Thursday, August 13, 2009

Antigua is like Rome, but nicer

I mean that. I like Antigua better than Rome. Isabel criticized my last post because I failed to described the beauty of this city, which has completely captured her 12-year-old imagination. I will attempt a description.

The old capital of Guatemala has narrow, cobbled streets, pastel houses (and candy stores) interspersed with the crumbling ruins of massive churches and convents that are now overgrown with bougainvillea. Some of these ruins have been semi-restored, turned into restaurants and hotels. Some are just there for you to wander through with your guidebook, feeling like Lord Byron. There are endless ruins, and also many shady squares where you can sit with a bag of candy and watch the passerby: giggling Catholic schoolgirls in short skirts and knee socks; Indian women in long woven skirts and colorful blouses carrying their babies in slings; slightly dodgy looking young men who are a constant reminder that you are, after all, in a poor Latin American country with a serious crime problem. 
But you don't feel anywhere near as nervous here as you do in Guatemala City.

Part of the magic of Antigua is knowing that behind the blank pastel facades of the houses you find incredible private courtyards and gardens. From where I sit in the courtyard of my cousin's house (which you can rent and if you ever come here, you should) I can see an antique fountain, an orange tree dripping with fruit, an ancient frieze, a volcano. I don't know the name of this volcano, but it is impressive and shrouded in clouds and presumably dormant. Some birds are chirping. Now some bells are ringing. It's like inhabiting a travel brochure.

Isabel should be satisfied with that. 

My camera is broken again, by the way. Those photos are from my brother-in-law's phone. 

Today: market, more eating, more napping. I also found out where I can buy some local honey.

Tomorrow: Lake Atitlan.

4 comments:

  1. Melvil Dewey8/13/09, 10:39 AM

    Antigua sounds great. But who needs local honey when you have your own bees?

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  2. Sounds lovely, and makes me want to go there! :)

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  3. a house to rent! now THAT sounds like a fascinating idea....

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  4. The courtyards sound so inviting. And the ruins. I have a weakness for ruins. And also for feeling like Lord Byron. It sounds fantastic. What a time to have a broken camera!

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