Monday, June 15, 2009

tourist weekend

We took a break from our first week of working to be touristy for the weekend in Guatemala. It felt good to put down our shovels and gloves, but it was weird to not be the only white people in town. I'll admit it felt like other gringos were stealing our secret because we had so enjoyed our first week of experiencing "real Guatemala". I got over it, because even though these places were touristy, it was for good reason. They were fabulous!

On Sunday afternoon we drove about 40 minutes to Antigua, the capital of Guatemala until an earthquake destroyed it in the 1770s. It's been restored and it is beautiful! The clean streets, horse-drawn carriages and clean air were a welcome break after a week in smelly by great Chimaltenango. We ate an an amazing restaurant, but it took a lot of time so we didn't get to explore as much as I would have liked. What we did see was amazing! The top picture is us in front of the Iglesia San Fransisco, where they were in the middle of a Sunday evening rock concert/worship service.

This is the Church of the Merced. It is amazingly beautiful on the outside, but incredibly somber inside. It was neat to go on a Sunday when there was mass in progress in every church we stopped at. I never discovered why all the churches we saw were yellow, but it sure was beautiful!

We stumbled across a huge bazaar-type store in Antigua that was full of Guatemalan handicrafts. I loved this wall of masks, and there were two other walls full of masks like this.
We felt a few raindrops, but it was a great day to be in Antigua! Here are all the girls in front of the city arch. I loved being able to walk down the street and not have to worry too much about dodging oncoming traffic!

On Saturday, we drove to Ixichme, the market at Chichicastenango, and Lake Atitlan. Lake Atitlan is probably one of the most beautiful places I have ever been. Pictures don't even come close to doing it justice. It is surrounded by three huge volcanoes, and the lake itself used to be a volcano so it is super deep, but the water is fairly comfortable. This picture was taken when we stopped at a viewpoint on our way out, just as the sun was setting. So beautiful, but please excuse my unruly hair in these pictures. I was going for the natural look. We took a boat to a few smaller towns around the lake. This is an alley in Santa Catarina. I loved the vibe of this town, relaxed and not too touristy. Mostly I just love the colors of Guatemala. I really want to paint a house in the US this color to see what would happen.

The view from the boat. There are all kinds of people living around the lake from poor Mayans to hippies from all over Europe.
Once again, a beautiful day to see the sights! Lake Atitlan is huge!
At the viewpoint before heading down to the lake. We were really excited to see it, obviously. See the volcanoes in the background?

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