One of the many ‘Chicken Buses’. These are converted US Blue Bird School buses used for public transportation throughout Central America.
After a thoroughly enjoyable experience in Lanquin it was time to head on to Antigua, Guatemala. We spent 2 weeks taking Spanish lessons, climbed an active volcano, toured a coffee plantation and took in the sights around the city. Once again, we met many very interesting travelers along the way.
We arrived in Antigua on a chicken bus after a long day of travel from Lanquin, through Coban to Guatemala City and then finally, Antigua.
Antigua is an old colonial style city. The streets are lined with multi-colored walls on both sides and nondescript doors that lead to the secret insides of the buildings. Almost all of the buildings have courtyards inside and although the exterior may be unimpressive, the interiors are often very nice.
Three volcanoes ring the city and almost anywhere you look, you will see one.
The fountain at La Merced is 27m in diameter and is said to be the largest in Central America. Sounded like a worthwhile stop considering the investment for admission was only $0.40. Guess it would have been more impressive if there was more than a trickle of water coming out of the top!
Now there is a fountain! Lots of water squirting from everywhere. This was photographed frequently by the male tourists….
The church in Central Park during Corpus Christi. An important part of this celebration was to shoot off very loud fireworks. We assume this was to scare the living evil out of everyone within a 5 block radius!
There are many churches in Antigua that were damaged so severely by earthquakes that they have not been completely restored. This is a photo of Iglesia de San Francisco.
It wasn’t all fun and sightseeing while we were in Antigua. We spent 2 weeks in the Tecun Uman Spanish School. We had very good teachers and improved noticeably over the 2 weeks.
Well, at least I studied!
On one of our weekends in Antigua, when we weren’t studying too hard, we took a trip to nearby Volcan Pacaya. Pacaya is an active volcano with red hot, molten lava oozing out from the center of the earth. The hike was a moderately strenuous 1.5hr climb with incredible vistas and landscapes along the way.
Hiking out onto the lava field was an eerie experience. It was like walking on something the consistency of peanut brittle floating on top of molten glass. We could hear it shatter as we walked on it and our boots got very warm.
The smoking top of Pacaya emerges as we make our way up the trail.
We made our way up from the lava field on loose cinders for more amazing views.
Wow! A view of the three volcanoes visible from Antigua from the lava field of Pacaya.
Pat within a few feet of lava emerging from under the hardened crust. It was a cool day, but on the lava field the heat shimmered in the air.
One of the activities offered through the Spanish School was a field trip to a coffee museum. Coffee production is far more interesting than we thought it was going to be. For instance; 1 coffee tree produces enough beans in a year to make 1 pound of roasted coffee beans. No wonder coffee is so expensive!
The guide was very good. He spoke in Spanish, but very slowly and clearly so that us rookie Spanish-speakers could understand him.
The coffee plantation had a large garden of flowers and plants that were found growing among the coffee plants.
A view of Antigua and Volcan Agua from the top of the Hill of the Cross.
A school marching band practicing in the streets of Antigua. The Hill of the Cross is in the background.