Today was the first day of my 17 Day GAP Adventure - Volcano Trail tour. It's considered to be arrival day, so basically it was a freeday and a welcome dinner. I used today to further explore Antigua before we headed to Copan, Honduras tomorrow. I checked out the Plaza Central and the surrounding sites. The park was a lot smaller than I expected it to be, there were a lot of people just chilling there. I decided to check out the Catedral de San Jose, I paid 3Q to enter the Ruinas La Recoleccion. The ruins were really interesting to explore, there was no roof intact but you could see the remaining domes. The damage was caused from centuries of earthquakes that destroyed large portions. I wandered around the entire area, there were several rooms in the back.
There were also two flights of stairs, one led to a type of altar and the other led to a burial vault. The burial vault consisted of 4 chambers and was regularly used for Maya religious ceremonies. It kind of scary being in there by myself, I didn't stay down there too long. After I finished exploring the ruins, I tried to find the entrance to the Palacio de los Capitanes. I walked around the entire building but couldn't find an entrance. I decided to check out the local market to see if I could find anything to buy for cheap. They sell a lot of illegally copied DVDs, no wonder the DVD market is declining in sales. The market reminded me of the swap meets back at some.
After exploring the town, I headed back to the hotel to meet the rest of the group for our welcome dinner. I met my tour leader, Leslie and a few other people at the lobby around 8:00PM. We walked over to the other hotel where we were having a BBQ buffet dinner. Leslie went over the details of the trip and collected our local payments before we started dinner. At dinner, we met the rest of the group. They had just finished a 17 day tour through Mexico and Belize, a few of them were continuing on toward Costa Rica and Panama. Finished up dinner and got to know some of the people on the group before heading back to the room to get some sleep.