I had terrible jet-lag (7 hours back), awoke at middle-night and hardly could wait to the sunrise. But it was not the only disturbing factor at first night. The coming day happen to be Sunday - the church bells begun to ring in 4AM – to awake people for Sunday morning pry. Most of Guatemalan are proud Catholics. Religion attributes looks naïve and colorful, and often mixed with “pagan” habits, but it doesn’t mean that they don’t take it seriously. About 0,5 an hour before the bells, in completely darkness, silly rooster awoke and became to prepare to sunrise. He made terrible voices, but kept trying to sing each 0,5 hour with not-Latin accuracy. With delay of 15 minutes church’s bells remembered to citizens to awake for mass. This concert was continued till sunrise, then suddenly stopped and day begun.
With entrance of the first light I slipped away from the hostel – to explore awaking Antigua.
I prefer to take photos at morning hours, when the day just at the beginning, colors are so soft and street life just begin to awake.
Antigua is so charming with it’s narrow streets, yellow church and colored buildings!
I pictured until camera's battery was done & I had to return to hospedaje for charge.
Guatemalans are miniature, very nice and extremelly delicate. They send you this shame short smile and immediately take eyes down – don’t be disturbing or naughty. People still wear traditional dress, there are beauuuutiful had-made textiles, decorative, colored and uncomfortable. Also kids and babies dressed in the same way. Women often care their baggage (huge buckets!) on the head and their babies on the back, put inside these multicolored textiles. They are so photogenic and unusual in their colorful dress!!!....
but Guatemalans don’t like to be photographed!
They would not being agressive, but they will try to escape from photography in every possible way. In villages people even believe that it “takes their life”. Taking their photos extremely fascinates, but as it annoys them so very much – I kept it just watching. If you want to take a photo of someone - better ask for permission.
It's always a chance that they accept.
Local people, and especially children, sometimes make a business from photography – after you'll take a shot, they ask for Quetzal (small local coin)
The only one who was happy to pose – was the chicken bus, bus-driver even got slower when he had seen me with camera and turned the bus into photogenic position. Every bus decorated by different way, I think drivers are proud with their buses, it's definitely personal.
Ah, what a beautiful yellow church in Antigua! About 5:30AM the parking area near the church was full with people. Some families arrived by car, others by bicycle, by bike, by scooter or by feet.
Everybody was dressing holiday-shirts.
Bicycle parking near the church
This church is decorated with so much fantasy and love, that no one could stay impassive. Unexpected and various shapes of windows, ornaments of cacao and flying birds, and dazzling yellow color – spectacular!
After charging camera and our stomach (it’s loveliest breakfast in “Jungle Party!”) we continue to walk. One of most popular attractions in Antigua is climbing volcano, but as we were continuing to Nicaragua later, we decided that we’d do it in Nicaragua (and didn’t mistake).
Antigua is very touristy, but somehow it doesn’t bother. There are some good Spanish schools; mass of internet-cafes, and the entire environment is adapted to needs and wishes of travelers. Most travelers are young backpackers - under their 30th, but it’s no rule about age and origin. Multi-language community of visitors seems satisfied and happy there.
We passed in the center, where I took some more photos
of beautiful lines of Antigua
of reach decorated doors and windows - to fillfull my doors& windows collection
of green patio (any public place, not sure what is there, probably offices)
of the Central Park - main point of meeting and discussion of citizens
And local habitants who didnt mind to be pictured.
It was about noontime, when we suddenly heard loud music (mostly brass instruments and drum) and fireworks. In a while the procession appeared.
It was very impressive: big group of people with serious faces, all dressed white shirts, were caressing wooden doll of Madonna. She was dark-skinned and had a typical indigena face. Huge, dressed in blue figure, was connected to the moving lorry and was waving with scaring amplitude with each move.
Then orchestra walked. Big tuba, colored in blue, thrillingly yelled, drum trembled air with powerful “BUM”s and other instruments helped to keep the high volume.
Surrounded by serious and dandified indigena, Madonna wandered and disappeared in the end of the street.
We had a lunch in plain restaurant, where mostly dined city-hall clerks.
Meal was cheap and tasty. I was satisfied because they served potato there.
NowI have to tell you about local food – so-called “Comida Corriente”
(= typical local meal)
Actually, comida corriente is similar for all the region, but it has little differences (let’s call them “accents”) in other countries.
Guatemalan comida includes:
Pollo – (spells as “poyo”) - it’s chicken, usually fried in oil.
Rice and beans.
Tortias (corn bread).
Sometimes some salad.
Prices for “pollo con ares” may vary between 50 cent (street food, fresh but oily and served into banana leaf or nylon pocket) to 5-6$ in the restaurant. (prices were relevant for 2005!)
Beef, often called with different names, “carne”, “asado” (don’t expect to receive real asado!), etc ; usually small portion and hard to eat.
At general food is basic and very cheap and always fresh!
Fresh juice, made right on the street, costs 50 cents (US)! And WHAT a juice!!! Fantastic! :D
After lunch we continued walk in direction of coffee-plantation in hope to see it and very fast found ourselves out of “tourist zone of activity”. There were another church – much more plain and a bit shabby and little market – not a tourist attraction, just a market. They sale fruits and vegetables there, as well textiles and some crafts needed in home-keeping: large wooden fruits colored in strong aniline colors, Jesus(es) of all sizes and other religion stuff, etc. Right there women cooked on open fire in big pots and sold it in portions.
The only disappointment was lack of avocado. L Am is the mother-land of this fruit and I expected to have a variety of tastes and low prices. At the whole market, there were only few sellers of avocado, it cost 1-2$ /per fruit (expensiiiivveeee!!!) and was hard as a stone :-(
... MORE PHOTOS OF ANTIGUA below
... and some MORE OF WINDOWS AND DOORS