August 24, 2009

Sunday Trip to Antigua

On Sunday morning, Nando and I took the kids to Antigua for the day. This involved taking a taxi to the “Trebol” in Zona 7 of Guatemala City where the buses depart to Antigua. When we got out the taxi, a transit police officer directed us to where we should wait for the bus. A few minutes later, a bus that had “Antigua – Guate” on the front pulled up and people began to ran towards it to try and get a seat.

The buses that go to Antigua are US school buses that have a second life in Guatemala.
Cheese Bus

Instead of two kids on each seat, as I remember the buses from my childhood, in Guatemala, the seats are meant to hold three adults. On the way back, we decided to splurge and buy each of the kids a seat, which cost $1.00 (8 Quetzales) each. Having Raymi sit between Nando and I gave us a bit more room. On the way there, however, the bus was more crowded, and Raymi sat on my lap, which meant she didn’t have to pay her fare. But, she did squirm quite a bit.

It is a fairly short ride – less than one hour, so it wasn’t that bad. And, if I sat straight up in my seat, I could avoid hitting my knees.

The bus lets you off at the market in Antigua, and it is just a few blocks to walk to the main plaza. The central plaza was full, typical of a Sunday morning. There were churchgoers, vendors, tourists – gringos and Guatemalans – and locals enjoying the beautiful weather.

Central Park

Being in Antigua reminded me that Guatemala is a major tourist destination for Americans and Europeans. I rarely see tourists in Guatemala City. In Antigua, they are all over the place. Antigua is well-known for its language schools, and it is a charming city, so the presence of foreigners is no surprise.

At the plaza, Tatiana, Soraya, and Raymi spotted two clowns making balloons for kids, and rushed over to make their requests. After that, it was nearly lunchtime, so we set out to look for an economical lunch. As can be expected, the restaurants near the plaza are fairly expensive and have tourist menus. We figured that if we walked away from the plaza, we could find some cheaper and more authentic options.

A few blocks away from the plaza, through the arches, we came upon the Plaza de la Merced, where there was a small market. There were several vendors, and we decided to try and have lunch there. We ordered cheese pupusas, flautas, chicken, rellenos, and a chile relleno sandwich. Some of it was pretty tasty; other items, like the flautas, were not very good. With all the options, though, everyone got enough to eat. We spent less than $10.00 for all of us, a pretty good deal.

Plaza de la Merced

After lunch, we took the kids back to the plaza, and they got their treat for the day – a ride around Antigua on horseback. The kids love horses, so this was quite exciting for them. They seemed not to mind the smell emitting from the burlap sack that the horses wore as a diaper. I kept a safe distance, taking pictures and making sure the kids were safe.

The kids were a bit restless after that, so we decided to look for a playground. On the way, we passed by an old church that looked as though it had been destroyed in the 1717 earthquake. I asked the kids to guess what they thought had happened to the building. They guessed hurricane, tornado, snowstorm, and other events before getting to earthquake.

The playground we found was in a part of the town called San Felipe. There were a few other kids there, and the kids had a good time swinging on the bars, riding on the slides and swings, and running around and getting dirty with the other kids.

Turns out the procession of the Day of Our Lady of Mercy was on Sunday as well, and that the procession began by the playground we were at. We left the playground and went outside to see the procession. It began with a long line of people, and was followed by about fifty people carrying on their shoulders an enormous float with huge statues on it. I don’t know if it’s called a float when you have all of those people carrying it, but you get the idea.

The "Float"

Part of the tradition in Antigua is to make elaborate designs on the streets with flowers and sawdust.
Flowers on the street

After watching the procession, we went back to the Plaza de la Merced, and had tacos. I had carne adobado, and the kids had chorizo tacos. They were quite good. It was getting late, and we decided to make a final stop in Pollo Campero to have a beer and use the clean restrooms before heading back to Guatemala City. Getting the kids off of the playset in the Pollo Campero wasn’t easy, but we eventually succeeded.

When we made it to the bus stop where the buses leave for Guatemala City, there was a bus leaving. It was standing room only, so we decided to wait for the next bus. This meant we got seats, but had to wait until it filled up.

We finally got to Guatemala City at 8pm. It was dark, and the bus let us off in the middle of the road. Luckily, we found a taxi, and made it safely back to our apartment.

1 comment:

  1. Mmmm pupusas! I miss those from L.A.! Also, what fun to get to see a procession and the street flower decorations!