It has now been two weeks since I’ve arrived in Antigua and what an adventure it has been! As soon as I stepped off of the plane in Guatemala City, it was a mad rush to retrieve my luggage and make it through Customs. Thankfully, Máximo Nivel, the Spanish language school, had arranged for a driver to pick me up at the airport, so the trip to my host family’s house in Antigua was very smooth. I arrived at the house around midnight where I was greeted by my host family with open arms. They have been incredibly kind and welcoming and I could not have asked for a better family to stay with!
Every morning, I wake up to a warm cup of coffee and a delicious breakfast typically consisting of eggs, beans, and fruit that my host mom prepares for me. I then head to my Spanish classes from 9am to 1pm where I try to soak up as much knowledge as I possibly can. For the first four to five days, my head was swimming with new information, vocabulary, and grammar, but I have slowly begun to acclimate to living life in Spanish. After my classes, I walk around Antigua until I find a café where I can eat lunch. This is my favorite part of the day because it allows me to explore Antigua and try new foods like this Chocobanano (picture #1)! In the afternoons, my host siblings and I study together at the kitchen table. They help me improve my Spanish grammar and I help them increase their English vocabulary. It’s the perfect set up! In the evenings, I eat another delicious meal with my host family and then spend the rest of the night conversing about the day. My Spanish speaking abilities have improved significantly because of this!
By the first weekend, I’d acclimated to daily life in Antigua. I’d made some friends from Máximo Nivel and I’d mostly adjusted to the language switch. My friends and I also started to explore Antigua more and experience all that the city has to offer. I love how vibrant this city is and how kind the people are. I have truly enjoyed immersing myself in Guatemalan culture by trying new foods and striking conversations with the locals! Over the past two weeks I’ve walked along most of the streets in Antigua (picture #2), attended the first Communion of my host brother, explored the ruins of the San Francisco Convent and Church (picture #3), and even visited the Antigua soccer stadium (picture #4)! I will never forget my visit to the stadium because I was able to meet many of the players, get my jersey signed (picture #5), and observe the team practice. Hopefully, I will even be able to make it to a game before I leave!
There are four volcanoes near Antigua: Agua, Fuego, Pacaya, and Acatenango (Agua is the volcano you see in pictures 2-4!). I have always loved hiking and backpacking, so I knew immediately that I wanted to hike at least one of the volcanoes. Luckily, a few of my new friends wanted to do the same! Acatenango is the most popular volcano to summit, so we signed up for a guided, overnight trek. Acatenango stands tall at 4,000 meters (a little over 13,000 feet) and we climbed the vast majority of that the first day. The altitude gain was intense and it was extremely cold at the top, so the hike provided plenty of challenges, both mental and physical. That being said, I am so glad that I did it, and to quote our guide, “the sky is the limit!” The views from the top of Acatenango were breathtaking, I really bonded with the friends who were with me (picture #6), and I was even able to see Fuego erupt (picture #7)!
Although my time in Antigua is coming to a close, I am incredibly thankful for the irreplaceable friendships and experiences that I have gained here. Next on the agenda: move to Cobán and begin working with Misión Vida Nueva – I can’t wait!
Thank you, again, for your continued thoughts and prayers. It is extremely comforting knowing that I have so many people supporting me throughout this journey!
Much love y hasta la próxima vez,