59 Kms from Cuilapa
Less than 50 km away from the hustle and bustle of the capital – Guatemala city is the colonial town of Antigua. First look and it feels you’ve been transported to a different period in time; that is if you can ignore those motor vehicles.The city proudly sits surrounded by three volcanoes; its majestic outlook not doomed by the earthquake that turned the city to rubble in 1773. The earthquake stopped the time there it seems – the brightly coloured facades of colonial houses, majestic cathedrals, still standing walls of churches whose domes have caved in, cobbled streets are so inviting. Its a UNESCO world heritage site now; there is still magic in this centuries-old decayed dilapidated town.I was excited about Antigua ever since I decided to visit Guatemala; since this was going to be my first ever Spanish colony experience. And I was not disappointed at all. The orange and red and yellow mansions are fascinating, the flowering trees lining the streets, the whiff of breeze as you walk in the evenings only added to the charm.
117 Kms from Cuilapa
The weekend markets here may be derided as touristy, but they're also a fun and accessible spot full of local colour. Hone your bargaining skills while you wander the lanes checking out carved wooden masks, colourful textiles, and everything else under the sun.
San Marcos La Laguna
118 Kms from Cuilapa
The pre-eminent hippie village around Lake Atitlan, San Marcos is the place to go for a spot of meditation or yoga, or any of a number of other crystal-based new-age activities (these latter at the spiritual retreat Las Pyramides). The lake near the shore here is cleaner and clearer than average, and there's none of the party crowds or boozing that afflicts Panajachel and other spots around the lake.