Antigua is a city of history and compelling beauty. Once the capital of Guatemala, until a devastating earthquake left its indelible mark in the 1700s, the well-preserved buildings carry centuries-old scars in forms of dilapidated columns and fractured ceilings that contrast with the lavish constructions of Spanish wealth. Your flight lands at La Aurora International Airport in Guatemala City and as you descend you notice the natural beauty of the surrounding volcanic peaks that enclose the cityscape. The skyscrapers in the heart of the city rise to meet the summits of the surrounding peaks but fail to reach the height of the natural, towering mountains.
Your private transfer meets you at baggage claim to escort you to the colonial streets outside of Guatemala City. The car winds through the hills on the scenic drive as lush trees climb the hillside. Tiny local restaurants built on outcrops offer a panorama of the city below, framed by the undulating landscape on the horizon. The cobblestone streets of Antigua welcome you as pastel painted buildings line the road, topped with tiled roofs. Hidden courtyards provide open spaces to the former mansions and current businesses and vines streak across the walls.
Fountains trickle into stone pools and in the summer, the breeze blows across the water and with refreshing mist that carries through the halls. After settling into your hotel, make your way to the Chocolate Museum located on Calle del Arco, near the Arc of Santa Catalina. The aroma of rich chocolate fills the entrance, and your instructor will offer you a taste of tea, coffee, and cocoa nibs. Your introduction to the city comes by way of a chocolate lesson, as you learn the process of cultivation, fermentation, drying, and even roasting the beans before consumption. Your instructor teaches you the proper way to grind the nibs and mix in the grounds to prepare the decadent hot chocolate.