Antigua

Posted on January 2, 2018

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Antigua is a beautiful city stuffed full of archaelogical sites, dusky pink and yellow squat houses set among the cobbled streets. It lies an hour away from its ugly sister Guatemala City, which I drove through at 2am and had zero regrets about visiting.

My first impression of the locals – friendly, warm and very short. Most of the men come up to my armpit and the women are even more diminutive. But they all wear a broad smile, have deep tanned-lined skin and silky black hair.

I’m staying at a charming hotel set away from the main drag behind ornate black gates and with a killer view of the active and somewhat volatile Volcano Fuego. My first morning started with a tradition Guatemalan breakfast of scrambled eggs with tomatoes and onions served with fried plantain, black bean paste and sour cream. All washed down with good, strong, black coffee.

The market place is dusty and tightly packed with stalls selling ceramics, crafts and hand woven garments. There are stout, chubby woman dressed brightly. They gaze out of their open shacks, tapping their palms together quickly and delicately. Their heads turning left and right as they gossip to one another other while gently shaping the soft corn tortillas for toasting. The smell of grilled meat lingers in the air and children run a mock like chickens just out of a pen.

You only really need one full day to see the main attractions on the grid – because that is exactly how the city is laid out. It has the same relaxed feel as San Pedro de Atacama in Chile and is full of young attractive foreigners. It’s a pretty safe place to wander alone and it has a lovely vibe.

I am here for just two days. Tomorrow I want to hike a volcano. There are several to choose from. Most people do Pacaya (2,552m) as it is lower in altitude and regarded as easier. But that doesn’t interest me, I like challenges. I want to be sat at the top of Mount Acatenango (3,976m) looking across at all the other summits feeling like I am on top of the world.

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