ruins of Antigua Cathedral (Gerry Errante)
This was our first unhurried morning, and after a leisurely breakfast overlooking the lake, we met our guide, Gary, and travel companions, Nita and Larry in Santiago. To get into town, we were treated to our first tuk-tuk ride. These three-wheel glorified motorcycles were a most convenient and inexpensive mode of transport. Our driver, who appeared to be considerably under the drinking age, seemed to have NASCAR ambitions, and the drive was quite exciting. At first glance, Santiago seemed to have not much to offer beyond the usual tourist kitsch. However, the ever-inquisitive and exuberant Gary made the day quite an adventure. He seemed to know almost everyone, as many enthusiastic greetings were exchanged. We went into a number of unique shops, in each case talking with the owners. At one point, Gary had a young girl demonstrate the traditional headdress; at another stop, he asked an elderly woman to demonstrate the back strap loom. We also stopped at a woman's cooperative where stunning weavings and clothing were displayed. The rather horrific history of the civil war was not glossed over, as we discussed this in the plaza in front of the Parroquial Santiago Apostol church. We also discussed medical care in the country, and visited the local hospital, even speaking with a young physician. And of course, we hunted out Maximun, and discussed the various Catholic brotherhoods. The evening was spent at the Posada, sharing a lovely meal and wine with our travel companions who joined us from their hotel.
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