“Our battered suitcases were piled on the sidewalk again; we had longer ways to go. But no matter, the road is life.” – Jack Kerouac
I woke up early Sunday morning, my last day in Antigua and in Guatemala itself, to a wonderful gift. It was sunny. I laid in bed rubbing my eyes as they slowly adjusted to a beam of light shining through the small, stained glass window above my door. Other than that beam of light, the room was pitch black.
I slowly rose my tired body out of bed, gently pulled back the heavy, dark drapes and lone behold, there it was….the sun, at last! I was overjoyed. It was only half past six in the morning. I could have slept another hour or so. I certainly was tired. My entire week in Guatemala was so intense that I was in desperate need of sleep. Yet that beam of sun was calling my name. It was like a beam of hope. A sign that I would finally get to see the peaks of the three dominant volcanoes that dominate Antigua.
Finally, the clouds had lifted and gave me a gift: An entire, unobstructed view of Volcan de Agua or “Volcano of Water” the most commanding volcano, to the south of Antigua at 3766 meters/12,356 feet which dominants the colorful city of Antigua like an omnipresent God.
The doorbell to my hotel rung promptly at 8. Since I was the only guest there, it was obvious it was Lucy coming to pick me up for our last morning of sightseeing and photo taking. She was beaming with excitement. Hurry! she said. It is clear! If we go now we can get a view of all three volcanoes!
After a quick cup of mi gasolina, we were off. As I pulled open the heavy, thick wooden door to Hotel Tradicionnes, I was indeed rewarded with the warm morning sunlight on my skin. It was gorgeous out. I could hardly wait!
Lucy had saved the best for last. A short, ten minute walk uphill to perhaps the best panoramic view of Antigua: Cerro de la Cruz (Hill of the Cross). It was still early so there were not a lot of people there except the park police who monitor the area to protect the unsuspecting tourist of a potential mugging. Unfortunately the Cerro de la Cruz used to be a place to find easy targets with full wallets and expensive cameras. Now that the park police are there, it is much safer.
As we climbed up the path to the viewpoint my heart raced in anticipation. Would the clouds stay clear of the volcanoes? Would I finally get to see them in all their glory? We picked up our pace to make sure we wouldn’t miss the view. The clouds come and go like the passing of the wind. We had to hurry.
We reached the top in short time, sweaty and breathless and here is what we saw…..
The spectacular Agua Volcano with just a small passing cloud.
Perhaps it would blow away? Or else more would come in and the view would be lost.
The view from Cerro de la Cruz was indeed spectacular. Not only could you catch a glimpse of all three volcanoes, you could also marvel at the gorgeous pastel and brightly colored churches, buildings and homes from above.
And of course the lovely rooftops!
Like most Latin countries, religion has long been a ruling force over the lives of Guatemala’s people and culture. Many catholic countries have built crosses and other religious symbols on the highest point overlooking the city. In Antigua, Cerro de la Cruz can be seen as a protector of the city.
View of the cross at Cerro de la Cruz.
The Statue of Santiago lies slightly uphill from the cross.
Just as we suspected, the clouds began to pile in blocking the view of the volcano. Just think….if we had left only ten minutes later that morning I would have seen nothing! Pure luck indeed.
View below of the blooming jacarandas….my favorite flowering trees!
Besides, Volcan de Agua there are two other mighty volcanoes both located to the west of the city: Acatenango, which last erupted in 1972 ( 3976 meters/13045 ft high) and the Volcan de Fuego or “Volcano of Fire” (3763 meters/12,346 ft high). Fuego is famous for being almost constantly active.
Here they are….
I hate having my picture taken but Lucy, the photographer, insisted. It was hard for me to sit still and pose but I did. She took at least a dozen. These two were my favorite….
Me, giggling and laughing away while Lucy snapped my photo.
We left Cerro de la Cruz, laughing and enjoying the last moments of our time together. I felt like I’d been given two gifts that day: The gift of beauty in seeing the volcanoes and the gift of friendship in really getting to know Lucy. I think the later was the best gift of all.
Stay tuned….one more last, farewell post on Guatemala!