On Saturday at 8am we (Kayleigh, Nikki, Emily, and I) hiked up to Cerro de la Cruz. It was beautiful and surprisingly a short hike! We sat up on the hill looking out upon Antigua and Volcan Agua for about an hour. It was such a nice day.
I then headed to a biking tour that ended up being private because no one else signed up! We (Ricardo -my guide- and I) hopped on our bikes around 11 am and pedalled along the cobblestone road until we finally reached a paved highway to the surrounding towns. We biked through 3 pueblos on the way to a Macadamia Farm called Valhalla. The first town to my surprise was celebrating Corpus Cristi! (The celebration I have heard about for the past month and thought I had missed.) It was beautiful. The church was packed-people were standing out the doors. There were white and yellow ribbons flying everywhere – draping off of the church roof. The streets were filled with fruit, chocolate covered apples and marshmallows, food, games, and people. Everyone was out celebrating. There were tons of games and a ferris wheel exactly like a fair. Many of the streets were adorned with beautiful ¨paintings¨made of what looked liked colored sand. It was beautiful and full of energy. I wish our town celebrated something like this. I wanted to stay longer to watch the procession through the town, but we had a schedule to keep.
We biked through 2 more towns, stopping at a couple churches and biking through a market street. I wanted to buy everything, but was unfortunately not hungry at the time, and I can´t actually buy the already sliced fruit even though it looks the most delicious. (Don´t want to risk the parasites.) All of the churches were full by the way (even those in the towns that were not celebrating Corpus Cristi).
We finally made it to the Macadamia Farm, Valhalla, after about an hour and a half of biking. It was much smaller than I expected. It looked like more of a nice garden to read a book in. We were immediately greeted by Emilia- the wife of the owner. She was 68 and looked about 58. Her husband swears it´s the macadamia facial products. I can´t decide if he´s right, or if he´s just trying to make a profit and she ages well naturally. Anyways, she greeted me, gave me a glass of water and asked if I wanted a tour. A couple from Argentina and Guatemala joined and I eventually no longer understood the Spanish. I understood everything until about 10 minutes into it and they were just having a fast conversation. What I did get out of the tour was interesting. They are a sustainable, organic farm growing macadamia nuts which came from nowhere other than California! They use the cascaras (skin/shell) of the nuts to fertilize the plants.
We got free samples of the delicious pure macadamia nuts and chocolate covered macadamia nuts. I also got a complementary ¨facial¨using macadamia products. I cannot believe they don´t charge for anything at the farm! I guess the prices of the products they sell make up for it. Emilia said that everything is free because at the other farms where they charge, no one comes.
I completed my time at the farm with the ¨world´s best¨ macadamia/blueberry pancakes. Sadly they did not live up to the name. Unfortunately I do not like macadamia butter or their blueberries or the hard pancakes. But they meal was still wonderful because of the beautiful setting and my company (the woman from Guatemala and her boyfriend from Argentina). Everyone was so friendly. People always compliment food here. The first bite she took, Lucia made an ¨mmmmm¨noise and said ¨Que Rico!¨
Getting back on the bike to go back was less exciting than the first time. I didn´t realize how bad my body felt until I sat down. The ride back was painful, but beautiful. While we had to climb a huge mountain, we got to see beautiful landscape once again- green hills, mountains, and flatlands.
Overall it was a great trip getting to see the outskirts of Antigua (San Miguel Dueñas, San Pedro de Huertas, San Bartolo, San Lorenzo, Vieja Ciudad, and San Antonio), getting to chat with my guide in Spanglish, and meeting the couple at the macadamia farm, but I don´t think I´ll be signing up for another bike ride on cobblestone streets or on dirt roads anytime soon.