This cross is up on the hill overlooking Antigua. On a clear day this vantage point would give you a good view of the Antigua volcano looming large over the city. I wasn’t there on a clear day.
In Guatemala, just outside Antigua there’s a Macadamia nut farm, owned by a German from California, and named after Viking paradise. It’s called the Valhalla Research Center. I decided this would be an interesting place to visit. When I booked a hike up a volcano, I saw that the tour shop also offered tours to the farm and the surrounding villages. The problem was, the price would vary depending on whether or not the tour was filled up, and two days in advance there was currently nobody booked. After I said I’d have to think about it, the nice lady behind the desk mentioned that her brother was a tuk tuk driver and he could take me on the tour for a very low price. I thought this sounded like a much better solution and quickly booked the tour.
As it turned out, the volcano climb I had booked for the day before the tuk tuk ride was pushed back by a day due to inclement weather. I was in Guatemala at the beginning of the rainy season, and it was coming down harder than any rain I’ve ever seen. As a result, I had an early morning ascent scheduled followed almost immediately by a tuk tuk tour of the surrounding village.
As it turned out, I met another solo traveler from Singapore while climbing Pacaya who was looking for something to do in the afternoon. Once he’d heard my plans, he decided to join me.
The odd thing was, the rain held off all day. It was cloudy and miserable on the ashy slopes, but it wasn’t raining. Five minutes before the tuk tuk was due to pick me up the heavens opened. Luckily, when the three-wheeler arrived, the usually open parts had a nice vision obscuring plastic cover. So, off we went, two guys in a tuk tuk that felt like it was going to get washed backwards down every hill we ascended by the torrent cascading down all around us. There were times when I had to wonder if we were actually floating.
After hopping out in one of the towns and finding a couple of hundred somber looking people standing around, we sidled up to one of the onlookers to ask what was going on. My Spanish isn’t the greatest and all I could pick up was something about a husband and a wife. I interpreted that to mean it was a wedding.
We stood back and watched. Then, two coffins exited the church and were carried up the street followed by a brass band. It turned out my interpretation was incorrect. We decided to make a quick exit, but while on the way back to our trusty stead, I snapped a quick shot of it in front of the silhouetted volcano in the distance. We asked our driver where the cemetery was as the pall bearers were carrying the coffins. He told us it was the cemetery we had passed on the way into the town. It had to be two miles away and uphill, and they were going to carry them all the way there.
This arch seems to be the number one landmark to pop up when searching for Antigua, Guatemala. It’s understandable, its bright orangey-yellow color and placement in front of the Volcán de Agua make it very distinct. It was built to allow cloistered nuns in the convent to reach the school without having to set foot in public. The arch will certainly be instantly recognizable to anyone who’s visited the first capital of Guatemala. Considering that the capital was moved due to the regularity of earthquakes in the area, it’s quite amazing that it’s even still standing.
It seems like in every photo of this arch the photographer has stood a distance away using a telephoto lens to let the volcano loom large in the background. I was determined to do something different with the volcano so I decided to get close to the arch and frame the volcano beneath it. It was pretty overcast the whole time I was there so the volcano was quite obscured. When it did decide to peek out from behind the clouds, this is the shot I managed to get.
The Guatemalan city of Antigua is surrounded by volcanoes and earthquake prone. The Spanish thought this was a fantastic spot to establish their first capital of Guatemala. Eventually, the ground shook and the city was all but abandoned. This photo is of the remains of the Colonial Spanish Cathedral.
I’d struggled to take a lot of photographs in Flores. It was an interesting little island town but not exactly photogenic. As I pulled into Antigua, I knew it was not going to be difficult to take photos in this old, Spanish colonial town. My room wasn’t ready so I set out to orientate myself around the central square. When I got there I discovered this beautiful park shrouded in shady trees and loaded with amazing fountains. I probably could have spent days photographing this square alone.
I had a morning to kill in Antigua, Guatemala before heading off to climb the Pacaya volcano. Antigua is a beautiful old colonial town, evacuated after multiple earthquakes suggested it wasn’t a great place to establish a capital. Some people stayed though, and it’s now a world heritage site. I set out along a route that would take me to see the earthquake plagued cathedrals and monasteries of the town.
Along the route was a restored colonial mansion. When I got to where I thought it should be, I couldn’t really find any sign of it. Then, I spotted a small name plaque marking it’s location. It also showed it’s opening hours, and was closed. I turned to walk away and saw, across the street, a small shop selling textiles with a little old Mayan lady sat on the floor, weaving. Her name was Irene, and after a little chat, and an explanation of backstrap weaving I didn’t fully understand (was in Spanish), I snapped the below photo.
I’ve got to do a quick post tonight as I’m on my way out. Antigua is full of ruined colonial churches and monasteries due to the earthquake prone nature of the regions. I visited this collapsed cathedral looking for some photo opportunistic. I took a few photos showing the roofless grandness of the columns and arches. Then, I noticed these angels and thought they were pretty interesting, and I’ve got a friend who’s fond of angels; so decided to grab a picture.