2015 Mar Day 1 Antigua
Semana Santa in Guatemala….
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This is my third time to Guatemala. The first was in the early Seventies. The capital seems to have become more affluent, just since my last trip less than ten years ago. Signs of the corporate global economy are everywhere: Walmart, Pizza Hut (the taxi driver from the airport to Antigua says Pizza Hut pizzas are the very best,) Macdonalds, Burger King, Toyota, Xerox, and many more. Traffic in Guatemala City came to a standstill due to a big event at the zoo. The air is filled with large particles of smog debris that smack you in the face when your car window is opened.
Thankfully we sped up into cleaner air once out of the city, but billboards line the highway to Antigua. In a country where Mayans are a majority, the ads tout a very European image.
Finally in Antigua, after settling in at the Hotel Hermano Pedro, I took a climb up onto the roof to see views of the entire city. The hotel is one of the oldest buildings in Antigua, just a couple of blocks off the main square. It is said to have been owned by Doña Leonor, daughter of Pedro Alverado, a conquistadore known as the “Conquerer of Guatemala.”
A distant volcano adds depth to the rooftop view. The hotel has lovely patios brimming with bougainvillea and other colorful plants. A church bell gongs about every half a minute, bringing back times long past.
Three generations, Alba, her two children, and her mother, sell handicrafts in one of the hotel’s patios.
After catching up with my friend Georgia on happenings since our trip in Peru, I decided to see a bit of the town. The main plaza, a hubbub of activity, sits surrounded on three sides by colonial buildings with arched walkways and on the fourth side with the cathedral.
Young boys play kickball in the plaza, but some older guys get their exercise breakdancing like I’ve never seen before. They take turns competing to execute nearly impossible moves to the loud strains of disco music on a boombox. If you look closely, you’ll see a girl sitting on the curb with her chin in her hand. She gets out there and dances with the best of them.
Inside the cathedral, something like a diorama over the altar shows Christ with his crown of thorns. The image is strangely three-dimensional, as the red cloak appears to be actual cloth while the rest of the image is a flat painted backdrop.
In front of the altar, an impressive display of fruits and flowers surrounds a carpet of lilies and sunflowers. Abbondanza.
It’s hard to tell what these carpets are made from. They are very delicate. Maybe colored chalk. On this one stands two salamander-like creatures made of bread, mouths of red paper.
Taking photos in the cathedral.
Looking for dinner, I came across this market street to the side of the cathedral. Whoopee! Street food!
Empanadas, tacos, tostadas, corn on the cob, carne, pollo, you name it. I joined the people sitting on the cathedral steps enjoying their meal.
Freshly cut, yummy, sweet, doughy, sugary, snake-like stuff. I can’t remember the name, but I do recall the gooey taste.
This man is making fried banana chips.
With no room for banana chips or for any other sweets after my delicious taco and potatoes in mola sauce, I’ll be sure to come back here for more. A very good first day.