Our immediate goal after the Copán Ruinas was to go to Antigua in Guatemala. The difference between the two countries’ border services was night and day. On the Honduran side, we waited for a while until we got the attention of a border guard to slowly deal with our papers. On the Guatemalan side, we were greeted immediately by a tourist board official, who surveyed us, handed us maps with suggested things to do, and welcomed us warmly. The border official didn’t ask us any questions- just stamped our passports (no entry fee!) and ushered us through. A bus waited on the other side to take people to Chiquimula, and Laurent negotiated our fares down to Q16 each. The driver seemed to know everyone on the road and stopped to chat with them. It took us a while to get to the city, and when we did, took another bus to Guatemala City. We had a chance to grab some delicious mini tacos before on the street before it took us nearly 4.5 hours to reach the capital. Once at the capital, a friendly guy on the bus helped us get a taxi to the chicken bus stand, and the driver helpfully drove us straight to the bus. The bus, decked out in ’80s music and lighting and everything, took us to Antigua, and we selected Casa Shalom to be our base.
Antigua is a favourite among tourists because it is safe and conveniently located. Not far away are the Acatenango, Fuego, Agua and Pacaya Volcanos, as well as a Macadamian nut farm, coffee plantations, and chocolate factories. It is also a historic center with a lot of colonial architecture and colourful buildings located on well-worn cobblestoned roads. Hostels are everywhere, although when we arrived, the city seemed rather closed and we had some troubles finding a hostel that would open its doors for us.
We did the mandatory touristy things- we walked through the historic city centre, Laurent visited the Cerro de la Cruz viewpoint, Emily to Valhalla Macadamia, we went to the market, and we visited the world class McDonald’s. Most of the time there however, we were recovering from food poisoning or trying (and failing) to get to Volcán Acatenango.