Posted by: Gary Guertin | December 5, 2010

13. Panama Canal Cruise–Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala–Part 1

Hi All,

First I want you to note this is Part 1 of a series of blogs on this port.  The reason I’m going to break this port’s blog into several is that Susy and I saw one of  the most beautiful colonial cities in the world.

SPECIAL NOTE:  You should note that my email site “garyguertin@hotmail.com” has been taken over by hackers.  They have sent an email titled “Urgent Help Needed!!!!!!!!Gary Guertin to everyone on my site contact list asking for you to help send money because I was robbed in Scotland.  If you received it please do not reply, just delete it, if possible without opening, but if you opened it I don’t believe you have to worry, again just delete it. I am working with Microsoft to get back control of my account and determine the damage.  Susy sent an email to some of you but if you didn’t get it don’t worry I’ll keep you advised through these blogs.

Now back to Guatemala and our visit to the colonial city “La Antigua” (old).  Susy, as usual, had done some homework on this port and found there was a tour by bus, which just took you to the city, dropped you off for three and a half hours, then took you back to the ship.  We decided to take the tour since the alternative was visiting some Mayan ruins which we have done many times.  Thank God, because this day turned out to be one of the best in our cruising history.

Well, let’s get going, first the port of Puerto Quetzal and a look at the port from the ship:

IMG_1325 Stitch 

That little bridge on the right is the walkway from the ship to the terminal.  Since we had a hour and a half bus ride the tour left early (especially for Susy) at 8 AM,  As we left the ship we see the ship’s port sign:

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Upon crossing the bridge you saw the port’s welcome sign:

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We climbed aboard the bus and were greeted by our tour guide, Mary Ann.  She was to talk to us for about two hours of the three hour bus ride (to and from) to La Antigua.  She was the sweetest, kindest thing, had lived in the US, and after talking to her, she reminded us of Gigi.  By the way Gigi your going to hear more about Mary Ann.  I won’t say anything more right now.  Here’s Mary Ann:

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On the way she briefed us on La Antigua.  The city was founded in 1543.   It was, and still is, regarded as one of the most beautiful cities in Spanish America.  It exists because the port of Puerto Quetzal is warm year round (it was 85 today), while La Antigua locate in the mountains is cool (it was 72 today, and stays around 70 year round). It is located in a valley (Panchoy Valley) surrounded by mountains and volcanoes.  There are three volcanoes, Mounts Agua, Acatenango, and Fuego, all topping 12,000 feet, and two of them are very active.  La Antigua is right in the middle of these volcanoes and mountains making an attractive backdrop for this historical city.  It was once the capital of Guatemala, but that was passed to Guatemala City.  The architecture is from the 16th to the 18th century as you will see as I take you on our long day.

The route to La Antigua was surrounded by sugar cane fields near the port (were it’s hot) and coffee plantations as we moved up into the mountains.  Guatemala coffee is some of the best in the world and plants are much different than Brazilian coffee plants.  The coffee plants can only take 2 hours of direct sun a day, so the fields are covered with taller shade trees to protect the coffee.  But let me show you two of the active volcanoes as we approached the city:

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That smoke is from an eruption that happened just as we were watching.  Here’s the other active one:

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I think it’s time to show you a map of where we were and were we’re going:

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In the bottom left hand corner of the map you see Puerto Quetzal and Antigua.  As we enter La Antigua we begin to get a flavor of the streets:

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or old church ruins:

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We arrived at the Parque Central (central park or plaza) of the city to begin our foot tour for three and a half hours.  Looking at the map you will see the Parque right in the center of the Antigua map surrounded by the “Palacio De Los Capitanes Generales, the Catherdal, and the City Museums.

Here’s where I’m going to end Part I.  You won’t believe what’s ahead.  I took over 200 photos today and I’m going to try and show you the best 30 to 40 in a few blogs.  I hope you enjoy the tour which I will carry on in Part 2,

Love You All,

Gary (alias Gagu)


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