Posted by: Jack | January 6, 2008

Guatemala – Antigua to Volcán Pacaya

We awoke in Antigua, presented with a warm and clear day; a welcome contrast to the cold and rainy weather of our visit nearly two weeks earlier. After some breakfast we spent quite a while walking all around the historic town. Though very small, the city features many relatively ancient churches and other religion-affiliated buildings, a giant market, a well-kept central park surrounded by what I believe were various government buildings and more churches, and as of late, a variety of very up-scale art and clothing shops as well as many modern night clubs.

Iglesia de la Merced (Church of Mercy) – Inside were many scary almost-life-size Jesus figures; a bloody and emaciated Jesus on the cross, a calm but dead Jesus in a glass coffin, etc.

Central Park, where at any time, local teens can be found making out:

Interesting fountain at the center of central park. A woman’s ability to produce milk holds some spiritual significance among one or more of the common religions:

Early in the afternoon we joined a walking tour up to Cerra de la Cruz led freely by the local tourist police as a result of numerous muggings and other crimes which used to occur. Cerra de la Cruz translates to Hill of the Cross which is quite befitting of the hill we walked up which indeed has a big cross on it. Pretty much everyone has seen at least one picture taken from this site so I’m sure you’ll recognize it. Of greater interest to us was the outstanding view of Volcán de Agua. I don’t usually do black and white photography but for reasons yet unknown, it seemed appropriate here.

However, without the cross in the scene, I felt free to resume full-color captures.

By the end of this little tour, the sun was bearing down a bit too much so we grabbed some ice cream and retired to the hotel where I enjoyed a bit of juggling…still under the sun so really not much of a break at all.

Antigua is also well known for it’s cemetery which is packed full of countless mausoleums so our next ultra-touristy destination was there. On the way we passed through the market and finally sampled an interesting fruit which we had seen many times in our travels. They were identified as lychee but I just looked them up and they’re actually rambutans. The soft, exotic-looking outer shell peels off to reveal what feels like a gelatinous egg and tastes like a super juicy grape.

At the cemetery we were greeted with roaring, upbeat music from a band of many horns and drums. Turns out that the holiday of Todos Santos lasts a couple days. Everything within the cemetery walls was blindingly white, save for the intricate flower bouquets which decorated nearly every surface.

There is a small chapel at the center of the cemetery but there appeared to be some significant service taking place so we decided not to intrude.

Having been so impressed the night before, we returned to the same restaurant by our hotel for another round of massive burritos and later, found ourselves at Club 2000 — about the tackiest club name I’ve ever encountered — not really enjoying the overpriced drinks and bad service.

The following morning we once again rose before the sun to catch our shuttle to Volcán Pacaya, a continually active volcano which we would spend the morning climbing.

Brown line on the Progress Map

Next: Volcán Pacaya and back to Guatemala City one last time



  1. […] Next: Antigua again…but this time with photos and good weather […]

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