28.06.2011 - 28.06.2011 75 °F
I arrived in Guatemala City feeling, as I typically do when I first arrive in a country, a little out of sorts. I successfully navigated my way through the airport and spotted a man with a sign indicating that he was waiting for me – Laurel Anzelc! (Actually, I added the exclamation point, I just want to make sure I am fully representing my enthusiasm.) I threw my backpack in the van and we were off to Antigua.
Driving through Guatemala City I realized that this was a scary place, and I wouldn’t say that I am one to scare easy. While the streets look much like some of the South American countries I’ve visited (e.g familiar fast food restaurants, “tallers” on every corner and brightly colored buses with people screaming the names of nearby cities), it felt different here. Just a few cars in front of me was a Toyota loaded with three teenagers dressed in army fatigues in the bed of the truck – carrying automatic weapons. My guess is these kids were no older than 15. Yikes. I’ve since learned just how dangerous Gaute (as the locals call it) can be. This is one city that I have no interest exploring on foot.
I arrived in Anitgua less than an hour later and was dropped directly at my host family’s door. Elvira, my host mother, quickly greeted me and showed me the way to mis amigas – Heidi and Connie!! I was as excited to see them as I was to see the amazing house in which I will be staying. The house can host up to 10 students at any given time, but right now it’s just the three of us, a couple from Texas and and Maria, a Guatemalan who is studying in Antigua to become a teacher.
My room is simple and clean – and from my experiences, that’s pretty great! There is a twin bed, a small desk and several windows which look out over a gorgeous sundeck. I can also see several of the volcanoes which surround the city and hear the music blaring gymansio. For 7,600 Quetzales (or $90) a week (with meals included) I am incredibly pleased!
Antigua is a city of contradiction. It is one of the more popular locations to study Spanish in Guatemala, and the streets are littered with people from all over the world towering over Mayans in their traditional dress walking with baskets on their heads, right next to locals in modern dress. You can eat dinner at McDonalds or find a restaurant where no one speaks English and your only choice is whatever happens to be prepared that day. Needless to say, I think I’m going to like it here.