Wednesday, February 23, 2011

February 23. 2011

Adam and Cathrine are here in Antigua visiting for a week. We have been on a whirlwind of touring of museums, ruins, and beaches since their arrival on Saturday.  We have had a grand time together.  Sunday and Monday were spent in Guatemala City, where a lovely woman we met, Rose Marie, toured us through six different museums in two days. On Sunday we toured through church, historical, and art museums.  Each told a different story of the history of Guatemala, and served to inform and enlighten.  We walked through the central part of downtown GC and observed street vendors, marimba performers, and learned a lot about the formation of GC after the earthquake lay Antigua to waste in 1773.  She told us that the governor decided to move the capital from Antigua to GC, and gave each land owner the same size piece of land, in the same proximity of where their land was held in Antigua.  Antigua lay dormant for many years hence.  After the tours, our friend took us to a beautiful restaurant on a hill above the city, where we visited, learned more, and enjoyed the extraordinary view of GC, and how it is nestled in the valley between the volcanoes.

We played cards all night and enjoyed the chance to relax and listen to weird musac music.  It was an interesting experience indeed.

On Monday we were back on the museum road, but took three museums of mayan, conquest, and colonial history, all in the environs of the Universidad Marroquin, a privada universidad in GC.  In one of the museums, clothes from across Guatemala were exhibited and explained in Spanish and English.  There were three films to further explain the ropas worn by the Mayan people around the country.  In the second museum, we learned and observed more articles of the anthropological digs across the country.  The artifacts were exceptional and the learning intense.  Our friend is a guide in all of these museums, so was able to help us understand the collection. The last museum we saw was of a doctoral dissertation that examined and chronicled a cotton tapestry of a map of the conquest of Guatemala by Spain, with the assistance of Mayan people.  Each panel was blown up, set up in seven stations, each explaining the travels of a Mayan warrior with the Spanish, as they conquered other Mayan villages across Guatemala.  It was most fascinating to hear the interpretation of the map.  We were all enthralled.

Our friend drove us to Antigua, about 45 minutes away, and parked in the parqueo de santo domingo, where we walked underground to the hotel santo domingo, and saw more ruins and restored artifacts of the Spanish era.  We had lunch at the hotel, visited with our friend, and then parted ways, after which the four of us went to the market, home, played cards, and relaxed.

Tuesday, Feb 22, we left the museums behind and took a tourist bus to the west coast. The beaches are black from volcanic rock. Needless to say, it was very toasty out on the sand, but the water was good on the feet. However, the waves were rather large and there was a fierce undertow. Only Adam was brave enough to swim out and ride the waves. After a few tumbles, even he had to give it up. Mostly we lazed around, watching the natural sundail of the palapa edge, watched whales spew and jump, and spent our day at a little hotel, Pez de Oro, where we lounged in low chairs, enjoyed a lovely fish lunch, then got back on board the rickety transport. We arrived tired and sandy.

We had agreed to join our hostess, Maria del Carmen, for cocktails and cena, for conversation with two gentlemen who are working on a book about UNESCO cities, and another who worked for UNESCO in France, on behalf of Guatemala. It was fascinating to talk to these people and Maria about education, art, the world as a peaceful place, and getting rid of drug us in the U.S., hence releasing the Guatemalan people of the pressure of serving as a go between the drugs coming from S. America, through Mexico, to the U.S.

Today was a red letter day. We went on a walking tour of Antigua with Elizabeth Bell. She is a woman who came to Antigua at the age of 14 and 42 years later, is a tour guide of great skill and excellence.  We walked through ruins, jade factory, museum at the hotel santo domingo, government office, cathedral, and more. It was an extraordinary morning that lasted for almost four hours.  We learned so many things about Antigua history, government, education, health, etc and were overwhelmed with her knowledge and skill in transmitting.  She was recommended to us by many, including Ron Wilhelm, so thank you Ron. We caught a bit of lunch at La Fonda and split for our separate Spanish lessons, Tom in downtown, and me at home. Adam and Catherine came home and relaxed.

Tonight, for the first time, it is raining pretty strongly. Tom just made it back, and it looks like cena and cards are calling.  Hope all is well with you.  love jt

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