Last week I traveled with 17 people from First United Methodist Church of Seattle (where I work) to work with Project Salud y Paz, a medical and dental mission in Guatemala. Guatemala is a beautiful country and I’m so thankful I had the opportunity to visit. We had an amazing trip, and I’ll be sharing a few photos and memories from the week here on the blog.
Our first stop after flying into Guatemala City was the city of Antigua. Antigua is full of beautiful historic architecture, gorgeous churches, cobblestone streets, and a diverse mix of tourists and students. Our team of 17 split up and we explored the city in smaller groups; it was so fun at the end of the day to hear what each person saw and the variety of experiences everyone enjoyed.
My new(ish) friends and I tackled as much of the city as we could in a day, cameras in hand!
^Santa Catalina Arch^
^Cross above, and view of the city and volcano from the Cerro de la Cruz, the “Hill of the Cross”^
^San Jose Cathedral^
^Church of San Francisco, which was my favorite church we visited in Antigua. The inside is gorgeous, though I can’t share because no photos are allowed inside.^
I found all the tourist attractions we visited in Antigua very walkable except the Cerro de la Cruz, which our bus driver took us to. We easily found good food, great coffee, ice cream, and pastries.
One of my favorite moments of our time in Antigua was gathering in Parque Central in the middle of the city one morning. I wasn’t sure at first about getting up extra early to join the group in the park the morning we were to leave Antigua and take the bus to the next destination but I’m very glad I did! I sat on a park bench with a sweet roll from a nearby bakery and a hot cup of coffee, not quite awake but happy to greet the day in such a peaceful way. (Pictured above; photo courtesy of team member Joyce.)
I hope for the opportunity to visit Antigua again someday. I’d even love to spent a little time there at Spanish language school, which is one of the things the city is famous for. The bittersweet part of travel is that you really don’t know if you will return. As much as you might believe your feet will walk on that ground—those cobblestones—again, it may not happen. It’s not always the easiest balance to have not only enough plans and expectations to make your time—that magical first visit to a new, far-away place—meaningful, but also the flexibility and spontaneity that travel sometimes requires.
To travel is to savor each moment like the glorious first it is and the last it might be.
And so I’ll say…adiós for now, Antigua!