There are tons of tourist activities in and around Antigua, coffee tours, volcano hikes, and so on..... Before sleeping the Missus and I chatted about what to do in the morning. We picked up the conversation when we woke a 500am the next morning. We decided to discuss the days plans over some coffee.....and to our surprise we found that Antigua gets started pretty late. There's not much open a 6am. Most of the locals don't live in Antigua, and come from outside Central Antigua area via car or "Chicken Bus":
One of the few places we found open during that early hour was Cafe Barista right off of Parque Central. So while the Missus had Her latte:
And I my "Cafe Negro" (black coffee - it was quite good!):
In our very Westernized surroundings......
We tried to plan our day. What the Missus didn't want, was to be marched around with a bunch of other tourists. She decided that instead of the volcano hike, She wanted to visit some of the surrounding villages. So we started checking around, only to find that tours like that weren't offered....which wasn't much of a loss to us, since we kinda wanted to do our own thing. Finally, after going to Atitrans to make our shuttle reservations to Copan Ruinas, we found an agency where we could hire a driver for the morning. Our own little "Chicken Bus"...... I'm sure that our shuttle driver from Guatemala City, Mauricio would approve. When Mauricio found out that the Missus wanted to ride on the Chicken Bus, he became very concerned, "I do not recommend it...."
The Missus ran down the block to a nearby Tienda (market) for some Agua Pura, while I took care of the paperwork. Soon enough a minivan pulled up and we were on our way. Our driver Nino ("not Niño!") spoke a bit of English, but was more comfortable with Spanish. The Missus was, doing pretty well...the key word was "despacio...." (slowly). And for some reason, we could get the gist of what he was trying to say.
Our first stop was the village of San Antonio Aguas Calientes . Aguas Calientes, is an indigenous village known for their textiles. Of course there's a Parque Central:
And requisite Church:
But what Aguas Calientes is most known for, and what draws tourists here, are the bright and colorful hand made textiles, much of it located in this building right of the Parque Central.
We were told that the textiles in Aguas Calientes are the most famous in the country......and I must say, they were the best we saw during this trip.
This woman was wonderful, She demonstrated the weaving technique, and went on to spend almost 20 minutes with us trying to explain the different patterns and symbolism used in the wide variety of textiles.
And though we didn't purchase anything, we made sure to give her a few dollars for her knowledge and effort. On the upper floor of the building is a museum of sorts, with displays of the textiles and designs of the different people and regions of Guatemala.
Our next stop was to be Ciudad Vieja. We drove through a few villages on our way to Ciudad Vieja.
As we passed this intersection, the Missus exclaimed, "stop! stop, please....."
She had seen this vendor.
She was selling tostadas.........a simple thing, but this is where the Missus, who really doesn't care for frijoles, became enamored with what they call "Frijoles Negro Volteados" (fried black beans), which is smeared on the deep fried tortilla.
Along with the beans the tostada is topped with a bit of encurtido (pickled vegetable, in this case cabbage), and bit of "salsa picante" by request.
We soon found out that "muy picante" in Guatemala, isn't very picante (spicy) by our standards.
After our brief "breakfast" we made it to Ciudad Vieja. The village itself was once the capital of Guatemala, until it was destroyed by a mudslide in 1541.
This Parque Central was bit different, mainly because of this:
In Parque Central is the public laundry....and it seemed like it was wash day! Women were walking down to the square, baskets of laundry balanced on their heads as if in defiance of gravity.
Nino even got the Missus a turn at some laundry. I'm guessing that many homes in the area don't have water hook-ups. No bones about it, this is hard work.......
Our next stop was the village of San Juan del Obispo. This village was the home of Guatemala's first Bishop, Francisco Marroquín, and there is a lovely Church and Convent, in Parque Central. We however, we distracted. by all the kids laughing and carrying on.......
And because of road work, we could go no further. So we stopped and admired the view.
In short order, all the kids stopped right where we stood, and started yelling........
At first I couldn't make out what they were saying....and then it hit me! They were all screaming "AGUA AQUI! AGUA AQUI!" I ducked behind a pillar just before the tanker truck turned its hose on the kids.
I'm sure the screams of joy echoed through the entire village!
It was a pretty hot day, and a good splash of cold water would have made for the perfect remedy. The lively screams of joy and laughter couldn't help but bring a smile to your face.
The kids followed the tanker truck out of town, like a four wheeled Pied Piper.
Our last stop of the day was the town of Santa Maria de Jesus. This town is the usual starting point for hikes to Agua Volcano. And in this Parque Central, it was market day!
We were instantly immersed in a world of bright colors and smells that were both familiar and unfamiliar at the same time.
There was a wide array of tropical fruits.
And we even spied some pacaya......
And even some Iguana for sale.
After walking around a bit we headed back down the mountain. On one of the side streets, the Missus saw another tortilleria. The heat coming out of this tiny windowless room was stifling.
A young lady of 20 years, was hard at work
The young lady was very friendly, and apparently just a curious about the Missus, as the Missus was with Her. Man do I miss hand made tortillas, and these were wonderful, perhaps second or third best we had during our trip.....and we had tortillas with just about every meal.
We headed back to Antigua.......it was time for lunch!