The first thing my fellow travel companions and I did when we arrived in Antigua Friday morning was search for a hostel. Our packs were weighing heavy on our backs and we needed a base camp from which to explore the city. We were drawn to the Jungle Party Hostal (despite the cheesy name) due to their central location and Lonely Planet’s promise of hammocks and a great atmosphere, it did not disappoint! The rooms are dormitory style with a shared bathroom but the five of us filled up one room so it was like having a private room anyway. Their all-you-can-eat Saturday BBQ (with plenty of veg options) brought all of the hostel’s inhabitants together for a great bonding experience. It’s inspiring to talk with people who have been constantly traveling for the last five years and seen all of Central and South America. Suddenly my six weeks here seemed like a drop in the bucket!
Antigua is situated between three volcanoes: Agua (3766m), Fuego (3763m) and Acatenango (3976m), which makes for dramatic scenery in every direction you look. The city has great restaurants, lively bars and salsa clubs, rich history and opportunities for hiking in abundance.
The Saturday market- mostly a farmer’s market. We got some delicious carrots, avocados and red peppers here. I avoided taking my camera out in the center of the market so this picture doesn’t capture how crowded it was.
My bag was slashed by someone at the market without me even noticing, it was that crowded. They were probably hoping my money would fall out, luckily nothing did. Despite this disturbing occurrence I felt safe overall in Antigua, even walking around at night (don’t forget the buddy system though), and didn’t have any other problems. It’s not surprising that these things do happen though, because the poverty situation in Guatemala is so desperate. Over half the population lives in poverty and almost 17 percent are oppressed by extreme poverty. Most likely, Guatemala will not meet the Millennium Development Goals that the country is supposed to reach by 2015.