A busy week in Antigua Guatemala
23.05.2009 - 30.05.2009 28 °C
We left Flores on an overnight bus with seats on top. The kids had quite a ride before they fell asleep as they watched mountains highway corners from their bubble seat. We arrive in Guatemala city and take a short bus ride to nearby Antigua which used to be the capital before it was leveled, many years ago, by an earthquake. Speaking of earthquakes, there have been been a couple while we are in Guatemala but we haven't felt them. Anyhow, Antigua is a beautifully preserved colonial city whose structures are all low lying and have been maintained remarkably. There are no highrises and only the barios have non-colonial structures. The roads are made of stone and when an area has sunk (pothole) they fix it with more stones. The skyline is just as awesome with three volcanoes and mountains everywhere. The Maya culture colors the streets and parks as stores and peddlers sell their wares.
Volcano Pacaya presented the first really scary experience for all of us. Our guide took us right out onto what seemed a cooled lava flow. But under the hard rocks was incredible volcanic heat that scarred the wits out of us. The rocks were unstable so you could easily loose your footing but the touch of the rocks would literally burn your skin. The kids got very scarred and the guide would not turn back until other people on our hike protested also. You could smell not only the volcano but also burning rubber from shoes. We heard another guy say that it was not nearly this unstable a few weeks ago. For live volcano hikes bring long pants, hiking boots. Yikes, that really shook me up.
The next day we started a week of school and homestay with a family. Our teachers are really good and we learn a lot during this week. The home is quite rustic and located in the bario. The bathroom is hard to handle and the food is minimal but hey it's a Guatemalan experience and it teaches us to appreciate what we have and how clean we keep it. LOL. The kids have fun with the children of the home so we stay and I don't complain. I do get the distinct feeling the family does this for money and not a culture exchange and learning experience for their own kids. We enjoy our afternoon activities with the school such as coffee and music museum, macadamia finca, and walks around town.
We leave for Lake Atitlan on Saturaday and have a fun bus ride through the mountains.