Antigua take two

Trip Start Feb 03, 2013
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Trip End Jan 25, 2014


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Flag of Guatemala  , Sacatepequez,
Monday, November 4, 2013

Antiguan life continued at a faster pace, on my return. Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) fell during my last week so, on top of Spanish and dancing, there were Halloween antics and a visit to Festival de Sumpango, Barilletas Gigantes (a giant kite festival).

Before I departed for the lake, I had secured the same Spanish teacher and booked further private Salsa lessons; I'd also reserved my old hostel, so it was almost as if I'd never left. The choreographed Bachata dance practice had however continued in my absence, so I had to play catch up. My partner and I soon learnt the additional steps however and everyone was eager to perform. Our short show, which would be performed three times, consisted of our Bachata dance; a boys only Salsa dance and an awesome dance by our teachers, as the finale. Each time we donned our Salsa Sensation tops and the girls finished the look with matching makeup, hair and glitz. Our first public outing, at a rival Spanish school, was deemed a success and I for one thoroughly enjoyed it.

The show was however on the night of Halloween, so a number of us darted back to the studio afterwards, for a quick change of outfit and makeup. Halloween in Antigua is not a local custom, however the tourist and expat influence was at work and costumed revellers were seemingly everywhere. A group of about fifteen school and hostel mates had raided the market for suitable attire the day before, where Ropa Americana won out again and we all bagged costumes for less than $10. Once deemed scary or just plain trashy enough, we headed to join a zombie walk (aka a fancy dress pub crawl) in our costumes. We found our fellow zombies in the final bar of the crawl and proceeded to successfully play catch up for the rest of the night.

The true zombie walk was perhaps the next day however, when we met for a school trip at 7.30am. We headed about an hour away, in a private chicken bus, to the Giant Kite Festival in Sumpango. Each year families in Guatemala (and across Central America) gather to honour their dead in family cemeteries and we'd seen the elaborate flower wreaths on sale in the market, earlier in the week. In Sumpango, a different kind of tradition has developed with giant kites being flown. The giant kites are firstly displayed and then later flown, when they disintegrate; symbolising life and death on Dia de los Muertos. The kites on display were amazingly colourful and many had intricate designs which had clearly taken weeks, if not months to create from bamboo and tissue paper.

We roamed around the kites, as they were being erected; before heading to watch from the relative comfort of the grandstand, with drinks and food from the many stalls around. Sadly however there was little to no wind and whilst a few of the smaller kites made it off the ground, the larger ones were destined to remain earthbound. The atmosphere was a lot of fun and surrounded by friendly locals cheering on the kites, it was really something special. The day was rounded out by our second dance performance at a Salsa club and restaurant back in Antigua, with the highlight being our teachers spectacular finale.

Anna had returned to Antigua midweek and as we'd focused so much on Spanish and dancing to date, we spent her last day making our own city tour of Antigua. It was a bright sunny day and we meandered around the city, visiting churches and convent buildings, dating from 16th to 18th century. The buildings had all been significantly damaged by a large earthquake in 1773 but most had, at least in part, been carefully restored to the grandeur of the past. My favourite of the day were the beautiful ruins at San Francisco, which made a very tranquil spot to visit, away from the bustling weekend crowds. We finished our day by revisiting our favourite restaurant in the city; whilst on the pricier side for a backpacker budget, the flavours pack such a punch that it's worth it. The chef is also very creative with avocadoes, so I got my required daily dose and we headed home stuffed to the gills!

My departure from Antigua was bittersweet, with our last night of performance and fond farewells. Our final performance was held in La Sala, a popular dance spot for both locals and expats alike. We met early at the studio to prepare, practiced our routines and piled on the makeup and yet more glitz...más más! It was with an air of excitement and friends in the audience, that we danced one last time, to the melodic notes and risqué lyrics of Romeo Santos. It went well again and was a lot of fun, finishing off my Antiguan stay perfectly. A few celebratory drinks were had to complete the night and with no sleep I headed straight for the airport at 4am; followed, needless to say, by a painful day of travelling back down to Nicaragua.

After spending a month in and around Antigua, I was reminded of my departure from Buenos Aires and it was with sadness that I bade farewell, to my second home from home city of the trip.
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