I arrived in Antigua, Guatemala on a red-eye flight from LAX, feeling as if I’d been travelling for ever. Which I kind of had.
A10 hour overnight flight from Sydney to Honolulu, a 2 hour layover and a 5 hour flight to LAX that got me in at 9pm and an epic wait for a shuttle meant I didn’t arrive to my hostel in Santa Monica until after midnight 20 hours after leaving Sydney.
Then I was up early to buy supplies for my trip to Latin America before heading back to the airport for my midnight flight.
By the time I arrived in Guatemala, I’d hardly slept in three days. So when everyone at the airport insisted there was no such thing as a shuttle to Antigua (sure there wasn’t), I sucked it up and bargained a taxi driver down to $15 from $30 and I was on the home stretch.
That early on a Sunday morning, we made it out of Guatemala City quickly and into the mountains. The air was much cooler than I had expected – it couldn’t have been more than 19 degrees celsius. The streets were clean, the roads were in good condition – it was a culture shock precisely because it wasn’t a culture shock.
I’d organised my room in Antigua in advance through my Spanish school. A short walk from the school, the student house was in a quiet residential street about a fifteen minute walk from Parque Centrale.
The house slept eight people, plus the two caretakers. Because I arrived so early, I could have my pick of rooms – in my bleary, jet-lagged state I just picked the first one I walked into and dropped my bag.
By the following day the house was full, meal times raucous and our days quickly fell into a routine of going to Spanish classes, eating, doing homework, drinking, trying to get the wifi work, avoiding the rain that came down like clockwork at 3pm each day and occasionally playing charades.
Making the school and the student house my first stop on this trip has been the best decision I’ve made so far. Studying Spanish during the day gave my time in Antigua direction and purpose and I was never alone.
In fact, I enjoyed it so much I decided that my next stop would be the highland town of Xela, to do a little more Spanish study, a little hiking and maybe a little volunteering.
In upcoming posts, I’ll be sharing my experiences studying Spanish in Antigua, Guatemala, how to choose a Spanish school and more so keep track of the RSS feed to stay in the loop.