We enjoyed a great day trip back to Antigua on Saturday with my sister-in-law who is in town visiting. This time around, I was able to take some photographs of churches and ruins. There are still several other large ruins that we have yet to visit, so hopefully we can see those on our next visit. We simply ran out of time and little DiploTot was maxed out.
I’ve mentioned before how much Guatemalans love their fireworks. We were told that Christmas Eve is the biggest night of the year for fireworks and that it is pretty crazy. Guatemalans do their celebrating on Christmas Eve, with presents opened at midnight and sleeping in and recovering on Christmas Day. So we were bracing ourselves for lots of fireworks, but even with this advance warning, we completely underestimated the intensity level.
Poor DiploDog, had a rough night. She did fairly well when the fireworks were in the distance, but when they went off down the street, she would freak out. We knew that midnight was the climax of the activities, so we had resigned ourselves to staying up until then. It was just as well as I was still assembling some of DiploTot’s presents and DiploMom was prepping some food for Christmas Day. The fireworks started in the evening around 9:00 and at times these were pretty intense, so we were holding our breath as we got closer to midnight.
To say that it eventually sounded like we were under an artillery barrage would not be an understatement. For a solid 45 midnights, until a little after 12:30, there was not a second that passed where something was not exploding. And as I have mentioned before, many of these are massive and loud. These aren’t little bottle rockets filling the skies, but bone rattling shells exploding in the air. It was a sight to behold looking out from our balcony as fireworks were exploding everywhere.
We likely would have gone outside to take in the show more, but it would have pushed poor DiploDog over the edge. She would freak out more whenever I would push the curtains back to watch, so leaving here would have been a recipe for disaster. The most amazing thing about the entire night though? DiploTot slept through it all and I can’t even fathom how that was possible. We finally crawled into bed after 12:30 as everything was dying down, still with mouths agape at what we had just seen.
After breakfast on Christmas I went out walking to survey the aftermath and to get a better idea of what some of these fireworks looked like. Here are some photos from a few houses down. I was impressed when I saw this one – 19 shells in this bad boy.
Then I came across an even bigger one – Wow, 49 shells!
You would think that would be hard to top, but then I found this one – 96 shells!
Here I am holding it to give you a better perspective of the size of this beast.
This was just a few houses down from us, so you can imagine what it is was like when these were multiplied throughout the area and city. They weren’t all this big (I can only imagine the price of these), but the sheer volume of fireworks that went off still blows my mind. We’ve been told that New Year’s Eve isn’t as big, but we’ll be bracing ourselves for a show nonetheless. I might have to go by a stand and pick up a few bombas of my own and join in this time around.
Some of the local staff at the Embassy told DiploMom about a Christmas Tree farm “just outside of the city.” After a bit of investigating on our part, we discovered that “just outside of the city” is actually two hours away towards Lake Atitlán. Realizing that this wasn’t just a quick trip out of the city, we decided we would visit on our way back from Lake Atitlán. We had already shipped a Christmas tree down in our HHE, but figured it would be fun to check things out even though we were not in need of a real tree.
The entrance to the farm is just off of the main highway. From there it was another 25 minute drive up the mountain on a windy, rocky and narrow road that was not particularly fun to drive on, especially when passing cars that were on their way out. We kept joking that they needed encouraging signs saying that we were almost there, because if it wouldn’t have been impossible to turn around, I think I would have. We finally made it to the entrance where we paid our entrance fee to the owner, who had his own armed security guard with him.
The place was absolutely packed and crawling with people. I guess business is good if you are the only real Christmas tree option around. We had a nice little visit and even ran into some Embassy friends and one of our neighbors from down the street. We’re glad we visited, but man, the road up and down is a big deterrent to visiting again unless we really are determined to get a live tree.
We stopped by the beautiful Hotel Atitlán in Panajachel on Saturday evening and Sunday morning. The hotel has beautifully landscaped grounds and many paths to wander about on.
DiploTot became quite a fan of the large chess set and was not pleased when we finally had to pull her away to go have some dinner.
One area of the grounds had a pen with around 6 or 7 rabbits. Here is DiploTot “barking” at them and making her dog noise.
Time to leave and head back to Guatemala City, DiploTot, but we’ll stop by a Christmas Tree farm on the way.