New Year morning. The only evidence of the previous night's revelry (which was considerable and noisy) was the ubiquitous confetti-like paper litter on the streets, the remnants of fireworks that were set off to welcome the new year. To our immense relief the cars that had choked every narrow street seemed to have magically disappeared leaving the quaint cobbled streets relatively free for walking.
A former capital, Antigua boasts of an impressive catalog of colonial relics in a striking setting. It is surrounded by 3 volcanoes that serve as useful markers to orient oneself. Criss-crossing the grid patterned Avenidas and Calles that are frequently punctuated by pretty squares and small parks, you come upon beautifully renovated public buildings and crumbling shells of what would once have been elegant churches in equal measure.
A prime example of the former is the Church and Convent of Santo Domingo. It was founded in the 16th century by Dominican friars and was once the biggest and richest monastery in Antigua. It was in ruins after 3 earthquakes in the 16th century. More recently it was excavated by archaeologists in the 70s and is now inovatively restored as the Santo Domingo Hotel that incorporates the ruined monastery buildings into the design.
We also visited the old but fully functioning Church of San Francisco just as throngs of people in their colorful traditional clothes were gathering for the New Year's day mass. The atmosphere outside was festive with food and other stalls. Inside, we saw a few faithful make their way up the aisle on their knees.
Many other beautiful churches and buildings were either still awaiting renovation or were closed for the holiday. Nevertheless, walking down the quaint cobbled streets allowed us to soak in the atmosphere of this quaint town that is increasingly popular with expats and students who come here to join one of many language schools.
With an afternoon to spare, we made an impromptu decision to head to Guatemala City which is just over 1.5 hr bus ride away. This would give us a few hours to check out capital and also book tickets for the night bus to Tikal (this was in the future, we weren't ready to leave the region yet) in person rather than through a travel agent. We made a beeline to the bus stand where we could catch a chicken bus to the city.
Well, the psychedelic coloured buses would rival anything back in the "old country".
Where are the people ?? Everybody seems to be sleeping after partying away new year's eve.
Happy New Year to you - wishing you another year of golden travels. From , on Jan 11, 2015 at 04:59AM
How many WHS on this trip ? And what's the tally now ? :) From, on Jan 26, 2015 at 05:07AM