After touching down in Guatemala City, we met up with the rest of our group and headed out of town to Antiqua. There was not much countryside on the hour-long ride, but here and there the jungle seemed to be reestablishing a foothold.
Antigua is the most popular tourist destination in Guatemala. It was the country’s third capital, founded by Spanish Conquistadors in 1543. It was the seat of the governor of the Spanish Colony of Guatemala for almost 200 years (an area which covered most of Central America and part of Mexico), until an earthquake destroyed much of the city in 1717. Much the the architecture is Spanish Colonial. The streets are treacherously uneven cobblestone.
We stopped for lunch at a small restaurant, which could barely accommodate our large group, while Curt brought us up to date on some changes to our schedule. Unfortunately, lunch lasted for a couple of leisurely hours, which left us less time than I’d like to go sightseeing and shopping.
Our hotel is more luxurious than I thought it would be, with complementary bottled water and toilet paper (which we were told we’d have to bring), but also beautiful, and with a roof top patio to see the surrounding city and volcanoes.
We went out for a bit after dark (I bribed the kids with the iPad to hang out in the hotel, but it wasn’t necessary, they were pooped), to a funky bar the locals call Cafe No Se, which is apparently famous to any 24 year-old who has been to Antiqua. I had a couple of beers, and Mike tried some Mezcal. Our humble group of Rotarians did our best to take it over on behalf of the older crowd, but we didn’t have the stamina.
The local beer is a light lager called Gallo (which is not “Chicken” by the way, but “Bad Ass Rooster”) and we’re told by locals that it was voted “best in the world.” Annie, the Semilla Nueva staff member who is going to be translating for us says she just sighs and dreams of Fat Tire.
We’re off to the mountains today, and the home city of Semilla Nueva called Quetzaltenango, or Xela (Shee-la) by the locals.