Day 1: March 6, 2011
Today is our first “official” day in Guatemala. Ty and I have been here for 3 days, but now that the whole group is here I guess we should start blogging 🙂 My blog may not be as interesting as the other girls since this isn’t my first time in Guatemala but I hope you still enjoy reading my rants.
Today we are in Antigua, Guatemala the 3rd capital of Guatemala and now a UNESCO world heritage site. The city, known as Santiago de los Caballeros at the time, was founded in 1543 by the Spanish conquistadors due to the previous two capitals being destroyed by natural disasters. For 200 years Antigua served as the city of the Spanish governor of all present day Central America until an earthquake devastated the city. The earthquake destroyed over 3,000 building which lead to the Spanish government moving the capital to Nueva Guatemala de la Asunción, present day Guatemala City in 1776. Santiago de los Caballeros was called ‘Antigua Guatemala’ which translated to ‘The Old Guatemala’. Many of the residents left to the new capital but some stayed in Antigua and began rebuilding it.
Many of the ruins from the earthquake of 1776 are still standing in Antigua. The Spanish-Moor Baroque architecture is one of the things that make the city such a beautiful place. There are several cathedrals located throughout the small city. Today we visited La Merced, which is a beautiful yellow church located only a few blocks from our hotel. It was built in the 16th century and was one of the first male monasteries in the area. Today, because it is Sunday there were a lot of people at the church attending service so it was very lively.
In front of the church locals sell ‘street food’, or local delicacies that you can only buy on the streets. We started our day off trying the local food, pupusas and tostadas. Pupusas are actually from Honduras, but they’ve become very popular in Guatemala. They are corn tortilla (nothing like Mexican tortillas!) filled with cheese and/or sausage with cabbage and salsa on top. Sort of like a quesdilla, but in my opinion A LOT tastier! Tostadas as far as I know are Guatemalan. They are very simple, just toasted corn tortillas with guacamole with salsa or refried beans with cheese. One of the problems with food here is that “authentic” Guatemalan food is only really found in the street in most of the country. I never really noticed but Ty pointed out that a lot of the restaurants/cafes here are “americanized”. They have sandwiches, burgers, etc. but with a twist (such as guacamole, beans, etc.) that makes them different than American food but still very similar. Guatemala is full of people from all over the world, especially Antigua.
After we ate we started walking around the town looking at all the indigenous arts being sold. Antigua is a very big tourist spot for Guatemala, so there is an endless supply of souvenirs. According to my cousin Wilmar, Antigua is the 2nd most visited place in Latin America after Machú Pichú, Peru. We ran into people from all over the world while we were walking around buying souvenirs and taking pictures. There was a procession by the School of Antigua this morning celebrating the 12th anniversary of the school. It was really cute because they had all the students paired up, boy and girl walking through the town lead by their school ‘princess’, the person with the top grades in the school. They passed by the Santa Catlina arch, which is another beautiful example of the architecture. Near the arch is a artisan market, where we bought souvenirs from one of the local artists who makes purses and scarfs by hand along with beaded bracelets, keychains and rings.
It was a lot of fun having friends be with me while I am in Antigua. I usually come with family who know the city like the back of their hand so I have never really experienced Antigua as a tourist. Even though I’m the tour guide for this group there is a lot that I am still learning. While we go explore the rest of the city check out some of the pictures I took today in the slideshow below, but until then adios!
Day 2: March 7, 2011