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Home Sweet Home

Thursday, January 1, 2009


We arrived in Guatemala City just after 7pm last night. Finding a ride to Antigua after dark and getting into a car with a stranger and trusting them to drive us off into the unknown (I know I sound like my mother) was something I had been nervous about but we managed to recognize the word ‘shuttle’ on a sign being held by a man who was eager to take us to Antigua for ten bucks. This seemed reasonable considering we had been warned that a taxi ride for this same distance could be as much as fifty dollars on new years eve, so we were on our way.
Now, keep in mind that I had booked a hostel in Antigua, online and at the last minute, for one of the busiest nights of the year (new years eve) and didn’t really know what to expect. Quite honestly I haven’t ever even been to a hostel before…anywhere. So when the shuttle pulled off the beaten path, down what appeared to be a dimly lit back alley lined with what appeared to be a concrete wall on either side, pulled over and announced “We‘re here”, I was a tad bit apprehensive.
However, on the other side of the wall (which was really more of a compound) there were actually lights, and music, and a friendly man named Stuardo who had just opened this hostel six months ago (guess that’s why I hadn’t been able to find any reviews on it) who had been expecting us as we would be filling his last room for the evening. Troy and I didn’t really know what to think when we opened the door to our room (affectionately referred to by us as our jail cell) but it had two beds and pillows and after traveling for 24 hours, we were really just ready to sleep. We did manage to stay up long enough to meet some people and go with the group to the central park area where a giant crowd had congregated to celebrate the new year. New years is a huge party here with crowds of people descending on Antigua from Guatemala City and beyond. Troy and I packed it in shortly after midnight but the rest of the town partied like it was 1999 until, well, I think some people are still celebrating! Seriously, it is 5:30pm on new years day and there is still the odd firecracker going off in the streets.

This morning, after a much needed sleep-in, we were excited to check everything out in the daylight. The place we are staying is actually quite cute with a yard and lounge and free internet (Mom, turn on your computer, I have been trying to call you!). We headed out on the town which is old colonial style with cobblestone streets and plenty of character. We are quite proud of ourselves for going ’grocery’ shopping at the local street market (where we had no idea how much money the nice lady was asking for so we just pulled out some money and let her take what she needed out of my hand), for not getting run over by anything from a horse drawn buggy to an FJ cruiser (we had to save each other more than once as we forget that pedestrians definitely do not have the right of way), and I am most proud of Troy for going until 3pm without eating (we had to check out all our options before committing to a location. We ended up spending 6 bucks to eat and though this would be an unreal deal at home, it is funny that here, we felt somehow that we could have done better).

We will be based here in Antigua and will be teaching in a rural village during the week. Antigua is very tourist oriented so will be easy to take weekend adventures from here. We will be staying in this hostel until Saturday when we will meet the other volunteers at a hotel for one night and then meet our homestay family on Sunday and begin Spanish lessons on Monday.

Happy New Year!


  1. Glad you landed safely and are intent on keeping us 'home' folk entertained with your stories. (Okay, I admit, I checked several times this week to see that you actually did land somewhere far away. Maybe I was hoping the blog would say, "We took a last moment trip to Red Deer before setting out on the world.") All in all, I look forward to many stories and, Happy New Year!
    - Tim, Paula & Melena

  2. Sounds like you've jumped right into your adventure, with great success! Happy New Year - Catherine

  3. Hi you two. Glad to hear you made it...as is your mom. Talked to her bright and early this am to wish her a happy birthday. Have a grand time and keep us posted!

    Hedi & Bob

  4. Wonderful!
    Love the descriptive prose. I'll be back for more.