Agua Volcano looms over Antigua Guatemala to the south, as seen from Cerro de la Cruz to the north.
When thinking about going abroad, I always have these equations in mind:
Tourist = Seeing others as others
Traveler = Discovering self as other
My take is that most people are a little of both: you can’t help but feel strange being in a new place, as long as you are open to learning about that place; you can’t truly let go of who you are — the sense of identity that allows you to feel at home in your skin no matter where you are.
With that in mind, my wife and I headed to Guatemala, where a friend was house-sitting in the former colonial capital, Antigua Guatemala.
Here’s a video of the yard of the house we stayed in:
The owners of the home, Americans who worked in international aid and development, had brought a few touches from past postings to their home, including lots of furniture from India. That includes this elephant, which was part of a chain that supported a bench swing just outside the bedrooms and facing the back yard. The yard was verdant with a green lawn and flowering bushes, including rose bushes. The city itself is referred to as the “land of eternal spring,” with low temperatures in the mid 50s and highs in the 70s year-round.
The house is in the Candelaria section of the town, named for the ruins of a Spanish church adjacent to the property. Antigua had been the colonial capital until an earthquake in the 1770s destroyed nearly all the buildings, including this church.
The ruins of the church in the Candelaria section of Antigua, Guatemala.
Some of the major tourist attractions of Antigua are the ruins of churches that have been converted into museums, but the one at Candelaria just sits there, protected by some rusty and sad-looking barbed wire. I took the photo standing on a basketball court, which must’ve once been the courtyard of the ruined church. Teens played there every day, and a fruit vendor and a tortilla vendor set up in the space between the street and the basketball court, so the area has maintained its use as a public gathering spot. Continue reading