure , one bloke shredded his leg whilst I was there and I heard from another Brit a guy in his group broke his ankle. If you get too close to the molten lava flows it really is (obviously) burningly hot , but this didnt stop one tour guide performing his party trick of putting a stick into the molten lava with which he subsequently lit a cigarette. Antigua was great for a couple of days or so and you can see why its so popular but that was enough time for me and I am off to Quetzaltenango!!

 

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Chicken bus
Chicken bus
fountain
fountain
Pacaya one of the 3 volcanoes
Pacaya one of the 3 volcanoes
Base camp
Base camp
another view of pacaya
another view of pacaya
trekking up the volcano
trekking up the volcano
and yet another view of pacaya
and yet another view of pacaya
Lava
Lava
a little closer view of lava
a little closer view of lava
and a little more closer
and a little more closer
lava
lava
Tour guide
Tour guide
tour guide again
tour guide again
Plaza
Plaza
view of volcano in background
view of volcano in background
Antigua
photo by: monky