Antigua Guatemala (07 – 11 December)

Antigua means old, so its one of the oldest cities in Guatemala and til 1776 it was the capital of the country. Antigua Guatemala, or more commonly referred to just Antigua, is significant for its’ well-preserved Spanish baroque style of architecture. There are numerous old churches which some of them are well preserved but some are also in ruins.

It is a wonderful city surrounded by volcanos. The most outstanding of those is Volcán de Agua, which historically has also done the most damage to the city. To enjoy the spectacular view of the city and the volcano we walked on top of the nearby mountain called Cerro de La Cruz which means the mountain of the cross.

There is another volcano nearby called Fuego. It is still active today and we also witnessed the “coughs” of this volcano where white dust cloud emerges from the volcano. We also got some worrying messages from our parents who had read from local news about the small eruption of one of the volcanos around the city. Luckily we were not close by and also for locals, it was not so big of news because those small eruptions are pretty common there. There are about 37 volcanos in Guatemala.

Apart from volcanos and beautiful city we were more attracted by local people. Majority of women and kids were wearing traditional national clothes. Guatemala has a history of dying the clothes with natural colors, thereby the more colorful the pattern of the clothes the more glorious was the lady. In addition, all the handicrafts, dishes and other souvenirs looked like there has been a true color “explosion”.

We enjoyed all of this and tried to capture at least some of it with our camera. When we tried to take a picture of local people, they were rather shy and refused. Despite that, we got some good pictures.

We stayed in Antigua for 4 days and most of the days we slept long til noon to recover from our extensive USA road trip. Every day we walked around in the old city and tried some local foods. Tacos, tortillas, grilled corn cob, michelada and so on. Latter is actually a local drink which is a mix of beer, lime juice, and assorted sauces, spices, and peppers. Seemed that food has to be as colorful as local clothes. In every corner, there was tortillerias tortilla bakery where local girls were cooking and selling freshly made tortillas.

We did not want to pack our days with tours meant for tourists. Thereby we only visited a local nearby coffee farm. It was an exceptional opportunity to see where our coffee comes from and how much hard work and manual labor it requires. Check out our Instagram story to get a better insight of it.

The farm we visited was considered as a small producer. Despite that, for us, it seemed huge because the fields of coffee trees just seemed endless. For our great surprise, all coffee beans are hand-picked separately. This is done at least in quality coffee farms because this way you will get better quality and preserve the plant. Manual labor is done by local seasonal workers who for small money work 8 hours a day. After picking the beans, each patch is weighed and workers get paid for how much they picked. We also got the chance to pick and taste the raw coffee bean, it is green colored, slimy and it actually tastes sweet. A further process is already a bit more automated. Beans are being washed and red outer peel is being removed. Then the beans are being dried by the sun. This part is being done manually by raking the beans regularly all day long. At night beans are covered to avoid humidity. When beans are dry, they are being sorted by machine by its size. Roasting is the last phase and is usually done after beans are already exported to its destination country. The quality control at this farm was spectacular because before packing, each patch is checked manually by a designated person.

During our stay at Antigua, we stayed at Airbnb place hosted by one lovely couple. By talking with them we got to know the local life and counties political situation. In Antigua city, people mostly do well because there are a lot of tourists visiting. In rest of Guatemala, many people live in poverty and thereby migration is wide in a hope to find a better life. Although we felt quite safe then generally it is advised to stay alert for robberies and pickpocketing. Also walking alone in dark is not advisable and strongly not recommended in Guatemala City especially. It was sad to see the inequality in the society where rich people only get richer and poor people poorer. There is still hope that young people try to change the current political situation and steer things for the better.

In general, and to sum up, we left Antigua with colorful memories of local, helpful and friendly people.

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