Miro, World Traveler Extraordinaire, walks us through his favorite place: Antigua!
Hello, my name is Miro and I am a 14-year-old boy who is traveling and experiencing the world with my mom. We've been to many countries over the past few years. Today, I'd like to share one of my favorite cities with you located in Guatemala.
There is a quaint little colonial town, just an hour outside of the Guatemala capital, named Antigua. Be warned though, getting there is quite a task. My mom and I chose a chicken bus for the 45-minute trip. What is a chicken bus, you ask? A chicken bus is a refurbished school bus that is brightly painted and drives way too fast on the curvy roads to Antigua. We slid from side to side as the bus hurled around the windy roads. Chicken buses are usually packed full of people, normally up to 6 passengers sitting side by side on a single aisle. It's not uncommon to see livestock on them.
My mom and I lived in Antigua for over eight months. We lived as visiting locals rather than tourists. Antigua is everything you would expect from a colonial town: cobblestone roads, Spanish architecture and churches all across the city. Once I set foot in this town, I felt inspired by everything around me, and gained the desire to learn more.
Antigua is best known for Semana Santa—which translates to holy week, even though it's not just a week, it's an entire month. Every Sunday during Lent in Antigua, one of the local churches sponsors a procession through the streets of Antigua. They also leave carpets made of dyed sawdust and flowers to define its path. Many artisans spend hours on these sawdust carpets, and the patterns usually involve flowers, a cross or Jesus. Sometimes, they even let foreigners work on the carpets too.
On the final Sunday during Semana Santa, the procession is the biggest one yet, and festivities take place all over the city. Streets are blocked off entirely for the marching processions that trample the sawdust carpets lining the town’s streets. Firecrackers and noise makers can be heard night and day. Massive crowds gather around the processions, tourists and locals alike. Those who are a part of the procession wear interesting purple outfits with hoods, Roman soldier costumes, or traditional Catholic robes. Some people carry censors.
My mom and I lived on a tiny dead-end street next to a large church. I recall the final night of Semana Santa, when a huge procession marched down our tiny road. They included over 25 robed men who were resting a large float on their shoulders, with a huge sculpture of Jesus on a cross. They shot off hundreds of firecrackers on our tiny street and the music was blaring. When they got to the end of the road, they had a really hard time turning around, and on the way out they got stuck on a power line. Fun was had by all.
Antigua is a beautiful city: the people, the culture, the architecture, the history. All of it is wonderful and I highly recommend it to everyone.