Now that it’s almost three months later I think I should finish up my last Guatemala post! I shared about all the different events that I participated in during the mission’s part of the trip, but my parents and I stayed afterwards in Antigua and Guatemala City for a few days so I wanted to share our adventures then as well. (If you want to read about my other Guatemala adventures the posts are on my main page.)
The second Saturday we were there was the last day of the mission trip, and we all left the wonderful hostel we had stayed at during the trip early in the morning. The rest of the team went back to Guatemala City to go to the airport and leave for the states. Mom, dad and I however, took an Uber to Antigua and got settled to spend the rest of Saturday, Sunday, and some of Monday there. Antigua is such a beautiful colonial town still heavily influenced by the Spaniards from so long ago. The buildings are all Spanish style, while the town is brightly colored and the streets are cobbled. If you ever can, I definitely recommend visiting Antigua someday. There is so much culture, so much life there… I really loved getting to explore the city more. The three of us did some exploring, but mom and I eventually left my dad at the air bnb to rest while we took off to explore.
One little note…. our air bnb was so cute! There was a middle atrium that was filled with lush green plants and then the bedrooms surrounded that common room. The rooftop was also covered in lush plants with chairs and tables so you could enjoy the views of both volcanos, Fuego and Agua. You had a perfect view of Fuego letting off little grey poofs during the day, and at night if it was clear you could actually see red lava erupting from the volcano as well. That is the first time I have seen an active volcano. Wow was that incredible!
The first day, Saturday, mom, dad and I walked around. We found the Gnc there and I had to compare and see how it was different from my job at home. Mom and I then went exploring to find some of the old churches and museums. There was one, the Monastery de Santo Domingo, that had catacombs under it, but when we went they were closing early for a wedding so we decided we would try again the next day. We instead climbed up to the highest hill overlooking all of Antigua. There is a cross at the top of the hill that people climb up to take pictures by. I was super tired and the path was dusty so I had a slightly hard time breathing while hiking up, but once I got to the top the view was completely worth the struggle. So worth it. Hiking down we then went and picked up dad to go eat dinner together before going home to rest.
Sunday we rode an Uber from Antigua to Lake Amatitlan for church at the Orthodox Monastery of the Holy Trinity. It was so incredible to be in the beautiful church and see all the frescoed icons surrounded by Spanish and the liturgy chanted in Spanish as well. I even recognized some of the melodies and was able to sing along. Such a peaceful morning. We then had lunch with the nuns and fr. before walking down to the lake to explore. There is a small castle on the monastery’s property down by the lake that we had to see so we hiked down and at first just hopped the fence and explored around the castle until the security guard came and let us into the castle itself to look around. The castle was build back in the fifties supposedly by a wealthy man for his mistress to live in. At the beginning the only way to get to the castle was by boat so it felt very Bond like. Dad even had a run in with some bats. Very exciting to explore.
Getting back to Antigua was a trip, for some reason our Uber drivers kept refusing us so we tried to get a ride for about a half hour before a nice guy came finally and took us back. Once back dad lay down and mom and I decided to try and go to that museum we had tried to go to the day before. We got in this time and were able to explore the ruins of the church, monastery, catacombs as well as all the museums and exhibits built into each area. Towards the end we heard some live Spanish guitar coming from a section of the museum we hadn’t explored yet. Walking over we came across a live Flamenco dance performance with live Spanish guitar and vocals and got to watch the rest of the performance for free. It was incredible! Definitely one of my trip highlights. The history and culture is rich there. That evening then the three of us also went to dinner to a really cute cafe and they had live music there as well. Definitely a fun day.
Monday morning we took our time packing and soaking up the last memories of Antigua we could before we took an Uber to Guatemala City. We met up with an awesome friend at a coffee shop as well before leaving Antigua. The difference is incredible and I instantly did not feel as comfortable in Guatemala City as I had in Antigua. We did stay at a cute little hotel though, called The Meraki, mostly because it was a greek word….. I was starving when we got there so we walked down to the local McDonald’s. Definitely had a freak out moment there that rattled me for the rest of the day. While sitting at the booth I saw out of the corner of my eye a guy walking past the window. Once he saw me he suddenly dropped to his stomach and proceeded to crawl through the sliding glass doors all the way across the floor to where I was sitting and started mumbling at me in Spanish and trying to grab my ankles. Luckily the security guard spotted him just then and came and scared him off, but I definitely was shaken. Being a tourist and being incredibly blonde I forget sometimes I can stand out like a sore thumb. Mom and I afterwards explored a really fancy mall and super market which honestly was just what I needed after that scare. To see familiar shop names and brands… I also felt like I didn’t stand out as much.
Tuesday morning we left super early. While I loved my trip I think the last day really shook me so I was really relieved when we reached American soil and Texas. It was no fun however, going from being able to wear shorts to getting home and instantly needing to bundle up and cover up. I miss the warmth for sure.
I miss a lot more than the warmth though. I miss the slowness and enjoyment if daily life. The rich culture and history. The kindness and love and the people. We take so much for granted here. I definitely realized I was pretty materialistic and half the things I take for granted I don’t actually need to survive… It puts life into perspective for you. What is truly important and what is fleeting. What matters in the long run and what you can actually do without even though you think you can’t. Think about that! What are some things you think you need, but if you take a step back and really reevaluate things you don’t actually need at all?
Also another take away note….. You need to visit Antigua!
Photos taken from the web.