The bluebird school bus weaves its way assuredly through the diverse landscape north of Guatemala City to Antigua. As much as my body wanted to nod off like the girl covering her head next to me, I could not shut my eyes from the beautiful countryside we were traversing. The air was fresh, mild, warm, tainted with the smoke of burning trash, and the wind just enough to keep comfortable in this central American climate.
After a quick shower of cool water, I relax on the rooftop patio of my modest accommodations. I hear birds everywhere. Scanning the horizons, I see that Antigua is surrounded on all sides by lush green volcanoes topped off in clouds. I feel the centuries of vulnerability in this place. The crumbled ruins here are the remains of earthquakes, volcanoes, mudslides, and who knows what else. Nestled among the giant mountains, the valley town of Antigua provides a false sense of security – these giants can erupt and destroy the town in any given moment. The earth here is uneasy, the terrain broken and the country is mapped out with fault lines. A land in geographical turmoil, where nature dominates, and humans continue to choose it’s beauty over their own safety. The rich colors of Guatemalan textiles also paint the houses, and a walk through the town is a feast for the eyes. With every disaster, a new and brighter coat of paint decorates the facades. They rebuild and inhabit this valley time after time, and I don’t blame them. It’s a comforting place, and I’m comfortable here, too.