4 March 2015
I awake fairly refreshed having had the assistance of a sleeping tablet. Our room is almost in the main square – so we are woken early by various buses and trucks tooting their horns for all the workers going off to nearby towns; roosters are crowing, dogs barking, kids getting ready for school…..
We try to help making breakfast but our tortilla-making skills are not good (these ones are much thicker than we have experienced previously). We enjoy delicious scrambled eggs (with tortillas of course) and some more of their homemade tea (made from toasted corn, rice and another ingredient that I missed).
Our minibus picks us up at 8.00am for a 3 hour drive through to Antigua. Hugo tells us about the history of Guatemala and particularly the Civil War. We are horrified by the involvement of the US in destabilising what had been a stable democracy and leading to a long and brutal civil war (I had been reading about this the previous evening also).
When we arrive in Antigua our rooms are not ready so we stow our bags and head off on an orientation walk. Again our Hotel “Los Bucaros” is conveniently centrally located (we discover that it is a hotel of two parts and we are in the smaller part). Antigua used to be the capital city but was partly destroyed by the Santa Marta earthquake in 1773. The capital was moved to Guatemala City in 1776and Antigua is now an interesting mix of ruins and colonial buildings – it is a UNESCO World Heritage site. We really enjoy the atmosphere as we walk around; the square is beautiful with huge jacaranda trees in flower. There are volcanoes all around and lots of churches.
On the way to the square we pass through the Santa Catalina arch that was built to allow the nuns from the convent to cross the road undisturbed. This is one of the best known landmarks of Antigua, and we make sure to take a photo of the volcano behind it while it is visible. We then stop at Hotel Posada de Don Rodrigo – an old private house that is now a hotel but we are allowed a tour to see what the old haciendas were like.
After our orientation Lily, Anne, Gill and I have lunch in a lovely courtyard restaurant that had lovely fresh vegetarian food on the menu – I had toasted baguette with garlic, topped with roasted eggplant and capsicum and served with a salad (all prepared with purified water). I also had a chai latte made with fresh spices.
We then met Hugo in the square to visit Santo Domingo – a huge church complex in ruins from the earthquake and now partially restored as a museum (looked after by both a hotel and the university). We enter via the university side so that our entrance fees will go to them. It is very well done with combinations of ancient ceramics and comparisons with modern artworks, paintings, catacombs and catholic relics.
Back at the hotel our rooms are ready and Gill and I have a delightful room with a window that opens out overlooking the woods (we will be here 3 nights). We enjoy some downtime to do washing and generally sort ourselves out.
In the evening we walk to the Rainbow Café for dinner. Rainbow Café is known for talks from a whole range of different charities and has live music every evening. It is very crowded and the Maya Roots band is playing reggae music. It is very hard to talk but the food was good: I had fajitas and a mojito; others enjoyed nachos and falafels – all were huge and served with tortillas. It was Camilla’s birthday and Hugo had organised a cake (plus Happy Birthday played by the band).
For this and other similar trips see:
Peregrine Adventures Travel Destinations (Comfort and independent tours)
Geckos Adventures Deals for South & Central America (for 18 to 30s)
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