Guatemala to Antigua, Easter procession
8. April (Sunday): I was really glad we were to be moving on and out of this room today!
We have a bit of a fuss in the breakfast room, since the receptionist had told us last night that breakfast was included in the room price, but the waitress now says it is not. So I just have a coffee and leave it at that. We grab our backpacks and hike to the bus stop.
Luckily one arrives quickly and it takes us straight to the airport.
Finding the stop of the shuttle-bus is not too difficult, but there's no bus to be seen. Taxi drivers pestered us all the time and said they would take us by taxi to Antigua for the same price but Annewien was concerned that they might be robbers and might steal our stuff during the trip.
We waited and waited, but no bus, so we decided to give the taxi a try. It would cost 20$ to Antigua for both of us.
The driver drives briskly and it's a pleasant, comfortable drive to our hotel in Antigua. I give him a small tip at the end and he is very grateful. Our room in Antigua is very pleasant and located in an friendly, airy hotel. Although
We head into town to find a place for lunch (we have a chicken tandoori between us) and go on to the tourist office. They give us a bit of information and here we experience a tourist who's just come in and helplessly explaining how his wallet containing cash and credit card has just been stolen from his room.
We will definitely need to be careful here.
They tell us that Easter processions will pass through Antigua throughout the day and they show us the route they will be taking. We decide to wait for one of them.
The roads are already covered with beautifully colourful ornamental designs consisting mostly of flower petals. There are quite a few people lining the street but I had expected many more. We could still stand in the first row.
Eventually a procession started moving in our direction. In the distance we could first see the smoke of frankincense and then the procession proper, with many men all wearing purple robes (the colour of mourning). They were all very sombre, being led by a brass band and a low drum playing very slow, dragging music (around 50 bpm).
After the male procession came the female procession and as soon as they had passed, the flower petals were being cleaned from the road by personnel with brooms and children grabbing whatever petals they could before they were cleaned away.
We walked onwards to an old monastery, and when I had to pay the entrance fee I noticed that almost all the paper money in my trouser pocket was gone!
I suspected that I had been robbed. Someone had extracted the cash while I busy watching the procession. The loss was not great, maybe about 30$ but I was quite irritated with myself.
Later on in our journey I noticed that the pockets of my trousers lost stuff easily and the blame rested squarely on me for losing that money. I must have dropped it while I was kneeling and filming the procession.
The monastery had a number of stone/brick walls but was not too spectacular to see.
We continued on to a old cathedral, which had been destroyed by a powerful earthquake. It was quite impressive, since the cathedral is indeed large and huge pieces of the structure were lying about, crumbling and broken. The ruins are extensive and you can walk and explore them for quite some time.
The walk back to the town was short and we wander about a bit. Antigua is quite pleasant since it at about 1530m above sea level. We check out a souvenir market which had nice Maya artefacts, walk under the famous arch "Arco de Santa Catarina" between two buildings, through which you can see Volcan Agua (the one whose snow cap melted during a major eruption and caused a lethal flood over Antigua).
For dinner, we have a large Pizza and a large beer (one litre "Gallo" beer, common and famous in Guatemala) to accompany it in a restaurant recommended by LP called Pizzeria Catari. It is the first good pizza we've had since we are on our trip.
It's getting dark and we would still like to change some money. We walk in the direction of the Marriott hotel, but we can't find it and it's gets dark and somewhat lonely at the outskirts of Antigua so we drop the idea for fear of armed robbers.
We find an internet cafñ instead run by some European kids. There have loud grunge music blaring, and the behaviour and talk of all the western kids there is quite as at home, they seem to have succeeded in keeping their culture alive in this small world of their own. I wonder why they are here in Guatemala, the country of the Mayans, since they might as well be back home in London, Amsterdam or New York...?
We return back to the hotel on foot and have a good nights' sleep.