BEHIND THE LENS
ANTIGUA, GUATEMALA BY LALA PEREIRA
California born, Miami raised photographer and entrepreneur Lala Pereira lives and works in Miami, Florida where she applies her innate creativity and keen eye to multiple crafts. Through Makaira Inc., an event production and staffing agency she runs with her business partner and lifelong friend, the two bring to life some of the city’s most recognized events, including Art Basel Miami Beach. During her down time, Lala documents and narrates stories through idyllic images for both clients and personal projects alike, a skill she picked up and honed while living in Madrid post- University. The daughter of a Guatemalan-Spanish mother and Nicaraguan father, Lala grew up a citizen of the world with an appetite for discovering destinations. Yet, of the many places she has travelled to, it is Antigua, in her mother’s native Guatemala, that holds a particularly special place in her heart. Here, she takes us on a visual journey through this city which continually serves as her source of inspiration.
What does Antigua smell like?
It depends on where you are and what time of year it is. Antigua smells of incense near the churches and during Easter. It can also smell of coffee, and not just while roasting. When the coffee flowers are in bloom, you might notice a sweet smell, but the smell of burning wood is something that always takes me back there.
What does Antigua taste like?
Tortilla with lemon and salt.
Best discovery of the trip?
In Antigua, everyday you find yourself discovering something new, no matter how many times you visit. It is a place that gives a sensory overload any given day. I have been lucky enough to visit often, and at different times of my life. The first time I discovered the Convento Santa Clara, I was introduced to the ruins of Antigua and its history, which later led me to choose it as my wedding venue.
If you had to pick one favorite thing from Antigua, what would it be?
My favorite thing to do is stroll the streets very early in the morning. It’s a time of day when the colors of the city truly pop, and there are few people out. On these walks, you often catch a glimpse into the interior patios of the colonial homes, which are only visible to the street when their massive doors are ajar. It’s always surprising to see what lies within.
What was your first impression about Antigua?
A living city in the midst of ruins surrounded by natural marvels.
If Antigua had a filter, what would it be?
If there was a filter called Spring (Primavera) that’s what it would be.
When traveling to Antigua, you can’t miss____.
The gastronomy and libations. People would be surprised as to the variety and quality of the cuisine and cocktails you can find there. It truly caters to everyone. From the street vendors and the central market to the surrounding farms like Caoba Farms or fine dining like Panza Verde. There is something to try around every corner, and in little nooks like Izakaya. I strongly recommend a nightcap at Palacio de Doña Leonor.
Typical local meal or drink?
Specific to Antigua, I would say atol de elote and horchata to drink. But you will always also find fresh tortillas, black beans, guacamole and carnita asada. For those with a sweet tooth, you cannot leave Antigua without stopping at Doña Maria Gordillo for typical Antigua sweets.
Something everyone should know before traveling to Antigua?
Definitely its history. It is a city that has survived earthquakes, floods, volcano eruptions and still maintains its colonial essence. I would also tell everyone to bring comfortable shoes. The entire city is cobblestone and is meant to be walked and explored.
What is most unique about Antigua, something you haven’t seen anywhere else?
Its artisanal craftsmanship. The textiles will blow your mind. Not to mention the jade and ceramics. But what you will find nowhere else in the world are the deep rooted customs during Holy Week, manifested in its processions and beautifully designed sawdust rugs that take over the streets.
Any local words or slang one should know?
Chapin – People from Guatemala
Tuc tuc– Moto-taxi
Muchá– People or group of friends
Canche – Blonde
Pisto – Money
Sho– Shut up
What do you define as beauty?
That which is natural.