Days 119-120, Antigua

Crista (my godmother) dropped us of in Antigua so we could commence our backpacking journey. Antigua was really adorable with lots of church ruins, restaurants, shops, and tours. Its backdrop is also a volcano. The most beautiful part of Guatemala is definitely its natural environment – you’re never too far away from mountains, volcanos, lakes, rivers, or jungles.

Probably the most unassuming volcano ever. Yeah, that slight hint of a slope right there, what you thought was just sky? Nope, that’s a volcano.

One of the many churches we visited. Most had been hit by earthquakes and were eventually deemed nonfunctional and now serve as museums.

Of course, Chris had to climb everything.

One of the first meals in Antigua – this platter was incredibly filling: cooked veggies, chicken stew, some guacamole and a side of tamales. And the corn consumption commences!
Every church we passed had an incredible presence, just like they had originally been designed to have. 
A cute little park with a great view of the volcano. We went running our second morning in Antigua and stopped by here to do some squats. Yes, we were doing squats in Guatemala. The locals gave us funny looks.
This was probably my favorite church ruin – it’s the Catedral de Santiago. Completely ominous with huge pillars just sprawled as if the 1773 earthquake that wrecked had occurred recently.
Later that second day (after we both got sick with Traveler’s Disease) we somehow managed to gather enough energy to go hike Volcano Pacaya. Pacaya actually recently erupted in May 2010 so it’s very much still active. The ascent took about an hour and a half, maybe two, with a straight shot up. It was exactly the kind of physical activity I needed. The end result was amazing.
It felt like we were on top of the world.
The clouds would hide everything around us and then clear off and show off a spectacular view. That’s the crater of the volcano.
Once we got closer to the crater, the ground became considerably hotter. At some points I felt like my shoes were going to melt off. Our tour-guide placed some sticks and branches on top of a small opening and it soon went up in flames. [Anyone seen Volcano, the movie with Tommy Lee Jones? That scene in the train tunnel where the guy jumps into lava to save the passenger? Yeah, I kept playing that in my head.]Sunset on top of a volcano.