There is something to be said for being in a new place which is both invigorating and terrifying. Antigua is like being in NOLA. Full of vibrancy from many cultures – very American – with the appeal of a small town Mexican village from a Hollywood film like The Mexican with Brad Pitt and Julia Roberts. It is familiar and yet its not. The clientele is mostly like from East Harlem. We feel pretty at home.
We are surrounded by alternatives, hippies and searching souls, all looking for the healing power that Guatemala is so known for. We are not here for that reason, but it is not a bad reason to be here!
The mountains surrounding the village are by far the biggest I have seen, but the grocery store feels like a mini Walmart. Maybe half the size and within the 4 walls of adobe clay. The walls of most of the buildings are like this – a mixture of mud and plaster which in most cases is chipped, or aged. We both wondered if this was due to the war just ending and the town rebuilding. It has really only been 4 years since the Guatemalan Civil War has finished and the vibrancy of Guatemala is just being restored. Still you see men surrounding the village with large machine guns. They are very friendly though and will say, “Hola” in passing.
The market is amazing. Perhaps 3x as large as Borough Market in London and beyond the beyond with variety. There are small chickens and big ones available for sale, tons of prepared foods from individual stands, beans, veggies, etc. the list goes on and on. It was similar to the markets in Taiwan and we are really getting excited to go to Chichicastenago: the largest market in all of Guatemala – only 1 hour from Atitlan (the distance from East Harlem to Brooklyn).
We have found the food in Antigua to be amazing. Samsara Cafe is one of our favorite places we may have ever been. They have this Quinoa Porridge with Coco de Leche and a variety of healthy teas. They even make one called the Golden Monkey which is Turmeric frothed with almond milk. So good and so good for you! The staff love Iza and after the first day when she poured maple syrup all over both of us and the area rug, I think they will remember us. The owner Christian is an avid photographer and has captured some of the most beautiful views of Atitlan de Lago. We connected on the 1st visit and really feel like this is going to be a great place to come to when we are in Antigua!
As we wait in anticipation for our shuttle we are excited and exhausted, but really ready to see our new home. Just a few more hours by Bus and then by boat and then a long walk – and we are there!