We woke up early Friday morning, packed up our luggage and headed out for Guatemala City around 6:00am. After dropping off one of our instructors at the airport, we continued on to Antigua. We stopped at KFC in the city. Less than an hour later, we were greeted by the vibrant, cobblestone town of Antigua. It is surrounded by volcanoes. The colorful, old buildings are charming. It seemed to be a major tourist destination of Guatemala. The Convento Santa Catalina Hotel accommodated our two night stay. It was absolutely beautiful. The courtyard had a large fountain in the center, along with strings of lights that lit up at night. Both nights there were musicians playing.
We shopped at The Market where vendors were lined up in isles selling a variety of Guatemalan goods. I’m excited to give everyone the souvenirs I purchased! My favorite purchases were hand-stitched pillowcases and a painting of Antigua by a local artist. Friday evening we ate pizza, toured the city some more and relaxed in the courtyard.
Saturday we ate breakfast at the hotel. I had scrambled eggs with tomato & onion, plantains with cinnamon, beans, pico and tortillas with coffee and OJ. Talk about delicious! We then took a bus to the base of the Pacaya volcano. Mostly everyone rode horseback. A few others and myself decided to hike. I didn’t know what I was getting into because the hike was STEEP/entirely uphill. If I would have known that I would have probably spent less money on souvenirs and saved money for a horseback ride (at least up to the peak where the volcano was). There were people trying to sell hiking sticks and horseback rides for the first 20 minutes. It was so tempting to give up and say yes…but many of us kept hiking. It was sooo challenging and fun. The breathtaking views made it worth it! We roasted marshmallows in the volcanic rock. The hike back was hilarious because we were all exhausted. The total hike was about 7 kilometers.
That evening we ate at Pappy’s BBQ. It was super tasty. Then we toured the city some more. One of the cathedrals was having mass, so we got to go to part of the service, which was interesting. Then we shopped around in different stores. The main street was blocked off so that vehicles couldn’t drive on it. There were vendors set up everywhere. A local band was playing on the sidewalk, there were several gentlemen playing marimbas and people were dancing to the music. It was such a fun evening. That night I packed up my bags in anticipation for traveling home today.
This morning I went to spend some quiet moments outside. I heard a local church singing “Holy Spirit”, the sound of pigeons nearby, saw a volcano producing smoke, and felt the cool breeze on my skin. I was already beginning to reminisce on the time spent here. I am so very grateful for this opportunity, and for all I have experienced. I am saddened to leave Guatemala. The people here have a place in my heart; they will always be in my prayers. There is such great need, but I leave here trusting and believing that God will continue to provide. My eyes have seen and been opened to so much. My heart has grown more appreciative of everything. I hope to return again but for now, I look forward to running into the arms of my loved ones and being “home sweet home.”