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The Gap Year Blog

Antigua In All Its Crumbling Colonial Majesty - Frontier

17 May 2018 16:10 PM

The small city of Antigua in Guatemala is flanked by three volcanoes: Volcán de Agua, Volcán de Diego and Volcán Acalenango. The city also boasts incredible markets, which our volunteers were fortunate enough to explore at their leisure during our four days here.

First off, we headed to an organic local produce market at Caoba Farms, where we ate a beautiful lunch of homemade bread, caramelised onion, local cheese and the freshest avocados, accompanied by Guatemalan coffee, of course! On sale were innumerable trinkets ranging from recycled jewelry to delicately pressed flowers.

Also on the itinerary was Mercado Mum Po't; a cooperative of local artisans. Here it was possible to peruse the exquisite textiles of Guatemala and beyond - all handmade, all magnificently patterned and adorned with colourful embroidery. Brightly painted animal masks lined the walls, and baskets of purses covered the floor.

Completely different again, the main Mercado is aimed at locals rather than tourists, and here you can buy all manner of vegetables, meats, spices and flowers. In short, anything and everything needed to run a household! The array of handmade clothing, tucked away at the back, was a delight for our volunteers who have been living out of a backpack for the last few weeks. We had a competition to see who could buy the best item for 20quetzales (around £2) and we weren't disappointed!

Souvenir-wise, some of our volunteers have opted to buy earrings instead of bulky textiles or carvings. As well as being lightweight and easy to carry, earrings are also inexpensive and available in a variety of styles and designs to suit every traveller. Provided you have your ears pierced, of course! Our favourite market for earring purchases was the Mercado del Carmen, a more affordable artisan market.

Walking between the markets we were privy to some of Antigua’s celebrated colonial architecture. In various phases of restoration, complimented by the cobbled streets and blossoming trees around the city, these buildings felt a million miles away from anywhere else we've visited on the trail so far.

By Ella Wilkinson – Trail Leader | Central America Ethical Adventure Trail

Frontier runs terrestrial & marine conservation, community, teaching and adventure projects in over 50 countries - join us and explore the world!