Our first stop and a welcome oasis is a tiny guest house in Antigua. This was the capital of Guatemala for some time until about 150 years ago. The city is situated between Guatemala City and Escuintia. We were quite surprised with the mountainous region- at 5,000 feet (vs. 7,000 at the tip of Whistler) we're pretty high up. As such, it cools in the evening but is absolutely perfect weather in the day (20-25 degrees).
We're staying at Condominia des Rosas, run by an American named Romi who built this guest home about 24 years ago.
As you can see with that little white animal to the left of the center of the garden picture, she has about 5 cats... Not my favourite animal but they shoo away nicely.
There are some sobering facts about this country. At 15 million, this country is the most populous in Central America. Almost half of Guatemala's population is under age 19, making it the youngest population in Latin America. About 60% of the population is 24 years of age or younger with a median age of 21 for the entire country. Of this, 60% are illiterate. The civil war, that started in the 1960s lasted about 36 years and they are only now getting out of the depression. There were over 200,000 Mayans and Catholics (including priests also) that were killed during this time and elementary schools were bombed and flattened by the Military.
We don't realize how great we have it in Canada and that our mundane government has kept us free and democratic since federation. Here, you just have to see the police with machine guns to recognize where the banks are. And for anyone who has been to the Caribbean, Guatemala is noticeably much poorer in comparison.
More later. But one thing is absolutely clear- we should have learned Spanish before coming!