The ride from the Mexican border was supposed to be relatively easy with only 130 miles or so of road to travel to get to our destination of Antigua. Instead of a couple hours of ride time, it took us the better part of five hours to make this relatively short ride. Potholes were the main reason for the delay. For the first 70 miles the potholes were so enormous and so numerous that our speed was restricted to 30-40 miles an hour. Going slow and weaving in and out was the only way to avoid them.
To make matters even worse, there were few markers on the road; no lines to define the lanes, no reflectors denoting the edge of the road and few signs announcing curves. Once it got dark, the road under these conditions became absolutely dangerous, but we had no choice and pushed on.
These miserable conditions lasted for the first 70 miles or so, then the potholes diminished somewhat and we made better time. Surprisingly, about 30 miles before our turnoff to Antigua the road turned into a super modern toll road that was as good as any you would find anywhere in the world. Thus, the last miles into town were uneventful, and we arrived in Antigua safe and sound.
Our hotel was a sight to behold and totally made up for the tough road conditions we had experienced. It was a beautiful colonial style building with a peaceful garden in the middle. Everything about the place made us feel at home and at ease. I’ve included a video clip to give you an idea of what it was like. Highly recommend Hostal Las Marias in Antigua, Guatemala.
The place was so relaxing that Omar settled down to writing his first post. Here is a video clip showing him in action.
La Ciudad de Antigua was just as charming as our hotel. It is an old colonial city that was founded in the early 1500’s by the Spanish; however, Mayans lived there long before the Spaniards arrived. The city is filled with several buildings and churches dating back 400 years or more. Needless to say, we were anxious to get out and explore the city. Since the streets are cobblestone, which is tricky to ride on with our big BMW motorcycles, we decided to leave them parked at the hotel and walk. We also needed the exercise.
Within a few blocks we passed a beautiful old cemetery that was adjacent to an equally beautiful Catholic Church. Down another street we were in the center of town. The layout of Antigua is a grid system of very narrow streets filled with small businesses. The businesses mostly cater to tourists from Guatemala and nearby Central American countries, but there were a few tourists from North America and Europe. We happened to be there during the “Dia De Los Muertos” celebrations, so there was an unusually large number of tourists in town for it.
Below are a couple pictures of churches and ruins I took while on our walk.
That night we went exploring the city for a good place to eat. Luckily, we ran into two policemen and asked them for a recommendation. They took us to a street restaurant in a plaza next to a beautiful old church that was over 400 years old. The food was awesome, including a sweetened cornmeal drink that Starbucks ought to include on their menu.
After a day of rest in Antigua, we headed out to Guatemala City and eventually Esquipulas.