San Pedro Las Huertas Guatemala, a 15-minute chicken bus ride southwest of Antigua Guatemala, is more than worth a stop if you are interested pueblo life. Each pueblo has it’s own character and San Pedro Las Huertas is no exception.
Like all pueblos in the area, it has a main central park presided over by a baroque Spanish colonial church, this one established in 1672. The first thing that strikes you as you descend from the bus is the perfect view of two volcanoes, Fuego and Agua, which can be seen from the main drag of the village.
As you walk on the main calle towards the central park and the solid church, you notice at internals public water taps adorned with the ceramic tiled images of Catholic saints. Closer inspection reveals that this is a project between local government and “Plant today,” an American faith-based NGO. The water project is working to bring properly chlorinated and filtered water to the community. The decision to surround the water taps with suggestions of a fountain and expressions of gratitude to religious icons makes for a unique addition to the streetscape. A few have the faucet coming out of the saint’s midriff, which in no way disrespects the project or the religious representations, but adds another interesting element to the street art and available potable water.
The clean water also feeds the “lavadero publico,” or public laundry station located on the left as you head toward the church.
Though thoroughly rooted in baroque colonial style, the church is a painted a deep sienna or burnt orange color, which distinguishes the building from many other houses of worship in the region. It has a delicacy that a lot of the other pesado Spanish churches do not celebrate. The figure of San Pedro, the healing brother canonized in the 1990s, dominates the facade among the other statues of saints. If you think you don’t need to see another baroque church you are wrong. Go for the color alone, especially beautiful in the golden fading light at sunset.
On this trip, Yolkobsens arrived in time to make our tour, visit the church and develop a powerful thirst and hunger. It was a Saturday so we figured that there would be a good number of eateries from which to choose. This was not the case. We tried going to the local hotel, which had a stunning view of the valley, but they were not offering lunch.
Luckily, we were directed by the hotel folks to the taverna near the first chicken bus stop closer to the edge of town. Here we were rewarded with more than able food offerings coming out of the kitchen at La Taverna Foods Restaurante. ”Foods” is not one of my typos. Unfortunately, my Spanish was not good enough to find out why the owner had used this English word in his restaurant moniker. Finally, he indicated something like, “it worked on you, didn’t it?” We took his point.
In any case, the food here is basic and good. Mr. Y was very happy with his double decker American-style cheese burger as was I with my plato tipico, this one featuring thee different kinds of meat with a lively salsa, complemented with beans and guacemole. Very modest price for the meal.
Best of all, the owner’s large extended family kept arriving for their Saturday lunch and they were all very kind to us and greeted us as if we might join them. Unfortunately, duty called and we had to re-launch ourselves back onto the chicken bus towards Antigua Guatemala, with the sienna colored church burned into our memories.