Introducing Antigua Guatemala

As we continue to explore our extraordinary world, our senses become increasingly attuned to the small details permeating any given location. We not only see a new landscape but also recognize it, identifying traits and atmospheres from old treaded paths.

Recognition is suddenly traipsing in front of discovery’s footsteps, leading to a surge in sentences such as “This reminds me of…” or “That … looks exactly like the one we saw in…”, ultimately providing most voyages with a sense of, if not déjà-vu, at least eerie familiarity.

Santa Catalina arch Antigua Guatemala

Santa Catalina arch

Stepping into Antigua, a charming city in the central highlands of Guatemala, we were immediately reminded of one of our favorite spots in Mexico – the lovely San Cristóbal de las Casas, where our initial plan of staying for one week turned into 3 months of chocolate, alternative cinemas, coffee tours and all the little moments brightening days and nights spent meandering through quiet corners and bustling markets.

Antigua’s vivid colors, cobblestone streets, colonial architecture, vibrant gastronomy and stunning geography made it, at least in our eyes, seem like a more polished version of San Cristóbal. However, soon other places were joining the mnemonic fray: Mérida, in the Mexican Yucatán, and a couple of surprising apparitions, such as the villages around Mt Fuji in Japan and the city of Porto, in Portugal.

This geographical avalanche had a surprising effect: Antigua felt like home, which to us seems to lie at the vortex between nowhere and everywhere. Old shops, smelling of wood and sugar, reminded us of childhood errands and endless summers, whereas the clouds shrouding the magnificent Volcán de Agua rising on the southern side of Antigua made our steps sometimes echo the ones we took during our days in Japan.

Volcán de Agua Antigua Guatemala

Volcano in the south – Volcán de Agua

Distant past and more recent journeys coalesced into a mad yet strangely affecting patchwork of smells, impressions and sun-soaked glimpses into a near-forgotten time and a personally constructed place.

Every beautiful ruin, every turn of the head southwards, every misplaced step in the cobblestone maze, every whiff of bread leaving the oven on a sunny early morning, every flicker of light in a warm night, every sudden recognition of an ancient sight from a faraway land, every touch of a wall steeped in history and dust have made our days in Antigua a constant stroll through a plateaux of mirrors – we recognize versions of our world and ourselves, but they are only reflections of a life spent traveling, in years and in strides.

At least for now, Antigua Guatemala, the ancient city surrounded by fire and water, shaken by devastating earthquakes but never entirely abandoned, beaming at dawn and scintillating at dusk, is home. We can only smile in appreciation and continue to wander, lost but also found.

La Merced Antigua Guatemala

La Merced

Antigua Guatemala

San Francisco church Antigua Guatemala

San Francisco church

Tanques La Unión Antigua Guatemala

Tanques La Unión

Chicken bus Antigua Guatemala

San Agustin Antigua Guatemala

San Agustin

Elle in Antigua Guatemala

Elle walks Antigua

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12 Responses

  1. Kellie says:

    Such lovely pictures. I think we are 99% sure that when we’ve finished housesitting here in Mexico we will be heading to Guatemala. Loving following your journey and stealing all your tips 😉

    • FW North says:

      Thanks a lot, Kellie! We might still be in Antigua by the time you make to Guatemala – we’re sloooooow… Good luck and safe travels!

  2. Oh, how I love this city! Lovely photos, thanks for sharing.

  3. Beautiful article and incredible pictures. You were lucky to see this arresting city in the sunshine, all my photos are cloudy! Hope you enjoy the rest of your travels!

  4. Jess says:

    I can see why you’d be comfortable there – it’s beautiful, but it also seems like a nice, calm place to settle in and spend some time.

    • FW North says:

      Hola Jess! Yeah, we’re happy to be in Antigua Guatemala 🙂 Thanks a lot for visiting, much appreciated. Good luck!

  5. Anila B says:

    Antigua really does feel like home. My first visit was in March 2014. I stayed for a week for a medical mission camp as a nurse with Primero Humanidad and fell in love instantly with the people, the colors, the vibe, the weather, the views, the coffee, and the smell of wood. I have since been back in May, June, and November during Thanksgiving. Where did you stay? If you two were still there when I went, I might have passed you on the streets! 🙂
    Returning in January 2015, God willing! And San Cristobal has lately been calling my name, and I think it’s just because it reminds me of Antigua. Your posts on it confirm my suspicion, and now it is necessary for me to visit.

    Love this blog, will be reading every Guatemala and Mexico entry when I have a chance.



    • FW North says:

      Hey Anila. It’s very, very likely we passed each other on the streets of Antigua. We were living by the Church of San Francisco, but would stroll around town nearly every day. Hope you continue to have a great time Antigua when you visit in January. Also, do visit San Cristóbal! Good luck and thank your for visiting our little corner of the internet 🙂

  6. Claire says:

    Oh wow.

    I visited Antigua last year and fell in love with it instantly.

    The people, the scenery, the food… it just all felt so lovely AND comfortable. Your pics have taken me right back 🙂

    Hope to return again next year!

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