One of the biggest tourist draws in Guatemala is in the highlands, Lake Atitlán, and the many towns that surround it. We stayed over night in Panajachel and then, led by a tour guide from Guatemala City, we took a boat to visit three towns: Santa Catarina, San Antonio and Santiago.
I spent most of my visit to Guatemala in Antigua, which you can see and read about here, but I also took trips to other parts of the country.
All these trips were put together Walter, the owner of the Don Quijote Travel Agency in Antiuga Guatemala.
Here’s Walter’s van to the right. Our trip from Antigua to Chichicastenango took about three hours, which included stopping for breakfast at a place high in the mountains. Though the roads we traveled on included the four-way Pan-American highway, it also included going though plenty of towns and villages and mountain passes, where the roads are twisty and traffic is controlled by speed bumps. Lots of speed bumps.
Walter is the best kind of travel guide — he knows where he’s going, he explains things clearly and he has a great sense of humor. On the morning of our trip to Chichi — as the town was called — I sat up front in the van with him, my camera on my lap. He pulled over now and then as we drove along so I could get shots, such as the one of the volcano/mountain landscape with thick fog in the valley at the top of this post, and (after I turned around) of him and Crit in the early morning sun. Continue reading
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.
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
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