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Antigua Gutemala

GUATEMALA | Friday, 30 May 2008 | Views [1191]

tdoor knockersWe all arrived in Guatemala on May 18th into Guatemala City and headed straight to the town of Antigua about 40 minutes from the airport. We will be staying with a family in Antigua while Amy and Turgay take Spanish lessons in the morning and explore the area in the afternoon. Antigua is a quaint town full of colonial charm that comes out more each day you explore it. The family we will be staying with is headed by Chiqui (Lesbia Rene Castillo) the mother of three daughters and grandmother to six (three girls and three boys).

roasting coffee on an open fireAfter their Spanish lessons the first day Amy and Turgay returned to the house to have lunch and then we returned to the school together for a free trip to one of the many social projects sponsered by the school. They partner with a non-profit called “As green as it gets” in order to aid small coffee farmers and household textile businesses in improving their market share and their profit margin. They form co-ops and provide microcredit loans at 5% interest, with the interest being paid back in whatever their product is. We met the farmers and one of the organizers for the project and learned all about coffee production. We even had a chance to see how coffee is roasted over an open fire (the whole process was a little smoky) ground by hand and the we tried the finished product. Even Amy liked it. selling offerings San Andreas IztapaThe next day we took a trip out to the village of San Andreas Iztapa where we visited the shrine of San Simon, otherwise known as Maximón. Maximón or the smoking god is thought to be a mixed representation of Mayan gods, Judas and Pedro de Alvarado. Candles are burned in his temple and offering of alcohol and tobacco are made. Many women were smoking hand rolled cigars in the courtyard in front of his shrine and burning the offerings. After returning to Antigua we spent about three hours wandering the streets and poking around until a sudden down pour drove us into a café, café no se. We were lucky enough to catch a respite for the rain and make it home before it continued all night long. It has rained everyday that we have been here but almost exclusively in the evening or at night. Today after Amy and Turgay returned from yet more lessons, we headed to the market and on our way found a handmade chocolate store called Chocotenango, Amy recommends the Mayan truffle to anyone who makes it here and Turgay reccomends you keep the chocolate away from children and ants. On Sunday we were lucky enough to stumble upon a religious procession going past Chiqui's house. We followed it almost an hour and after having breakfast and wandering all over Antigua we also chanced to find some Caballeros and their dancing horses. In the Cyrpts Museum of Santo DomingoAmy and Turgay decided that another week of Spanish would be good for them so as they are our transportation we all stayed for a second week in Antigua. During which we visited the Museum of Santo Domingo. It is actually 4 museums located in an old convent that has been transformed into a five star hotel. It was very interesting and we spent most of the day there in the many crypts and in the art museum. During the second week we also traveled to Pacaya an active Volcano located near Antigua. Pa' and I decided not to travel out over the lava field after considering the fact that it would be hot and we are made mostly of wood. Amy and Turgay however did not heed our warnings and walked out across the lava field to where they could see the flow and watch as some of the group cooked sausages. Amy found it very very hot and a little uncomfortable and doesn't plan on doing it again in her lifetime. Turgay however though it was wonderful and would do it again tomorrow but he would wear shoes that were less likely to melt. Turgay and Amy finished their lessons had a final dinner out with Chiqui and we all said goodbye to Antigua on Saturday moring heading for Lake Attitlan.

Tags: anigua, chocotenago, guatemala, pacaya, volcano


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