It is still early in the morning when I take a sip of my coffee and prick a piece of papaya out of my bowl. The sun shines softly on the cosy courtyard of the hotel. I enjoy the peace and quiet. After breakfast I walk outside for a first acquaintance with Antigua. I walk through the streets covered with cobblestones. The walls of the houses have different colours, and, on the windows, there are flower pots with brightly coloured flowers that complete the cheerful view. I walk around the corner and stand opposite the big yellow 'Arco de Santa Catalina', with the Agua volcano in the background. This characteristic image proves that I am in Antigua.
It is still quiet on the street and slowly I see the city awakening. The reason of my visit, what I am going to visit and how it is possible that I speak Spanish are some of the questions I am asked. The Guatemalans are very friendly and a bit curious. Luckily in a charming way. I feel welcome and quietly stroll on through the streets.
“ I feel welcome and stroll quietly through the streets. ”
Roll up my sleeves
At 11 o'clock I have an appointment with Sonia and Pablo. From them I learn how to cook typical Guatemalan dishes. In my opinion one of the best ways to learn more about a local culture. It takes some searching, but with some help I manage to find the door where I need to be. Inside I end up in a beautiful, shiny kitchen. The ingredients are already there, and I get a warm and friendly welcome. I wash my hands and we can start.
Within 2 hours, with the instructions and the necessary help of Sonia, I put delicious typical local dishes on the table. We make Pepián, a stew of potatoes, vegetables, various herbs and in this case chicken. Furthermore, we make a rice dish, beetroot salad and as dessert rellenitos. Rellenitos are sweet little balls of plantain filled with a pasta of brown beans and chocolate. Together we eat our homemade lunch and in the meantime, we talk about the differences between Guatemala and the Netherlands. Sonia tells us that around December it can sometimes be around 10 to 15 degrees Celsius. According to her the water in the lakes feels like it is coming out of the fridge. When I tell her that it gets so cold every year that the water even freezes, she looks at me in amazement. I also tell her that we don't have any volcanoes and I find the rumbling, that you sometimes hear in the background, very impressive. For her this is the most normal thing in the world. After dinner I say goodbye to Sonia and Pablo and thank them both for a look at the tasty Guatemalan cuisine.
The fine outdoors and curious Guatemalans
One of the things I like to do when I travel is enjoy the outdoors. In Latin America there is always something to see and experience on the streets. Sellers with fresh nuts, children running after each other and women in typical costumes. At the end of the afternoon I walk to the bakery of Doña Luisa Xicotencatl. I order a piece of her famous banana bread and continue my way to the central square. I walk to the middle of the square and sit down on a bench to enjoy my banana bread. Not much later a salesman comes up to me. A little further on he has a shop where he makes leather bags, belts and shoes and he gives me a flyer. I take the flyer, but honestly, I don't have the intention to visit the shop. That doesn't seem to bother him at all. He is more interested in where I come from and what brings me here. Of course, the Dutch soccer players Robben and Van Persie pass by and he asks what I am going to do in the near future.
In the meantime, a group of young musicians from Uruguay has settled not far away from us. They start playing. Latin-American classics. My company knows them all. I don't, but it sounds good and I'm not the only one who thinks so. In no time the square is full of curious spectators. They sing along quietly and dance.
It's already dark when I walk back to my hotel. It was a lovely day in the land of eternal spring. Tired but satisfied I get into bed, wondering what else this trip will bring me.
Would you like to make travel through Guatemala yourself and are you curious about the possibilities? Then take a look at the travel itineraries that we have put together for inspiration. You can book these trips directly, but we are also happy to create a personal programme based on your wishes and ideas.
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