Day 236 – 240 / Antigua, Guatemala / 0 miles (Total 6240)
Fresh warm cinnamon rolls around every corner. A pocket of change will fill your stomach.
Antigua is a Spanish colonial town, previously the capital of the whole of Central America. It was destroyed twice in the 18th Century by earthquakes, leaving the town with a large number of huge and picture perfect ruins, before the capital and its inhabitants were moved to Guatemala City. The place is pretty unreal, full of swanky restaurants and bars with Gringos, rushing around looking busy and clutching their expensive coffees, just like home. There’s an artificial feel to this city after pedaling through the small, poor villages, a false sense of a perfect city in Guatemala. This gringopolis has brought the McDonald’s, high-end hotels, and the rich to visit this beautiful destination. The locals still have their traditions that will never fade with money, and I showed up at a perfect time to witness Semana Santa.
The flag of Guatemala flying high in Antigua.
I knew for a while now that I wanted to spend sometime in this beautiful city, even after my extended stay at Lake Atitlan. After eight months on the road I can feel myself getting burnt out in a bad way. Guatemala is a small, but beautiful country that I could pedal through in a week, and I don’t want to rush this amazing country. I found a great hostel, met some incredible people and it feels right to visit more of this country. So I am just playing it one day at a time, till my bike addiction comes back.
Colonial Archway with Volcan de Agua in the background.
Throughout my stay I walked around and captured the city with photo’s. My first plan was to kick down some more money on Spanish lessons, but it’s a little to rich for my blood here. I decided to home school myself with all the information I got from Francisco, and burn out my eyes on hours, and hours behind the computer screen with Rosetta Stone (pretty impressed with that). With my extended stay at the hostel it was time to stop eating out and back to cooking 3 meals a day. That worked out perfect with a giant super market filled with cheap food, I have not seen one so big for sometime now.
One of the many churches throughout Antigua.
Inside one of the churches. Some beautiful art work, statues, and architect here. Once again, pictures don’t do justice for this place.
Around each corner in Antigua there is something to stare at.
Doesn’t look like all the statue survived the last earthquake in 1974
A statue and a pigeon
Pillars and cobblestone streets throughout the city
The always crowded market where you can get just about anything you want, and a little claustrophobia to go with it
Throughout Guatemala I keep bumping into Luna on the streets. She is heading back to Chile next week and told me she has family throughout the country and would be happy to help me out for a place to stay.
A peaceful courtyard in the town center. After a while I had enough of getting bumped into, items thrown in my face to buy, fliers handed out, and the loud music. A nice place to get away from the busy streets and have a little piece of mind.
A perfect advocate on an afternoon walk.
What a great experience this was. I had no clue it would be this huge.
The Semana Santa celebration begins on Ash Wednesday, the first day of lent, and reaches its climax on Good Friday. The processions consist of big floats, or ‘andas’, bearing statues of Christ with a cross, that are carried by hundreds of purple-robed men. A float with the Virgin Mary follows by women dressed in black clothing. The processions moves slowly through Antigua’s cobblestone streets, the feet of the bearers cushioned in the sawdust carpet, which are destroyed as the procession passes over.
Did some people watching today. The start of Semana Santa. The city is buzzing with energy.
These kids looked like they were having a tough time holding the float up.
- This kid cracked me up. Full of smiles and joking around, while his mother tried to contain him.
These beautiful carpets are called Alfombras. Just one of the many street decorations to celebrate Semana Santa. They use colored sand, pine needles, wood chips and anything else to tell their story. The parade starts and runs through the street art, and then they start all over from scratch rebuilding what they just made. The people have to pay for the spaces to layout the artwork. Here are some of the ones that caught my eye.
Peanuts in a wheel barrel.
Always fresh fruit around town.
I was going to leave on Monday after the celebration winded down, but my insides told me one more day of rest before I make it to El Salvador. My decision to stay turned out to be the best thing. Early in the morning I met up with Julius, and he is coming to an end of his 4 year world tour. We talked about the countries I will be traveling through and the subject of Gps’s came up. My Garmin 800 edge Gps has been worthless since I crossed over into Central America, and I have not been able to find a card with the info I need. Julius took sometime and walked me through a website, and now I have a detailed map of Central America. During the downloading of the maps we started to talk about riding through small towns and the hundreds of eyes that stare. Some days I’m fine with it, but others it’s hard. I will be sitting down to eat, and a family will walk over, stop a few feet in front of me and just stare at me while I eat. Then Julius told me a story that makes my experiences seem so small. Words from Julius.
“As I was riding through a small village in India, I became violently sick with diarrhea. I stopped there for the night knowing I wouldn’t be able to make it far without a bathroom. There was only one bathroom for the entire village that everyone shared, and that bathroom had no door for privacy. Every time I would have to go to the bathroom, people would follow me, and peak in while I was doing my business. Sometimes there would be 10 people at once watching me flush out my system. That was hard not to freak out, but it’s their land and they are curious I guess.”
I won’t think it’s to bad when people stare ate me know. Thanks Julius for the stories, and safe travels my friend.
Julius and his whip. An amazing tour coming to an end.
Four years on the road, a lot of countries, and some great stories.
Powered by Facebook Comments