Feb 1 – South of town is a road that leads straight uphill to San Cristobal el Alto (Saint Christopher’s Heights). Carlos explained that the town’s original hippie, a guy named Frank, bought up the land, started an organic farm, opened a vegetarian restaurant, and invited all his friends to visit. Sadly, Frank is no longer with us, but his restaurant remains, and offers great views of Antigua below and the mountains beyond. Most people opt to drive the 2.6 uphill miles, filled with switchbacks, but this will be our morning walk.
On our way, we passed an interesting old building, and several schools.
Then up, up and up some more!
After two hours, we arrived. Lovely gardens at the top, with eucalyptus and a few blooms.
When we got to the restaurant at the summit, the other patrons all greeted us. We passed you on the road! We saw you walking from our taxi! Our one minute of fame for the day – the only old crazies who walked instead of drove. We tucked into a really fine mushroom and spinach pizza – our reward for a successful hike. This was supposed to be a vegetarian restaurant, but featured shrimp on many of the menu items. Antigua seems to be a vegetarian-friendly town, but their definition may not coincide with ours.
On the way down, we saw the yellowest building ever.
It turned out to be another church – there is no shortage of churches here – that was plain inside but had very nice paintings.
It also had a life-size tableau in the garden. See the caged doves behind?
Getting down the mountain was much faster than hiking up. I was happier with my ability today – pretty soon I’ll be ready to scale a volcano!
Feb 2 – Today we moved to a hotel on the other side of town, to see how the other half lives. I really enjoyed the people we met at Casa Gitana, especially a German biologist and a couple from Sweden who shared their adventure stories with us, but the facilities left a bit to be desired – cold showers are bracing, but…
The Central Bougainvillea seemed to be the answer to our dreams – hot water, electrical outlets and extra pillows, but…. no WiFi! We pestered the cleaning lady, who had no idea what to do. As it was early and no other guests had arrived at the hotel, we peeked in all the corners until we found the WiFi router, unplugged it and reset it. Voila!
We had an easy day today, getting groceries at a modern supermarket (where eggs are sold by the 15 instead of by the dozen), enjoying a leisurely lunch (eggplant and caramelized onion sandwich – yum!) and walking around town. It is Saturday, and there is music in the air at the town square.
We walked through the Arco de Santa Carolina, with a view of a volcano beyond.
At yet another church, Iglesia de Merced, we happened upon a wedding in progress, as the happy (?) couple glided out to the strains of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah.
Further inspection of the church revealed a portrait of the Apostle Thaddeus that bore a remarkable similarity to Mr. Bean.
Next door was an abandoned convent, ruined in that darned earthquake of 1773. It must have been a doozy.
A simple supper, then a walk through the square in the cool of the evening. A relaxing day.