Friday, March 12, 2010

Visit Guatemala: Part 1

Welcome to Part 1 of a 3 part series: The Lengacher's Visit Guatemala.

I, Krista (pronounced krees.ta), will act as your host as well as unofficial team photographer. My parter Benjamin (pronounced ben.ha.mean) will be your official tour guide / team leader.

With March came the arrival of some very special guests: The Lengacher Family (well at least part of them - Glen, Jean & Kush!) It had been over a year since we've spent time with them, so it was quite special for us to be able to host them in our home.

After arriving in Antigua following a long flight and an almost as long drive from the airport, we set out for some sightseeing lunch first. Unfortunately I forgot to take my camera (how dare the group photographer let everyone down!), but we ate at the always divine Sabe Rico (highlighted as one of the best Guate has to offer in our side bar). It was delicious and exactly what everyone needed to revive themselves! Following lunch we did the usual weekend tourist thing and strolled through Parque Central and the Quinta Avenida down to La Merced where we caught the tail end of the Saturday night mass. After that we sleepily walked home and hit the hay, storing up energy for a full Sunday.

Quinta Avenida (aka. The Arch Street)

Sunday morning was spent grazing over breakfast and enjoying the great outdoors at Casa Lengacher for a while before hitting the cobblestone streets again. After meandering through the market, we once again found our way to Parque Central where Glen indulged in his first of several shoe shines.

A bright sunny day in the park.
The snowbirds certainly enjoyed the weather!

He almost got away without polish on his toes....almost!

Our fearless tour guide Ben then led us through the streets, stopping to participate in whatever our guests found appealing, whether it be street food or shopping.

Weekend browsing at Mercado El Carmen is a must for tourists who are seeking seriously good deals!

When we finally arrived at Las Capuchinas ruins, an old convent dating back to 1529, our leader shared with us some history from Elizabeth Bell's Antigua Guatemala: The City and it's Heritage book. Everyone loves a well informed guide!

Feeling spiritual.

Tour guide Benjamin patiently awaiting his group.

Feeling thoroughly exhausted by this point, our guide expertly led us to a well known favorite local restaurant, La Cuevita de los Urquizú, where we nourished our lifeless bodies with some local cuisine....for a pretty quetzal or 60!

Then our guide threw a surprise at us. 2 of our group members would be checking into the exquisite El Convento hotel for the evening. Lucky them! We all escorted them to their hotel and ooh'd and ahh'd at the posh accommodations. So very jealous were we was I!

(Side note: After falling in love with this zen bubbling fountain, the tour guide promised to recreate one for me in our future home!)

A few hours later we reconvened for our evening activities: dessert at Cenicienta (the best bakery ever - make sure you try the chocolate banana cake!) and the Procession of Jesús Nazareno, leading up to Semana Santa (Holy Week).

(Note: Team photographer did not bring along her tripod and therefore the following photos are blurry - it's not your eyes!)

All group members stood in awe as the procession passed right in front of us. Thankfully with the assistance of some overly informed, loudly spoken tourists from Philadelphia standing nearby, we were able to get the lowdown on Semana Santa, the floats and even the clean up crew, which follows as part of the procession and gets to work shoveling away the precious alfombras before one can blink an eye!

The evening ended with a stroll through a maze of street vendors in front of La Merced, where each and every group member indulged in a culinary treat or 2....or 3!

La Merced.

Jean with a hot peppered Mango.

Kush eating elotes (corn) schmeared in ketchup, mayo & hot sauce.

Glen snacking on a pupusa, the nacional dish of El Salvador.

Unnamed group member, satisfying her sweet tooth
with a candied apple.

Aren't you all hungry now?

Stay tuned next week for Part 2: The Lengacher's Visit Guatemala.

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