To jet off to a foreign locale is not a normal occurence for me, although I wish it were!
But when you are invited to see the county of your wonderful friend you don't say no!
That should be a rule...never say no to a guided tour of anyone's country.
I am so grateful...and even more grateful that I brought my oldest with me to join in on the journey. With a family of 4 children, to have alone time with one of them is really a treasure. It is my hope that Judson will look back on this time with a sense of adventure, exploration and remember us just being together.
After arriving in Guatemala we had "Pollo Campero" which is a famous restaurant here. You see them everywhere and I can see why. I don't want to insult Pollo Campero by comparing it to KFC, but it is similar only much more delicious! *My diet starts when I return* Until then I eat!
Then it was time to recover from a night of no sleep and all travel. Getting a nap in was a good choice, because then it was time to go to El Portal del Angel. click that link to see just how AMAZING it is! This restaurant overlooks the Guatemala City, on top of mountains, and it is simply breathtaking. Not to mention the restaurant itself. A very special welcome to Guatemala!
Day 2- Antiqua
OMG this town is amazing. Only a 45 minute drive from Guatemala City. The drive alone is an adventure, but a beautiful one through the mountains. Driving here is a real skill, and we are in the good hands of Karin's brother. Arriving in Antiqua, formerly Guatemala's Capital city, you first see the incredible picture book beauty of this place.
From the greenery, to the centuries old buildings, the stone streets, the old wooden doors, the vibrant colors of the buildings all around. It is simply a treasure and I feel in love with this city. Karin said that we would see more Americans in Antiqua than Guatemalans, this is true and I totally see why. It is gorgeous, full of history, very safe and built around maintaining the integrity of the city. Who wouldn't want to visit, live there or retire there!? yes, please.
To truly embrace the city we went on a 3 hour long city tour by an American, Elizabeth Bell, who has lived in the city since 1969. She was incredibly knowledgable about all things Antiqua, the culture, the buildings, and is equally involved in improving the lives of Guatemalan people. It was a tour to city hall, the current cathedral, the ruins of another majestic cathedral that was destroyed hundreds of years ago in an earthquake, a visit to a Jade company that preserves the art of Mayan culture's immortal jade, an a visit to the local art and archeological museums, that are really a site to see.
(This is the cathedral in the city center of Antiqua)
The ruins of the cathedral that was destroyed in the 1773 earth quake were breathtaking. Just being in this space felt incredibly inspiring....the history, shapes, the sky, the textures. I was loving every bit of it.
Even these heads on stools were....interesting. Strange.
Not something you see everyday so I had to capture it and of course, share it!
While at the St. Joseph cathedral ruins the guide told us to go ahead down in the "cript", here they there are statues and it feels ancient.
The guide told us to take a photo with our flash to capture the "orbs"....the spirits that remain in the cript. I took several photos and each photo the orbs are different. Who knows....but I tend to believe it is possible.
There was also a stop at a Le Casa Del Jade to see the beautifully crafted jade pieces and learn about the history of jade in the Maya culture.
After our tour we hopped on a bus up the mountain to a wonderful restaurant called "the fork". It was italian and simply delicious! Juddy was so excited to have cheese pizza, which he could live on. The restaurant was surrounded by the most amazing gardens filled with sculptures overlooking the valley and the volcan de agua- a volcano with a lake at the top- in the distance. Gorgeous!
Then it was time for a short drive to San Antonio Aguas Calientes , a Mayan community full of artisans. The artisans, preserve their art and support their community through these amazing textiles, hand weaved on looms. Of course, I did what I could to support the local economy! A wonderful Mayan woman, named Sonya, invited me in to her shop to dress me as a traditional Mayan woman. The clothes were beautiful, rich in color, and quite heavy, she even had me carrying a blanket on top of my head.
We visited the Hotel Casa Santa Domingo for a tour of the grounds and the beautiful Maya archaeology museum there on site. I was taken by these beautiful bells...
Here we are on top of a glass display with some of the archaeological findings below us
Within this hotel there was a walkway with these amazing hanging orchids....
What a very special day full of culture and beauty- more to come...