Last week I moved to Guatemala. I finally arrived in Guatemala City at 7.30pm, after more than 36 hours of travel, and my friend Izy and her boyfriend Juan met me at the airport. I was so tired I couldn’t see straight, so we stayed at his house in the city that night, and the next afternoon we made the hour long drive to Antigua.
I was a little worried about seeing the town.
Don’t get me wrong, I mean I was excited as well. But since I’ve mentally committed to at least a year here, I was worried that moving to Antigua would be a mistake, and the town wouldn’t live up to all of my expectations.
The thing is, I often have no middle ground. I’m passionate by nature (some would say stroppy), and I either love something or I hate it. My tastes are varied, but once I’ve made up my mind about something I rarely change it.
So while I’d heard amazing things about Antigua, I figured there was a 50% chance I would hate it-either because of its small size, or because everyone I’d spoken to had built it up too much, and it was overrated.
Luckily, I adore it.
It was love at first sight for me and this little town, which was unexpected since I’m a city girl at heart.
I was immediately charmed by the clip-clopping of horses down cobblestone streets. The flowers in windows, the bright colours of the buildings, and the sound of church bells ringing in the distance. Antigua is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and it’s simply beautiful.
Central park is continually full of locals, just hanging out and enjoying the day. It’s this laid-back, relaxed atmosphere that I need right now, and it’s already forced me to slow down, focus on my surroundings, and appreciate the small things. No one is ever in a rush here, and it seems like the people work to live, instead of living to work.
Guatemalans are so patient and encouraging when it comes to foreigners. My Spanish sucks, but they let me practice on them without getting annoyed, and instead are simply appreciative that I’m trying. This is the first place I’ve lived where I could see myself actively staying for a long time, and not simply blinking away the months and wondering where the time went.
I’ve spent most of this week working, and I’ve settled in at a great coworking space. I’ve started Spanish lessons, joined a gym, and met some really lovely people, all who motivate me to improve my Spanish as fast as possible. I’m excited to spend this weekend playing tourist, visiting the many cafes, and roaming the streets with my camera.
When I told people in New Zealand that I was moving to Guatemala, they either made a Shortland Street reference (don’t ask), or gave me a horrified look like I had announced that I’d be exploring the Congo by myself. This town is so picturesque, with a European feel, open and helpful locals, and safe streets, and I wish I could bring everyone over here, and simply say “I told you so” (’cause I’m mature like that).