After a quick breakfast in the hotel's posh and popular restaurant and dropping off our laundry at a nearby full service lavanderia, we headed south of Xela to investigate the nearby towns of Almolonga and Zunil. I had heard on good authority that the locals' vegetable market at Almolonga was something to see and a completely authentic cultural experience. We were not disappointed. The first thing we did was to drive straight down into the fields to see the source of this legendary produce. It was fascinating to watch the farmers working their plots using age old techniques using companion plants, crop rotation and manual irrigation. Although we learned that most of this produce is shipped out to El Salvadore, I now know why the vegetables and greens in Antigua were so fresh and delicious.

Almolonga Guatemala
Almolonga

Almolonga Guatemala

Almolonga Guatemala
A farmer irrigating his crops from a labrynth of hand dug channels. The shovel is wooden.

Market Day in Almolongo Guatemala

Market Day in Almolonga Guatemala

Almolonga Guatemala

Market Day in Almolongo Guatemala

From Almolonga, we drove south to the village of Zunil to see the market and the beautiful Iglesia de Santa Caterina. Trucks were lined up in and out of the city and we didn't even get close to the market itself but we did manage to see the beautifully maintained church.

Zunil Guatemala

Zunil Guatemala
Zunil

Zunil Guatemala

Iglesia de Santa Catarina
Iglesia de Santa Catarina

From Zunil, we turned sharply up into the mountains and drove a nailbiting 8 kilometers to find the legendary Fuentes Georginas. Renowned not only for their beauty but also for their curative powers, these natural hot springs are a popular stop for tour operators and locals alike. We had the place essentially to ourselves for awhile until a few larger groups trickled in. This is an amazing place and a "must see" if you are in the Western Highlands.

Zunil Guatemala

Zunil Guatemala

Zunil Guatemala

Fuentes Georginas
Check out these ferns! I tried to use the truck for scale. The closer we got to the springs, the BIGGER everything became.

Fuentes Georginas

The hot springs have several rustic bungalows where visitors can spend the night and numerous picnic areas along the hillside. There are changing rooms, bathrooms, lockers and even a nice little restaurant. One of the guide books we had brought with us reportedthat the springs, rather than hot, had grown tepid over the years, making them no longer worth the visit. We found this to be completely false. The water in the first pool was very hot,so much so that the kids could not get all the way in. Rob and I could linger for awhile at one end but couldn't manage to wade in as far as the source of the spring coming off the mountain.

Fuentes Georginas

Fuentes Georginas

Fuentes Georginas

Fuentes Georginas
Ahhhhhhh.

Fuentes Georginas Guatemala
One brave soul managed to make it all the way in to the rocky face of the cliff where the water was pouring into the pool. While we were there, he was enlisted by several locals to fill various containers with the water, presumably to bring home to ailing family members or friends.

Las Fuented Georginas

From this view, you can see the progression of the pools, the first and hottest, being close to the mountain and the last, most tepid pool, is where most of the children splashed and played. This was a wonderful spot to visit. Once we finally managed to cool ourselves down, we groggily headed back to Xela, had dinner near the hotel and tucked in for the night. Tomorrow, market day in Momostenango.

Xela Guatemala

Quetzaltenango Guatemala

Xela Guatemala