When I first told people I was going to Guatemala, most people told me that it is a place they are not familiar with and that they would be interested to see my photos and hear my experience from the trip. Thus this blog was born!!
Guatemala is definitely a developing and growing country. Upon leaving the airport, you see all the imported car dealership: Audi, Volvo, Hyundai, VW…you see more foreign chain restaurants and foreign shops like Zara in the malls. It is not as rundown and poor as I thought it would be. The airport is quite nice and efficient. Probably it is going through a typical situation that occurs in all developing countries: disparity of social class and a slowly growing middle class. Flying in one on side of the plane you see buildings that look like slums and on the other side modern high rises. I can also see many foreign influences, especially big brother in the North. One billboard for paintball is showing their website as http://www.gotcha.com.gt. I do not know how much more American you can get. 🙂
Surpisingly I passed by one big mosque on the way to Antigua from Guatemala (Guate) city. I never thought I would see one in Central America I suppose. I will have to ask someone about the Muslim population here. I was told the Muslim population is mostly Arab descent. I am interested to know what brought them here.
Guatemala is one lush country. I saw amazing, lush valleys from the plane. I definitely am going back for a major hike in the future when things are safer (the cities are quite safe but the same can’t be said if you go to remote places).
Antigua reminds me of Trinidad, Cuba but it is a better and bigger version. Buildings are colourful (pink and yellows are prominent colors). I can’t wait to walk around and get to know the places. Driving by I saw many cute courtyards (just like when you walk around New Orleans french quarter or walking around in Paris, there are many hidden treasures behind the doors).
Talking about Antigua, someone told me that if one of the volcanoes around Antigua (there are 3) stops spewing smoke, an earthquake is coming. I am here during rainy season and it was too cloudy. I cannot verify the smoke activities of the volcanoes today. I hope that is a good thing!!!!
Guatemalans are amazing people! They go out of their way to help. One girl walked me to my destination today and told me a lot of things. We shared a lot of good laughs in our short walk and they are very open. I also went to a jade workshop at San Juan del Obispo (a small town near Antigua) with a jewelry artist called Francesco. I learned a lot. I never thought of how much work goes into jade sculptures and intricate jewelries. he and his family welcomed me with open arms. They invited me to share merindas (tea time) with the whole family. They served me homemade chocolate (with sugar and cinnamon added) and champarron (I hope I write this correctly) (essentially it is a huge butter cookie – which I shared with their dog “gift” a friendly, greedy golden retriever). The taxi driver who drove me back stopped the taxi just to put on Marimba CD (Guatemalan national music), just because I said i never heard of it. I am blown away by how warm the people are.
And being a foodie, no trip is complete without some culinary adventures….I went to a small shop across the street from my hotel (“Rincon Tipico” is the name). It was full of locals. Things are served on clay plates. The Pepian chicken dish comes with thick corn tortilla, pineapple juice, squash, rice, and potatoes.
Language wise, I am having a hard time here understanding people and doubly so when we discuss food. All the words are soo different…i hope to get up to speed in the first few of days..
I am looking forward to try the local food like tamales (dumpling from corn flour wrapped in corn leaves) and recardo (meat stew)….I am drooling just thinking about all these!
I am looking forward to everything here in Guatemala and I hope you will get excited too – enough to plan your own visit here one day.
Greetings from La Antigua Guatemala