Falling in Love with Antigua

Can you really fall in love with a city? Never one to understand why people waste money on those silly “I Love San Francisco” sweatshirts. I like S.F. too but can you really like a city so much that you want to declare your love for it in red and gold glossy letters across your chest, for years to come? But is it actually possible, I seriously pondered sitting in a heavenly outdoor cafĂ© and taking a bite of my heavenly square chocolate croissant for lunch. Can you love an entire city? To my astonishment, a resounding, “yes” arrived from the back of my mind (or perhaps my mouth), as I took a sip of the coffee. And between that bite of a square chocolate croissant and sip of that divine coffee, I had declared my love for Antigua. There was no more denying it. It’s true. I heart Antigua. 

I’m enamored by its cobble-stone streets, 17th century colonial buildings, the baroque style churches around every corner, the friendliness of it's natives. The city seems to be frozen in time. Once served as a rich colonial capital, it’s declared as a Unesco World Heritage Site. As a result, it’s clean, organized, ad-free since you can’t post anything on the streets. Tiny little storefronts open into magical spaces filled with restaurants and boutiques. Around Easter, purple robed monks from the dozens of churches packed the streets. All day people leisurely stroll through the Parque Central over-looking a beautiful Cathedral. Cafes, bookstores, bakeries, restaurants, and handicrafts shops line the streets. After having been in the rural areas for the past few weeks, my mouth watered on seeing a bookstore that had books – in Ingles. Si. I think there might have been a tear or two at the mere sight of it, since I had finished reading all my books and didn’t find anything at the one bookstore in San Marcos.

The skeptic in me wonders if it’s really love or just my inner urban girl coming out after being in nature for so long. Perhaps its knowing that I’m headed on my walking pilgrimage soon. These are probably the last couple of days that I can actually relax and be comfortable. Soon enough I’ll be sleeping in dorms with lots of other tired and snoring souls who’ve walked all day. Perhaps my love might be a little bit of an infatuation given the circumstances. But still there’s no denying it, there’s something magical about this place.

You almost feel like skipping through the streets for no reason. It’s a place where old men still stop and give you the way with a slight nod of their hats. It’s where you can watch artists quietly drawing on the streets early in the morning absorbed in their art. It’s where you can buy spiced mango on a stick and gobble it up by the time you get to the next block. It’s where butterflies will suddenly appear out of nowhere, and come sit on your lap on the quite steps of an old church and beckon you to stay. Just like the Antiguans, they’re in no rush to get anywhere and will let you even pet them. It’s absolutely magical.

And to answer my original question, the answer is – yes! If there was a shop selling an, “I Love Antigua” sweatshirt, I would absolutely get one and walk around wearing it for years to come as a reminder of the beautiful place and it’s spirit.

A friendly butterfly sitting in my lap, greeted me outside La Merced

Originally a convent, the famous arch

The popular church, "La Merced" that was recently renovated

                                                                (Dad and sons marimba team)

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for your writing Guri - Brought back memories of my falling in love with the simplest of things in my travels. Your description brought the feeling of "i too love ... a city" in the world for mostly the same reasons (chocolate croissant is up there though). Its the TIME we do not take to absorb the beauty in our own cities next door :)
    Enjoy the moment,