Friday, February 15, 2013

Antiguan Medley


When I say I’m going on vacation, someone is bound to say, “Oh, what are you going to see?” 

chicken bus in Antigua
My recent trip to Antigua, Guatemala certainly gave me plenty to look at. But the city is distinctive no matter which sense interprets it. It composes its own medley.

In one neighborhood, the public bus’s attendant stands on the bottom step, holds onto the hand rail and the open bifold door yelling ”Guate! [Gwa-tay] Guate!”  He’s the town crier for the common man's transport system. 

The tires don’t hum on the pavement, because the town’s road are Spanish colonial cobblestone. Instead they hiccup and bump and squelch. 


At any time of the day firecrackers explode in rapid pop-pop-pops to celebrate birthdays. 

Old church bells peal out the hours and half hours all over the city. Some of the ringing is near and clear while others are mere whispers stretched thin and dissipated over distance.


fountain outside my bedroom
Music blasts through the walls and wafts in the windows. On the street, the vendors played snippets of folk tunes to attract buyers for their wooden flutes and clay whistles.

As I wrote in the hotel’s patio every afternoon I could count on an energy lift about 4 p.m. when a nearby dance class began. The teacher gave instructions, and the songs would roll on for half an hour. The beats sizzled, and I imagined the dancers short of breath and sweating from vigorously stepping, kicking, and swirling.

And mixed in it all, the patter of water falling into in the fountains.

child conducts the orcherstra




I was lucky enough to hear a small symphony orchestra at the top of Santo Domingo el Cerro.  One melody imitated a ticking clock. Romantic strings reflected the passion of a pair of lovers.







Later, I walked through the park and rich metallic chimes vibrated high in a pine tree. 





 Sound saturated my visit.  I love the Antiguan melody.


What sounds define your favorite places? 
  





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