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Artistry at the door

Door Knockers in Antigua

69 °F

It's easy walking around Guatemala and seeing all the old architecture and think, "Wow where do I begin photographing this?" Frankly, it's all been photographed, hundreds and hundreds of times by thousands of tourists. From the volcanoes to the churches. A few years ago I saw a poster of the the "Doors of Antigua" which was quite lovely. So I decided on looking for the little things that many people overlook. I loved the idea of the doors, in fact I did that in Xela when I lived there for a month, But I decided to delve a little deeper and spend a day photographing door knockers that caught my fancy.

You could imagine the look I got from people as I approached a door and pulled out my camera and clicked a quick picture of the door knocker. I'm sure many thought, "what kind of a nut is this?" Two little children were so taken they followed me for a couple of blocks and asked me why I was taking pictures of doors and I explained I liked the door knockers and then they just started laughing and went home. I think as foreigners we get that a lot. Sometimes there is a general mistrust of foreigners, we are necessary for their economy, but we are a pain. We come here with our dollars and attempt to bargain down little old ladies who are already at rock bottom prices. I say "we", but I actually haven't bought anything yet other than a meal out and some chocolate for a friend who was feeling a little down. I know I will buy some things before I go, but I can't but help to think about how long it takes to make these textiles and I feel guilty about bargaining down too much. But I digress... I was talking about door knockers. Below are the fruits of my labor.

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Posted by Aeren 15:57 Archived in Guatemala Tagged doors Comments (0)

Shuffling Along

The Rhythm of the City

sunny 73 °F

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Every morning since arriving in Antigua, I get up and either go for a run or walk through a city that is just waking up. I see people cleaning the Parque Central which is surrounded by the Cathedral, Municipal Building, and a variety of restaurants. I see mothers carrying their infants on slings and the wares they hope to sell that day. There is a pace that is more of a shuffle that is neither slow or fast, just steady. I try to fit into that pace weaving left and right on the tight sidewalks with a soft "Buenos dias" as I pass each person.

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My routes are not set, I meander north or south, east or west making my way in a what looks like a grid throughout the city. I have to be careful of the broken sidewalks, the uneven cobblestone streets, the occasional holes that seem to appear from nowhere, and of course the little brown presents left by the dogs that wander the streets. Yet, even though in deep concentration of every step I make, I manage to make mental notes of the beauty around me and what would make good photographs. Later in the day I set out to capture the images I recalled from the morning run.

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The cobblestone streets are quite interesting on their own. The old waterlines are constantly stressed and there are ruptures all over. The stones also loosen with the constant pressure applied on them by the traffic. Not a day goes by that there are not workers repairing the cobblestones in a constant struggle to even out the street. Why not then just repave them with more efficient more modern methods? I think it's because it would change the entire rhythm of the inner city not to mention the character of the old town. Cars, bikes, motorcycles, tuk-tuks and yes, even horse drawn carriages rumble along in a slow methodical pace. Occasionally, some young motorcyclist will speed up and pass several cars to show off his bike, but generally everyone keeps to this pace.

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When I first arrived in the city I had little clue as to what the direction of traffic was going. There seemed to be little rhyme or reason. Streets didn't seem to be marked, but in my daily routine I now see they are. It's just not marked on every corner. Major streets are known because they don't have any stop signs on them. The side streets have a stop sign on a corner building which also serve as a great clue to tell you the direction of the traffic! Generally though, I realize it doesn't really matter if I don't know if a street is "una via" (one way) or "doble via" (two way). I generally have more than enough time to walk across the street because of the slow pace of the vehicles. It is a rhythm that I could get used to.

Posted by Aeren 13:29 Archived in Guatemala Comments (0)

Starting Over

Learning to Relax

sunny 72 °F

I arrived in Antigua on the heals of strep throat and a broken heart. My partner of 20 years decided that our relationship wasn't working out. That is the short answer, I don't blame her and she doesn't blame me. We probably should have called it quits years ago, but we were comfortable in our ways. It still hurts a lot, but I'm dealing with it. What I hate is that just when I think we have things worked out on what our relationship will look like from now on, she throws another wrench into it.

Be careful when your ex says, "I want us to remain friends." You develop expectations of what being a friend means, but the reality does not often match the expectation. It's being a friend on their terms which feels like a one way street. I'm just left holding all this emotional baggage. So I've run away for a while to lick my wounds. I've been trying to be very adult about this breakup, but I needed to get away and heal on my own. I see that clearly now as I sit in Antigua, Guatemala a place that has always been a joy for me to visit. I'm so fortunate that a dear friend here has offered me a room in her lovely home to relax, rejuvenate, and yes maybe reinvent myself. I really needed this trip more than I realized until I arrived.

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Relaxing has never come easy for me, but sometimes things really do happen for a good reason. My being sick just before arrival has necessitated long days of naps and long evenings of sleep. My friend's home has been a true blessing. I love the fountain in her courtyard and all the orchids she has around the garden.

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Books sometimes present themselves just when I need them. I was looking through Vey's library and found one by C.S. Lewis called "The Four Loves". He writes, “We are born helpless. As soon as we are fully conscious we discover loneliness. We need others physically, emotionally, intellectually; we need them if we are to know anything, even ourselves.”

Lewis describes, in just a few sentences, the human condition for me at this point in my life. I know we all feel loneliness in our lives. For me loneliness has come along at multiple stages of my life and I believe it is so for most people. The four loves he writes about are: affection, friendship, romance, and unconditional love. I plan on exploring these four loves throughout my five weeks here and use this book as a basis for my spiritual reflection.

Posted by Aeren 14:34 Archived in Guatemala Comments (0)

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