As we entered with the mammoth through colonial Antigua, at no more than 10km/h thanks to the beautiful pavement, you could only hear inside the mammoth “ah, how beautiful”. Surrounded by volcanoes, the city has managed to keep its traces. And despite being touristy with American fast food chains making their presence felt, none of this is visible as everyone is camouflaged in their colorful houses with wooden signs.
We can walk all over the city, always wearing Namorarte 's beautiful shoes. There is no shortage of places to stop and enjoy life. What fascinated us the most was the market. Huge, we can get lost in there. With the ladies dressed in a thousand colors selling their vegetables and fruits. Narrow, we squeezed with Duna along the sidewalks. There is everything, from the food area to clothes, gadgets,… we buy fruit and vegetables to cook later. Ah, the lychees, how delicious. We've never eaten anything other than a can.
An acquaintance in Mexico, the son of a Guatemalan mother, said that we had to try the campera chicken. We love these food quests! We look for the restaurant. The “pollo campero” is a Guatemalan fast-food chain, similar to KFC. We go in, sit down and the employees serve us. Around us there are few tourists and tables with entire families: children, parents and grandparents. They in their embroidered clothes. 100% approved, we eat the chicken with grape juice.
We leave to continue with our tour. Tourists invade the city, feeling, like us, lucky. Here there is no tourist hunting like in Mexico, people admire and are curious. We thought about how we would like to meet some Portuguese, we miss sharing a few laughs in our language.
We want to go up to the volcano but it will have to be for another day. We have to prepare for the wedding: load cameras, empty memory cards, do laundry. We slept in the mammoth but enjoyed the facilities at Hostal Antigueño. We thought we were only staying two nights, but how naive. Antigua clung to us and we stayed for a week. It's great to be here. We took the opportunity to rest after the wedding. We had asked ourselves what politics would be like here, the schools, what they offer the people. Prices are very similar to those practiced in Portugal for everyday things. But people mostly live in poverty. The groom tells us that the police are corrupt here too, as in Mexico. But unlike Mexico where the police even with tourists are corrupt, here there is a certain admiration for foreigners. We never feel threatened and they explain to us that the problem of violence in Guatemala is the neighbors. That is, if a person has some money the neighbors know and will rob him. It is common, therefore, those who have more economic possessions to carry weapons to defend themselves. At the wedding we went to, we see at least 10 men who carry their guns in their belts, very naturally. Antigua escapes this stereotype of violence. You have to be careful, but nothing compared to what happens in the country's capital. Where people used to carry a cell phone for the thief and a real one, explains Kimberly, who has already been robbed in the city. Schooling is not compulsory, if parents do not have the chance to take their children to school, they do not.
We leave to discover the rest of the city on Monday. We climb to the “Cerro da Cruz” and see the water volcano in front of us and the city at our feet.
There is no shortage of charming hotels here, but at the same time, restaurants with great prices. The handicraft shops are a sight to behold and life in the square goes on.
We're going to have an ice cream and a girl comes to Duna. He makes us laugh with his child's eyes, so pure as he answers our questions: how old are you? do you have dogs too? She sits with us without asking for anything, gives Duna crumbs and when we're done, she wants to clean our table and take things to the trash. We go out and look for his mother to ask if we can get her an ice cream. She has the flu so it's best not to. We looked so sad that the mother suggested that we give her the equivalent of 20 cents to buy a treat she likes.
We stayed a few more days at the hostal to update the blog and take care of some photos. We learn about the challenge of climbing one of the volcanoes. Due to its magic, Acatenango is the one that most attracts our attention. I'll check the altitude and it's just a little higher than Cebreiro. Which is part of the Spanish Camino de Santiago and which I have already climbed. I know how horrible it was, but the worst thing was going down. We make up our minds to go.
While we don't, let's get to know this charming city. We took the opportunity to visit the mechanic and have a check-up. The cold that you feel at night is great for sleeping and that contributes to our not wanting to leave. We stroll through the ruins, see the houses. We enter the cafes that extend to interior courtyards with gardens and fountains. There is nothing not to like here. Dune is welcome in most places. We can walk everywhere. Access to fresh vegetables allows us to cook at home.
I wish they could all come to Antigua. If you come, don't forget to:
1 - visit the ruins;
2 - get lost in the market;
3 - eat an ice cream in the central square and go up to the balcony of the town hall for some good photos;
4 - Admire the volcanoes and for the brave climb one. To climb Acatenango, people are advised to sleep almost at the summit and be there for the sunrise. If what you're looking for is a family plan then go up to Pacaya. It's a shorter walk and can be done on the same day;
5 - go up to Cerro da Cruz, there are stairs and in less than 30 minutes you can see the whole city;
6 - try Guatemalan food and especially coffee.