Travels & My First Day in Guate!

Well, here I am! Halfway through my first day in Guatemala. So far it has been absolutely wonderful but first let me start at the beginning – 4:30am yesterday.

I stayed at my friend Georgi’s apartment in Boston the night before and at 4:30am I got a taxi to the airport. I got my boarding pass and was through security with plenty of time. My first flight was from Boston to Ft Lauderdale and left at 6:20. Thankfully I was able to sleep the entire flight and we arrived in Ft Lauderdale at 9:35…just enough time for me to get off the plane and get on my connecting flight to Costa Rica, which left at 10:05. I wasn’t able to sleep on this plane but there was a movie so that really passed the time. I landed in Costa Rica at 10:56 local time (so really 12:56 according to my body) and my next flight from Costa Rica to Guatemala didn’t leave until 5:10 local time. It was definitely a round about way of doing things but you know, in Costa Rica I don’t mind spending a day in the airport all that much. It was such a tease to be there but have to stay in the airport but I will be back!!

Once I got to Costa Rica I had to go through customs and get my luggage, exit the airport and then reenter the airport because I was flying a different airline. I rechecked in and was through security again around 12. I got lunch and sat down near a plug charging my phone. Thankfully the airport had wifi so that helped to pass the time and the world cup games were on in the airport too so that was a plus! I napped a little bit in the airport and took off for Guatemala at 5:10 (local time) and was in Guatemala at 6:50 (local time – which is the same two hour time difference from the US.) Héctor was there to pick me up from the airport. He greeted me with a huge hug and smile and this beautiful doll and card!

card

So adorable! It was about an hour drive from the airport to my host family. There was an incredible amount of traffic but Héctor and I had a wonderful conversation and he told me all about the school. It was so great to be speaking Spanish again. Héctor said my Spanish is very good! After an intense travel day, all that hurry up and wait, I was so exhausted but I was happy I could still hold my own in the conversation. When I started to get too tired to talk Héctor blasted the music and we were singing along. It was a good time – he was so funny!

When we arrived at my home for the next week, my host mom was waiting outside. She helped me carry in my bags and then gave me a quick tour of the house and showed me my room, which I will now show you:

So cute!! And here is the view from my window:

view

I dropped my stuff and headed downstairs for dinner. My host mom made me a chicken noodle soup and a ham and egg tortilla sandwich. It was so delicious! While eating dinner I talked to my host mom a lot about where I learned Spanish, my family, my future plans, and everything in between. She is so nice and very easy to talk to. Her granddaughter also joined us. Her name is Sophie and she is 8. She was staying the night at her grandma’s house because she is on vacation from school. Her house is right next door but she was very excited to be staying the night with her grandma. Sophie was showing me all the family photos in the house. My host mom is one of five and she has four daughters so there was lots of photos and lots of names I most definitely couldn’t remember. After dinner I headed to my room, sent my family an email and then went to bed around 10:00! Finally, after a 17 hour travel day! Phew!!

I got a great night sleep and was up at 7:00 this morning to shower, ate breakfast at 7:30, and headed to the school to meet everyone at 8:30. For breakfast I had corn flakes, toast, an omelet, tea, and delicious watermelon and papaya. Needless to say I will definitely not be hungry here! 🙂 My host mom ate with me and we had another great conversation and then she walked me to the school. On our way out the house we ran into “Bunny” their pet bunny. It is the most peculiar bunny I have ever seen. It almost acts like a dog, roaming around the courtyard. Here is a picture of bunny and the front of my house:

Also, here is a picture of the view once you leave my house:

road

Look at the volcano!!

It is very easy to find your way around Antigua because the streets are numbered – so helpful! La Unión, the school where I will be taking classes in the afternoons, is only about a 5 minute walk from my house. It is very easy to get there. When I got to the school I met Julio who gave me a tour. I didn’t take any pictures but I definitely will when I return for classes. It is an amazing operation. They teach Spanish one on one and there were people from all over there taking lessons. I saw Héctor again and met Manuel who then took me on a walking tour of Antigua. This is when I learned how easy it is to navigate my way around. My house is in a very central location, as is the school. We went to the place called Tanque de la Unión. Manuel explained that this is where people who lived in the countryside would come to wash their clothes:

wash

Another amazing view of the volcano. From where I was standing when taking this picture I could see three volcanoes. The one in the photo that was directly in front of me, and two to my left. The one in front of me is called Volcán de Agua. It is not active but one of the ones to my left, Volcán de Fuego is active.

Next Manuel showed me one the private hospital of Antigua and explained to me the importance of it’s name, named after Santo Hermano Pedro de San José Betancur who was a Spanish saint and missionary. He was the first saint of Guatemala and Central America and he conducted social work said to be comparable to that of Mother Teresa helping the most vulnerable and needy. Here is a picture of the hospital:

hospital

And then we visited the central park:

central_market

Surrounding the park are various cafes and banks. It was a beautiful day so there were lots of people out and about. There are also so many churches here. Here is a picture of the one across from the central park:

church_1

Next Manuel took me to where I will be taking the bus to work. In the mornings I am going to be working as a volunteer for a social project that provides support to children and their families such as medical & dental support as well as education and housing projects. Manuel took me to the school where I got a tour of their whole operation from Ricardo who is head of the project and then Manuel and I returned to Antigua. The bus ride is about 20 minutes so Manuel wanted to be sure I felt comfortable with the route. On the bus there was a TV so we didn’t have to miss a minute of the world cup haha:

bus

I am going to be volunteering at a school right down the street from these offices as a teaching assistant. The students are on vacation until Tuesday so tomorrow, Friday, and Monday I will be helping out at the offices providing support wherever needed.

When Manuel and I returned to the school I went into the offices and confirmed my schedule and headed home for lunch. I had just enough time to write this blog but am just about to go eat lunch and then head back to the school for my first day of Spanish lessons. I am going to be taking lessons in the afternoons from 2:00 to 6:00 and then I will return home for dinner at 7:15.

And that’s what I have to report for now. I will write soon about my Spanish lessons and my volunteer work. So far, so good!! 🙂

xoxo, Caro

Carolyn Boudreau studied abroad with API in Salamanca, Spain and is an alumna of the API Peer Mentor Program. Carolyn is currently volunteering in Guatemala.  

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