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Monday, December 17, 2007

Wandering around Antigua

Cobblestone streets, clear and cool weather in the middle of December, good food, colonial architecture...¿what´s not to like about Antigua? Antigua used to be the capital of Guatemala, until the city was abandoned after a year of earthquakes. Even still, not all of the people left, and they eventually came back and the city has been continuously settled ever since.

Many of the ruins are still intact...as ruins. In other places, they´ve been rebuilt and the city is full of one story buildings, with courtyards hidden behind the large wooden doorways.

With our new friends, we enjoyed just wandering around a bit, not on a set plan or agenda, just wandering around absorbing the warm sunshine and the smells and sights.

This is right next to the Spanish Embassy, and is part of an arts complex, with theater productions and art shows.

Of course there is a market, just like in every town, big or small. This one had lots of things around the exterior, but inside was the food. We didn´t stop to eat here, but just look at the variety!

This was the section where there was prepared food, and in other parts there were the bags of different kinds of beans and other dried goods. Some stalls were full of greens and herbs, just amazing the selection that they had...and of course it smelled wonderful.

In the center of town is a large fountain, with mermaids of all things! In the shade and around the fountain were lots of locals, milling around, eating ice creams from the vendors...and just relaxing. This is a picture of a little boy of probably about three years old or so, who was all dressed up. He even had a little moustache painted onto his face. He wasn´t so keen on having his picture taken, but his mother was encouraging it, so we obliged.

The clothes are not the normal, everyday clothes, but are the classic ´campesino´outfit that was worn years and years ago. About half of the people we saw were wearing western style clothing (mostly men) and the other half wore indigenous clothing (mostly women).

It seemed that everywhere you turned there was a beautiful picture just waiting for you to come along and take it. Not just Susan, but the volcano, too. : ) She was taking almost all of the pictures in this batch, so she´s not in many of them.

On that street we stopped for a coffee, a wonderful coffee, and the women were preparing for their lunch and dinner traffic. I saw that they were preparing dozens of these small clay bowls, full of pickled, hot carrots and jalapeños. They gladly gave me one when they saw how excited I was about them, so I took them out to share with everyone. No one else was as excited, so I think I ate the whole bowl. Wow, were they hot! But tasty, too.
It´s funny, but in a country that is famous for it´s coffee, it´s actually hard to find a decent cup. In most places, coffee is a watery cup of instant coffee. We all had a little coffee while waiting for Steve to get up. While I was busy procuring the carrots, Marianne went to find Steve. Apparently he was passed out on his bed and didn´t even close the door to his room. Susan and I missed that party! As it turns out, they closed the bar and then took a of bottle of wine to go...and drank it on the roof deck of our hotel.
Not everyone was having coffee. Or hot carrots and jalapeños. I have to admit that I got a bottle of Pepto-Bismol, too. Poor Dana didn´t hike up the volcano with us because she was feeling poorly, and wasn´t quite herself, even after the Pepto...the whole bottle, of course.

Why was I feeling a little less then perfect myself? Well, the night before I had a michelada too many. I´m used to the Baja California michelada, which is a sort of bloody mary type drink: Clamato juice, beer, lime juice, hot sauce, worchester sauce and pepper. Wow!
So Susan and I were exhausted from the volcano hike, but we were still hungry. We stopped in the only place we could find that wasn´t a bar and had a wonderful meal. Susan had Chilean wine (a couple of glasses) and I had a GUATEMALAN michelada. It was the same, except it didn´t have the Clamato juice. Well, it was extremely good. And very lime-y. Oh! I forgot to mention, that the rim of the glass is usually salted. MMMmmm. Like a margarita.
So anyway, I should have had only one...but it was SO good I had another. Between the high dose of lime juice, LIME SALT on the rim, the hot sauce...well, my stomach was a little less than settled.
Not that that stopped us the next day from dragging Brad and Dana over to the same place so THEY could have one. Susan even had one. Dana didn´t. Susan said her lips were chapped from the experience. Right now, our mouths are both watering just at the thought of another. When we get done....well, I think I saw a place that served them here...

After wandering around for a couple of days, we decided to move along. After consulting the Rough Guide, we decided to take the next bus (shuttle) out of town. When you´re this close to Mexico, how could you NOT go?
We´re in Chiapas right now, and are catching up on the blog. Check again tomorrow and we´ll catch up some more. Wow!


missy said...

Hey, you are crazy standing on the side of that volcano!! The pictures are great, living vicariously thru you.......

Dana said...

That michelada sounds great! I love a good Bloody Mary- but with beer? Really? And you guys have a friend named Dana? How ironic...