Antigua, Guatemala May 3, 2022

Guatemala, known as the “Home of Great Maya Cities” and “The Land of the Eternal Spring”, was our next port. Originally our next port was supposed to be Nicaragua but before we left home we were notified the stop had been canceled. No explanation was given but perhaps because of political unrest there or it was Covid related. Guatemala, with a population of over 17 million, is the most populous country in Central America. It has a representative democracy and its capital, Guatemala City, is the largest city in Central America. It has a long history of dictatorships and bloody civil wars. Since a United Nations negotiated peace accord was achieved, things have improved but it still struggles with high rates of poverty and crime including drug cartels. 

We had prebooked an excursion at this port and after striking out in Panama City and Costa Rica, we were hoping this wasn’t strike three. It turned out to be a great excursion. 

We left the ship in early morning and headed to the small, colonial city of Antigua, surrounded by volcanoes.  It was formerly the capital of Guatemala, but after a devastating earthquake in 1773, the capital was moved to Guatemala City. Founded in the early 16th century, Antigua is a World Heritage Site. PXL_20220503_150747104PXL_20220503_150427668original_d63dad91-650f-4a83-9931-813929f57040_PXL_20220503_154429296


Can You See the Profile of the Lady Looking at the Volcanoes?

We enjoyed our ride through the countryside, passing many roadside fruit and vegetable stands. Homes were built right at the base of volcanoes, somewhat frightening since Guatemala has four active volcanoes. PXL_20220503_161951063PXL_20220503_162710632original_00e2c6de-247d-4406-87e4-96d97af1acd8_PXL_20220503_154331099.MPoriginal_f91c6140-12d4-4e72-91c6-f4340dfb459d_PXL_20220503_160805487original_40f6b43f-11db-4cfa-b2ad-da22359ef5fa_PXL_20220503_160840580

We rode through towns with business names we recognized like Chili’s, Panda Express, Taco Bell and Subway. One question that is always asked of the guides is the current price of gas. Interesting that the answer in Colombia, Panama, Costa Rica and Guatemala was always about $5 US per/gallon. Of course in those countries gas is sold in units of liters rather than gallons. original_a5d45b47-492c-4e79-ba9c-3cd5bca248cd_PXL_20220503_154442204


Making Tortillas in a Doorway

Entering Antigua, our first stop was the Cathedral de Santiago de Guatemala. This cathedral was begun in 1545 and destroyed by a devastating earthquake in 1773. It was only partially rebuilt over the next century. original_562c3e70-753b-472a-8de4-e4149c7e7583_PXL_20220503_16411464020220503_104626PXL_20220503_16474587820220503_10490020220503_105120

Across the street was a cultural center and museum. Some places still had symbols of Lent on their buildings. 20220503_110900original_aa8e0337-9cc7-4cfb-8d29-705be6bc471f_PXL_20220503_164538488

Next was the Cathedral San Jose. It was built around 1541 and like many other churches has suffered damage from earthquakes. This church has undergone partial restoration over the years. Simply beautiful. 20220503_11362120220503_111201PXL_20220503_171352509PXL_20220503_171436283PXL_20220503_171448859.MPoriginal_8b7d1417-95a7-4d72-aee0-8bbb1deb54b2_PXL_20220503_172018639

Across from the church was a park with prominent buildings around it. This two-story building was constructed in 1558. The General Captaincy of Guatemala governed the territory from this building. PXL_20220503_171807618.MP

Outside the church, as well as on the streets, were many persistent ladies selling various items. original_c6c1da8e-092e-402e-aa94-802d22cce0c9_PXL_20220503_172052769original_8858d95c-ff32-4b0c-bd24-a5b2755bd61c_PXL_20220503_174802569

The Santa Catalina Arch, built in the 17th century, is one of the distinguishable landmarks in Antigua Guatemala. It originally connected the Santa Catalina convent to a school, which allowed the cloistered nuns to pass from one building to the other without going out on the street. A clock on top was added in the era of the Central American Federation, in the 1830s. PXL_20220503_174550400


Many Walls in the City are Very Thick

For the first time they added small children. I guess they thought it was harder to say no to a child. One man, blowing a flute while holding another flute for sale, followed us for quite awhile through the streets. He simply would not take no for an answer. As far as I know, he never sold one. By the way, the streets in Antigua are all cobblestone. Not easy on the feet and we really had to watch our footing. The sidewalks were very narrow with holes and cracks, a disaster waiting for those not watching carefully. PXL_20220503_174203867.MPPXL_20220503_174326575

Nearby was the Iglesia de la Merced, another Catholic Church. We did not go inside but arrived in time to hear the bells from the two bell towers. 20220503_115446

The Convent of the Capuchins was built in 1731 and housed 25-28 nuns.  The nuns lived by strict regulations and discipline on poverty, penance and fasting. A replica of the tiny “celda” or cell which housed each nun, for sleeping only, was shown. The individual “apartments” were side-by-side in a circle.  20220503_124331PXL_20220503_184446595

The nuns had to be silent at all times except to pray. They could not eat meat or chocolate and ate together in silence. The convent suffered extensive damage in the 1773 earthquake and the nuns were forced to leave and were taken to the new capital in Guatemala City. 

The ruins are a favorite place for weddings and celebrations. We saw a young girl who was there for her “quinceanera” party, the celebration of a girl’s 15th birthday which marks her passage from girlhood to womanhood. Someone asked her if we could take her picture and she very happily agreed. PXL_20220503_182505427PXL_20220503_184039654.MP

After all that walking we were very glad our guide announced it was time for lunch, which was included in the tour. It was quite warm by this point and I think we were all looking forward to some air conditioning and cold drinks. I suppose we all thought the same thing when we were led to tables outside in a grassy area. Each table had a canopy and it really wasn’t as bad as I expected. A small four piece band played while we enjoyed a lunch of rice, refried beans, chicken topped with salsa, plantains, chips and guacamole. 20220503_131123

After lunch we went to Jade Maya, a jade factory and museum. Excursions love to take you to these places, hoping you will buy something. The visit began with an introduction by an archeologist, one of the founders of the museum, which has been open since 1974. PXL_20220503_195645372PXL_20220503_201416183


Copy of the Burial Mask for the King, 683 A.D.

She told us to be sure and see the large piece of jade she and her husband discovered. She called it her source of future retirement income. PXL_20220503_200725379.MP

The museum had displays covering over 3,000 years of history and seven different cultures. Of course there was a gift shop where you could buy all kinds of jade jewelry. We felt this stop was too long, especially for those of us who were tired and ready to go back to the ship. 

The bus dropped us off back at the port and on the short walk back to the ship, we snapped pictures of a couple attractive murals. 20220503_16211220220503_162135

The ship staff greeted us at the gang plank with drinks and cold washcloths. Much appreciated! 

A very enjoyable day with an excellent guide! 

Next up: Mexico! 


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