Earth Lodge, Antigua Guatemala
Earth Lodge is an eco hostel and restaurant perched in the hills above Antigua. It’s not really in the city at all, and that’s more than half of the charm.
On weekends, they play host to a Sunday BBQ with a revolving host of acoustic bands and people flock both local and foreign for the great food and even more incredible view.
I was one of the Antiguans who would make the trek up the Earth Lodge weekly, taking my dog up past the lush site of Cerro De La Cruz, and walking the remaining 5KM uphill to tiny town of El Hato; which is no feat-it’s about an hour and a half uphill through the Gruatemalan brush on a winding road to get there. You can also take a shuttle which is only 15Q (about $3) per person if there are 5 or more people and it leaves from the centre and drops you off wherever your heart desires.
But then last weekend, I decided to book one of their shanti shanti glamp-tents (it’s a double bed with two chairs outside a large tent) and headed up, dog in tow, to spend a Saturday night out of the city.
And Earth Lodge straight stole my heart.
I was supposed to go up there with a friend who cancelled on me last minute. But being the heart space survivor my mother raised me as, I went anyway.
I got there just a couple hours before dinner was served. For 65Q (a bit steep for Antigua, but still worth every penny) you can choose either vegetarian or chicken (add 20Q) and a dessert. At 7PM they turn off the wifi and leave it off till 7AM the following day. Dinner is served at shared tables among guests. And when all the tourists fade away and the wifi’s gone and the lights turn down, the charm turns way up.
I immediately met a lovely group of people and everyone was patient and understanding with Maya (my autistic dog). It had been so long since I hung out with travellers. Not tourists who come to Antigua to snap pictures and get drunk at knock-off Western bars, but people who are seeking something greater then themselves.
In the morning, I stumbled out of my tent to take in the view and start my Mala chant to Ganesha for the morning. I ended up perched on the yoga platform-whcih doubles as a hammock nook overlooking the valley by day.
Yoga is normally at 8AM and it’s 30Q which you donate to the instructor. Because Earth Lodge also doubles as a place for volunteers, there is usually some hippie willing to teach. But that morning there was none, and seeing as I was already there, I taught a class to a wonderful group of newbies and old-hats and it was really beautiful.
The following week, I went back with the studio I work at, Y Studio, and taught a class to 20+ people as part of a new monthly yoga event we’re co-producing with the space.
If you come to Antigua, this is a place that should not be missed. It’s great to go up for the amazing menu and the tranquil atmosphere, but if you really want to do yourself a favour, stay at least a couple nights and really let yourself unfurl.