February 18, 2014 – Translation: Let’s go! – Guatemala Day 1

Well I made it! I finally got to wash my face and feet, and lay down after almost 6 hours of non-stop action. I arrived in Guatemala City at about 6:45 am (4:45am PST), after my 4.5-hour direct flight from LA. Luckily, as I was checking in for my flights, I noticed I could upgrade my seat for a fee, and ended up with a whole row to myself! So I got to actually lie down and sleep — as well as you can on an airplane. The next best part was that Delta has all this new and older music available to play alone as albums or add to a playlist, so I fell asleep to the sounds of John Legend, Adele, and Justin Timberlake. It was a pretty great flight.

Anna, the girl I’m working directly with in Nebaj, and taxi driver Juan picked me up after waking up at about 3 am to come over to Guatemala City from Antigua, in order to avoid the horrible morning traffic coming into the city. The drive to Antigua only took about 40 minutes, as our car wound through the morning traffic, then up into the mountains, and back down again until we arrived in the city. Our hotel, Pasado Hotel Burkhard (Approved by the Peace Corps, as was proudly displayed on their wall), was right by the edge of town so we drove right in and took my bags to Anna’s room since mine wasn’t ready. After she and I both checked email and various social media sites, we headed to a cute little breakfast spot. The inside had very unique décor as they had deconstructed an entire Chicken Bus and used various parts throughout the restaurant – the benches as table seats, the back section of the bus as a stage backdrop for what seemed like a live music venue. This breakfast was quite special as it marked my first time having eggs since a fateful day in October after reintroducing them back into my diet, and then quickly removing them again. However, 5 hours later I was still doing great. I also had café con leche, which marked the first time I’ve had straight milk without a dairy pill in at least 6 months.

Obviously food has been my biggest concern of the trip, for those of you who know me, you know why. For those of you who don’t know, I’ll quickly overview. In the last 8 months or so, I discovered multiple food intolerances, the biggest of which being gluten intolerance, or Celiac’s disease, but intolerances to eggs, dairy, corn, and a few minor other issues were also big adjustments to my diet. So naturally, I came to a place where their food staples are corn, eggs, and dairy. What was I thinking?!? But 6 hours after breakfast and I was holding strong, so I’m staying optimistic that the lack of GMO’s and all the other stuff I’ve been putting in my body in the US, as well as the ability for my body to heal itself over the past several months finally worked! Pray for my health as I’m definitely worried things may turn for the worse, but until them, I’m a happy girl!

After breakfast, it was back to the hostel to get my suitcase to a courier service to take to Nebaj (pronounced Ney-bah) because it was WAY to huge to take on the 6-hour Chicken Bus ride we would embark on the following morning. Then I went to exchange money at the bank, but forgot my passport (because you need it to exchange money), so had to run back quick. Then we went shopping for a bit; Anna needed a jacket, and I needed a small purse. After, we stopped at a smoothie shop for “licuados” because Anna was supposed to have a work call, but it ended up being cancelled, so we downed our smoothies (SO delicious!) and headed out to do more shopping. I needed to pick up some essentials, like shampoo, conditioner, sunscreen and things I knew I didn’t need to buy in the States. As we were walking through the store, I had déjà vu and remembered being in the store when we first went to Antigua in ‘07 and we shopped for a piñata for Allie’s pre-birthday celebration at Probigua (our language school) before we left for Costa Rica.

On our way back to the hotel, Anna took us on the long way back so we could walk by La Merced, the beautiful church I used to walk by almost every day because it was right down the block from Probigua. When we arrived back at the hotel, my room was ready; a beautiful second-story room looking out over the terrace with bright orange flowers hanging onto the wooden beams and laundry hanging out to dry, blowing in the wind (If you haven’t seen the photo I posted, it’s on Instagram or Facebook!). One of the boys who worked there brought my bags up, then brought me towels and then blankets. All the while making small talk, and even was so bold to ask me if I had Facebook so he could talk to me. He was so adorable and I  had no clue how old he was, he could have been anywhere from 14 to 20, but being a good 4 inches shorter than me, he looked so young!

After a solid 2 hour nap, I woke up and Anna took me to Café Sky for a late lunch, which lived up to it’s name because it looked out over the entire city, like you were up in the sky and everything was absolutely gorgeous! I enjoyed a limonada con soda and a Caesar salad (probably not my best move) and just sat watching the city below and writing in my journal. I have to say, being with Anna, who has lived in numerous Central and South American countries, and here in Guatemala for three years, I don’t feel so horrible for how bad my Spanish is, because she’s fluent but she’s also lived here forever. But it is pretty embarrassing how much I rely on her translating. Although once she leaves, I realize I am able to get around by myself pretty well.

Once I got back to the hotel, I finally got a hold of TT and Katy and we all made plans to meet up at Mono Loco, the restaurant & bar where TT works. I’ve known Katy since the day I was born; our moms were pregnant together and dressed us up as sisters before our real sisters came into the picture, and her sister Jessa was also there. I have known TT since we were little since she is friends with my sister, and we all grew up in the same church. I was so glad to be able to catch up with these girls at the beginning of my trip, because I had initially been told I would be spending my first two weeks in Antigua, so when plans changed, it was a little difficult to accept the adjustment. But I’m sure I will still love Nebaj, and I’ll be headed to Panajachel on Lake Atitlan after my first 2 weeks! So for dinner, Jessa and I decided to share the nachos, which ended up being big enough for at least 6+ people to share, so luckily everyone helped us finish them. After a great time catching up, it was time to head in for the night, since I had to be up nice and early to catch the bus up north. Katy and Jessa and their friend Murphy offered to walk me home. On our way back, we stopped at a little restaurant so Jessa could try to buy bananas and the store had this really cool wine bottle chandelier. I wanted to take a picture of it and as I pulled my phone out of my pocket, it snagged on something and landed on the ground with a big crack. Since I’ve dropped my phone so many times and nothing has ever happened, I thought nothing of this particular drop until I looked down and saw the huge crack covering the screen. The dang Guatemalan tile floor is what finally got me. So… Great way to start off the trip.

More to come…


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