Antigua, Guatemala

In March of 2011 I traveled to Antigua, Guatemala. An amazing city rich in history, art and culture. A place I would love to visit again…

After a short two and a half hour flight from Miami International, we land safely in Guatemala City, Guatemala.

Fifty five minutes later we arrive in Antigua with a mix bag of warm smiles and emotionless stares. I’m pretty sure those are some old bullet holes above the door there too. Some of these structures date back to the mid 1,600’s

One thing I learned quick in Antigua… just cause it looks abandoned, doesn’t mean it is. I had to keep reminding myself that I was in a 3rd world country and that I can’t just go poking my head in anywhere I want to. Security is quite the priority in Guatemala. Almost every door and window had bars on them. Antigua is pretty well policed and I felt pretty safe.. For the most part bandito’s don’t come around here much although the smell of all that tourist money must be tempting for them.

Gallo is the numero uno beer in Guatemala… I drank lots of it. Maybe too much of it.

And behind door number 13…

The new mixes in with the old everywhere you look in Antigua. Ruins from when the volcano flushed everyone out of the city still stand till this day. Needless to say I was in heaven. Its nice to see real architecture for a change… even in its aged, weathered state. It sure beats the pre-fab, faux, pink throw up, palm trees and pelicans parade in Naples. Say that 5 times fast…

In the late morning the clouds break and we have a better view of our surroundings. No matter where you are in the city you can usually see one of the three volcanoes that loom over the valley.

The temperature in Guatemala is a comfortable 75-85F. Almost never humid and always a nice breeze kicking morning, day and night. The perfect climate to grow and harvest one of my favorite things ever… coffee. We made it a point to visit the coffee plantation located just outside of Antigua for some fresh java and some high altitude zip lining… and by high altitude I mean like hanging on a wire over 2,000 ft. in the air. It was nuts but what a great way to spend the afternoon.

After heading back to town, we soak in some more of Antigua before we return to our hotel and catch a nap.

We are greeted by one of three the stray dogs that the owner of the hotel lets hang around. She follows us up to the room and with every step of her bum leg my heart melts a little bit more. The dogs can smell a sucker from a mile away and she has locked onto us with the sad eyes. Lauren asks for a handshake and she gives her paw without hesitation..that most certainly deserves some beef jerky.

Nightlife in Antigua is amazing on so many levels.. Most of it was a blur of alcohol, smoke and laughs so the pics will have to speak for themselves. We went to this one bar that was on a 3rd story terrace and it overlooked a ruin right next door. I was so tempted to climb over there and explore but I was too hammered to even take a steady picture let alone launch my fat ass off a ledge that I probably would never be able to climb back up.

Genuine absinthe prepared the right way is an amazing thing my friends. This place also had some of the best mac n cheese I have ever had… didn’t see that one coming.

Yup reggae in Guatemala and it was awesome… So good that the lead singer of Zanate n Stereo wasn’t even afraid to puff on some herb while he gave praise to Jah. Even though possession of marijuana is frowned upon in Antigua they do seem to tolerate it to a point as seen here.

Thank heaven for Tienda La Estrellita. Most stores close early in the evening and if you don’t get what you need before they call it a day, you will probably find yourself here. OCD anonymous is also held here every third Wednesday of the month.

Mornings in Antigua are busy with locals getting to school and work… some streets busier than others.

Tuk Tuks are a quick way to get around but expect a bumpy ride on these streets.

Not everyone in Antigua is on vacation. There were peddlers, beggars and crooks o’ plenty. I made sure to take care of some of the less fortunate during my travels… they too can smell a sucker a mile away

We happened to be visiting the week of Lent so we got to see the city streets decorated with these very ornate wreaths and walkways made of flowers, colored saw dust and other random materials.

The procession trample these beautiful pieces of art as they make their way through the streets. I was sure to snap a few pics during the day before they were destroyed.

I guess size doesn’t matter. This was made by a young child while her older siblings helped out with a bigger piece.

Once night fell, everyone started filling the streets waiting for the procession to begin. The band kicked things off with a few traditional favorites.

The men and boys of several churches carried these huge floats on their backs and shoulders all through the streets. The majority of people in Guatemala are Catholic so this is a pretty big deal for them.. not just in Antigua but all over the country.

On one our last days in Antigua we decided to go check out Casa Santo Domingo where our friends were staying. This place was not only a hotel it was a museum that housed thousands of Antigua artifacts dating back all the way to the late 1,500’s. There was art for as far as the eye could see covering the lobby, common areas and hallways. These marionettes were everywhere. I meant to purchase some before we left but I ended up buying a Maximon statue instead.

Towards the back of the property there was an underground catacomb and some tombs next to the cathedral ruins. High profile priests and other holy men alike were buried there. Some of the tombs were damaged from the elements others were robbed through the years.

These remains have been here for hundreds of years and could be viewed down in the catacomb. I’m pretty sure I was not supposed to take a picture of this but the voices in my head told me it was ok.

This is a skeleton that was in one of the above ground tombs.

Truth be told I have at least another 100 pictures I could easily post and talk your ear off about but I might save that for another day. Hope you have enjoyed the pics and write up. If you ever get the chance to visit Antigua I highly recommend it. The food, the sights, the culture, the art… its all there.


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