Have spent just under a week in Antigua (an old colonial town about an hour away from Guatemala City). The town is very pretty and safe, and appears to be economically self-sufficient, with the benefit of being an appealing tourist location meaning many ancillary services have sprung up.
When I arrived I checked into the Terrace Hostel and then went for a wander. I asked a man for directions to the main street. He responded in English, and (half asking, half telling) said “you need Spanish lessons?” so I decided to take him up on his offer, to start in the morning. The hostel was a good location, and had a top bar (see photo if/ when uploaded), however the 3 Aussie surfers bowling in at 4am and vomming everywhere was less appealing.
At 9am, I met Wendy (my new teacher) and she suggested we go to McDonalds. Slightly sceptically I agreed, but now honestly think that it’s the nicest one that I’ve ever been to; old colonial-style furniture on the patio outside circling a stone fountain (see photos). I explained my living arrangements to Wendy, and she said how her sister had a spare room that she sometimes let out.
That afternoon I moved in with Erica (see photo) who also agreed to cook all my meals for me. A stroke of luck. I stayed there for three nights and in the evenings we chatted along with meeting a number of Erica’s friends who were interested to meet her English guest. I found out that Erica had never used an iPod, and so offered her mine for the evening. I had to politely explain how I didn’t have ABBA, The BeeGees or the YMCA, however we could settle on The Beatles, who she loves. Right now she is bopping along to “Submarino Amarillo” (Yellow Submarine).
My days in Antigua have largely taken the form of Spanish in the morning and then performing the kind of primary activity that you’d expect to find in a kids’ book. I should also note that in Latin America, my name is Samuel, pronounced Samwell..
So it has been: Samwell went to the market. Samwell had his haircut at the Barber Shop. Samuel took his clothes to the laundrette. All of which I would duly translate in the morning. Unfortunately Wendy didn’t know the Spanish for “Samwell took pictures of bare culture”. (See photos).
Antigua also presented itself with the first contender in the Profile Picture showdown. On one afternoon I climbed (with a group) Volcan Pacaya, an active volcano on the outskirts of the town. Along the ascent, there were many ‘holes’ in the terrain where the lava flows out of. The heat that these give out is enough to cook marshmallows (see photo). As the sun set, I also had a brief photo opp with the volcano as a backdrop.
On Friday afternoon, I packed up from Erica’s and checked into a hostel in town before getting a shuttle bus to Lanquin (the next leg of the journey) on Saturday morning.