View from the balcony of the Black Cat Hostel
For me, Antigua doesn't appear on the city list when I am looking to validate - had to add it myself.
So, Antigua, my third colonial town in Central America and what a place. It used to be the capital, until they decided to build Guatemala City (seems to be a running theme in this part of the world) and I think it has benefitted from that decision. I can't imagine this place with skyscrapers and the like. Those conquistadors certainly knew how to build a city with all the fancy courtyards, squares and churches. And the great thing is, there seems to be a volcano at the end of every street.
Antigua is the home of Santa Semana celebrations in Guatemala with something like 14 days worth of processions.
I was lucky enough to be there for one day of that. I say lucky as I saw a fabulous procession full of roman legions, floats carried by people and powered by generators wheeled behind, neon Jesuses (Jesi?) and some weird purple religious clothing the design of which was co-opted by the Klu Kulx Klan. All of this in the twiglight which lent it an even more surreal air. And lucky because I just had a day of it. I suspect more than that would have got on my tits.
And this was a beauty. It isn't every day that one walks up a volcano and then wanders around about 10 metres from flowing lava. Really, this tour was insane and is waiting for litigation. The basics are you get driven most the way up Volcan Pacaya.
People shouldn't get this close to lava...
Then you walk uphill for 45 minutes (although I could have done it in 25) to a massive lava field. Then, you pick your way through razor sharp fresh
lava - two metres below is apparently the molten variety. You can feel the heat escaping through vents in the ground - the sort of heat that dries yer eyeballs. And then you stand looking at lava flowing and simply appearring from underneath black rocks. I remember looking up at another group earlier in the day standing where I was now standing and seeing liquid gak ooze out of rock directly under the same spot
. Really, it is an episode of Police 999 waiting to happen: "Look at these fools standing on an active volcano
..." Foolish, if spectacular.