Our last destination in Guatemala was the charming colonial town of Antigua. With the ominous Volcan Agua serving as a striking backdrop, Antigua feels like a modern-day Pompeii, enjoying an elevated level of prosperity before the eruption.
Antigua offers a multitude of excuses to relax and take it easy. Cozy cafes and cute restaurants tucked into hidden courtyards beckon the passing traveler. With its cobblestone streets, colorful buildings and an abundance of once-glorious churches in various states of ruin and decay, Antigua offers a variety of subjects for the photographer. We spent two days leisurely strolling the streets of Antigua taking in its faded charm and trying to capture some of it with the camera by day; by night, we brushed up on our salsa moves with group lessons at $3/hour, sampled the international cuisine on offer, and caught some live Cuban-inflected music at a ritzy restaurant.
We were especially interested in touring a coffee plantation, as Antigua is one of Guatemala’s best-known coffee-producing regions. Finca Filadelfia, located on the outskirts of town, has been producing high quality coffee beans for four generations. Finca Filadelfia picked us up in town in an open-air truck and took us on a coffee safari, driving around the plantation and explaining the horticulture of coffee.
We then toured the facility where the coffee bean is separated from its fruit, fermented, dried, roasted and finally packaged for sale. It was fascinating to see how much care and attention is given to producing an excellent cup of coffee. The tour ended with an opportunity to enjoy the final product, and it was well worth the wait.
People often say that nobody ever visits Guatemala just once. With its stunning and varied geography, impressive Mayan temples and friendly people, there are many reasons to return . . .
Travel Logistics: We traveled to Antigua from San Pedro de la Laguna on Lago de Atitlán. This involved catching a 30-minute ferry across the lake from San Pedro to Panajachel on a small passenger boat and then a two-hour tourist shuttle to Antigua. Antigua was our final destination in Guatemala. We were able to catch a convenient tourist shuttle directly to the international airport in Guatemala City from there.
P.S. Coming home after a great trip like this one is always a drag, and we can’t help but get a little depressed when we arrive back in Chicago. The one thing that always manages to cheer us up, though, is our amazing cat Moose. No matter how long we have been gone, he always finds it in his heart to forgive us, and he really is an unusually cool cat. Don’t believe us? Just check out his preferred method of grooming, and you will see what we mean. Enjoy!