Destination Wedding – Antigua, Guatemala

Well I guess there are both good and bad things about your cousin marrying into a snooty family.

The destination wedding was ‘off the hook’. Antigua Guatemala –  a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

We had been on international vacation hiatus for about 10 years. Maybe too conservative, but we just did not feel comfortable leaving our kids and they did not seem ready for serious travel.

But at 10 and 6, bye kids, don’t forget to eat. So we left the kids with relatives and finally got back to needing a passport.

So many relatives could not afford to make the trip, we felt obligated to make a showing of ‘our side‘ of the family. We rounded up the ‘B Squad’ (unencumbered, financially stable uncles and cousins) and headed for parts unknown.

As part of a Net Worth Blog, I always try to spell out the expenditures on a trip like this. Truth be told I do not recall the total cost. We got flights for around $400 round trip for each of us and the lodging at the Villa was paid for by the groom’s parents. Everything else there was relatively cheap from the perspective of a fat, greedy American.

Antigua was the old colonial capital of Spain for all of Central America. The city is located in a valley at a high altitude, surrounded by mountains and active volcanoes.

You read that right, active volcanoes.

One called Volcan de Fuego would actually spew lava that was visible especially at night. It is only 10 miles away.

The layout of the city is a classic square with much of the baroque architecture and colonial churches in tact. The capital was later moved due to geographical convenience and frequent earthquakes in the sixteenth century.

Because it is in the middle of the jungle, I worried about temperatures. Guess what, it is always in the 70’s all year. The weather is perfect due to the position of the city relative to the mountains around it.

The actual weddings took place inside a church that was only partially restored after the earthquakes;

One of the things I loved about Antigua was the doors. All throughout town are wonderful huge elaborate wooden doors. You could make a coffee table book about the ‘Doors of Antigua‘.

We also took a day trip to visit a coffee plantation.

This was very interesting. Coffee likes to grow at a very specific altitude and in a very specific volcanic soil. Hawaii’s Kona coffee has been winning all the awards lately, but the place we visited won best coffee in 2004. The place is called Finca Filadelfia.

I for one enjoyed the 2 hour bus ride up from Guatemala City. Antigua is for the tourists. It is safe because everybody knows not to mess with the hand that feeds you. The trip in is another side of Guatemala and it was fascinating.

Every single business employs an armed guard to discourage trouble. Literally every business. The sit outside with big shotguns, like this guy;

The twisting ride up into the mountains is filled with elaborately painted ‘chicken buses‘ coming and going.

The blinding poverty of the third world is always a stark contrast to the natural beauty.

I am glad I finally got to visit Guatemala. The first time I was slated to go there did not go as planned.

I do enjoy destination weddings. This is the 3rd one we have been invited to. The first one to Montana was great. I had to skip the 2nd one to Costa Rica because of a new baby in the house 🙁

Back to the Travel Log.

P.S. Vacation hiccup – I thought I was making out like a bandit bringing back several unopened bottles of good wine leftover from the wedding. However, this is too much liquid in the post 9/11 world. It was confiscated at the airport in Guatemala City. How do you say “Have a good time on us” in Spanish?


5 thoughts on “Destination Wedding – Antigua, Guatemala

  1. looks like a nice trip and good on the snooty’s to sport up for the lodging. we took a janky bus like that through the slums of rio to go up and see the giant jesus. that was some serious poverty going on. i hope the kids didn’t forget to eat.

    • I have been through Central america pretty thoroughly, but have not made it to South America yet, wife is afraid that if the plane went down and she lived, she would have to deal with something called a ‘bird-eating spider’. they apparently live in the Amazon and it is why I will never get to Rio.

  2. I’ve spent a lot of time in Guatemala & your beautiful photos brought back many memories! I’m pretty sure I’ve been in that same church. On one of our trips to Antigua, my husband & 9 year old daughter elected to go on a hike up the volcano with a tour group. Yes, the volcano was active – one guy got too close & the bottom of his tennis shoe melted off!

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