Friday, September 26, 2008

Last Day in Guatemala

And the title tells it, well almost, but you'll have to read the next post to find out more.
This morning we walked to La Merced, a magnificent cathedral in the city located near the Arco de Santa Catalina. We stood in the churchyard and looked down the street to paint the arch. Again, lots of visitors and complements from the town's people.

This is one of the paintings that I WILL revisit in my studio. It was the most challenging and is far from finished. The last night we had a critique and I know just what to do for it. Critiques, ya gotta love em! One thing wrong with it, is I lost my horizon line, and it looks like the street is going uphill. Again, I got the experience of the ever changing light and color with this one also.
This afternoon, we walked to the Museo de Conventos de las Capuchinas. It is the ruins of a cathedral which housed 26 (?) I am remembering only... cloistered nuns from 1736 to 1773. It was VERY interesting. The architecture was innovative and ahead of it's time.
Completed in 1736 under the direction of the chief architect of the city, Diego de Porres. Today the convent is partially intact and partially in ruins. The intact portions house a museum and offices for the National Council for the Protection of Antigua Guatemala. The ruined sections include baths for the nuns, and an unusual circular area containing novices cells, each complete with it own privy. Below this circular patio is a mysterious, subterranean chamber that resonates wonderfully on certain notes; no one seems to know the original purpose of this dungeon-like chamber. We entered both places and experienced the possible use for both of them. The sound resonance was truly astonishing! Anytime you are taken on a tour of something so grand, it is important to imagine yourself in the time and place that it was flourishing. Thanks to John's great tour, we were able to do just that!

The front door to the convent.

The restoration efforts on the main cathedral ceiling tiles.

John talks in a quiet voice to us as we each stood just inside an archway that we imagine the nuns stood in while collectively listening to a someone talk. We heard every word - clearly! Below this structure was a similarly shaped enclave that we imagined was a place where the nuns practiced their singing. The acoustics were incredible. There were little opening in the side that led out into the open air, and I imagined the lovely singing that was caught on the air and circled around the town. John and Beth sang for us from below. It was goosebump material! On the way back to the hotel we ran into John Mellen the guy who made us lunch on Day 4, at 'El Granero', after the bus broke down. He had just opened his restaurant in Antigua called 'Epicure'. He showed us around. It was lovely and I highly recommend you dine there if ever in Antigua! His cuisine is delicious!

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