In regions throughout Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Belize and part of El Salvador, the Mayan Culture is one of the largest in the Americas. Of those five countries, Guatemala is the heart of the Mayan world. Although it is certainly modernized, you can still find traces of Mayan culture in Guatemala, including Antigua.
However, present day Antigua is quite touristy, but still amazing. There are several Spanish schools, hostels and it is close to several sites to explore and other cool things to do. Add that to the fact that it’s a quaint, small town and is quite safe and boom: gringos! Everywhere you turn, there are people selling things. Fruit, bracelets, bags, hand-made scarves, etc. One lady is on the same corner every day with her basket of fruit including watermelon, platinos, cauntelope, pineapple and more. The closer to the center you get (even though Antigua is not very big), the more people you will see. The women carry huge baskets on their heads, babies in a sling around their backs and things to sell in their hands. It’s crazy. You can also sit and get your shoes shined if you desire. Many Latin American countries have many similarities, and Antigua is no different. But it’s such a nice little place and it’s definitely a good place to start if you’ve never ventured into Central or South America. Besides the fact that it’s easy to get to, the people are nice and will try to help you if you ask (at least attempt Spanish, but hand motions do wonders as well). Even though they’re nice, boy will they try to sell you something. And they’ll say anything to get you to come look. A couple of different times, a lady would say “One dollar, one dollar!” One dollar is quite cheap, so naturally you want to check out what she’s selling. Once you start looking, the she says the price again… but this time it’s $21. Trent, Audrey and I were walking around and there were some bags hanging outside of a small shop.
Trent had said previously he needed a bag, so we stopped outside to look. Within twenty seconds, a lady had us iniside and in the back of the shop, pulling down bag after bag after bag. The rest of her family proceeded to swarm us, asking which one we liked. I can’t even explain how insane it is, seven or eight women surrounding you, bags coming down and the newspaper that stuffed the bags flying everywhere. Then the magic words: “Quanto cuesto?” Twenty dollars was the answer. Twenty dollars? For a bag? No, thanks. Of course when you start to walk away the price comes down. 15. 14. 10. Trent setlled at 50 Quetzales (about $6.50). I had six bucks USD and asked if she would take that. Nope, she only wanted Quetzales and she wouldn’t take less than 50. I got three feet from the door and she changed her mind. With that said, you can get some great deals, but you can also get ripped a new one. They know how to negiotiate. Plus, there’s always seems to be a different price for the locals than for the Gringos. And then there is the market. Hundreds of little tent spaces filled with everything you could imagine. Jerseys, souvenirs, meat, fruit, clothes, shoes, everything. Just like with the street vendors and the small shops, there is always room for negotiation at the market. There’s also amazing food. If you’re brave enough to try it, you can get some delicious food for next to nothing. And lichas! You can get lichas at the market. A spiky looking strawberry, you break them open and inside it’s similar to a grape with a seed. I’ve never seen them in the US, but they’re all over the place here! Behind the market, there’s the chaos of the chicken bus station. There are dozens and dozens of them. And while you’re waiting for the bus, you can always grab something to munch on at the street stand. Antigua has been great. Definitely a great place to start my Central American journey. And the next stop? Honduras. Audrey, Trent, Evelyn and I are taking a bus (not a chicken bus, a coach bus) to Copan Ruinas, Honduras. Check back soon to “hear” about the border crossing, the town and the Mayan ruins!
For a full set of pikchas, click here!