Adventure in Antigua

Our journey to Guatemala’s old capital city, Antigua, began yesterday morning after our worship and centering prayer. After piling into our bus and counting off to ensure that everyone was accounted for, we were off. Our bus ride led us between mountains and across countless bridges, and students were constantly taking out their phones to snap photos of the landscape. To keep us from experiencing any boredom on the bus, some students played music on a speaker and jammed out together. Within the hour, Antigua was within sight. The town is a renowned tourist attraction in Guatemala, known for its Spanish colonial buildings and astonishing views. It’s currently listed as a UNESCO heritage site. Previously known as Santiago de Guatemala, the earthquake-prone city offered a glimpse at how it had survived numerous natural disasters through its archaic convents and churches.

Once we arrived in town we unpacked our things into our hotel rooms and hopped onto the back of two pick-up trucks heading towards the “Cerro de la Cruz”, a cross overlooking Antigua. The cross provides a direct view of Antigua and the volcano that looms over it. We took countless photos at Cerro de la Cruz, we were able to learn some background on Antigua from our tour guide while there. According to our guide, Antigua was previously Guatemala’s religious, political, and cultural center until the capital was moved in the 18th century.

After Cerro de la Cruz, we took a path down the hill and walked to a nearby convent. The streets in Antigua were relatively easy to navigate (especially with a map in hand). The convent that we visited was stunning both in an architectural and historical sense. An open courtyard with a fountain at its center was the pinnacle of the convent. As we stood within the courtyard rooms, it was easy to imagine nuns roaming the grounds during their daily routine hundreds of years ago. Our tour guide led us through stone archways and winding stairways around the convent. During the tour, we discovered the old store room where they would keep food cool. The room was incredibly large and provided an excellent space for singing. Our voices echoed off of the walls as we sang “Over my Head” in the circular space.

Once we had finished our tour at the convent, students split up into groups and were given spending money for the day. Antigua is filled with markets, restaurants, and vendors at every corner. With nothing on our agenda other than visiting the convent, students were free to explore the Spanish colonial town.

-Alexander Koscher