Arco de Santa Catalina

Arco de Santa Catalina

Antigua, Guatemala is such a magical place for me.   I simply love walking the streets and looking at the buildings and people. As the cobblestone streets make walking challenging, one really does have the opportunity to look at the colors and ruins with out the hurry of trying to get somewhere soon.  The hotel (Meson de Maria) I stayed in was only a block from the Arco (a main tourist spot).  According to the Moon Guatemala guidebook, the  (reconstructed- 19th C) archway is all that remains of a convent dating to 1613 which was destroyed in earthquake of 1773.   When the convent grew, it expanded into the building across the street and the arch allowed the nuns to cross to the other side without  being in contact with the general populace and remaining in seclusion.  In the background of the above picture is the Agua Volcano.

Arco de Santa Catalina

Arco De Santa Catalina - Other Direction

I also love looking at Antigua from the rooftop gardens that many of the hotels have.  One really does not know what hotels and homes are like from the outside.  Here is a picture of our hotel from the outside.

Hotel El Meson de Maria

View from the roof of our hotel

The next picture is the building adjacent to our hotel.  We loved this derelict building and always used its bright turquoise color to let us know we were on the right block coming back to our hotel.

Sample of a few more interesting buildings:

Art and Antique Gallery - Probably Distressed on Purpose

What a Great Colored Doorway

Well, I know I am boring you, but here is one more.  I will show you the ruins on another day.

Yes, we got a little rain.

My friend Janet and I were exploring Antigua, Guatemala a couple of weeks ago. Both of us love our cameras so we were seen frequently with our cameras focused trying to create pictures that captured what we were seeing in Antigua.  Antigua is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and clearly deserves to be so.  It is full of brightly colored houses that you wonder what is hiding behind the doors/ gates.  Antigua was the capital of Guatemala until it was destroyed by an earthquake in 1773. The city is full of the ruins of amazing churches, convents, and government buildings.  It also has a large expatriate community.   Antigua along with being beautiful has great shopping and fabulous restaurants and cafes.

In one of our late afternoon walks, we came across this pila or multiple pilas- a place where people come to wash their clothes.  Although no one was using it to wash clothes, there were people hanging out.  When I first saw it, I thought it was worth a shot.  See below.

Corner View of Pilas

Then Janet and I began seeing the reflections in the water and became enthralled and spent about 30 minutes finding lots of different things to try photographing.   Here are a selection of those I rather like.

Pila Reflection

Pila reflection with View of Ruin

Reflection of House Across the Street

Then I saw some other reflections when I looked a different way.

Then closer:

Reflection View

Lake Atitlan

A friend and I have been taking regular walks out of Panajachel to two small villages (palopos) on the lake.  Along with giving us some exercise, we get to stop on occasion to look at the lake and go ahh…  Every day we walk the lake views look different as the volcanoes have different coverings of clouds and the lake itself changes in color and stillness.   The road has a few good uphill sections so we definitely feel we deserve our self pat on the back.   It is 4 kilometers to Santa Catarina and 4 kilometers more to San Antonio.  When we are feeling energetic, we also do the return walk.  Other times we simply hop onto the back of the local pickup truck shuttle that goes back to Panajachel for 5Q which is about 75 cents.

The women from San Antonio Palopo are well known for their entrepreneur skills and are seen in communities all over the area selling their beautiful textiles.  The woman below was trying to get us to buy her goods. She offered to take us to her casa for coca cola.  We would, I am  sure, seen lots items to purchase.  She did offer to have her photo taken for 2Q and so I did.   She is wearing the traditional traje (dress) of San Antonio.

Woman in San Antonio Palopo

Maximon- Santiago Atitlan, Guatemala

Hello from Guatemala,

I had a great day yesterday.  I went with several friends by boat across the lake from Panajachel to Santiago Atitlan.  It is a village of mostly indigenous Mayans.   We went to two of the homes that take care of the images of various saints that have been adopted by these Mayan groups (cofradias).  The Mayans have also given these images  Mayan religious energy-the lords and Guardian-spirits of the Tzutuhil pantheon.  Presently the image stays with a family and is cared by them and their special cofradia (usually a select group of up to 15 men who volunteer their services as caretakers for a year).  They may have attached to them who is responsible for the rituals performed.

First we went to the one dedicated to the patron saint of Santiago.  We were drawn into this cofradia by the lovely music.  Our guide who was taking us to Maximon said that we could go in for a small fee with a little additional for photos.  (See below)

Next we walked to the most famous one in Santiago – Maximon.  He is known for his healing work and usually there is a shaman present who does healing work.  Maximon, the image,  is offered liquor and a cigarette was lit and put in its mouth while we watched a young man receive a  the healing.  At the end of the healing, all the shamans/ caregivers receive something to drink.   There is a seriousness and amusement in the room where the healings take place.  It was very interesting to watch.

We then went to the large Catholic church there and because it was fiesta honoring a saint day- there were beautiful floral arrangements and lots of people in local dress.  (Actually they are always in local dress-there were just more people around because of the fiesta and it being Sunday.)  The surprising thing for me was that there were several statues of conquistadors that the people were honoring.  I thought that this would be the last thing they would be honoring with my beliefs about how bad the Spanish, including the priests, had been towards the indigenous people in the Americas.  The people honor them for bringing the Catholic religion to Santiago and for horses.  We then went to a Posada de Santiago for a great lunch. Also we managed to do a little shopping.  Great day.  To find out more about Santiago- click here.