Don’t Ask for Directions Here!

It's Over There!

La Antigua Guatemala is based on the time-tested Spanish grid of Streets and Avenues (see this map to get an idea). Streets are divided between oriente or east and poniente or west (although poniente means sun setting point). Avenues are divided as usual sur and norte. So you have all the basic elements for street names and numbers, the basis for addresses, yet if you ask for directions here, people will tell you: “it’s next door to Doña Luisa“, “Go to la Calle del Arco and ask there”, “it’s right across the street from where the Subway restaurant was located”, “go to Posada del Ángel, it’s on the same block.”

I can imagine the lady in the green shorts pointing to oriente and telling the other two: it’s over there! Just walk a few blocks until you get to Nicolas restaurant, what you are looking for is three house up.

How are directions give in your little niche of the world?

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  • A very nice photograph. The colors are splendid.

    Abraham Lincoln
    Brookville Daily Photo

  • Jerry

    Here directions are given by referring to the previous owners or original building use. for example, out by John Smith’s place, or the old Gibson’s store. I guess basically the same way as in Antigua. Also many of the streets have two names, the common name and a name assigned by the city/state. For example, Possum Walk Rd and Coon Trail Rd are both State Highways, so directions can be confusing to a newcomer or a tourist.

  • Sorry Rudy, I can’t help it, but I have to clarify – even though the Canary Islands are Spanish Teritory – that my information is that La Laguna, the former capital of Tenerife was the original grid pattern planned town that became the blueprint for the American (South, Central and North) cities that followed. Or as UNESCO put it, “San Cristóbal de la Laguna was the first non-fortified Spanish colonial town, and its layout provided the model for many colonial towns in the Americas.”

    As for directions, people here say “go up” here or “down there”, irrespective of whether there is actually an incline and can never be presice about left or right. The British system of “turn left/right at the _insert name of Pub_” actually, works really well in comparison. 🙂

  • Abraham, I take your compliments very highly since your photography is top notch.

    Jerry, where exactly you do live? You said before it was East Texas, but let me tell you that is like saying I live in Central America: a bit vague, don’t you think?

    Pamela, you don’t to apologize for your clarification. This site welcomes all the comments, feedback and additional information that visitors would like to share with others. On the other hand, my statement about the Spanish grid is still valid since Tenerife, La Laguna, and the Islas Canarias were and are indeed Spanish territory, right?

  • Rudy, well yes and no. You are quite right in that, Tenerife, La Laguna and the Islas Canarias certainly are technically part of Spanish teritory, but they are an autonomous community. Moreover, we’re a proud and independent (if not always logical) lot here. Spanish is the language spoken and Spanish is the nationality that the people have on their ID, but Spain is considered to be “elesewhere” and to call a Canary Islander, “Spanish”, would be a HUGE mistake and insult. There is a lot of floklore, customs and fiestas, etc., which go back to the pre-hispanic history and the conquest may have been over 500 years ago, but it sure isn’t forgiven yet. The people here consider themselves Canarian. Now, having said all that, I know that a lot of the architecture came from Spain (though it was taken there by the Moors) and it was the Spanish conquistador Alonso Fernandez de Lugo who planned La Laguna, but it happened here and I know that most Canarians would want this distinction made about where the grid street pattern originated.

  • (I’ve missed your site the last few days!)
    Love the cobblestone streets and the white arch framing the picture.
    Directions are a funny thing, aren’t they? They do that here, too — “It’s just past where K-mart used to be.” Ha! The poor newcomers!