Antigua, Guatemala can best be described as a city robed in decaying elegance. Its golden days as a capital of the Spanish Empire in the New World are far behind it. The old cobblestone streets provide a self imposed speed limit for the cars and horse drawn wagons that pass by. The buildings, former convents, public administration and monasteries all exhibit a well worn patina that certainly shows after surviving multiple earthquakes and subsequent repairs over the centuries. Occasionally the decay is broken by loving reconstruction as well as a bright coat of new paint. It is surrounded by volcanoes as a visual reminder that, someday, earthquakes will return to undo what man has built.
Having traveled for many years one main lesson of travel I have learned is to be flexible. Normally people think this means when you are in-country but flexibility is required even in the planning stage. Several travels and climbs this year have been canceled or declined due to various schedule conflicts. When my last adventure plans fell through I quickly found a plan b option that is certainly an adventure on many levels. For me this will be more a cerebral adventure than one requiring extreme fitness and a risk of life. I booked a week at a language school in Guatemala. The French lessons of my high school days are far behind me in both memory and opportunity to practice–having only been in two French speaking countries since College–yet I find myself in Latin America frequently for climbing or diving adventures so I know more Spanish than any other language. And its not much Spanish, mainly useful words and phrases I can string together in the game of travel charades to, hopefully, convey my needs.
Antigua reminds me, with its mix of adventure companies, language schools and a potpourri of world travelers, of Banos, Ecuador or Cuzco, Peru. All excellent places to decompress from the rigors of travel.
Breakfast was on a rooftop café overlooking the cloud shrouded Agua volcano next to the largest avocado tree (50×40 ft) I have ever seen. The rest of the day is to explore the city, relax and prepare for the shock my brain is about to experience this week.
Have a fun and safe 4th! Remember fireworks are better with adult beverages…
Get out and Explore the World!