An Ode to Travel: Guatemala

Life is weird.

So far I’ve had to cancel 3 big trips, including my girls’ trip to Italy! :(, and 3 adventure weekends of visiting/hosting, among other things.

But I’m not angry, I feel I have too much to be thankful for.

So I will leave it at that.

I felt for a while like I can’t really travel blog because.. I can’t make any recommendations right now. The world is crazy. My only recommendation is to stay home or be outside.

And then I realized, maybe this would be a good time to reminisce.

So here is a post about a place that I went once, that you should go to too, some day. It’s going to reflect more of the feelings/vibe of the place rather than any kind of ‘how to’ of where to eat or what to do. It’s an ode to life gone by and the good old days. And a wave to what we hope the world will return to some day, in some form.

In the summer of 2011, between my junior and senior years of undergrad, I spent a month in Antigua, Guatemala studying Spanish. I went with my sister, friend, cousin, and cousin’s friend (who became my friend by the end). We did 6 hours a day, 5 days a week of 1-on-1 Spanish lessons. We went to a little school called ‘La Enseñanza’ that a lot of Mennonites tend to go to. It was incredibly influential in how far Spanish has taken me now, especially since I now use Spanish every day at work. (This schools is actually offering video courses during all of this, so if you’re interested, DM me.)

But aside from the hours of study, we had weekly field trips and weekend adventures. If you ever go, I recommend hiking volcanoes and the lake area of ‘Lago de Atitlan’.

In sweeping terms, Guatemala is a beautiful place, teaming with natural beauty, colorful homes, and crumbling ruins. I highly recommend going in the summer. It’s not too hot (like South East Asia) and all the flowers are in bloom.

The iconic Antigua clock.

Like many ‘developing nations’ Guatemala is a place with a story. Native people walk among ruins left by their conquerors, to sell hand made items to travelers from around the world. The juxtaposition is startling at times. My advice: observe. It’s not a place you can figure out before you go. Just watch. It’s interesting!

Real life.
Local, tourists, bus, building layers of stories.

To end, I will share one picture of my sister and I, as the babies we were on this trip. And, I will say, if you want to see the breadth of a Spanish city, sit in the ‘parque central’ (central park) for a few hours. Picnic. Talk to the people that talk to you. The whole world will walk by eventually. It quickly became our favorite thing to do.

She made a sale.
Friends (sisters?) at work.
Our little park buddies for the afternoon. Bilingual in Mayan and Spanish, selling trinkets and making friends with gringas. Now, it makes me think of my students and what their lives could have been if their families had not immigrated.
Saved the best for last. What a gem.

Guatemala was the place I first experienced nutella crepes, started sorting out my tu and usted forms in Spanish, and rode ‘chicken buses’ to remote towns during Corpus Christi. Remembering it all reminds me why travel is so rewarding. It truly is a gift. We aren’t entitled to it, so I think we should be grateful for it. IMO.


2 responses to “An Ode to Travel: Guatemala”

  1. I spent a month in Antigua brushing up my Spanish too. I have very fond memories of talking with the Maya women in el Parque Central. I learned so much that month.


    1. Awe! Cool! Yes, Antigua is very popular for Spanish refreshing. I’m sure those ladies an el parque central have many stories to tell from all the strangers they befriend! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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