The alarm went off at 05:45, we
‘jumped’ up said our farewells to Beez Neez and settled in the marina launch at
06:40. No sooner than we had been dropped at Bruno’s Marina than ‘the old trouser leg performance’ occurred. As we waved the launch off, I threatened the English speaking
guard that on our return we would be chatting to him in Spanish. Gulp. Mucho laughter, good cheer and off we walked
to the bus station. Being my birthday Bear trotted off to buy me some grapes and
an orange juice, what more can a girl want...............
The others arrived to make up our
happy group - The Senile Seven (Dorothy and Duncan, Marlo and Larry, Brian and
us), on the 08:00 bus which left promptly, on time twenty minutes later. Our
first time over the bridge that dominates this end of
the Rio Dulce and a final wave down to Beez Neez as we saw her marina down on our right. Dorothy had organised us
front right seats, grand for taking pictures – Thank You D. Brian was behind us
with his new best friend, a lady who spent the first two hours taking solidly on
any one of her three mobile phones (and he thought I could talk). The others
were settled in the two rows to our left. Pleasant Spanish music – this is going
to be a nice easy journey..........
snacked as we passed through towns, villages
and roadside stalls, this one selling
After three quarters of an hour we
passed the scene of a dreadful accident, just behind
the-car-behind-the-police vehicle, was a lorry on it’s side well in to the
Our driver was passed his fruit snack as we trundled along behind local traffic. We laughed at the “in
case” rolls of wire up on many of the posts.
Our driver snacked on cake as we waited to overtake clippings and cows overtaking
fruit. We soon got used to pull out, not enough space, pull in quickly
routine and were pleased with the kidney jolting braking. Orange juice to lips –
orange juice to ear - and back again. Curving, meandering, swerving, braking
mmmmm moving on.
Our driver snacked on cashew nuts as we pulled in for a fifteen minute
break half way. What an ice cream. Bear had a waffle
cone with local rum and raisin topped with melted chocolate and nuts. I
had two scoops of coffee ice cream with big chunks of bitter dark chocolate – my
Our driver visited
the bushes as we got held up in a traffic
queue to get through road widening
We went from pretty
countryside to the Guatemala City outskirts
At a set of traffic lights Dorothy
laid on a clown juggling for me....... I was very
taken with the rear window on the car in
We arrived at the Guatemala City Bus
Station at 14:20 to catch the 14:00 minibus. Just as we found our transport a
tremendous clap of thunder and busy gray clouds began greeting each other, O Oh.
The driver magically assembled a rear bench seat for three at the back which
meant his bucket of cleaning material had to go on the
roof. So did the driver. So did my case with Beds. My laptop was safely
stowed inside my pillowcase, my pillow on top, but I did take a sharp and deep
breath as the driver rested on it whilst stringing rope through a variety of
handles (my case top right). A too small tarpaulin was half covering the pile of
luggage as we pulled out at 14:40 for the hour long journey to Antigua – Beds
banging on the roof, screaming as the thunder and lightning turned to torrential
rain. I really did feel Dorothy had pulled out all the stops to give me a water feature.......
This part of the journey saw roads so steep it was the first time in many years that the
Senile Seven had seen emergency exit ramps. Finally
we entered the skinny, one way streets of Antigua.
Finally the minibus (with only twelve passengers and driver came to
a careful halt outside the
I stood anxiously waiting for the
driver to launch himself up on the roof, was nervous
as Larry and Bear took hold of my case and
immediately retrieved a quaking Beds - ears back in shock.
Marlo did her best to comfort Beds by
introducing him to Ferdinand. We gave short shift to
a variety of sellers who greeted us with recorders, hand drums, offers of tours
as we squeezed in to two taxis whose exhaust pipes
barely made it above cobble level and were dropped just at the corner of our
accommodation – Posada Juma Ocag.
History of the Guatemalan Capital City: Antigua
was the third capital of Guatemala. The
first was founded on the site of a Kakchikel-Maya city, now called Iximche,
on Monday the 25th of July 1524 - the day of Saint James - therefore named
Ciudad de Santiago de los
Caballeros de Goathemalan
(City of Saint
the Knights of Guatemala). Naturally, St. James became the patron saint of the
After several Cakchiquel uprisings, the capital was moved to a more
suitable site in the Valley of Alotenango (Rio Guacalate) on the 22nd of
November 1527, and kept its original name. This new city was located on the site
of present-day San Miguel Escobar, which is a neighborhood in the municipality
This city was destroyed on the 11th of September 1541 by a devastating
from the Volcano de
As a result, the colonial authorities decided to move the capital once more,
this time five miles away to the Panchoy Valley. So, on the 10th of March 1543
the Spanish conquistadors founded present-day Antigua, and again, it was named
Santiago de los Caballeros. For more than two hundred years it served as the
seat of the military governor of the Spanish colony of
large region that included almost all of present-day Central
and the southernmost State of Mexico, Chiapas.
In 1566 King Felipe II of Spain gave it
the title of "Muy Noble y Muy Leal" ("Very Noble and Very
the 29th of September 1717, an estimated 7.4 magnitude earthquake
hit Antigua and destroyed over three thousand buildings. Much of the city's
architecture was ruined. The damage the earthquake did to the city made
authorities consider moving the capital yet again.
1773, the Santa Marta
destroyed much of the town, which led to the third change in location for the
city. The Spanish
ordered (in 1776) the removal of the capital to a safer location, the Valley of
the Shrine, where Guatemala
the modern capital of Guatemala, now stands. This new city did not retain its
old name and was christened Nueva Guatemala de la Asunción (New Guatemala of the
Assumption) and its patron saint is Our Lady of Assumption. The badly damaged
city of Santiago de los Caballeros was ordered abandoned, (although not everyone
left) and was thereafter referred to as la Antigua Guatemala (the Old
Guatemala). Building materials were plundered for the new city but a coffee boom
allowed Antigua to be reborn. But just as the city was returned to its former
splendour disaster struck. A major quake in February 1976 left thousands dead
and undoing much of the restoration work.
Unesco’s designation if Antigua as a
World Heritage Site in 1979 has added new impetus to the restoration campaign.
Spanish-language schools (Gulp) have brought
huge numbers here to learn from all over the world. Next week we join their
number (Double Gulp). We will settle
ourselves with a host family (Triple Gulp)
and enroll for six hours a day, six days a week (Muchos
Gulping) Oh Bear it will be fun. Don’t be
Antigua is one quarter of the Guatemalan
chapter in the 1000 Things book, we look forward to exploring over a couple of
days. Pop a few miles on a bus to see an active volcano on horseback –
Don’t be bloody silly.
A certain amount of
relief shows on Bear’s and Duncan’s faces as they stand in reception.
The garden patio in front of them. Brian is
downstairs and our three rooms adjoin
We all spent about two minutes choosing
our rooms, Irene the very helpful manageress got us to sign the book and that
was that. Beds shuddered when he saw the ‘head’ above our door number but I reassured him “it’s
a Mayan thing”. He was very happy with the community patio outside our room, that we can use until 22:00 and was
soon settled comfortably in bed. His ears have even come forward a little. I
have had to reassure him constantly that any further roof travel in thunder,
lightning and torrential rain will NEVER EVER be repeated. In fact
no roof travel AT ALL.
Ditto for Ferdinand
whose eyes were shut in seconds.
ALL IN ALL A FULL AND VARIED DAY