I just returned from a long weekend in adventure in central america. If you ever have the opportunity to swing on southward bound and pop into Guatemala City, I highly recommend it. I flew down from NYC, through Houston made my way straight to Antiqua, a town about 1 hour away from the airport in the capital. This colonial town, situated at the foot of a volcano, was out of a story book or a hollywood recreation of “Romancing the Stone”. With religious themes flowing through the city, churches on every street corner and a population that was bursting catholic at the seams, it was a cultural immersion from the world of NYC where money and power are the alter and the worship.
The town was bustling with fine jewelry stores selling jade and a town square the rivaled Peru’s Cuszo. While the armed guards with giant shotguns standing outside banks made me think twice about my personal safety, the live mayan bands playing music on the cobblestone streets in native lingos (quechua or one of the other twenty-one distinct mayan languages spoken in the country) swept me away from self indulgence. The brightly colored art, the murals, the blankets and mats for sale were all in that beautiful deep red/burnt orange hue that remind me so much of Mexico and central america.
The multi-colored houses which ranged from green to blue and back to orange and yellows, with their high walls were nonetheless inviting to a prying tourist such as myself. After peaking in a few door ways and realizing there were beautiful gardens hidden from my camera, I became bold and found myself walking down strange alley ways and through open gates to amuse myself.
While the country was pitched in civil war as late as 1996, it was a jewel. No Starbucks, few backpackers and a myriad of ecotourism activities, including mountain biking, hiking and other outdoor adventures to keep one busy.
I stayed at the Hotel Museo which I highly recommended. The art work on the grounds was amazing and the stone work memorable.
While it suffered a bit from the high walls mentality and apathetic approach of providing a decidely european/american ammenities, it did afford security, an internet connection and a wonderful pool