📓Entry #7 — Short stories from Christmas in Antigua

Maeghan Smulders
A Little Detour
Published in
6 min readJan 7, 2018


We spent the holidays being more reflective in our hand-written journal than our digital journal.. so I’m going to pull a bunch of stories together from our time in Guatemala.… which both Olivier and I loved. These are past dated blogs 🙃

Dec 24, 2017

It’s strange not having snow or family for Christmas this year. I’m looking at the weather in Montreal this week, it’s -33 which was colder than the North Pole! To be honest, I’m glad I’m missing out. 😉

We’re in Antigua, Guatemala today and its beautiful here. Its surrounded by a bunch of volcanos and 2 of them are active… and we plan to hike a few of them!

We hiked the Pacaya volcano yesterday — an active one and it was rough. I don’t know why its so hard to just hike straight up things…

The terrain was volcanic sand, so it was hard moving forward and slipping a bit with each step. A man with a horse kept walking beside me and consistently every 10 min or so offered to rent me the horse to hike the mountain and rest my legs… but being stubborn, I kept saying no and internally crying wishing I would just pass out. 🤪

We made it to the first check point… and it was incredible. You look at a landscape covered in mountains and volcanos… with beautiful clouds taking shape and the smoke puffing from some of the active volcanos bursting into the sky every 30 min or so. The sunset was incredible too — we hike to a point where we were no longer on the sandy path, but reached the solid volcanic rock and made our way to the back side of the volcano where we got to roast marshmallows in a hot air vent (just a whole where the heat was coming out). We hiked all the way to a peak point beside the active part — so you could see tiny red dots of lava spitting out (which I saw first.. and notified everyone… people keep telling me I get excited about everything.. but this was a moment they seemed to appreciate the hype).

On the way down, the volcanic sand was so slippery and we were some of the only people on the tour that wore hiking boots….(some girls had Keds, or sandals!!!) so we were able to almost ski down the volcano side. It was super fun and I think I took some of my most favorite pictures coming down. The sand created a dust in the air that turned red, purple and blue with the sun set. Oli was skiing down like crazy with a hobbit stick that he bought it off a local kid for 5 Quetzales (about a dollar) and it made some incredible shots.

credit: maeghan smulders 2017, fujifilm X100T series camera.

I’ve come to realize I really don’t like hiking…. I like the views, and the achievement of getting to the top and going down is always fun... but the hassle and effort of hiking straight up things is just the worst. 😛 But for Pacaya… I’m very proud I didn’t take that horse!

Dec 25, 2017

Merry Christmas! Antigua is dead today… everyone must be off with their families.. there are hardly any tourists and it feels like a ghost town (Even our Airbnb hosts say it’s more quiet than normal). We were talking with Liane (our host) and she was telling us about a group she volunteers with every week at a Children’s hospital for malnourished children. So Oli and I spent a few hours on Christmas day to help out and playing with the kids.

The sad thing with the hospital is that there is only one nurse on staff for anywhere between 10–15 children at a time. The hospital was beautiful and donated to the community but they don’t have a continued cash flow to support the services they offer. So we went for a few hours, brought some left over food and got to help out and feed the kids.

Left: Ronnie Middle: Andrea Right: Dulce

Ronnie was this sweet 3 year old boy who looked like he was maybe 2. He wasn’t able to walk but the nurse gave us some leg exercises to do to help build strong muscles in his legs. He wanted to have all the toys around him and just loved being hugged.

Tanya was a 4 year old girl who had been neglected by her family and looked no bigger than a 2 year old. When she was brought in, her spine wasn’t straight and her body is just so so so tiny. Today, she was super self sufficient, able to walk, speak english and Spanish and would try to help you play with the other kids. She was incredible.

Andrea was this big cheek Mayan baby and was smaller than my 8 month old nephew… but she was two years old. She was so content just sitting on your lap, watching around and was just starting to teethe.

Dulce was probably the skinniest of the four and had little hair, bad teeth and also just learning to walk. She was 3 years old and really loved to look and showing Oli things. She was so cute and Oli was walking with her and she just adored him. It was very sweet.

I felt very grateful to be able to help out and make some time on Christmas to do something special. When we left, the kids all kept looking back at the door smiling and waving — it made me tear up a bit. But they are looking into some additional fund raising for volunteers to build a small playground for the kids — that is something we’re looking forward to helping with too.

December 26, 2017

Facebook is a pretty awesome thing. :) We’ve been sharing our adventures online and one of Olivier’s friends reached out and said that he had family here in Antigua and that we should go meet them.

We’re so lucky to have the luxury of time, so we got in touch and they invited us over for Christmas dinner that afternoon (yesterday). They had a beautiful house in the middle of Antigua with a long garden entrance, stunning palm trees and amazing roof top city view.

We talked with them about everything… from travels, to politics to pot legalization which was really entertaining. Martin and Delma and their two children were so welcoming and friendly that in just a few hours, we felt like long time friends with some reoccurring jokes that were shared through out the night. Delma made some traditional savoury and sweet tamales which were way better than the ones we had at the restaurant. And we got to learn about the protest that Guatemala had 2 years ago to overthrow their previous president which was really interesting. It was incredible to learn from them what they personally did with their country to pull off this peaceful protest and achieve something that is now seen as an example of how people can overthrow power with without violence. It was a really inspiring story.

Anyway, it was a great day, with great people and I am so happy we got to have such a special Christmas day.

See more on our website: www.alittledetour.ca🌏✈️👫



Maeghan Smulders
A Little Detour

Hi! 🙋 I'm a tall, homeschooled, well traveled, terrible speller, who loves ice cream, building things and can be hilarious at times 👉 www.maeghansmulders.com