After an early wakeup in Mississauga and a mad dash through the Miami airport to make our tight connection, we arrived in Guatemala City early afternoon on New Year’s Eve! Unfortunately, our bags did not (even 30 hours later, as I type this post), but we’re taking it in stride since we figure we’re likely to be tested far more than this over the next 4 months.
We arrived in Antigua after a 45-min drive out of the city and up and down mountains. Mohit is thrilled that there’s a Pollo Campero about every two blocks (literally!), since he’s enjoyed their fried chicken at the one in East Boston. At a stop light, the car trunk in front of us was stuffed with several silly pinatas, a hint at the New Year’s Eve party to come….
After checking into our hotel we immediately headed out to explore the town in the fading afternoon sun. Antigua is quaint and beautiful, all cobblestone streets, faded pastel stucco houses with clay tile roofs, and a Volcano looming green and grey in the background. We ventured warily at first, cautiously sticking to well-populated streets, thinking about all the warnings we’d read about risk of theft in Guatemala. But it didn’t take long for us to feel comfortable wandering more freely, since we’re finding the Guatemalan people to be warm, friendly, and leaving us entirely alone. We’re so used to being stared at and subjected to aggressive sales techniques in places like Istanbul and Hanoi that we are surprised to be able to browse in shops and not be hassled. We also feel relatively safe since families have been out together the past two nights to celebrate the New Year, and small children are underfoot everywhere.
We woke up late to streets littered with confetti and fireworks remains. We spent today exploring the city, grateful for the moderate weather (sunny and breezy, about 70 F), since we’re stuck wearing the same jeans, sneakers, and long sleeves that kept us warm when we left Toronto yesterday. Everyone assumes Mohit is Central American, and after we had to tell a cute little old lady at a church that sorry, “no habla espanol” she looked really surprised and asked Mohit in perfect English “what are you, Italian?” When he told her he is Indian, she said with a huge grin “Ah! Beautiful country! I want to go to India someday and ride an elephant!” Me too. But for now I’m enjoying Guatemala…