Our First Bimble in Antigua, Guatemala
The Senile Seven bimbled to McDonald’s for breakfast and enjoyed one of the most commanding views, to the south of the city, the Volcán de Agua or "Volcano of Water", stands some 12,356 feet high, dominating the skyline. When the Spanish arrived, the inhabitants of the zone, Kakchikel Mayas, called it Hunapú (they still do). However, it became known as Volcán de Agua after a lahar from the volcano buried the second site of the capital, which prompted the Spanish authorities to move the capital to present-day Antigua. To the west of the city is a pair of peaks, Acatenango, last erupted in 1972, some 13045 feet high, and the Volcán de Fuego or "Volcano of Fire", some 12,346 feet high. "Fuego" is famous for being almost constantly active at a low level. Steam and gas issue from its top daily, but larger eruptions are rare.
Population: The city had a peak population of some 60,000 in the 1770’s; the bulk of the population moved away in the late 18th century. Despite significant population growth in the late 20th century, the city had only reached half that number by the 1990’s. According to the 2007 census, the city has some 34,685 inhabitants. Antigua Guatemala serves as the municipal seat for the surrounding municipality of the same name. It also serves as the departmental capital of Sacatepéquez Department.
Economy: Tourism is the main driver of the economy. Antigua is also a coffee-producing region of Anacafé. Parque Central is a very popular meeting place and we enjoyed the pan pipes. Pepe particularly enjoyed one half of the duo.
Language schools: Antigua is known as a destination for people who want to learn Spanish through immersion. Gulp. The town is home to seventy five registered Spanish language schools (and many not) and it is one of the most popular for students from Europe and North America. Language institutes are one of the primary industries of Antigua, along with tourism.
The University of San Carlos was founded by the Papal Bull of Pope Innocent XI issued dated the 18th of June 1687 and is considered one of the most beautiful, examples of colonial architecture in Antigua. The university was the third founded in the American continent, right after Mexico and Peru’s universities. It was founded by the name of Colegio Mayor de Santo Tomás in 1562 and it was officially declared a university on the 31st of January 1676 by royal command of King Charles II of Spain. Its main building, which was built in 1763, is home to the Museo de Arte Colonial.
Sports: Antigua GFC football club has played in the Guatemala top division for several years but have been playing in the second division lately. Their home stadium is the Estadio Pensativo which has a capacity of 9,000. They are nicknamed Los panzas verdes ("Green bellies").
Cuisine: The town has loads of restaurants – some plain, some fancy. As well as eateries offering traditional Guatemalan cuisine, we have seen Chinese, Japanese, Thai, Mediterranean, Italian, Irish and American. Just down the road from our school we saw a Sunday Roast Beef on the menu for around four pounds fifty, I have no doubt that is where Bear will want to be next Sunday.
Tourism: Antigua is a growing tourist destination in Guatemala as it is close to Guatemala City but is much calmer and safer, with more tourist oriented activities. It is possible to take buses from Antigua to many parts of Guatemala, many travel agencies offer shuttles to the main tourist places: Monterrico beach, Lake Atitlan, Coban, Tikal or even Copan in Honduras, though the transportation is more central in Guatemala City. For now we are very happy to explore this photogenic city.
Antigua is also known for its chocolate makers: At ChocoMuseo Dorrie posed with Alexander, at the museum of cacao and chocolate you can learn how the Mayas were using cacao and make your own chocolate inside the artisanal factory. Lord Mac found the samples. Other places such as Chocolalala, Fernando's Koffee and Chocolarti make and sell chocolate.
Behind the Chocolate Museum was a lovely courtyard with locals crafts on sale.
Behind a Jade shop we listened to a talk on Maya culture, their calendar, beliefs and a little on how jade is formed.
According to the Maya calendar, the day we were born makes Bear a turtle and me a monkey – no surprises there then
ALL IN ALL WE LIKE THE TOWN VERY MUCH
JUST AS WELL IF WE ARE HERE FOR WEEKS – GULP