Day 402 - Antigua, Guatemala - 7808 km

Antigua is the former capital of Guatemala, and known for its well preserved Spanish-baroque architecture. Its character is so well maintained that the McDonald's is not visible from outside, you have to go past the thick colonial walls to discover the M. There are strict rules for advertising and branding, to preserve its timeless look.

I am sitting on an old square near my hostel. There's a dry fountain in the middle, pigeons fly over and Mayan women in traditional dress selling handcrafts. A young couple sits against a house, kissing each other. An old lady drives by in the most rusty Toyata pick-up I have ever seen, carrying flowers in the back. There seems to be charm in every detail that crosses my eye. In front of me I have a map. I'm figuring out which places to visit in Guatemala. I'm mainly here for the volcanos. I even didn't know about Antigua before crossing the border a few days ago. It's a town from many paintings I've seen in local hotels on the way, Volcán de Agua, towering high in faded green behind the orange rooftops. Most houses are just one floor, painted in warm pastel colours, with old crackly tiles on the roof and detailed wood work on the doors and ceilings. The streets are paved with rounded cobblestones, so bumpy, that it make every car rattle. 

Through the years Antigua has been tested by the forces of nature. It seems like around every corner there is a ruin of an old church, which didn't survive the earthquakes. Some are restored and given a new purpose, while many of them are ruins overgrown with purple flowers. There are restaurants that employs chefs from all over the world, chocolate makers, french bistro's and coffee places. Maybe the best coffee comes from here? A perfect place to unwind and plan some excursions to the nearby destinations. I also finally got my derailleur properly fixed at a bike mechanic. 

I'm folding up my map and spend some more time on the square reading. The girl and the boy are still kissing. I think it's his first kiss, not hers. She 's in charge. A 'chicken' bus rides by with its flamboyant colours, making a lot of noise and smelling badly. Then the quietness returns, the sun sets and dips the old town in yellow colours.