The Magic About Guatemala’s Antigua

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We’d last visited Antigua Guatemala over a year to celebrate Semana Santa (Holy Week.) It was a gorgeous day, and I was excited to explore the city, and meet up with some friends, old and new. After returning, I decided to discover the city anew, and reflect on why I really love Antigua. Maybe I have been in Guatemala too long, and visiting Antigua felt akin to visiting another country.

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Whatever the reason, I enjoy the city so much, I’d consider living there: here’s a few reasons why:

Sidewalks

It seems like such a silly little thing, but in a country where there’s no shoulders on the side of the road, let alone sidewalks, having a designated, ‘safe’ place to walk is so nice (even if those sidewalks are small, crowded and large window sills sticking out into them, which is how Kimball cut open his head while we were here during Semana Santa.)

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Sidewalks are great for resting when you’re tired, too.

 Clean, Pretty and Quaint

There’s still some litter here and there, and a couple piles of dog crap, but for the most part, Antigua is clean.

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And not just clean, but they take pride in how their city looks, as in they all have painted their homes and stores in various colors of orange, yellow, pinks and browns. In a country where most homes and buildings remain ‘unfinished’ and unpainted, this really makes a noticeable difference.

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Antigua has cobblestone streets… which can be kind of challenging to walk over, but add a lot of character. (And they have horse drawn carriages… cool!)

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This city also has many beautiful cathedrals and other old buildings.. I love taking photographs of these aged, stately structures.

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antigua guatemala

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Culture

Antigua still has some of the culture of the highlands (people wearing the typical dress), and it has a lot of tradition — festivals like Semana Santa. We even were able to see a similar type procession while we were there — this one was celebrating Day of the Dead.

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Markets

As a general rule, we try to support local business while we travel by shopping at the markets, etc. So when we visit a place, it’s nice if they have a good market with plenty of variety. Antigua has one of the largest we have seen, and it’s fairly clean (always a plus.)

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We ate lunch/dinner at this lady’s comedor all three days that we stayed in Antigua.

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Things to Do

I’m sure if we’d just come from some big city with lots of options for entertainment and shopping, our experience would be different. But we have been living in Panajachel, and then San Jose Chacaya where there’s nothing to do… so to us, Antigua was hoppin! Restaurants, museums, yoga classes, and lots more.

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Rachel Denning
Rachel Denning is an unassuming mother of five who never really did any international traveling until she had four children. After a second honeymoon to Playa del Carmen, Mexico, she and her husband decided to sell most of their belongings and move their family abroad.

Driving from the United States to Panama, they settled in Costa Rica for a year, until the U.S. financial market crash in 2008, when they lost their location independent income. Returning to the United States to look for work, they knew they'd be back 'out' again, having been officially bitten by the travel bug!

Despite adjustments to living a simpler life (or perhaps because of it), they were able to save enough money to move to the Dominican Republic in 2009. After six months they came back to the States once more, where they were offered employment working with a non-profit organization in India.

They spent five months living in Tamil Nadu, then returned to the States once more (to Alaska) so they could have baby number five - Atlas.

From there, they set out in April of 2011 to drive, in a veggie powered truck, from Alaska to Argentina, visiting every continental country in North and South America.

Travel is a part of their life now, and they can't imagine doing anything else. Rachel photographs and writes about their incredible family travel adventures on their website, and they also have resources that encourage others to live a deliberate life.
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