Well, I have to say, this month started out pretty interesting. Over the last month with my way-too-much free time, I’ve had lots of time to think about things. Think about how my attitude changed back to negative after my last two years out of Guatemala. Think about how the whole reason I had started traveling was to change myself from that person that I used to be and how I had started by just couch surfing and having an open mind.
With lots of things negative happening this trip such as wasting a ton of food by not understanding how things work in Guatemala. (Apparently in the tiny kitchen that we have, if you cook and don’t open a window, any other food that has been previously cooked and cooled down will go bad quite quickly. But then if you open the windows, you let in all the flies! Can’t do it right even if you try.) Being frustrated about having to climb 20 minutes from the bus to get home, especially if carrying 20 pounds of groceries. Being frustrated because the road is blocked and having to take a bus all the way to Ciudad Vieja, get off, and then get on one back to Antigua to be able to get to my bus stop. Lots of things that I found to be adventures before. I finally decided that this is never going to change if I don’t. Again.
It just so happens that one day as I was thinking about this, an opportunity passed by. Generally speaking if someone slows down their car for me in Guatemala, my defenses go up ready to tell them to move along and stop hitting on me. But this day, two guys passed me but it felt more like they were stopping for directions. I stopped and they asked “Hey are you heading to Antigua?” and I said “Yes, why?” and they said “Do you want a ride?”
I stopped and thought for a second. “These guys don’t seem threatening.” “I am so tired of walking all the way to the bus.” “What if they’re dangerous? Ahhh.. You can’t drive that fast here, I can jump out of the car.” “I know enough Spanish to get home if they take me anywhere.” “OK LET’S GO!” I shrugged and said okay and hopped in.
They took me to as Antigua, as planned, but were all excited because I was the first gringa they’d ever gotten to meet. I planned to get out, but checked my phone and realized my hoped-for skype date wouldn’t be until much later that day. So, I had absolutely nothing to do. When they invited me to coffee, I said cool. Coffee became do you want to see a really cool place near Cerra de la Cruz (which is where I actually had planned to hike to that day, but it looked a little rainy) so we went up-up-up to a really amazing view.
Then that became “you don’t know how to drive manual??? I’ll teach you!” and me driving manual for all of 10 minutes. That could definitely still use some lessons and practice! Pretty sure I killed the engine about 4 times.
Then that became dropping his friend off to go to work, showing me his really big house with solar power (he works for a solar power company), switching to a motorcycle (woohoo! my favorite), and going to see some ruins in Antigua that I have yet to see. Monasterio y Convento de la Recolección. And he pretended that I was his cousin so I only had to pay local price instead of foreigner price. The guy didn’t really believe us, but Carlos (my new friend that picked me up that day and took me around all day) told him his dad is from England and that’s why I don’t look Guatemalan. Hahahaha.
After that, we grabbed some pizza and went back to the cafe where we had coffee earlier and ate that and he waited on me to have my skype date then gave me a lift back to the house. I would say that jumping into a stranger’s car was a good decision that day. He also gave me a solar powered cell phone charger.
Granted, I’m pretty sure he was trying to impress me and win me over like almost any Antigua guy with their flowers and buying things even though you offer to pay for your part and tell them 100 times that you have a boyfriend, but hey. If they want to spend it and I’ve been clear that nothings happening, not my problem. I’ll take the fun day and free food!
He also gave me a few lifts later that week when I got sick and needed to get some stuff from Antigua to combat my cold. Eventually we finally cleared up that we are friends and we will only be friends. God bless those guys from Antigua. They just don’t stop. As I shared to my facebook friends a photo that I found highly appropriate to wear as a t-shirt in Guatemala: “Today is not the day and I am not the one.”
I think I was sick for about a week. Spent a lot of time in the house because again it’s too much effort just to get down to Antigua without a car in the new place where Isolina and Maynor live, so doing that while I am sick would just make me worse even though I probably could go out for an hour or so every once and a while and be fine. But since we don’t live in Antigua, there’s nothing really to go do for an hour and come back.
Still keeping track of the fabulously low prices of the market, I bought 10 avocados, 2 onions, 4 tomatoes, 1 broccoli, 2 limes, 5 apples and some cilantro for $5.
My birthday weekend my friends from the city invited me to go to the beach on the pacific coast. A place called Sipacate. Some people they work with have a place out there and invited them out for a cookout. That was a great way to get over being sick and to enjoy my birthday. We played music, swam in a weird little pool, walked on the beach, took a boat ride to get out to the house, and ate great food. They all brought a girl a long so I got to make even more friends as well. It was a really solid group of people and I thoroughly enjoyed them. I also got to see how they get coconuts down from the trees!!
The rest of the weekend, I stayed with them in the city. They took me around to meet one of their friends in the art district, zone 4. Her apartment was SO cool. I wish I had taken more pictures because the ones that I have don’t even begin to display it’s coolness. I didn’t really take many pictures inside. All I have is the view from the tippy top of the building.
Then we all went to a place called Cayalá which doesn’t even look like you’re in Guatemala anymore. I unfortunately didn’t get a picture because it was raining. But it is the really rich area of the city and I really felt like I stepped into a whole ‘nother country. I got a few pictures of the farmer’s market there, but the actual area I did not.
The rest of the time, we just hung out at their house. They had work to do and I had jobs to search for. Monday night, my actual birthday, we went to the supermarket and I cooked for them all. Salmon, sweet potatoes, broccoli, and mexican street corn. We ate so late that we never even got to dessert. But it was fun to have a home-cooked meal with everybody.
The next day, these lovely people gave me a lift to go pick up the package that I sent to the Asociasión in January 2014 that never got picked up. That was a fun experience. Not. It took us forever to find the place we were supposed to go to, which was kind of nice to be able to see other parts of the city, but then when we got there, the agent said “That package just left this morning to go back to the States.” THAT MORNING!!!!! Do you believe it? He showed us the paper and everything to prove it. It was there for all that time and the day I finally was able to come get it since for SOME reason, the Asociasión never went, it gets sent back to the States. I could not believe my luck.
That was when I began to think I am finally over this place. This trip had been bad luck after bad luck after bad circumstance and I wanted to blame it all on my attitude, but I think part of my attitude had changed because of so many things I learned in my year and a half out of the country. I was fed-up. I am pretty sure I entertained my friend Checho that day with all my Guatemalan expletives that I was probably using incorrectly. HAHA!
Just a few days after coming back from the city, I continued in my job search (mostly only finding jobs that required a visa) and walked home from the market one day with like 30 pounds of food. It hurt. I came home exhausted, took a shower, and couldn’t even get up to cook. So I took a nap, but I woke up worse. Fever, exhaustion, not sure if I was hungry or nauseous.
The next day that turned into a bat of diarrhea and fever and exhaustion that lasted too many days. I had to enlist Isolina’s help to bring me food because there was no way I was able to leave the house for very much of that time. At this point I just became fed up. I was not getting any where with jobs. I had no desire to go back to work for the Asociasión any time soon after the way the package situation was handled. I was frustrated with living far from Antigua. I was missing Vidal. It just did not seem to be the right time to go back. A necessary trip to have, but not the right time to move. I was not able to care for myself properly with the distance from Antigua and the tiny kitchen where everything goes bad quickly. So I quickly decided I would leave in two weeks instead of November, which I had originally thought of about a month ago if I could not find a job.
Being helpless for 5 days with no one at home can do that to a person.
So at that point, the rest of my trip became a quick fit everything I came to do before I go few weeks.
I went back to the eye doctor finally and got my glasses for $150. I went to the dentist for a cleaning and check-up for $30. I got a stool sample done as my doctor ordered to test for parasites as the cause of my long-lasting diarrhea for $5. No parasites. Just an infection of sorts. I FINALLY got to see Willy. He made more time for me knowing I was leaving soon since he originally thought I would be there a long time.
The family invited me to Amatitlan my last Saturday to spend some time with me and see another part of Guatemala. We passed by the school where Vidal went to school on the way. I don’t know how I felt about Amatitlan. You can’t swim there. That is the lake that is contaminated. And it was very touristy. Like. People say Antigua is touristy, but I feel like it’s just a city with lots of places to go and lots of tourists visiting. Amatitlan was like go-kart rides, a fair, buy these souvenirs, come eat at our restaurant that’s just like the restaurant next door, etc. I wasn’t too impressed. The lake was pretty though. Even though it’s contaminated.
We also went to Naciones Unidas which is like a little park that has a view of the lake as well as all these little mini-reconstructions of famous places in Guatemala. Random.
Then I worked my last nights in Las Vibras. Did not enjoy staying up that late, but thoroughly enjoyed the drunk people stories that I went home with every night there. I think the one to top it all was that I got dragged into taking a photo with a group of people and I am pretty sure someone licked my face. Fantastic (sarcasm).
My last Sunday I finally got to learn how to make tortillas from scratch. Going to have to attempt that at home now if I can find a place to grind the corn. Instant flour just isn’t going to cut it for this girl any more. Fresh corn tortillas cooked over a fire will never let you go back to store-bought!
I was supposed to see my friend Xavier that night, but he ended up running into some family problems and could never make it to Antigua. I was bummed we wouldn’t get to see each other. I missed Kenny and Edgar too because they have been touring with their music in Europe.
The last few days I spent running around buying last minute things and visiting friends. I finally stopped by the Asociasión because they were beginning to be upset I had come for 2 months without visiting. Just made me a little sad to go. The recycle program has completely stopped since I left then Galleta left then people were stealing their tools. But I just am not really sure I want to go back there anymore. At least not any time soon. Sad life moments.
I also saw my friend Jose Cachupe and Willy and Virgilio one more time. Virgilio had come back to Antigua because his girlfriend was in town.
Then Wednesday arrived. I was supposed to leave, but after a long chain of events that I am too lazy to write about, I missed my flight for the very first time in my life. By 5 minutes. No sympathy from Spirit Airlines whatsoever. I feel like Delta may have handled the situation differently, but at least I got my money back.
I went around to every ticket counter in the airport looking for a way back home, but nobody had anything until the next day. So I had to call Isolina and Maynor and they came back to get me then we went to their friends house in the city while I figured out what to do. Going back to Antigua didn’t seem to be an option. Too much work.
And the cheapest flight I could find was at 6 am. Eventually I figured out the flight and I happened to talk to my friend Xavier who I never got to see the other day (He lives in the city) and said hey guess what I missed my flight and am in the capital so if you still want to hang out, let’s do it!
That turned into him asking if I had a place to stay and I did not yet so he offered me his place. So missing my flight ended up being a blessing in disguise. I got to see my friend. I got to eat dinner one more time with him and the family. And I got to shower in one of those huge shower-heads that I have always wanted to shower in and have HOT WATER before coming back to the States. A great way to end a stressful day and prepare me for my flight the next day.
So now I’m home. Not ready to move back there yet. Not exactly ready to be here, but 10 times more thankful for a lot of things that I always forget that I have in Georgia because of my desire to get out. At least this trip I’m finally glad to be home. I had some goals there that I didn’t quite achieve, but I guess learning to drive manual transmission and a motorcycle will have to wait until next time.