Thursday, July 21, 2016

Guatever, Antigua. [CAT2016: Guatemala]

After our two days of frolicking around Lake Atitlán, we boarded a shuttle that took us to stop two-- Antigua, Guatemala. Where, I'll be honest, Sarah and I spent almost the entire time looking for Derick and Jill Dillard. We were unsuccessful.

We spent our first day wandering the cobblestone streets (it was very Comayauga-esque) and mostly looking for something to eat. Which we found when we stumbled across a baleada restaurant conveniently located next to a bubble tea shop. I'd call that a solid win.

In our wandering, we also found one of Antigua's most famous landmarks, the yellow Santa Catalina Arch. It was originally built to connect a covent to a school and allowed nuns to cross from one building to another without having to walk into the street. Yeah, I Wikipedia-ed that. Because, honestly, all I knew about it was that it was a yellow arch in Antigua. 

While choosing the roads less traveled (or something like that) had been awesome for the first few days in Guatemala, we were more than ready to participate in an organized tour offered by our hotel. Said organized tour consisted of climbing an active volcano and then rejuvenating at the spa. 

The volcano that we set out to conquer was Volcán Pacaya, located about an hour-ish outside of Antigua. There was a pretty major eruption in 2010 which shut down the international airport and caused some of the residents of nearby cities to evacuate, but it's been, more or less, calm since then.
It does erupt fairly constantly, but not like huge lava flows. More like spewing some rocks into the air a little bit.

Volcán Acatenango, Volcán de Fuego, and Volcán de Agua from Pacaya 
I'm not about to lie and say that the hike was easy because I was definitely heavy mouth breathing about two minutes in. It wasn't a long hike, but there were some steep parts. Although it wasn't easy, it wasn't the hardest hike I have ever done either. (I'm looking at you, Pico do Papagaio.) As it usually is with hiking, the view from the top made it worth it.

You know what else made it worth it? This. Roasting marshmallows in some of the hot lava vents. The lava underneath made the rocks so hot that we were all able to brown our marshmallows to perfection. Some people in another tour group were roasting hot dogs, which would have been a really tasty idea.

After such a grueling hike (and bellies full of marshmallows), we travel to Santa Teresita Hotel and Thermal Spa. We didn't splurge on the most expensive spa package, but we did receive complimentary fruit smoothies, time in the thermal pools, a 10 minute chair massage, and access to the swimming pools. And big fluffy robes, which may have been my favorite part.

After five shorts days divided between two very different cities, it was time to say "Adios" to Guatemala and "Hola" to one of my favorite countries in the world-- Honduras.

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