It was quite an adventure, and certainly more of a growth experience than relaxing vacation. Muffy has pronounced that after this, my friends are no longer allowed to call me prissy. Are you all taking note?
The Guatemalan countryside is gorgeous. This is the rainy season, so everything was so lush and green. The countryside stands in very sharp contrast to most of the towns and homes that you see. It seems that this is a country with an extremely small upper and middle classes and an overwhelming amount of poverty. It has really put my life and how lucky, blessed, or however you want to put it, I am, into perspective. It also gave me an even greater respect for my sister and the time she spent in the Peace Corps in Benin.
We spent my first night in Antigua. This was a gentle insertion into the country...very touristy and not very crowded. We stayed at the UmmaGumma Hostel, a colorful funky little place. I had my first encounter with a Guatemalan spider hanging out in our sink. I squealed, I shrieked, I let it live. See, I said it was a growth experience.For me, the most beautiful part of Antigua was its ruined churches, victims of numerous earthquakes. La Merced, one of the city's main churches was undergoing a renovation inside. The altar area was a blinding display of gold and silver gilt...way over the top for my taste. We did watch some of the restorers at work on one of the side altars and it was cool to see the new gilt being revealed. La Merced though was not to my taste and confirmed my love of Pisan-Romanesque churches.
There were some lovely homes in Antigua that seemed to be hiding even more lovely courtyard gardens behind their walls. I loved this orange flowering plant that covered this rooftop. There are more pictures here of my time in Antigua.
Stay tuned for part two!