Hobbling Around Antigua, Guatemala

Antigua is the most popular town amongst tourists in Guatemala. For many, it’s probably the first place they visit in Guatemala after landing at the airport in Guatemala City, as it’s only an hour away.

I saved Antigua for the end of my trip. This works out well, since I now have a freshly-sprained ankle from the day before. Antigua isn’t too big or busy, so getting around by foot is manageable for me.

I walk around with a walking stick, hobbling as I walk. I notice a lot of stares from locals as I’m walking around; I must be an interesting sight. A beneficial side effect is that less people approach me to try to sell me things.

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Antigua is popular for its beauty — the Spanish Baroque architecture, the ruins of colonial churches, the mild climate, make for a town that many tourists can enjoy. It’s also safe, and maybe this is thanks to armed police with shotguns every other block.

Below is the Santa Catalina arch, the icon of Antigua.

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La Merced church. The clouds look amazing here. Though I couldn’t capture it with my camera, three volcanoes command the horizon around Antigua.

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Random shots of buildings.

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Below is the entry to the market — where I bought gifts for friends and family back home.

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Antigua is modern, but the architectural style is well-preserved. A great example of this is seeing American fast-food chains blending into the environment.

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The most gorgeous McDonald’s ever.

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Yes. This is the inside of a McDonald’s.

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Many expats also live here, mostly from their mid-20s to 30s. As a result there are a lot of classes for learning Spanish; and conversely, there are many classes for locals to learn English. In this respect, its a melting pot between different cultures.

My favorite place in Antigua is Cafe Samsara — hip, progressive, healthy. I wouldn’t be surprised to find it in San Francisco! The place has a great vibe — there are books about philosophy, consciousness, meditation. The food is also great — I had a kale crepe (in Guatemala!). Along with it I had a warm drink — milk, turmeric, maple syrup, and sesame oil drops. It tasted good, and its good for you!

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I had to try another drink that caught my eye. Amaranth Atole. I’ve never had this before. My epicurean-vocabulary isn’t good enough to describe its taste, but this is a drink I will try to replicate in my kitchen back home. (Recipe from Epicurious here)

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My two evenings in Antigua were mostly quiet. I stayed in my hostel room, giving my sprained ankle a break — and thankful I could walk around as much as I did.

I felt like I had done a lot over the two weeks I stayed in Guatemala — seeing the ancient ruins of Tikal, hiking San Pedro volcano, spiritual adventures in San Marcos. I found the trip to be stimulating on multiple levels — intellectual, physical, and spiritual. I needed this, and I would leave Guatemala fulfilled. Limping, but fulfilled.

A part of me is already looking forward to the next Christmas break — I think it will be good tradition to take advantage of the holidays to go explore other South American countries — during this time there are affordable flights from back home (California), and good weather in the southern hemisphere. And so much waiting to be explored!