You guate, you guate, you guate

Antigua Travel Blog

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The amazing view of Pacaya from my window

After months and months of hearing about Guatemala I was excited beyond belief to be flying into the enchanting country.  It's many travellers favourite place in Central America and so my expectations were high.  It's mix of Mayan and Hispanic culture, cheap prices, friendly people and enough crazy adventures to keep you occupied, it's little wonder that it's a backpacker hotspot.

After weeks of planning and route plotting, nature intervened and decided to send hurricane Agatha through Central America and it had particulalrly devastating consequences for Guatemala creating a much discussed "sink hole" in Guate City. At the same time Pacaya Volcano in Antigua decided to erupt after years of dormancy and thousands of backpackers climbing her to see lava flows, I guess she finally had enough.

Antigua captured in a photo
  So it was within these conditions that I stepped back onto Central American soil.  The plans to head directly to Tikal seemed futile when the weather forecast was torrential rain, so instead I came out of the airport and jumped straight onto the bus for Antigua. 

As luck would have it I shared a bus with a fascinating Mayan archeaologist who was responsible for many of the Mayan sites in Guatemala.  I spent a great hour talking and learning about a culture whose history had been a mystery to me.  After months in South America learning about Incas and Gouchos I was ready to learn about a new culture, and what a culture it is.  Steeped in mysticism, deeply intrenched in a hierarchical system it's an amazing display of a developing civilisation.

Chicken bus!
  But more on that later.

I pulled into Antigua in the pouring rain and made another great decision on hostels.  I checked into the Black Cat.  Now this wasn't a great hostel per sey (cold, dank, and rather unsafe) but it had a great menu (try the veggie fajitas ... awesome!), great atmosphere and most importantly incredible people.  I met two wonderful people who would influence much of my time in Guate and I have a feeling will be great friends.  Micael from Israel and Nicole from Canada. 

I woke early the next morning to find the rain had finally abated and revealed the true beauty of this city.  An old colonial city it's charm and character come from the brightly coloured single story buildings, cobbled streets and huge array of places of worship.

  Monastries and churches puncture the sky line and the whole scene is backed by a ring of volcanoes, including the recently awoken Pacaya.  It's spectacular in a way postcards just don't do justice to.  It's easy to see why people stay.  With an abundance of gorgeous places to eat (where a veggie lactose free person isn't all that weird),  coffee shops, bookshops and a thriving market where haggling and brow beating fill the air, it's no wonder people get stuck here for a while.  I loved it.

Despite my wish to climb Pacaya, due to the recent eruption it was deemed unsafe to climb.  Now bear in mind this is Guatemala where up until the morning of the day it blew it's top tourists were still clmbing her, if they say it's unsafe it's quite literally off the hook!  Instead Michael and I went for a walk through the city taking pictures and soaking up the atmosphere before hitting Rainbow Cafe for a delicious lunch and smoothie.  Life is tough.

The one and only night out took us to Moco Locos where the drinks were free for women as long as you could get to the bar.  Elbows out and Latino standards assumed we barged our way to the front rather successfully and at the end of the night the walk home was a lot more entertaining than the walk there.

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The amazing view of Pacaya from my…
The amazing view of Pacaya from m…
Antigua captured in a photo
Antigua captured in a photo
Chicken bus!
Chicken bus!
Loco in Moco Loco!
Loco in Moco Loco!
Typical street scene of Antigua - …
Typical street scene of Antigua -…
The colourful market stalls
The colourful market stalls
Which to choose?
Which to choose?
The Rainbow cafe - yum
The Rainbow cafe - yum
Antigua
photo by: monky