Every day I will be proud of my creative choices

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Santa Semana 2013, Antigua, Guatemala

Antigua -  Guatemala           March 22, 2013

We are on our way to Anitgua, Guatemala to see Holy Week or Semana Santa as they call it down there. Antigua holds one of the largest and most traditional festivals in the world. I saw photos of the Processions on the internet, they showed huge religious floats and sawdust carpets and I was blown away, I had never seen anything like that before. 
The celebrations start on Ash Wednesday and end on Easter Sunday. The biggest celebrations are on Thursday and Good Friday. The processions start each day at a different Church through out the town and each one is preceded by a vigil in the church responsible for the statue and float that gets carried around.

The colorful flower and sawdust carpets created by the locals on the streets are amazing and they can take all day. Semana Santa has been celebrated in Antigua for over 400 years. The statues on the floats date back to the 16th or 17th century. Each participating church in Antigua has vigils the day before their processions so that their statues can also be appreciated by the congregation and other visitors. In front of the statue lays a carpet scene made of vegetable, fruits, flowers and candles.

Each procession lasts all day, there is a mapped out circuit through the streets of the town, usually ending up back where it started. There are two floats one made up by men and one by women. The floats weight around 6,600 pounds and a group of 60 - 80 men carry them for one block or until they get replaced.

Here is a schedule of the weeks events. 

Our flights were pretty easy although it drained me as usual, I felt dehydrated and tired, I drink lots of water but traveling is still exhausting.

It was very nice to see our smiling driver waiting for us when we left the airport. He told us that everyone was leaving work early this day because most people were taking off for Easter vacations. We arrived on a Friday the week before Good Friday.  Traffic through Guatemala city is crazy, luckily we had a nice car with air conditioning, the last time I rode through the city on my first trip we had to keep the windows open, not nice to breath the pollution from the other cars.

After checking in to our condo we walked to a hippy Thai restaurant, the food was amazing, a nice start. On the way home we saw families along a lot of the side streets decorating carpets in front of their home. It felt like a big block party, music being played from load speakers and all generations sitting out on chairs watching.

I loved how inventive some of them were, like the boat with the onions as sails and huge papaya as the boat.


Saturday morning, we walked over to the main restaurant for breakfast, Cafe Condessa, it is right on the square and is the main hang out for tourists. We will be eating here a lot, the food was great !! We walked up to the famous arch where they have roped off the streets awaiting Palm Sunday processions. This will be a nice place to paint, the arch is so picturesque. Then we walked over to the Fruit and Vegtable market.

 Lot's of amazing people, I bought some flowers and fruit while Scott took lots of photos. It was super crowed and the the pathways in-between the sellers were so small you felt like you were constantly stepping on or over people.

giant paper mache party favors.

sweet girl showing us her kitten

 I was still tired from traveling and trying to carry all my vegetable in those plastic bags was cutting off the circulation from my fingers. We walked back home. Even though we are only 4 blocks from the square, we are south of the square and most of the spots we want to see are north, those last 4 blocks seem endless, especially when your tired. We know by the end of this trip we will be in walking shape and the blisters I've already gotten will be toughened up.
I am surprised by the lack of western tourists, we were the only people in the market. As we were walking back through the square we did see a young american student tour group and the guide was warning them about the chaos in the market. We plan to go much earlier next time. We probably got enough photos for a life time today, we always go over board with photos.

child procession the first night we arrived.

I was exhausted when I got back and took a nap, Scott went out again to see if  anything was happening at a church near by. We walked over to the San Fransisco church and saw lots of little girls dressed as brides and people walking down the streets with their decorative palms. We had lunch at Angie Angie ( another hippy like place) Wow food was great again and all the places take credit. We had a nice chat with the fun guy who had a retro music and comic book store at the front of the restaurant. He knows everything about antique comic art, Scott bought a fun t-shirt that has a comic art painting on it from the 60's
Stayed in for the night, rested and worked on my computer editing one of the still life videos I am working on. This one is of a silver creamer.


Palm Sunday- Scott got up around 6 am and walked to a church with ruins about a mile south of town. They had a small procession

When he got back we went over to Cafe Condessa for breakfast. Right when we left the restaurant and walked to the end of the square we saw a major theatrical procession going around the square. There were many actors playing parts of the bible and would act out scenes every 50 feet or so.

Then we walked to la Merced church where the huge procession for the day started.

We are walking around blind not really knowing what is going to happen, we just follow the crowd. There was way too many people waiting at the door where the marchers came out. Very claustrophobic, hard to get through to anywhere. We walked out to the street thinking we didn't want to be in the mob and as it happened the procession came walking to us. Scott put up his tripod and had the men part around him. An older man dressed as a priest told us we couldn't be there, but it was too late, I got caught up in the mass of purple men and they were stumbling over each other and it was so hot in the middle. I kept trying to get out to the side but they wouldn't let me through. We really were in a great place for photos, but it was not by our planning. We know not to get in the middle of the street next time. We will just get a good spot on the side and stay there, no need for heroics.

We had a coffee then went back to rest. At 2pm we walked over to the beautiful art gallery in town, Galleria De Arte and meet Pablo a Guatemalian who lives in Amsterdam. He had emailed us a couple of weeks before we left. He had heard from Bill Kallwick that we would be in town. ( Bill is a wonderful artist who lives in Texas, we had called him because he paints in Antigua a lot ) Pablo has started to learn to draw and  on one of his visits to Antigua he found Bill's work at the big gallery in town. It was very nice to meet him and his family. They live in Guatemala city and came in for Palm Sunday events. He showed us a great French restaurant with a terrace view of the Cathedral. Even though the town is super crowded it seems very calm and safe. Tonight back to the apartment and rest. Pablo and his family will be back to Antigua on Wednesday, we plan on drawing his father, it should be a lot of fun.


Walked over to this enchanting restaurant that is also a garden center, it's like eating in a fairy world. So happy that it is just a block away from our condo.

 We have only had good restaurant experiences so far :)  Scott's foot was hurting from walking so much on the coble stones yesterday so he went back to the apartment while I walked to get some turpentine. After that I walked to a few ruins and churches to scope out painting locations. I found a couple nice ones where you pay to get in, they will be nice and quiet to get started with. Ease my way into working on the spot.

It's amazing how tired we get walking around, I guess we are not in hiking shape. Although being out in the sun walking on cobblestones for a couple of hours will do it to anyone. I went back to the apartment rested for an hour then went and got a massage. I usually get a massage in all the countries we visit, they truly create memories for me. It's nice because I'm so sore from being out an about the past couple of days, but it's also interesting to see how each country offers the experience. In this funky place the music was so erie and the girl kept sighing and put so much lotion or oil on me ( I couldn't tell) that I almost slipped when I stood up. It's such an intimate thing to get a massage and it's hard to relax especially when the young girl acts like she has ADD while performing it. Well, another memory which I will attach to Antigua. There are better places I will try later, since I'm not going to do any shopping this will be my treat to myself. Plus, my feet and legs will need it after hours of walking each day.

Scott met me at the main square and we went to lunch at the same restaurant Pablo took us to yesterday. The food was great again and we sat out on the terrace next to the Cathedrals ruins.

We went on our walk over to Saint Ines church, it didn't look that far on the map but it was along the busiest road going out of the town. It was like walking on the highway. We had to dodge some construction and a few wrong directions given to us by well meaning  people. One of our little side trips on a wrong street was straight up a road to nowhere. All we could do was laugh and think about the calories we were burning. We got to the Church on time but it was closed, there was an interesting shanty town built up all around this little yellow church. We thought Oh no… nothing is going on?  so we went and sat down on a stoop. Right when we did that a school bus with a load of dressed up women and older men came out and brought their flowers and candles and stood right next to us.

 What timing and being in the right location. They were so sweet and friendly and we felt so privileged to be there and have such a great spot to photograph them getting ready. We noticed other buses and people walking over the highway and down a ways to a fenced in area where they stored the huge procession box in a covered car park. Slowly groups that were going to march in the procession came, it took about an hour and 30 minutes to get started. We got the most amazing photos and there were men that were priests or just dressed like priests welcoming us to come closer and closer.

 It was hot and I felt so bad for the people standing around waiting for all the groups like the musicians and roman centurions and many others to finally show up. These processions last all day and they walk miles and miles.

 It seems like torture I don't know how they last. There were 4 ambulances waiting and I heard one racing away once I started to walk home.

two young girls practicing their English while we wait for the procession to start.

Scott really got in the middle of things and didn't want to leave until he got the last person walking past him.

The town is so sleepy walking home. My legs are burning and I am ready for rest and tea. It is hours later and we can hear the music and drums blocks away. The bands sound so much  like the music from the Godfather movies, it really gives a mood to the event. Most of the streets have carpets being made, but we are too tired to go out again. Scott is downloading all his video and photos from our cameras, I could only look at a few shots, I am over loaded with stunning images. Tomorrow is another day.
Oh well, the music is getting louder and won't stop, Scott couldn't stand it any more and had to go see what it looked like in the dark.


The weather is beautiful, in and out sun but breezy and not too hot. We went to Cafe Condessa for breakfast then walked through the cathedral. Afterwards we strolled through the streets north of the cathedral and saw different ruins and cute homes and shops. It's so fun to walk along with no direction and come across a magnificent old church or monument. I feel like we are walking through an archeological museum. We went to the San Fransisco church where a large ornamental carpet was and people were coming in for the main vigil for the day.

 Out side there are many vendors and families who are enjoying the festivities. We walked through the church museum and ruins, they are beautifully taken care of. Like a fantasy film set.

On the way home we saw two young ladies making tortillas in the small corner store and got some great photos of them cooking. 


We had a late breakfast because I knew we'd be out most of the day and wouldn't come back to the apartment for a while. We ate at the hippy place across from the comic store, it was great and inexpensive. This always happens on trips, you go to the touristy pricey places for the first few days until you get settled and come across the real gems that backpackers know about.

Afterwards we walked over to the gallery that Bill Kallwick shows at and met the manager Estella. She has been very nice through emails and she gave us some good ideas about where to paint. A young lady from the gallery walked us over to a big store that the gallery owner named Frank also owns. He is an american expat that has lived here for over 25 years. He will be able to introduce us to models next week.
The town is super busy because of the Holiday, you can definitely notice hundreds and hundreds of american tourists walking around. We were told that a cruise ship came in, it takes them 2 hours to drive here from the coast.
We had some time until a child and teenager procession started so we sat in the square a while then went and waited in side La Merced church. It was an hour late getting started, not a big deal because we got some great photos of people getting dressed. All the kids from 2 to 10 getting ready and walking around with their families. It was so nice to see the families from the country side come in to study the procession boxes up close. Everyone was very interested in the religious figurines and you could tell that this was a big trip for them.
We got some great photos and followed the girls carrying their box for a couple of blocks.
Went back home and rested until we went out for dinner. The town is hopping tonight, this is the first night it has been a little chilly.

this is what the dust looks like after the procession has walked over it.

We saw some great photography of Holy week in a  restaurant. The photographer's website is   danielphoto.com  - he is from Europe but has lived here for a long time. This is the first day we saw lots of photographers at the procession.


We have had such an amazing trip so far, I couldn't have imagined how wonderful and  beautiful not only the place but the people are here. 
We went back to Cafe Condessa for breakfast. The town has really come alive, we thought there was energy and color before but today it really does looks just like all the books and people told us. Truly the whole town has turned into an amusement park, every block has people out selling food, toys or making carpets. We followed the stream of people walking south to San Cristobal for todays procession. You didn't even need a map just follow the crowd. Along the way we saw beautiful carpets and people sitting along side of the street waiting to see the procession pass by. This time we didn't get there too early, exactly on time, how perfect.

Scott didn't even get to the church he got caught up with what was going on along the street. I luckily got a good spot and even wore my gropro. People are so nice they are always saying I can get in front of them or they make motions for me to get better photos from in front of the box.

I get overwhelmed and shy away. I know this is their festival and I don't want to block anyones view. I do understand their pride in their city and traditions, they are happy for outsiders to enjoy what they have to offer. The street was so small that the procession had to walk down, so Scott and I had to move to the side of the road for a bit to let them go by. These things travel pretty slow, I marvel at the fact that they go for hours and hours and some how make it back to the church.

I do not have that kind of stamina. I was worn out and had to get some ice cream just to get home. We rested a bit while Scott downloaded all the photos. I got hungry and we went to the Inca restaurant up the road on 4th st. Well, our great food streak had to end sometime and it sure did today at lunch. I would not recommend them, especially when your hungry, I couldn't eat what they gave us. I had to go back to the apartment just to eat some cheese and power bars before I fainted. Scott walked over to Pablo's hotel to visit with him. I was too tired so I rested. After a couple of hours I walked over to the grocery store near the bus station. I really feel sorry for the town, they don't have a good selection of healthy stuff, hardly any fresh produce in the grocery stores mainly boxed sugary carbs. How can they eat better if they don't offer it. There is one very small health store and the prices are crazy. Of course you can go to the flower market to get some produce, but that is on certain days and it is a little farther walk.

On the way home from the store I saw a procession down the block in the main square. Three processions went through the town today. I giant parade through the streets is going in all directions.


Good Friday, after breakfast I hung around the main square to see a procession pass through around 10:15, Scott went to draw Pablo's father at their hotel. St Domingo.

I was a little drained and really hadn't planned on taking any photos today, I have been feeling a little antsy about not drawing or painting yet. We have been super busy going from one part of the town to the other each day following the festivities. Good Friday's crowds and procession is definitely the biggest.

 I stayed for a little bit, but got caught up in the crowd, I also got sun burned. Once I finally got home I started to feel stomach issues, oh well, my good luck has run out. This is why I travel with two kinds of antibiotics. I stayed home the rest of the day and worked on the computer. Scott went out to eat with Pablo and his family. Friday night is kinda quiet, there are people hanging out in the square but no processions.


I still feel a little gross but we went out to breakfast and walked to El Carmen market. The building is great, but there is no flowers or fruit being sold today, just the same old purses and nicknacks you see everywhere. We walked over to the regular flower market near the bus station and got some nice photos. It wasn't as crowded as last week, I liked it that way, last week it was very hard to walk around and it felt overwhelming. The weekends are the busiest time to go. Today we could have space to walk and that helped get us some good shots. It was interesting to walk through the many narrow pathways of sellers in the interior building.

 The world in there is timeless like most markets around the world, where families spend every day of their life, children grow up in these alley's and people grow old. I found an awesome food store with healthy stuff on the way home, wish I would have know of this place days ago. I have been working on the computer looking at photos, organizing folders. It takes such a long time, hours and hours of work. Being an artist and traveling is hard work.

 It's always hard to get that first painting out of the way on a trip, I knew the first week would be exhausting, I have been resting and hoping that tomorrow I will be 100% again. I am so happy that we came last Friday, the baby procession the first night was the best !! it's interesting when I was looking through photos last night of the baby procession I saw the famous photographer in some of the shots. I haven't seen him at other places, he probably knew what the best thing to go to was, especially since he's been doing this for so long.

I am not saying that each day hasn't been touching and inspiring and beautiful, but I think after tomorrow, I have officially been processioned out.  9 straight days of following processions in the heat and overcrowding. I am curious about what is going to happen tomorrow for Easter. I am watching a rerun of the tv show House on cable, most of the programs are dubbed, so its nice when you come across something in English.


Easter Day

I was so worn out this morning, stayed in bed until after 11am, my body is still fighting my stomach distress.Today is the last procession so I get myself dressed and we walk over to San Pedro which is only a few blocks from us.

The are not a lot of people and the carpet isn't as finely done.

 There are loud blasts of fire crackers going off to start the event. The music was very hokey and Disney like and people were dancing around like children waving flags, today seemed very holesome  the procession was very small. I would have thought that the day that Jesus was resurrected would be the biggest one, strange that they celebrate killing him in a bigger fashion than when he awoke. Anyways, that was fine with us, we are partied out. You can tell that most of the people left yesterday to be in their own towns for their own Easter masses.

 We went to the square and had pancakes. People are jumping rope and eating cotton candy in the park. We talked with two young girls selling necklaces about posing tomorrow, they speak great english, that is usually what happens the young sellers learn english just from necessity. They probably don't get to go to school because they take a bus in from their town everyday to sell to tourists.


Well it's the day after Easter and the town still has some tourists but you can tell the difference in the mood and energy. What a peaceful place, we had breakfast then sat in the park waiting for the two girls.

They didn't come, so we went over to Frank's huge handicraft shop near St Merced and we hired Delia a girl who has worked for him for 9 years. She has posed for a few artists that show at Franks gallery.

She was great, I sketched her in pencil while Scott did a little 6 by 8 in water based oils. We filmed Scott's portrait of her. It was good to get the first painting under our belts. We had lunch at Frida's restaurant right next door then Scott was in the mood to do a little street scene so he set up under the arches looking at the cathedral. I walked home after a little bit, my stomach is still kinda weird. We stayed in the rest of the day, I edited some of my Sketching doll's still life video and I watched The Voice before going to bed.

Delia is the model from Franks store. She is the sweetest young girl.


I walked around a little trying to find a place to paint. The place I wanted to paint would have been great if they weren't doing construction on the park across the street from San Pedro church. I finally ended up at the Yellow arch, it actually is a perfect spot in the shade.

 This is the spot where 5 or 6 local artists sit and show their work. We had a great lunch at the Thai place again then went on a tour that takes you to see 3 local villages. They took us to where the last Bishop lived, a chocolate factory, a town center washing area and a weaving shop.

making chocolate

Frank invited us to the gallery in the evening to meet two Chilean women artists that came to town for a show that they are having. We had awesome pizza and talked for a couple of hours.

I feel super tired today, unfortunately a little pms to deal with. After breakfast we walked back over to the arch to paint, Scott was excited, but I just couldn't get up the energy, I sat and kept him company then we had a snack until we were to meet Delia at Franks store. We got some different outfits from the store for her wear and we took her to some beautiful areas for photos of her on the street and in St Merced church a block north. I think we are in for the night to rest and edit.


We ate at the garden restaurant then went looking for a place to paint. We walked over to St Lucia, I've seen it from far away and it seemed like a cute white church, but the light wasn't interesting and it was hard to find a good place to stand. So, we kept walking, we looked at San Jeronimo up the street, it has nice ruins but Scott was a little tired and wanted to find a place that he could sit. So we ended up at St Merced, we sat on the fountain looking at the church. Unfortunately it was mainly overcast, but it is always nice to just sit in one place a soak up the area. There was a woman and child sitting right in front of me and with the arches in the background it made for a nice photo. I sketched the arches a little then I tried to gesture the pigeons. It was funny while I was sitting I would get these water drops falling on my paper, I thought it was the wind blowing the water from the fountain but it was the pigeons shaking their feathers out after taking a bath. It's hard to sit on a hard surface and lean against a hard surface for too long. I walked through the church's cloisters while Scott finished. We went back to put our stuff away then we went to lunch at the best pizza place. We met the Chiliean artists at the gallery, Frank picked us up and drove us to his property, it is straight up the hill out of town. We were told he had the best view of town. I was really surprised at how beautiful the landscaping and buildings were, we were expecting a regular farm with open fields of crops.

 unfortunately it was very hazy the day we were up there.
view from Franks property. He runs an organic farm and is building a huge building for future parties or art work shops.

The two people on the left are from Guatemala, he is an artist. Frank is in the green shirt, next the two artist ladies from Chile.

 He has spent a lot of time and money on this place, it was really professional, he sells the organic produce to some of the restaurants in town. Some days have been hazy because the surrounding towns are burning their sugar cane crops. I did have issues with my eyes the first week or so, at first I thought it was all the smoke from the incense from the processions, but it has a lot to do with the crop burnings. Some days we can see the volcano clearly and some days it's all whited it out. Too bad the view from Franks place was hazy today. 
We spent all afternoon up there while he showed us around. We spent the evening in editing.

After breakfast we met Flores one of the street sellers at the square, she posed for us on one of the walkways next to the Church.

I felt totally frustrated, it wasn't her it was me. I seem to make the same mistakes over and over when traveling and painting.

The pencils I brought have either  broken or the pencil sharpener isn't good, I didn't bring a good brown paint, I forget how to paint and mix colors. I feel like it's totally foreign to me how to go about it. I forgot my good tripod so I had to bring one that was a little heavier and awkward in my backpack.

 Painting outside is hard and not for the faint of heart like me. I don't have that since of urgency to go out and paint no matter what like I've had in past trips. I feel like I want to be productive, but I also can't paint just anything. It's a constant balance to figure it out. Flores was a great model and after we painted her for about 2 hours we walked around with her and took photos of her next to the church and in a historical museum across the street. She was adimit that she didn't want to go in the church, we couldn't get it out of her why she wouldn't go inside. Not sure if they don't want the street sellers to go in there or if she just personally had something against it. But she just kept saying she didn't like it. There were some amazing looking girls and older women walking around, but I really like Flores because she had a very cherub looking face, I tend to look for the girls that are very striking and Flores has a true indigenous look about her. We got some wonderful photos of her in buildings and arches in the background.

There are tons of tourists today, another cruise has landed and the sellers are out in force. I still need to take antibiotics, I thought 5 days would be good enough, I didn't take any yesterday, today my stomach wasn't happy. I'll just keep doing them until I get home. I wasn't feeling well but we went out to eat at the beautiful hotel Panza Verde restaurant around the block. The building is incredible, the architecture is so different, it is restored and traditional at the same time. The lunch was wonderful and we got to see the terrace and an inventive art show in a beautiful part of the hotel of paper that was rolled in many different ways, it's hard to describe, but we both loved it. Stayed in our condo afterwards and did some editing and organizing photos. 

We woke up early had breakfast then took a taxi ride about 15 minutes to the town of Santa Maria de Jesus.

The Market is small but it was so nice to have different looking outfits and a lot of older women walking around. It was very laid back and nobody cared about having their photos taken. While we were just resting on the steps of the church a wedding procession came by, what a treat to have all the people dress up.

                I usually look pretty scruffy on trips.

 The taxi driver waited for us and we had a easy trip back to Antigua. We walked through the square because they were setting up for a little arts and crafts market. We rested in the apartment until lunch, went back to Angie Angie's restaurant then walked around a bit. Stayed in the square and watched people, listened to live music and watched two men dressed up like statues. It was fun to see how excited the crowd was. We walked over to the gallery to see the two Women from Chile have their reception. Their names are Pilar Rios and Elizabeth Stuven, their paintings looked so nice together along with the other two women who couldn't make it.

 Lot's of people showed up and I hope it is a big success. They are both so nice and it was a pleasure to meet them. 

We have no idea why we are so tired, is it over stimulation or just being away from home regular food and routine. My body doesn't bounce back as easy, my stomach is still awful and it's impossible to get inspired to do any painting or drawing. On lot's of trips once you actually get going it's like working out you really start to get in shape and want to do it everyday. Well, we never got in the grove to paint. We went to the garden restaurant for breakfast, it is so pretty and they play the best music. We tried recording some of the songs on our phone. I went to Ceiba the spa in the Porta Hotel, wow, I was jelly afterwards. They used a mixture of Jasmine and La lani (?)  not sure what the second is but I am going to buy that oil the moment I get home. We had lunch at the Panza Verde again , yummy. More editing and photo organizing

Our last day, the weather is so beautiful !!! And the town is so quiet, if I wasn't worn out from my stomach issues it would be a great day to paint. I have had a lot of time to think while resting on this trip, traveling and being an artist is hard work. When we were painting Flores the other day, I was so frustrated and only kept painting becuase Scott was working. I felt like I didn't know what I was doing, it all seemed so awkward and foreign to me, like I had never done it before. On each trip I bring the wrong supplies, clothes I don't wear, not enough of some stuff and too much of other stuff. I get dysentary almost every trip, most beds are too hard and there is always some crazy loud partiers that go wild in the middle of the night. Even with all of that this trip has made some wonderful memories. I love the little conversations I had with local Guatemalans. The really good food, I have no idea what  has gotten me sick. The restaurants have been really good, I just don't have the right enzymes in my gut.

I had another massage at the Porta Hotel, this time with Sandalwood, I am too pampered. Scott met me after and went to Frida's restaurant for lunch. We see the two street sellers Flores and Lillian her friend all the time around the square. Of course they wanted us to buy stuff, I wonder what their futures are. I have had her on my mind a lot, she has so much personality, would she want to go to school if she could? She told us her brothers and sisters go to school, why doesn't she? I walked around a little bit after lunch, on the way home walked through the Cathedral ruins.

They store the precessions boxes and figurings in al the churches.

an angel in the church, I forgot to turn the photo before it was imported

 All packed and resting tonight, more computer work !! at least I've been good at doing that on this trip. I am looking forward to my super soft bed, my super healthy food and working out again. Life is good, I have learned a lot on this trip, I am happy about that. I have learned about my myself and my limits and my goals. I have seen such beautiful spirit in the Guatemalan people. I can really see why someone would want to move here.

Scott's painting of the smoke and incense.

On our way home…the guy who drove us to the airport was a very interesting guy and we had a wonderful conversation with him on the drive. He has been driving for 16 years and learned fluent English just from dealing with clients. The sellers on the streets and drivers learn English so well and interesting that a lot of the people working in restaurants who deal with tourists everyday aren't as good. He told us that Guatemala used to be 90% catholic, now it's 40% catholic and 40% envangelical. He also told us about how the street gangs work in Guatemala city, they kill a handful of the guys who drive the so called Chicken buses that look like tripped out school buses. The gangs extort protection money and unfortunately they kill the drivers to get money if the companies don't pay. Antigua is like a haven from the corruption through out the country, a safe bubble. I was surprised that he told us that everyone in the processions have to pay to be a carrier and it costs more money to be one of the carriers who walk out of the church and if you walk around the central square. It used to be different but he didn't like the fact it was a lot about the money now. Each carrier walks for 100 meters then they get replaced. People will walk along the side until they have another turn. I assumed it was a volunteer process, too bad only the wealthy get to participate. I guess people like us who come from far away make it a big deal also. Antigua really is proud and promotes these processions and enactment's.

Traveling brings out parts of you that you usually don't deal with in the safety of your home, dealing with stress of flying, food illness, heat, not knowing the language, exhaustion and as an artist productivity. Is the trip worth the money? Most trips have ups and downs, but I love looking back at the photos and reliving the experiences. I learn about my weaknesses and strengths. 

I went to Lake Atitlan, Guatemala with Nancy Guzik and Kathy Anderson in November 2012. One of Kathy's sons lives there and so we visited him in San Marcos on Lake Atitlan.

Guatemala 2012


Drove to the airport early in the morning with the most amazing sunset to guide 
my way, a great start. Easy first flight, meet Nancy and Kathy in Miami, second 
flight was shorter than expected. Kathy's son Christopher met us with the driver 
at the airport, nice to have him with us.  Unfortunately, Guatemala city is vey 
polluted and the drive to the lake was a little tiring and I was worried about 
getting sick from the exhaust fumes. We got to the town of Panaeche had dinner then took our 
boat ride in the dark to the dock of the house we are renting. The house is very 
artistic and has a beautiful terraced garden. Kathy and I freaked out from all 
the spiders (and some of them were really big) around the house. I know this is supposed 
to be the jungle, but it is truly a shock to see so many on the walls. Probably 
because I was so tired my nerves were easily frayed.  It was horrible and funny 
at the same time. After a little alcohol and sleeping pills it was easy to 

                         Kathy's son chris is on the right.


It was a slow start to the day, getting breakfast ready and figuring out what we 
all wanted to do.  I was tired and not sure where my mind was, we walked around 
the property a little to see if anything struck our fancy. This place has a large garden. I read and took a nap. In the afternoon I posed on the outside patio for Nancy and Kathy.

They both painted me small in a scene of the table with plants and the lake 
behind me. I read more of my book, "Eat, Pray, Love". Patty a good friend that I
paint with in Winston Salem recommended it to me. I saw the moving and wasn't 
really interested in reading the book, but I am glad that I took her advice. I am not 
sure what my week will look like here on this lake, maybe some inspiration will 
come and maybe I will just read and meditate. I love how she talks in the book
about the art of doing Nothing in Italy, I feel like I am practicing that. I 
love discussing art, life and the spiritual journey with these two ladies. After 
I posed we walked into town about 10 minutes down the road. It got pretty dark 
fast as soon as the sun went behind one of the volcano peaks. We ate at a 
charming little restaurant that Kathy's son knew about. Back at the house we 
looked over some of the paintings of various artists I've saved on my iPad. I have lots of the masters from the last 120 years.

The view from our house


Had a good night sleep, I think I wore my self out the first night about all the 
spiders, so now I am over it. I still keep a light on in the room, so the spiders will hopefully stay hidden. Christopher went to Panache to see about our gamsol 
and to change some money for us. We settled into different areas of the property to start 
painting. I started s little sketch of some of the roses that the gardener had 
in a vase. I wasn't excited about it, but I started hoping that some inspiration would 
kick in. We are using this extremely smelly gasoline like thinner that they have 
here, it makes my paint dry up and it feels like tar. Plus the smell, yuck. I might 
just drawing the rest of the week. I cleaned up and will read for a while until 
Nancy and Kathy want to have lunch.
Paola with her amazing one and half year old lago came by. She is Chris's ex- 
girl friend. Her baby is so adorable! I have been reading more of my book, she 
is in India now and talking about her time in the ashram. Nancy is worried that 
I am not having a good time, but I am where I want to be and totally doing the 
exact thing  I should be doing. Before I came on this trip, I was talking with 
Patty about recharging my spirit, getting back into a regular schedule, not just a 
sporatic mediation practice and really listening to what my heart says about my 
painting. I was thinking about where I should go, what expensive yoga or health 
center I should fly to. This painting trip has turned into that trip. I find my 
heart and soul is happy to talk, read and sleep. This book is a good companion.

  We walked over to Yamie and Paulo's house, he is the 
father. It was totally dark at 6 pm and they only had one light bulb in the 
middle of their first floor room, which is their kitchen and living room. I 
don't know how they can see to walk around in the dark, there was not a light from 
their gate to the house ( about 30 feet ). Even though we couldn't see much, we could tell that this place was where artists lived, part adobe and open window's that are just 
open to the outside. There were glass bottles embedded in the walls like stain 
glass to let light and colors in during the day. There were also hand made 
pinwhheels and god's eye's hanging from the ceiling. I hope we get to see this 
place in the daylight. Paula made us pizza's by hand, they were really good. 
They don't have a refrigerator so they have to eat all perishable items that day 
they get them. She also says she goes to bed when it's dark and gets up early 
with the sun.  It was a fun experience. We walked back down to our place and 
looked through my iPad painting folder a little before bed.


Kathy and nancy were up early and ready to work on their paintings they started 
the day before. I am still in my inert faze. I have been reading and trying to 
quiet my mind every so often. I have been eating too many things like bread and 
cheese that I normally don't do and my stomach is puffing up like a pillow. I 
will make better choices today :) I got a few pointers from Kathy this morning, 
already I have something to think about when I get home. Nancy gave me good 
advice about canvases and how to prepare, now I just need to put all these pearls 
of wisdom in to practice. We walked up and saw Paula and Yamie's house in the 
daylight, then went and saw her yoga and massage studio up on the hill. You 
definitely get a work out getting up there, everyone that does her class is sure 
in shape. Chris has his wonderful tree house just above her yoga place. We had such a 
nice time chatting while seated on his bed looking out over the trees to 
the lake and volcano peaks. Chris and I walked to town to eat while Nancy and 
Kathy painted a bit before the light went behind the mountain. It was nice to 
see the town in the light, I checked out a hotel in town to see if it would be 
good for Scott and me. Later, us girls had a long talk about growing up, it's always 
interesting to learn about other people's life.


The weather is beautiful. Kathy is doing a still life on the second floor porch, 
Nancy is painting the volcano at the breakfast area. I am sitting talking with 
Nancy about life and painting. She is super about sharing her thoughts and 
process. I am getting a lot from this experience, figuring out who I am, where I 
am going next. Nancy and Kathy are so passionate, they are vibrating with 
excitement. I am stalled, looking ,feeling, thinking. I know this is a first 
step before something new for me. Opening myself up Guatemala 2012

Paula came and posed for us in the morning, it was fun taking photos of lago 
playing. We painted for about 2 hours stretched over 10 to 2 pm. Lago wanted to 
be nursed and we enjoyed playing during the breaks so much they stretched longer 
than usual . Paula is a great model.

 I tried setting up a little still life of 
some tangerines and an old glass, but the light came bouncing in from all angles 
soon after starting. The house is beautiful with so many windows and of course 
the owner would want light to come in, it's a vacations home, but, it is hard to 
find a place that the light stays the same for a while. In the evening we walked 
to town and had dinner at a restuarant that looks like a real building, the 
waitresses we so young and adorable, but it took a while to eat.  We talked 
about our past travels.


It's Sunday and we are off early to see the market in chichichanga.

 The pollution from the car exhausts is pretty bad even out here in the country 
areas. We got to the market around 9am, it would have been nice to see all the 
people set up their stalls, but it wasn't crowded yet so it was nice to walk 
around and see all the fabrics and people before,the hoards come. The church 
with the steep steps in front was so unique, I am glad we stayed long enough to see it in 
the morning shadow and afternoon light. A very dramatic scene looking up at the church. 
People did not seem to care at all about everyone taking photos. We had a late 
breakfast at the big hotel near the beginning of the market. Had another snack in 
Panache before our windy boat ride back to the house. Of course Kathy and Nancy 
started to paint right away. Wow,  I feel old, where do they get all their 
energy, I am asking Nancy a lot about what she eats, I have to be more proactive 
about vegetables when I get home. She is a dynamo, I need to know her secret.  
Paula and Yamie came by with lago, everyone drank wine and snacked. Went to 
bed early, it's been a long day.

The day before we left I walked up the mountain to Paula's Massage place, She gave me a massage while Nancy and Kathy worked on their 10th or 11th painting. They really used every waking moment to paint. I painted 3 times and did a little drawing. All attempts were miserable, I don't have any regrets though. I never thought of visiting Guatemala before, I am so happy that Kathy suggested coming here. I am excited to come back with Scott and show him this beautiful country. I am already thinking about when I can come back.

We spent a week in San Marcos, most of the time we painted and relaxed around the house. I loved spending time with Kathy and Nancy, they are so fun.

a small painting of the market

1 comment:

  1. Thank you so much for sharing your experience! That was a fascinating read with gorgeous photos and brilliant paintings! I live in Oklahoma, but was born and grewup in Honduras, so some of the photos reminded me of home. It was a delight to see.- Carolina Elizabeth