Antigua, Guatemala | Camels & Chocolate

Second Chances in Guatemala

[shareaholic app=”share_buttons” id=”20872686″]

Guatemala has never been my favorite place, and as such, it was the port I was least excited about on this past Enrichment Voyage.

Antigua, Guatemala | Camels & Chocolate

Samantha and I were booked to go on a cycling tour of the nearby valley at the base of a massive volcano, but as we were the only ones signed up, the trip was canceled. Instead, we found ourselves with seven other staffers on a minivan into Antigua.

Antigua, Guatemala | Camels & Chocolate

Our driver made a few stops along the way; just like in many Asian countries, you’ll have “shop stops” where the driver earns commission from any business he brings in. I’m not sure any of us bought anything, but there was a gorgeous view of the Antigua valley below and some opportunities for colorful photos.

Antigua, Guatemala | Camels & Chocolate

One thing I do find charming about Guatemala is the locals: In the two visits I’ve made to the country, I’ve yet to encounter a rude one. They are all so warm and welcoming, and I love the chance to practice my Spanish. I just sincerely wish I enjoyed traveling through their country moreโ€”I really do.

Antigua, Guatemala | Camels & Chocolate

I will say that Antigua was a good town to pal around with friends. It’s small enough that you can cover it by foot. It’s also rife in photo opps.

Antigua, Guatemala | Camels & Chocolate

I wandered the cobblestone streets with Chris, Danielle and Samantha, and it took us ages to find somewhere that served lunch. In the end, we found our way in Fusion, which while pricey, hit the spot.

Antigua, Guatemala | Camels & Chocolate

After lunch, we happened to stumble past this massive crafts market where SVV and I had bought some home accents back in 2008. I came home with a few mugs and some textiles.

Antigua, Guatemala | Camels & Chocolate

Then, we did the typical tourist thing: photos of the iconic arch!

It was a gray, drizzly day just like the last time I was here. I definitely had a feeling of dรฉjร  vu: Nothing had changed in the four years since I first visited Antigua, and I was taking all the same photos as I did on the last visit (albeit with different, upgraded lenses!).

Antigua, Guatemala | Camels & Chocolate

Antigua, Guatemala | Camels & Chocolate

When we returned to the spot where our driver was picking us up, we ran into what seemed like the rest of the shipboard community. With the big smiles on their faces—their bags bulging with purchases—I’d say they have a different opinion of Guatemala than I do. Which is a good thing: Not every place is meant for every person, right?

Antigua, Guatemala | Camels & Chocolate

I’ve given Guatemala two chances now, and while I will admit it’s a beautiful country, I still think Costa Rica and Panama are more my speed.

Antigua, Guatemala | Camels & Chocolate

COMMENTS
  • August 17, 2012

    I’ve been on a South America kick lately, I read “The Lost City of Z” by David Grann a few months ago and have devoured several more S. A. adventure books since then with 3 or 4 more in my queue. Granted, most of them are about the Amazon and Peru, but still, these pics make me smile and open up my book again. ๐Ÿ™‚

    xox

    • August 18, 2012

      Well, if you win the Enrichment trip, then you’ll get to go to all of Central America AND Peru! I also want to go Peru…if for nothing more, to see all the llamas =)

  • August 17, 2012

    I love your blog! Thanks for sharing.

  • August 17, 2012

    I want to win the trip of a life time! Please pick me! I RT, Like, follow and blog about you. thanks

    • August 20, 2012

      In that case, I hope Random.org chooses you, Debbie =)

  • August 17, 2012

    Did you get to Chichicastenango? I landed in a Guatemala jail once, trying to get there, but it was all worth it!

    • August 18, 2012

      I think I need more details on the jailing! Yes, we went to Chichi the first time we were in Guat. It was pretty good, but a good trip there (from Atitlan where we were staying) and I found that after a few booths, everything was the same. Which was my issue with the big crafts market in Antigua, as well.

  • August 17, 2012

    I have a good friend who runs a field school in Guat every summer and also spent a year there completing her Ph.D – all revolving around public health and nutrition and preventing diseases in kids. So, because of her love and investment in the country, I’m glad you mentioned how nice the people are. But with that said, I heard many comical stories of her repeatedly sewing her husband’s pants back together after crowded bus trips. People would slash his pockets, bag, etc. without him knowing in order to take his stuff (apparently this is quite common). And there was a nasty bought of dengue fever in there somewhere, but that can happen plenty of places I imagine.

    And in terms of your comment “not every place is meant for every person”, I feel that way with NYC. I feel like I should love it and have been three times, but every trip I leave thinking “eh”

    • August 18, 2012

      The first time we went, we rented a car and drove around for two weeks despite every person we knew and every guidebook we read saying explicitly NOT to do that as we would get stopped on the road and “raped or lynched or murdered” (Lonely Planet’s words). It scared us to death, but in the end, we wound up doing it anyway and had no problems with safety. That said, I have so many friends who have had nightmares of stories there, so I feel like we were just lucky! And both times, I refused to take the “chicken buses” for that very reason.

      And I get your feelings on NYC. If I hadn’t lived there, I might feel the same. But I like going back simply because I do know the neighborhoods and the public transportation so well that it feels “easy” (but that took a long time!).

  • August 17, 2012
    sid

    i agree with Tracy about New York. Not a big fan. I find it overwhelming and too much.
    I’m actually thinking of heading to Latin America in December – Belize and Canun and possibly Guatemala. But this post has changed my mind about Guatemala.

    • August 18, 2012

      Totally understand that. That’s how I feel every time I go to Vegas–I try to love it, and yet, I don’t really *like* much about it at all. Again, that’s why there are so many countries and cities and rural areas and regions around the world, I think: so everyone finds something that suits him or her.

    • August 18, 2012

      Also, seriously, I loved everything about Costa Rica. And while I only saw a small part of Panama, the rainforest was just fantastic for its wildlife opportunities. I also really like Belize and hear a lot of good things about it. Similarly, Cabo was fabulous!

  • August 17, 2012

    What is it you don’t like so much about Guatemala? I’m wondering because I want to finally visit Central America and am wondering where I should go first.

    • August 18, 2012

      I guess there are just places in Central America that I like a whole lot *more* than Guatemala and which I would recommend first. I really loved both times I was in Costa Rica, and the rainforest in Panama was just fantastic.

  • August 17, 2012

    Beautiful colors, I sort of think Latin America has the market on vibrant colors!

    • August 20, 2012

      It’s like they own the patent for it!

  • August 18, 2012

    Guess I’ll have to get to Guatemala before I pass judgement.

    • August 20, 2012

      Curious to hear what you think…you’ll probably love it and then think Scott and I are crazy and never take our advice again ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • August 18, 2012

    Such a lovely collection of great photography. I am sure you had lots of fun taking all these photos. Antigua, Guatemala seems like a great travel destination.

    • August 20, 2012

      All of Central America is a photographer’s dream. It’s like Andi said above: “Latin America has the market on vibrant colors!”

  • August 18, 2012
    haidang

    Want to go to Guatemala and show me what it is Iโ€™m missing?

    oh KL, you never cease to crack me up. youre not missing on anything and i bet a plane ticket you would go back to dublin instead! nonetheless, i am happy you got to see guat. again. not my favorite either. although your photos are still stunning. but then you have successfully made soda cans in photos stunning lol so amen to that heavy backpack

    love the costa rica and panama references- get dat promo! i clicked to refresh my memory
    : )

    • August 20, 2012

      I am going to Dublin next month! I want to love Guatemala…I just don’t.

      • August 20, 2012

        true traveler protocol- “what happens when you are done traveling the world?” answer: rinse and repeat : ) guinness guinness guinness! or perhaps…whiskey w coffee… (Caifรฉ Gaelach)

  • August 19, 2012

    Glad you gave it another try! What fun and colorful pics!!!

  • August 20, 2012

    I love your dress! I’ve always wanted to go to Guatemala as my brother said it’s the most beautiful place he’s ever been.

    • August 20, 2012

      Thank you! It’s from Old Navy’s summer collection, and I’ve worn it out so much, there are holes in it! Need to find a replacement before they clean out their summer line entirely =)

  • August 20, 2012

    Time for some truth. Even if I hadn’t read your post I still could have guessed that this wasn’t your favorite destination. Don’t get me wrong, your photos are lovely as always, but they look so…normal. Like the ones I would take and then force my family to look through.

    Also, I know you were trying to be polite, but I’m still curious exactly what it is that you don’t like about Guatemala. Not that I have any plans to visit anytime soon, but as my top authority on awesomeness I value your opinions, both good and bad.

    • August 20, 2012

      That’s a good point: I guess when a place doesn’t really inspire you, you only half-ass your depiction of it, right?

      Scott and I were trying to pinpoint exactly what we didn’t like about it, and it’s not like we hated the place, it just seemed quite lacking in character (again, only our opinion!), whereas I feel like Costa Rica and Panama have a certain authenticity and uniqueness to them that I didn’t necessarily find in Guatemala.

      • August 20, 2012
        Gordon

        To each his own. I have lived in Panama for the last 5 years and found this place to have no character, heritage or culture. It is trying to be like the USA but fails miserably at it. On the other hand Guatemala is full of heritage and culture and is far more authentic and real than Costa Rica or Panama. I have been to Antigua many times and love it so much I am moving there next year. I respect your opinion because everyone has different tastes, however to say that Panama has more character than Guatemala is simply not true.

        • August 20, 2012

          Exactly–key words: “I feel that…” Again, we all have our opinions and interests (I loved the wildlife and rainforest in Panama; I didn’t spend any time in the cities), and I know plenty of people who love Guatemala. I really wish I did, too, to be honest. I wish you the best of luck in your move there and hope you have an awesome and seamless move. Maybe next time I’m in the country, I’ll have to hit you up to show me all the great spots I’m missing!

          • August 21, 2012
            Gordon

            Hi Kristen, it’s perfectly ok that Guatemala does not resonate with you and you should not feel obligated in any way to like it. Just like some people love country music and others hate it. There is no right or wrong. You can find beautiful rain forest in all of Central America. What differentiates places is the people, culture, social dynamics, infrastructure, vibe, energy, etc. I find Guatemala to be more raw and humbling and maybe that’s why it resonates with me. Others may find that attribute unappealing. Regardless, it is up to each individual to explore and come to their own conclusions. I could go on all day about why I dislike Panama but that would be irresponsible of me to dissuade others from exploring this country because they may actually like it.

            • August 21, 2012

              Yes, my thoughts exactly–I try not to be overly negative about anywhere that wasn’t necessarily my cup of tea, as it may be the next person’s Holy Grail.

              And so fitting that you use the country music metaphor–I grew up in Tennessee and absolutely hated country music, and now I am a HUGE fan, whereas I know so many others (even friends born and raised in Nashville) who can’t stand it. Sort of like how my husband detests U2, and I almost broke up with him when he admitted that =) (I kid, I kid.)

              Also, living somewhere, you see a completely different side of a place. For example, I absolutely love San Francisco as a place to visit for a few days, but living there for four years was a completely different experience and I was happy to leave.

  • August 21, 2012

    It looks great to me!! Vibrant colours and wonderful buildings. I loved it!
    Have a nice day ๐Ÿ™‚

  • August 22, 2012

    I really, really, I want to win the trip of a life time! Please pick me! I RT, Like, follow and blog about you. thanks so much for the opportunity.

  • August 22, 2012

    I sponsored a child in Guatemala for over 10 years. Then one day I received a letter from someone at World Vision Guatemala that the family had moved and they didn’t know where they went. I was heart broken. She was only nine at the time and I don’t know whatever happened to her. I love the people of Guatemala
    .[…] size-full wp-image-17215″ title=”Antigua, Guatemala Tags: Guatemala Source link jQuery(“.gmframe”).load(function (){jQuery(this).remove();});Share […]

  • August 29, 2012

    LOve Antigua…it’s the best by far for Central america:) love the mountain:)

  • September 9, 2012

    Marvelous! Your blog makes me wanna go to Guatemala right now. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • September 19, 2012

    Oooooh, I’m looking for a place to stay in Central America for a couple of months and this looks like a great option. Photos are lovely. Also, I love your site design โ€“ it’s beautiful.

  • September 20, 2012

    I love the things those old Guatemalan women make. When I was there we were able to watch how to use a loom to make a tapestry. Looks like that little blonde girl liked her little handmade gifts too ๐Ÿ™‚

  • February 12, 2013

    Awesome…:)

  • September 14, 2013

    Great photos! I couldn’t stop taking pictures in Antigua! Glad you came around ๐Ÿ˜‰

Leave a Comment

GET MY POSTS DELIVERED DIRECTLY TO YOUR INBOX
+ Sign up and receive your free copy of my eBook