Antigua is an amazing city with very friendly people. We spent the day exploring the city and there was a lot going on given that it was the weekend. Once the sun set, we found a roof top patio and had a few refreshments while taking in the view. It was at this time that we saw all kinds of people walking to the main square dressed in ‘religous-looking’ outfits. Later while we were at a coffee shop, we heard an orchestra which drew our attention outside. The street was completely full of people and there was a procession of various religious symbols including a massive “float” which was carried on the shoulders of about 60 people. We headed back to our hotel but could still hear the procession going as it made its way to each church in town finally ending at about 12:30am
The next day we headed to the infamous market at Chichitenango which was massive and full of all kinds of goods. Once finished there, we made our way to Panajacahel, a small town on Lake Atitlan (which is actually a volcanin crater). The area recently had record rainfalls and we were lucky that the biggest landslide which had blocked the road for weeks was cleared only hours before we arrived at it.
One final note: Our bus ride to Chichi was interesting… We took chicken buses which are essentially old North American school buses painted bright colours (usually with chrome and religous symbols on the hood). We had to make a transfer at this pretty dodgy town where there were more people than room on the buses. We ended up having to try and pack ourselves onto an already full bus. A few of us went to the back door (the one on the back of the bus not the side), It was full there as well and the bus started pulling away with 4 of us chasing it. I can laugh about it now but the prospect of being left in a town I didn’t know the name of without the rest of the group and the tour leader was frightening. I know they would have come back for us but it was truely a chaotic situation. The bus driver was ignorant to the entite bus pleading to stop. I was sprinting after the bus picking up shoes and sunglasses that had fallen off of my travel companions as they scrambled to board and squeeze their packs through the back door of the moving bus. The last person finally got through the door right as the bus was getting close to highway speed. This is ‘normal’ in Central America.